한강 "6.25전쟁은 대리전" 뉴욕타임즈 기고문 논란

"이웃 강대국들이 저지른 대리전...70년 후 '재현' 조짐 우려""노근리 학살사건, 피란민을 인간이하로 여겼기 때문에 발생"네티즌 "전쟁 책임 양분하는 양비론..북한 측 논리 답습" 비판

조광형 기자 프로필 보기 | 최종편집 2017.10.10 09:03:56




한국인 최초로 맨부커상(Man Booker Prize)을 수상해 화제를 모았던 인기 소설가 한강이 '6.25전쟁'을 강대국들의 대리전(代理戰)으로 치부하며 전쟁통에 발생한 '노근리 양민 학살 사건'을 거론, 북한이 아닌 미국에게 전쟁의 책임을 묻는 글을 올려 논란이 일고 있다.

한강은 지난 7일(현지 시각) 미국 뉴욕타임즈에 기고한 'While the U.S. Talks of War, South Korea Shudders(미국이 전쟁을 언급할 때 한국은 몸서리 친다)'라는 제하의 글을 통해 "한국 전쟁(The Korean War)은 이웃 강대국들에 의해 한반도에서 벌어진 대리전쟁(proxy war)이었다"고 규정한 뒤 "수백만 명의 사람들이 그 잔인한 세월 동안 도살당했고, 전 국토는 완전히 파괴됐다"고 서술했다.

The Korean War was a proxy war enacted on the Korean Peninsula by neighboring great powers. Millions of people were butchered over those three brutal years, and the former national territory was utterly destroyed.


한국과 북한을 당시 냉전의 '희생양'으로 간주한 한강은 6.25전쟁을 일으킨 김일성 대신, 뒤늦게 유엔군과 함께 참전한 미군의 '잔혹함'만을 탓하는 삐딱한 자세를 보였다. 한강은 "최근에야 공식적으로 우리 동맹국인 미국 육군이 남한 시민들을 학살했다는 사실이 밝혀졌다"며 "이 중 가장 유명한 사건인 '노근리 학살 사건'은 (미군이) 남한 사람들을 위엄있는 인간으로 인식했다면 발생하지 않았을 사건이었다"고 주장했다.

Only relatively recently has it come to light that in this tragic process were several instances of the American Army, officially our allies, massacring South Korean citizens. In the most well-known of these, the No Gun Ri Massacre, American soldiers drove hundreds of citizens, mainly women and children, under a stone bridge, then shot at them from both sides for several days, killing most of them. Why did it have to be like this? If they did not perceive the South Korean refugees as “subhuman,” if they had perceived the suffering of others completely and truly, as dignified human beings, would such a thing have been possible?


한강은 "1980년 발생한 광주 항쟁을 다룬 소설 '소년이 온다(Human Acts)'를 집필할 당시 집중하고자 했던 건, 특정한 시간과 장소가 아니라 세계 역사에서 드러난 보편적 인성의 얼굴이었다"며 "모든 전쟁과 학살이 벌어질 때 인간은 자신과 국적·인종·종교·이데올로기 등이 다른 사람들을 '비인도적 인간(Subhuman)'으로 인식하는 특징이 있었다"고 밝혔다.

One of the many things I realized during my research is that in all wars and massacres there is a critical point at which human beings perceive certain other human beings as “subhuman” — because they have a different nationality, ethnicity, religion, ideology.


한강은 '노근리 학살 사건'을 자행한 미군 역시 이들과 다르지 않았다는 시각을 내비치며 "70년이 지난 지금도 비슷한 얘기들이 미국 뉴스에서 들려지고 있다"고 밝혔다.

Now, nearly 70 years on, I am listening as hard as I can each day to what is being said on the news from America, and it sounds perilously familiar. “We have several scenarios.” “We will win.” “If war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula, 20,000 South Koreans will be killed every day.” “Don’t worry, war won’t happen in America. Only on the Korean Peninsula.”


한강은 "도널드 트럼프 미국 대통령과는 달리 우리들은 평화가 아닌 그 어떠한 해결책도 의미가 없으며 '승리'라는 것은 비웃음거리이자 불가능한 '텅빈 슬로건'임을 너무 잘 알고 있다"면서 "대리전쟁을 절대로 원하지 않는 사람들이 지금 한반도에 살고 있다"고 주장했다.

끝으로 한강은 "지난 겨울 한국 전역의 도시에서 수십만 시민들이 모여 종이 컵에 양초를 들고 대통령이 물러날 것을 소리치는 촛불 시위가 있었다"며 "조용하고 평화로운 촛불의 도구를 통해 사회를 변화시키고자 했던 수천만의 한국인들에게 어떻게 평화 이외의 다른 시나리오가 있다고 말할 수 있겠느냐"고 전쟁의 무용론(無用論)을 거듭 강조했다.

When I think about the months to come, I remember the candlelight of last winter. Every Saturday, in cities across South Korea, hundreds of thousands of citizens gathered and sang together in protest against the corrupt government, holding candles in paper cups, shouting that the president should step down.

We only wanted to change society through the quiet and peaceful tool of candlelight, and those who eventually made that into a reality — no, the tens of millions of human beings who have dignity, simply through having been born into this world as lives, weak and unsullied — carry on opening the doors of cafes and teahouses and hospitals and schools every day, going forward together one step at a time for the sake of a future that surges up afresh every moment. Who will speak, to them, of any scenario other than peace?


"'한국전쟁=대리전' 주장..北책임 간과하는 궤변"

한편, 6.25전쟁을 강대국 간 '대리전쟁'으로 못박은 뒤 또 다시 이땅에서 대리전이 발발해선 안된다는 한강의 글이 올라오자 다수의 네티즌은 "이같은 주장은 북한에게 전적으로 있는 '전쟁 책임'을 억지로 양분하는 '양비론'에 지나지 않는다"며 작가 한강의 한국전쟁에 대한 인식과 해석이 잘못됐다는 주장을 제기하고 나섰다.

한 네티즌은 페이스북에 올린 글에서 "외부 사람들은 한국전쟁을 'proxy war'라고 생각할 수 있을지 몰라도 실제 전쟁의 시공을 경험한 당사자인 한국인들은 그럴 수가 없다"며 "그 참혹한 전쟁의 원인과 책임을 남 얘기하듯 퉁치고 지날 수가 없다"고 반박했다.

이 네티즌은 "같은 말을 쓰고 같은 음식을 먹고 어제까지 같이 지내던 공동체의 반쪽이 내게 총부리를 들이대고 폭탄을 날려 소중한 생명과 재산을 앗아간 사실을 두고 그저 남탓을 할 수만은 없는 노릇"이라며 "김일성이 소련과 중국을 번갈아 찾아다니며 내게 대포와 탱크를 주면 한 달안에 한반도를 공산주의 승리의 상징으로 만들겠다는 호언장담을 했고, 긴가민가하던 소련도 중공도 이 정도의 결기와 의지로 달려드는 김일성을 고심의 눈초리로 바라보고 주판알을 튕긴 것이 것이 전쟁의 출발이자 시발"이라고 강조했다.

이 네티즌은 "한국전쟁을 대리전으로 부른다면 그에 해당하는 나라는 실제로 몸을 숨긴 소련 뿐"이라고 주장한 뒤 "한국전에서 희생된 남한의 군인과 양민이 정녕 남한과 미국에게 반쪽 책임이 있는 전쟁에서 희생된 것인지 묻고 싶다"고 일갈했다.

한국전쟁을 대리전으로 부른다면 그에 해당하는 나라는 소련 뿐이다. 어느 공식 문서에도 소련은 몸을 숨겼기 때문이다.

하지만 미국은 직접 참전하였다. 무려 5만 명의 희생자를 낸 엄연한 미국의 대통령과 의회가 승인한 미국의 전쟁이었다. 중국 역시 전쟁의 당사자이다. 두 나라는 휴전협정에 서명한 당사자이기까지 하다.

한국전쟁을 냉전 구도하 진영의 꼭두각시끼리 남좋은 일 시키며 피터지게 싸운 이념전쟁의 하나로 기억하는 순간, 전쟁 책임은 양분되고 양비론으로 귀착된다.

그것이 한국전쟁에 대한 바른 해석인가? 한국전에서 희생된 남한의 군인과 양민은 남한과 미국에게 반쪽 책임이 있는 전쟁에서 희생된 것인가?


또 다른 네티즌은 작가 한강을 겨냥, "평온하게 세계에 명성을 날리게 해준 존재가 대한민국 건국에 절대적 역할을 하고 6.25전쟁에 자국의 젊은이들을 보내 피로써 지켜준 미국이란 사실을 망각하고 있다"며 "이런 식으로 필명을 날린들, 이것이야말로 싸구려 허명에 불과하다"는 강도 높은 비판을 가했다.

이 네티즌은 "전후 복구와 산업화에 절대적인 후견 역할을 해준 것도 미국이고, 대한민국의 자유와 평화는 미국이 있었기에 가능했던 것"이라며 "이 땅에서 죽어 간 미군을 비롯한 유엔군의 젊은 넋들을 기리는 작품 한 편 쓰지 않고 말하는 평화는 필명을 빌린 위선과 가식일 뿐"이라고 꼬집었다.

기사 댓글을 통한 비판도 많았다. 아이디 'Mr. ****'라는 네티즌은 "전쟁의 원인은 북의 폭압적 봉건체제 때문이고 북핵 때문인데, 작가라면서 얼마나 논리가 없길래 북한 김씨왕조의 봉건체제와 핵의 위험성은 언급하지 않고 그 위험을 없애기 위한 가장 최선의 방법을 비판하는 것이냐"고 따져물은 뒤 "누군가는 김씨왕조의 신하나 노예로 살 수 있을 지 모르지만 대부분의 자본주의 시장경제주의자들은 북체제를 인정할 수도 없고 더더구나 짐승만도 못한 김씨 일가의 노예로 살 위험에 처하는 것은 꿈에서라도 인정될 수 없는 것"이라고 일침을 가했다.

아이디 'youn****'라는 네티즌은 "한강의 논리 속에, 평화를 원한다는 전제 하에 반미와 반 트럼프, 삭제된 북핵문제, 논리의 구성이 감성을 바탕으로 한 '반미 냄새'가 진하게 나는 이유는 뭘까?"라고 되물은 뒤 "한반도의 전쟁설이 어디서 출발했는가? (한강의 주장은) 북핵의 선제 공격과 핵개발, ICBM 개발은 빼고, 미국의 군사적 옵션과 전쟁설만 노제에 올린 좌파 지식인의 비열한 논리에 불구하다"고 지적했다.

아이디 'hatec****'은 "6.25는 북괴의 남침 야욕으로 일어난 침략전쟁인데 이걸 대리전이라고 말하네? 북괴의 공산화 야욕에 맞서, 나라를 뺏기지 않으려 싸우다 죽은 국민이 얼마인데 대리전쟁이라 하느냐"고 반박한 뒤 "나라의 고귀함을 모르는 자들은 조국도 함부러 폄하한다. 미 수복된 북괴를 한반도라 칭하며? 우리 대한민국은 나라 끄트머리의 보잘 것 없는 섬으로 부르고 싶은가 보다. 이런 편향이 지금 젊은애들의 지식인가?"라는 한탄조의 댓글을 남겼다.

다음은 작가 한강이 뉴욕타임즈에 기고한 칼럼 전문.

SEOUL, South Korea — I cannot turn my thoughts from the news article I happened to see a few days ago. A man in his 70s accidentally dropped two thick wads of cash in the street. Two people who happened upon this bundle of money and shared it between them were caught by the police, made to give up the money and charged with theft.

Up until here, it is still an ordinary story. But there was a special reason this man was carrying so much cash on him. “I’m worried that a war might be coming,” he told the police, “so I’d just taken my savings out of the bank and was on my way home.” He said that it was money he had saved — a little bit each month — for four years, intended to send his grandchildren to college. Since the Korean War broke out in 1950, war would have been the enduring experience of this man’s adolescence. I imagine what he would have been feeling, a man who has lived an ordinary middle-class life ever since, on his way to the bank to take out his savings. The terror, the unease, the impotence, the nervousness.

Unlike that man, I belong to the generation that never experienced the Korean War. Crossing the border to the North was already impossible before I was born, and even now it is forbidden for Southerners to meet or have contact with Northerners. For those of us of the postwar generation, the country known as North Korea is at times felt as a kind of surreal entity. Of course, rationally, I and other Southerners are aware that Pyongyang is only two hours by car from Seoul and that the war is not over but still only at a cease-fire. I know it exists in reality, not as a delusion or mirage, though the only way to check up on this is through maps and the news.

But as a fellow writer who is of a similar age to me once said, the DMZ at times feels like the ocean. As though we live not on a peninsula but on an island. And as this peculiar situation has continued for 60 years, South Koreans have reluctantly become accustomed to a taut and contradictory sensation of indifference and tension.

Now and then, foreigners report that South Koreans have a mysterious attitude toward North Korea. Even as the rest of the world watches the North in fear, South Koreans appear unusually calm. Even as the North tests nuclear weapons, even amid reports of a possible pre-emptive strike on North Korea by the United States, the schools, hospitals, bookshops, florists, theaters and cafes in the South all open their doors at the usual time. Small children climb into yellow school buses and wave at their parents through the windows; older students step into the buses in their uniforms, their hair still wet from washing; and lovers head to cafes carrying flowers and cake.

And yet, does this calm prove that South Koreans really are as indifferent as we might seem? Has everyone really managed to transcend the fear of war? No, it is not so. Rather, the tension and terror that have accumulated for decades have burrowed deep inside us and show themselves in brief flashes even in humdrum conversation. Especially over the past few months, we have witnessed this tension gradually increasing, on the news day after day, and inside our own nervousness. People began to find out where the nearest air-raid shelter from their home and office is. Ahead of Chuseok, our harvest festival, some people even prepared gifts for their family — not the usual box of fruit, but “survival backpacks,” filled with a flashlight, a radio, medicine, biscuits. In train stations and airports, each time there is a news broadcast related to war, people gather in front of the television, watching the screen with tense faces. That’s how things are with us. We are worried. We are afraid of the direct possibility of North Korea, just over the border, testing a nuclear weapon again and of a radiation leak. We are afraid of a gradually escalating war of words becoming war in reality. Because there are days we still want to see arrive. Because there are loved ones beside us. Because there are 50 million people living in the south part of this peninsula, and the fact that there are 700,000 kindergartners among them is not a mere number to us.

One reason, even in these extreme circumstances, South Koreans are struggling to maintain a careful calm and equilibrium is that we feel more concretely than the rest of the world the existence of North Korea, too. Because we naturally distinguish between dictatorships and those who suffer under them, we try to respond to circumstances holistically, going beyond the dichotomy of good and evil. For whose sake is war waged? This type of longstanding question is staring us straight in the face right now, as a vividly felt actuality.

In researching my novel “Human Acts,” which deals with the 1980 Gwangju Uprising, when the military dictatorship turned to the armed forces to suppress student protests against martial law, I had to widen the field to include documents related not only to Gwangju but also to World War II, the Spanish Civil War, Bosnia and the massacres of Native Americans. Because what I ultimately wanted to focus on was not one particular time and place but the face of universal humanity that is revealed in the history of this world. I wanted to ask what it is that makes human beings harm others so brutally, and how we ought to understand those who never lose hold of their humanity in the face of violence. I wanted to grope toward a bridge spanning the yawning chasm between savagery and dignity. One of the many things I realized during my research is that in all wars and massacres there is a critical point at which human beings perceive certain other human beings as “subhuman” — because they have a different nationality, ethnicity, religion, ideology. This realization, too, came at the same time: The last line of defense by which human beings can remain human is the complete and true perception of another’s suffering, which wins out over all of these biases. And the fact that actual, practical volition and action, which goes beyond simple compassion for the suffering of others, is demanded of us at every moment.

The Korean War was a proxy war enacted on the Korean Peninsula by neighboring great powers. Millions of people were butchered over those three brutal years, and the former national territory was utterly destroyed. Only relatively recently has it come to light that in this tragic process were several instances of the American Army, officially our allies, massacring South Korean citizens. In the most well-known of these, the No Gun Ri Massacre, American soldiers drove hundreds of citizens, mainly women and children, under a stone bridge, then shot at them from both sides for several days, killing most of them. Why did it have to be like this? If they did not perceive the South Korean refugees as “subhuman,” if they had perceived the suffering of others completely and truly, as dignified human beings, would such a thing have been possible?

Now, nearly 70 years on, I am listening as hard as I can each day to what is being said on the news from America, and it sounds perilously familiar. “We have several scenarios.” “We will win.” “If war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula, 20,000 South Koreans will be killed every day.” “Don’t worry, war won’t happen in America. Only on the Korean Peninsula.”

To the South Korean government, which speaks only of a solution of dialogue and peace in this situation of sharp confrontation, the president of the United States has said, “They only understand one thing.” It’s an accurate comment. Koreans really do understand only one thing. We understand that any solution that is not peace is meaningless and that “victory” is just an empty slogan, absurd and impossible. People who absolutely do not want another proxy war are living, here and now, on the Korean Peninsula.

When I think about the months to come, I remember the candlelight of last winter. Every Saturday, in cities across South Korea, hundreds of thousands of citizens gathered and sang together in protest against the corrupt government, holding candles in paper cups, shouting that the president should step down. I, too, was in the streets, holding up a flame of my own. At the time, we called it the “candlelight rally” or “candlelight demonstration”; we now call it our “candlelight revolution.”

We only wanted to change society through the quiet and peaceful tool of candlelight, and those who eventually made that into a reality — no, the tens of millions of human beings who have dignity, simply through having been born into this world as lives, weak and unsullied — carry on opening the doors of cafes and teahouses and hospitals and schools every day, going forward together one step at a time for the sake of a future that surges up afresh every moment. Who will speak, to them, of any scenario other than peace?



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