Korea 2018: A Momentous Year

Even in the wake of bloody war, peaceful co-existence is possible. Friendship and peace lead to the path of enlightenment and socio-economic, cultural and moral advancement

“There is a tide in the affairs of men which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.”
— Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare

For most of the years between 1 AD to 918 AD, Korea was split into three warring kingdoms. After that date, it was unified as one unitary dynastic empire. However China, the Mongols and Japan each coveted the kingdom and tried to conquer it in turn. Eventually it was the Japanese who were able to colonize the country in 1910 and ruled over it until the end of World War II.

Soon after the US dropped the A-bomb on Nagasaki, the USSR declared war on Imperial Japan. Following an agreement with the US, the Soviets proceeded to terminate Japanese rule over Korea north of the 38th parallel. Subsequently US forces moved in to occupy the South.

Korean War

By 1948, as a result of the Cold War between the USSR and the US, Korea was split into two separate entities with separate governments, each claiming to be legitimate government of all Korea. This is how the world has today ended up with a North and a South Korea, perhaps against the real wishes of the Korean people.

Anyway in 1950, North Korean armed forces — supported by China and the USSR — invaded the South with a view to unifying the country under Communist rule. The UN Security Council immediately authorized the formation and dispatch of UN forces to the Peninsula. Although 21 countries of the UN signed up to this venture, it is worth noting that the US was the major contributor with 90pc of military personnel. Was it mere coincidence that History repeated itself earlier this century in Afghanistan and Iraq with similar contributions from the US?

Be that as it may, this is how began the Korean war in 1950 and ended with the signing of an armistice in 1953, but not before causing immense material destruction and some 39k people had lost their lives. Following the ceasefire, a Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) was created separating North and South Korea indefinitely. It was only in 1991, 38 years after their formation, that both states were accepted into the UN.

Historic Moment

As no treaty to end the conflict was ever signed, the two Koreas have technically remained at war all these past 64 years. That is until now. In a momentous meeting on Friday 27-Apr-2018 at the Peace House in the historic village of Panmunjom which straddles the DMZ, the leaders of the two countries — the North’s Chairman Kim Jong-un and the South’s President Moon Jae-in — have agreed to sign a treaty to formally end the Korean War by the end of 2018.

Hopefully this will eventually lead the two brothers — who have been separated for 64 years to serve the best interest of superpower geopolitics — unite under one banner! After all, precedents have been set by Vietnam and Germany which were also sacrificed to serve similar stratagems.

Re-unification would also mean a diminished role for the US in the area; and possibly signal an end to the “divide and rule” dogma which has been a manifest feature of Western strategy throughout modern History in its drive to colonize hitherto independent nations. 

Commitments

Besides the peace treaty, three very potent commitments have come out in a joint communiqué from the Peace House at Panmunjom. (I) The leaders recognize the aspiration of the Korean people for peace, prosperity and unification (my emphasis), (II) They solemnly pledged before the 80m Korean citizens that there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula, and (III) They committed themselves to bring a rapid end to the relic of the Cold War of division and confrontation. 

In order to do full justice to the communiqué, I copy verbatim the three initiatives stated therein. These are, of course, accompanied by comprehensive sub-texts detailing the minutiae of the mechanics through which the initiatives will be implemented. But space inhibits me from going into these here.

  1. South and North Korea will reconnect blood relations of the people and bring forward the future of co-prosperity and unification led by Koreans by facilitating comprehensive and ground-breaking advancement in inter-Korean relations. Improving and cultivating inter-Korean relations is the prevalent desire of the whole nation and the urgent calling of the times that cannot be held back any further.
  2. South and North Korea will make joint efforts to alleviate the acute military tension and practically eliminate the danger of war on the Korean Peninsula.
  3. South and North Korea will actively co-operate to establish a permanent and solid peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. Bringing an end to the current unnatural state of armistice and establishing a robust peace regime on the Korean Peninsula is a historical mission that must not be delayed any further.

I shall end with an appropriate quote from a previous article. “The EU is living proof that, even in the wake of bloody war, peaceful co-existence is possible. That friendship and peace lead to the path of enlightenment and socio-economic, cultural and moral advancement; whereas animosity and war lead to nowhere and condemn nations to stagnation.” (MT 01-Dec-2017).

At this momentous time in the History of Korea and the world, surely every peace-loving citizen of the world must be rejoicing at the Korean leaders’ bold initiatives to forget the quarrels of the past and build a future together for the benefit of every one of their 80m citizens. With the kind of resolve that is manifest in their joint communique, there is no room for any doubt that they are committed to deliver. 

The entire Korean people, the world at large and God are expecting nothing less!

 


* Published in print edition on 4 May 2018

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