Why Americans Know Little About East Asian History

My name is Daniel. I was an English teacher in Seoul, South Korea, and am now a writer who has
published three books including South Korea: Our Story by Daniel Nardini.
                     A year ago, I spoke with an American veteran of the Korean War. One thing he did not
know was that there was a virtual civil war in South Korea from 1948 to 1950 between the South Korean
government and the Communist guerrillas (in a parallel fight, there was a struggle between the North
Korean government and anti-communist guerrillas). When I mention to most people in the United States
about World War II and the Holocaust, they are quite familiar about the war in Europe. They have no idea
about the war between China and Japan fought between 1931 to 1945. Likewise, almost no Americans
I have talked to even understand that South Korea has contributed troops in the Vietnam War and in areas
of conflict as part of its alliance with the United States and with units of the United Nations’ forces. Even
Americans of Asian descent are not taught much about the conditions and conflicts that had taken place
in East Asia (China, Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong) during the 20th Century and
even into the early 21st Century. I understand that the United States, largely being a western country,
has almost always looked towards Europe. Part of the reason we know so much more about Europe and
European history is because we have had so many immigrants come from Europe and so we know
more about what conflicts and conditions are on that continent. But over the last century this has been
changing. America has had significant ties with East Asia, we do in fact more extensive trade with East Asia
than we do with Europe, and a have a growing Asian immigrant population as well as many Americans of
East Asian descent living in the United States. I know that there is a growing interest in the history about
East Asia, and there are a growing number of schools offering courses not only in California but in other
parts of the United States about East Asia. It is time that not only this gap in our knowledge about this
part of the world be remedied, but that the Asian immigrant experience in the United States be taught
in our schools.