Sunday, September 03, 2006

Korean stamps commemorate USS General Sherman sinking

A current article at Korea News proclaims: "140-Year-Long History of U.S. Aggression against Korea under Fire." 140 years? The article goes on to discuss the USS General Sherman incident, which indeed occurred in 1865. The following article, on the issuing of some new stamps, contains a briefer treatment:
New stamps have been issued in the DPRK on the lapse of 140 years since the sinking of the U.S. ship of invasion General Sherman. General Sherman, a scout ship for the invasion on Korea, sailed upstream the River Taedong in August 1866, committing predatory and murderous acts at random.

Enraged at the brutalities of the invaders, Kim Ung U, the great-grandfather of President Kim Il Sung, and Pyongyangites formed a death-defying corps and sent the ship to the bottom of the river with a fire-attack tactics on September 2.

Reflected in the stamp are words "Sinking of the U.S. Imperialist Aggression Ship 'General Sherman'" and "140 Years" and a scene showing the ship in a blaze.
According to an article at entitled "USS General Sherman Incident":
In late 1865 the US Navy gunship Princess Royal, an armed American merchant-marine schooner and formerly a Confederate blockade runner, was dispatched to China to help protect the US interests in China. The American merchant W. B. Preston arranged with the Meadows & Co., a British firm in Tientsin, to send the ship [renamed the USS General Sherman] to Korea. The USS General Sherman steamed up the Taedong River almost to P'yongyang. In August 1866 the General Sherman became stranded in the river. Shortly thereafter, the Korean governor ordered his troops to attack. The Koreans burned the ship by the use of a fire raft and when the ship's crew reached shore, they were massacred. Other foreigners, including French missionaries, had suffered the same fate at different times.

Kim Il Sung claimed that his great-grandfather was involved in this incident. Historical fabrications in the North go so far as to portray Kim Il Sung's great grandfather Kim Ung-u as a brave fighter against the "U.S. imperialists," maintaining that he destroyed the USS General Sherman, and that Korean anti-American struggles began as early as the 1880s. Kim's father Kim Hyong-jik and his mother Kang Ban-sok are depicted as "indefatigable fighters" who led the anti-Japanese civilian movement of "March 1, 1919," which are historical fabrications.
The sinking of USS General Sherman led to further hostilities, as described in the rest of the article. That was our history lesson for today.

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