Fairness & Accuracy in Editing Re: Cumings: Endgame in Korea

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Tue Dec 10 23:42:25 MST 2002


In case you do not read corrections or have missed this particular
one, I'd like to call your attention to _The Nation_'s correction (on
p. 23 of the 16 December 2002 issue) regarding the Bruce Cumings
article "Endgame in Korea" (which appeared in the 18 November 2002
issue of _The Nation_): "In Bruce Cumings' 'Endgame in Korea' [Nov.
18], editing errors resulted in two incorrect phrases.  'Atomic
bombs' should have been 'atomic gravity bombs' and 'pre-emptive war
plans' should have been simply 'war plans.'  Cuts for reasons of
space in the introductory paragraph altered the author's portrayal of
the atmosphere in North Korea.  For a fuller text of this editorial,
see www.thenation.com" (_The Nation_ 16 December 2002).  Here's the
introductory paragraph (as the author wrote and intended to publish,
I assume) available on the web:

*****   <http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20021209&s=cumings20021125>

The Nation
November 25, 2002

Endgame in Korea
by Bruce Cumings

On a sparkling Indian Summer day fifteen years ago, I was waiting in
front of the Pyongyang Hotel with a British documentary producer. Our
North Korean "counterparts" were picking us up for another round of
"discussions" over when, where and what our film crew would be
allowed to shoot. "They're all a bunch of liars," we both agreed,
after days of bluff, prevarication, dissembling and bait-and-switch
games using even their own people: I was convinced that one of the
men we dealt with the week before had appeared with a different name
card that morning. We had run afoul of the most popular sport in
North Korea, rubbing foreign noses in the bloody-minded subjectivity
of a regime that answers to no one. Then our eyes were caught by a
tall monument across the street, an inlaid tile mural of a willowy,
soft-featured woman leaping forward in flowing, brilliantly colored
traditional dress. Koreans hold that women of the north country are
more beautiful; she matched the myth. In her right hand was a
military-issue revolver. That same female image is the "George
Washington" of their one-dollar (or won) bill. North Koreans live
every day amid violence at home from a repulsive family dictatorship,
and abroad from our half-century failure to engage in serious
diplomacy to end the Korean War. They suffered through years of
American carpet-bombing during that war, and the incessant threat of
annihilation by US nuclear weapons ever since.   *****

In contrast, the "Bruce Cumings article" that the 18 November 2002
issue of _The Nation_ ran in print had the following introductory
paragraph:

*****   On a sparkling Indian Summer day fifteen years ago, I was
waiting in front of the Pyongyang Hotel with a British documentary
producer. Our North Korean "counterparts" were picking us up for
another round of "discussions" over when, where and what our film
crew would be allowed to shoot. "They're all a bunch of liars," we
both agreed, after days of bluff, prevarication, dissembling and
bait-and-switch games using even their own people.  North Korea
recognizes no ethic, law or morality that obtains beyond its water's
edge, except for one: the Western doctrine of the sovereign equality
of all nations, to which it clings with a passion and an almost
quaint sincerity.  Sometime in 1998, we are told, the North Koreans
made a deal with our longtime ally in Islamabad: their missiles for
Pakistan's uranium-enrichment technology.  Sometime this past summer,
we are again told, evidence that they are manufacturing enriched
uranium came to light.  If they maximize their efforts, using 1,000
centrifuges that they may or may not have, they could manufacture one
or two very large and unwieldy atomic bombs every year.   *****

The difference is not a simple matter of cutting some words or
sentences "for reasons of space."  Cumings' own introductory
paragraph reminds us of "years of American carpet-bombing during that
war, and the incessant threat of annihilation by US nuclear weapons
ever since," which the _Nation_ editor chose to erase in print.  The
_Nation_ editor saw fit to speculate that "[i]f they maximize their
efforts, using 1,000 centrifuges that they may or may not have, they
could manufacture one or two very large and unwieldy atomic bombs
every year," the speculation that does not make an appearance in
Cumings' own article on the web.  Needless to say, Cumings' own words
on the web do not include the racist statement that "North Korea
recognizes no ethic, law or morality that obtains beyond its water's
edge, except for one: the Western doctrine of the sovereign equality
of all nations, to which it clings with a passion and an almost
quaint sincerity," which the _Nation_ editor put in Cumings' mouth.
Since when has "the sovereign equality of all nations" been a
"Western" doctrine???
--
Yoshie

* Calendar of Events in Columbus:
<http://www.osu.edu/students/sif/calendar.html>
* Anti-War Activist Resources: <http://www.osu.edu/students/sif/activist.html>
* Student International Forum: <http://www.osu.edu/students/sif/>
* Committee for Justice in Palestine: <http://www.osu.edu/students/CJP/>

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