Korea in 1919On February 8, 1919, a group of Korean students in Tokyo had a meeting to declare the Independence of Korea from Japanese colonial rule. You are invited to a photo of those Korean students.
- My grandfather was a farmer working hard to become a landlord at a
village known as Sorae with
He was quite excited about his own country becoming an independent nation, and went out to shout "Mansei," but he was beaten up by Japanese police officers.
- As you know, I brag too much about
my Princeton background. Many people ask me the following two questions.
- Did I meet Einstein? To answer this question, I prepared
This page will tell you I have a very strong Christian
background, as a man from the
village where my grandfather
reconstructed his family fortune.
- Am I the first Korean to receive a PhD degree from Princeton?
- Did I meet Einstein? To answer this question, I prepared this webpapge. This page will tell you I have a very strong Christian background, as a man from the village where my grandfather reconstructed his family fortune.
- The second question is very interesting. The answer is No. There
was a man far more famous than I am. He is known as Syngman Rhee
in U.S.A. He is known to us as Rhee Seungman. He received his
degree from Princeton 1910. He was admitted to Princeton's graduate
program thanks to Woodrow Wilson. At that time, Princeton was a very
racist organization, and Wilson is well known for hiring the first
Furthermore, Rhee's thesis advisor was Edward Elliot, whose wife was Wilson's cousin. We thank Prof. Kim Beom-Hoon of Inha Univ. for telling us about Rhee's advisor. Woodrow Wilson was very busy as the president of the University, but must have maintained interest in how Rhee was doing. Wilson was 50-to-100 ahead of his time, and could have considered the Korean Peninsula as an American base in Asia.
I met a distinguished American physicist (12 years older than I am) in 1993 at a social occasion. When I told him I got my PhD degree from Princeton in 1961, he did not believe me. He told me Princeton did not accept orientals at that time. He was stunned when I told him Syngman Rhee got his PhD from Princeton in 1910 (41 years before 1961). He was old enough to know who Syngman Rhee was.
Rhee was thus known as Wilson's student at Princeton. This was a great political asset for Rhee, and this was precisely the reason why he was invited to become the first president at the Korean Provisional Government in Shanghai.
- However, Rhee never mentioned Wilson or his Princeton background
throughout his political life, even in dealing with Americans. Why?
The reason is very simple.
After World War I, Wilson produced a declaration calling for the self-determination of all nations. This encouraged the Korean students in Japan to produce a document calling for Korea's independence.
Rhee undoubtedly attempted to contact Wilson to discuss of Korea's independence. Alas, Wilson refused to see him and sided with Japan against Korea. Many Korean scholars say that Wilson did so in accordance with the secret agreement the United States had with Japan known as the Taft-Katsura agreement , guaranteeing Japanese right in Korea while Japan promising not to invade the Philippians.
Wilson with Raymond Poincaré (president of France) in Paris for the Versailles Peace Conference of 1919, where he made his declaration of the self-determination of all nations.
There, a young vietnamese reporter attempted to approach Wilson to deliver his petition for the independence of Vietnam from the French colonial rule, but he was chased away like a dog by French police. The name of this young reporter was Ho Chi Minh.
- Rhee never mentioned Wilson since then. It is easy for big powers
grab or divide the lands of small nations. It is however for the
small nations to fight for their own independence. Both Israel and
Korea are small nations. We all know how strong Jewish roles are
in the United States.
The six Hungarian-born Jewish physicists produced the first nuclear bomb for the United States. Almost all Americans still believe the United States should be the only country with nuclear weapons. After staying in the U.S.A. for 64 years, I also believe in the same way. In either case, not many Americans know that this superiority complex is a product of the scientists without their own country.
- As for Korea, every American household owns at least one Samsung
or LG TV set. This effect was not achieved overnight. For the
struggles Koreans went through, you may be interested in one of
the war stories.
In this web page, I compare Koreans to a native American tribe (American Indians) trapped between French and English armies struggling for the control of the North American Continent in 1750.
These days, the main lecture hall in the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton is called "Synman Rhee Lecture Hall." Princeton University is acknowledging Rhee was Wilson's most accomplished student.
- The point is that Wilson never helped his former student who
was a Korean. I had the same experience with my own advisor at
Princeton. In 1966, I almost lost my job at the Univ. of
Maryland for publishing a paper not friendly to an American physicist
of my age. His name was Roger Dashen. In 1965, he was elevated to
a genius status by the leadership of American physics.
I became very unhappy because of my Herod Complex (I do not want to hear anyone other than myself is a genius). I published a paper saying Dashen's work, which elevated him to his genius status, was wrong. You may click here to see how wrong he was.
My paper did not sit very well with the American leadership in physics, and the Univ. of Maryland attempted to fire me. At that time, the only person who could possibly help me was my former advisor at Princeton. However, his attitude was "Dashen is a genius but you are a Korean."
- Indeed, the Univ. of Maryland was nice enough to me to examine my case
carefully. It took my senior colleagues one full year, and they promoted
promoted me to an associate professor with tenure in 1967. In
praise of my own department, I prepared
this webpage to talk about the research environment at the Univ.
of Maryland. There, you will note that the ranking of Princeton's
physics program came down from No. 1 to No. 7 among the U.S. universities.
The UMD's program moved up to No. 10 from nowhere.
Like Rhee Seungman, I never mention the name of my own advisor. Instead, I worked hard on the issue of extending Einstein's relativity to the inside of the atom or nucleus which can move with relativistic speeds, and published papers with Eugene Wigner, who was Princeton's No. 2 man (after Einstein) and was one of those six Hungarian physicists who developed the first nuclear bomb for the United States.
My last lunch with Wigner took place at Princeton in 1991. In 33AD, there was a more elegant meeting somewhere in Jerusalem.
Thus, I am known to the world as Wigner's youngest student, and this allows me to place my photo of 1961 to Einstein's photo of 1947. These two photos were taken by the same photographer named Orren Jack Turner.
- Like Rhee, in spite of difficulties with some people, I worked within the frame of the American system which rewards hardworking individuals. On this issue, you may be interested what I say in this page.
In Defense of Woodrow Wilson
Last time, I said Woodrow Wilson did not do anything while Japanese were slaughtering Koreans in 1919. This was the reason why Rhee Seungman never mentioned Wilson's name or his Princeton connection throughout his political life.
- Was Wilson really against Korea? If so, why did he admit
Syngman Rhee (as a possible American agent in Asia)? As I said
before, Wilson's problem was that he was 50-to-100 years ahead of
his time. Princeton was a racist place even during my years there
(1958-62). Wilson, while the president of the University, appointed
one Afro-American professor. Rhee was admitted to Princeton's
graduate program only because Wilson's idealism. Rhee's Wilson
connection was very strong. These days, Princeton regards Rhee as
Wilson's most accomplished student.
Yet, Wilson was condemned to be a racist during the Obama period. While he was the president of the United States, he fired every government official whose skin was not white. Right, if you want to become a politician, your idealism is not enough. Often, you have to work against your own idealism.
This aspect of Wilson is more prominent in the international arena. In 1918, Wilson produced a document for the world after World War I. You may click on
Wilson's Fourteen Points.
Woodorw Wilson School for Public Affairs and Graduate College at Princeton University. The Wilson School invites one or two students every year from Poland to brag about Wilson's 14th pont which called for the unification and independence of Poland. Those students stay at the Graduate College and interact with American students.
In 1958, when I went to Princeton, I met a student from Poland. I asked him how it was possible to come from a communist country. He then asked me whether I was aware of Wilson's 14 points. I said YES. He told me he came to Princeton thanks to Wilson. I became silent, but became upset. Wilson helped Poland but not Korea.
When I went to Poland in 1994, I was looking for Wilson's statues, but could not find any. I asked my Polish friends in Warsaw why Poland is not thankful to Wilson. They told me Wilson has nothing to do with Poland. They had to fight for their own independence.
This document is based on Wilson's earlier declaration of national self-determination. His point was that there will be no peace without self-determination of all nations.
This means that all the countries should be freed from their colonial powers. Korea should be freed from Japanese colonial rule, and Vietnam should be freed from French colonial rule. Yet they were not realized.
- Wilson's Fourteen Points were not accepted by American politicians.
God had only ten rules. How can Wilson have 14 rules? Americans
laughed away in this way.
After World War I, Wilson's self-determination became applicable to all war-losing countries, but did not apply to war-winning countries.
- Ottoman Turkey lost the war, and all Middle Eastern countries
became "independent," leading to the current-day mess.
- During World War I, Japan sold their 5000 Arisaka-38 (38shik) rifles to Britain, and thus became one of the winning countries. Japan thus took over the control of the Chinese city of Qingdao from Germany, in addition to strengthening its control over the Korean Peninsula.
- Ottoman Turkey lost the war, and all Middle Eastern countries became "independent," leading to the current-day mess.
- Poland is a very interesting case. This country was occupied
by two war-losing countries (Germany and Austria) and one
winning country (Russia). Thus, the parts of Poland occupined by
the two losing countries should become independent, while the part
occupied by Russia should remain as a colony of Russia. How does this
sound to you?
Indeed, Wilson's 14 points were as ineffective as this, even though his 14th point explicitly states that Poland should become unified and independent. However, Polish nationalism was strong enough for the Poles to insist on one unified country.
- However, Russia's Bolshevik regime, as one of the war-winning
countries, sent its troops to Poland to exercise Wilson's
half-baked self-determination. Polish young men picked up rifles
from defeated German army, and organized their own army under
the leadership of General
They fought against Russia's post-war colonialism, but their new army was not strong enough to push back those Russian colonialists.
- While France was not giving up its colonies, French government
decided to send troops to Poland to kick out those Russians.
The commander of this expeditionary force was Charles de Galle.
- We all know what MacArthur means to us. Charles de Galle is MacArthur of Poland. Click here to see Poland as a country surrounded by big powers.
Pilsudski (top) and de Galle
- However, Russia's Bolshevik regime, as one of the war-winning countries, sent its troops to Poland to exercise Wilson's half-baked self-determination. Polish young men picked up rifles from defeated German army, and organized their own army under the leadership of General Józef Pilsudski.