Putting Korea in context

  • Contributed photo

    Mark Ombrello

  • Contributed photo

    Jon Letman

PUHI — Mark Ombrello and Jon Letman have spent time in South Korea in the past six months, and the two are teaming up Thursday to share their perspectives.

The speakers plan on presenting for about an hour and then fielding questions from 6 to 8 p.m. at Kauai Community College’s One Stop Center during the program, “From Colonization to Militarization: Korea in Context.”

It is free.

While Letman will talk about where the area is at now, Ombrello will shed light on how it got there — how Korea developed into the 20th century.

“(It is) to help people understand the way we’ve understood Korea and the way people in Asia on all sides, a lot of it is based on this idea of ‘othering,’” Ombrello said.

He continued: “That’s the notion that somehow people who are different are a threat and that’s something that (present-day) discourse has led us to. It’s been exacerbated by the way in which the current administration is handling our relationships with our neighbors in East Asia.”

Letman will be talking about the connection between northeast Asia and Kauai’s U.S. Navy Pacific Missile Range Facility. In the summer of 2017, he spent 10 days doing a report on the militarized state of the Korean peninsula. Ombrello visited the country for an academic conference.

“Mark, he’s doing the history — colonial history — and I’ll take over and take a look at the state of right now, focusing on South Korea,” Letman said.

Ombrello said a few things jumped out at him during his June trip to Korea, like the presence of survival kits and gas masks in South Korea’s subway system.

“The subways are very deep and you get a sense that you’re in a place where at any moment, something terrible could happen,” he said. “For your average South Korean person, it’s water off of a duck, part of their everyday life.”

The event is a chance for anyone who is interested to gain new perspectives and talk story about the activity happening around Korea, and to better understand the region.

“Every week there’s something new,” Letman said. “People in Hawaii pretty well understand that we’re part of this region, and what happens there, despite what some politicians say, will affect us, even if there isn’t a bomb dropped near Hawaii.”

  1. RG DeSoto December 6, 2017 7:36 am Reply

    “While Letman will talk about where the area is at now…”
    Really, Jessica, where the area is at? You must have been asleep during grammar class. Not a good idea to end a sentence with at. (except as I just did)
    RG DeSoto

  2. Charlie chimknee December 7, 2017 7:59 am Reply

    Who cares about So. Korea When it’s formerly same nation is divided into 2 parts, the other being as wild as we are.

    The Korean War (around 1955?) was the first of several full scale wars or police actions the USA began to lose, then Vietnam, and now we are still fighting or at least haggling still in IraqAfPaqIranistan, the commies and dictators have prevailed in Cuba, and some Central American, and South American countries, China has soared under communism after a mere 5,000 years of Feudalism, while Vietnam is doing quite well using communism as an economic step up the ladder to capitalism.

    And now even the Philippines is wanting to be more independent of the US.

    ANd there are even those, them who walk amongst us, that would allow any young unvetted radical jihadist or standard drug and/or murdering criminals to enter our country at the expense of jeopardy of our lives and limbs and possibly California fires.

    And our taxes support too many of them, money that nurture in so many ways are own children.

    And now tiny No. Korea with a Kid King Killer surrounded by aged clapping generals former mall secutrity guards, and he the Kid has a floppy LA haircut with his finger repeatedly on the button playing Korean roulette with about a billions worth of the human population.

    And who let this trigger happy 3rd dynasty megalo maniac get this far?

    Why none other than Honolulu Obamaman…where’d he come from anyway. Isn’t there at least one person in that hospital remember wheere he was born AT ?


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