| A report was issued Tuesday on Chinese pirates terrorizing North Korean fishermen in waters in front of the Cholsan peninsula in the Stalinist country`s North Pyongan Province. This is reminiscent of Mao Wenlong, a Ming marine commander who lived in the transition period from the Ming to the Qing Dynasty. Over the time, the province was turned into a war zone with Ming and Later Jin Dynasty soldiers following refugees. With the sovereignty of Korea`s Joseon Dynasty being seriously violated, the influence of the Joseon government could not reach the region. Mao charged commercial ships that moved to and from Ming, Joseon and Later Jin ports and acted like the king of the seas. Though he called himself the son of Heaven, he was the head of pirates.
Joseon King Injo뭩 restoration dealt a big blow to Later Jin. Different from Prince Gwanghae, Injo was friendly toward Ming while opposing the ethnic Manchus. Under the rule of Gwanghae, Later Jin could trade with Ming via Joseon, but things changed under King Injo. Sea routes from Joseon to China뭩 Shandong Peninsula were controlled by Mao, a junior Ming officer who used to attack Later Jin from behind with his Ming refugee subordinates as guerrilla fighters.
Though the Ming government knew of Mao뭩 nasty deeds, it turned a blind eye to him in exchange for his attacks on Later Jin. When Later Jin initiated the Manchu war of 1636, it claimed that the war was to attack Joseon. Later Jin`s hidden purpose, however, was to wrest control of the seaways from Mo so that it could more easily trade with Ming. When Later Jin forces raided Mao뭩 stronghold, a treasure trove of silk and silver are said to have been found there.
Different from other water areas, many islands are off the coast of the Cholsan Peninsula in North Korea. Lots of islands along a rias coast create the ideal stage for pirates. Today`s Chinese pirates could be called the descendants of Mo and his subordinates. North Korea, however, has failed to crack down on sea piracy. The North뭩 patrol boats are too old to catch the double-engine vessels of Chinese pirates. To prevent people from fleeing the North, the speed of North Korean fishing boats are set to speeds lower than those of patrol vessels, making such boats vulnerable to pirates.
Caribbean pirates between the 16th and 18th century were so famous that Hollywood movies have been made about them. But now, the most notorious pirates are from Somalia. The number of Somali pirates began to grow in the 1980s, when their central government was overthrown due to a civil war and their coast guard and navy lost control of seas. At first, Somali fishermen gathered together to protect their turf from foreign fishing boats, but later learned that they could make big money by taking hostages for ransom. Somali piracy is now an international business with the participation of many people, and professional negotiators from overseas are hired. Throughout history both in the East and West, bandits have grown rampant in the mountains and pirates in waters if a government fails to function properly.
Editorial Writer Song Pyeong-in (firstname.lastname@example.org)