April 1, 2017
The Grand Fenwick comedy has turned into a horror story. Following WWII the Korean Peninsula was partitioned into two separate nations, with the northern country (DPRK) allocated to the Soviet Union and the Republic of Korea (South Korea or ROK), under the authority of the Allied administration headed by General MacArthur in Tokyo. The Russians installed Kim Il Sung, then a major in the Russian army, who through assignations and established a total dictatorship. Their objective then and now was to unify the entire Korean Peninsula under their control.
Sensing the military weakness and lack of commitment by the US, on June 26, 1950 Kim launched an attack on South Korea, which initially succeeded brilliantly against the ill-prepared Allied Forces, until, backed by a UN resolution, the Allies reassembled a broad coalition which forced the DPRK army to retreat to almost the northern border. The outcome of the war changed when China intervened with massive support which drove the Allied forces back to the original borders.
The net result of the Korean War was re-establishment of the border at the 38th Parallel. The two countries have never signed peace agreement and are technically still at war.
Over the seven decades since the end of the Korean War, the ROK has developed into a free economic powerhouse with a GNP of $1.7 Trillion and an average annual income of $37,000 per person.
In contrast, the DPRK converted itself into an armed fortress to protect its leaders, imbedding thousands of artillery pieces in tunnels within range of Seoul; creating a standing army of over one million soldiers; developing an arsenal of nuclear weapons; and finally, testing intercontinental ballistic missiles with the capability to hit North American cities. All this was accomplished by diverting funds from domestic development and its impoverished citizens.
Assuming that the West takes no action to prevent Kin Jong Un from acquiring an arsenal of nuclear weapons and intercontinental weapons capable of reaching the US, he would hold a “trump card” against any interference with his dream of reuniting the entire Korean Peninsula as the DPRK.
When the US entered into mutual defense treaties with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines seventy years ago there was little thought that any potential adversary could endanger the US or its Pacific territories. With the DPRK in possession of nuclear ICBM’s would US public opinion cause Washington to rethink its mutual defense treaty obligations, including the US Forces stationed at the 38th Parallel? Would the pacifists in Seoul respond with military action believing that the US would not fulfill its mutual defense treaty obligations? They might accept a “Special Relationship” as Hong Kong has with China. Korea could again be reunited, but under the rule of the evil Kim dynasty.
If this scenario ever did play out, future historians could reasonably ask which country made the better use of its funds?
Byron K. Varme