North Korea is going to send a team to the Winter Olympics in South Korea. The news is looking promising with a significant thawing of relations between the two Koreas in advance of the Winter Olympics. High level talks have begun already between North and South Korea. with the main focus on preprations for the Olympics. The US is behind it too. President Donald Trump said “If something good can happen and come out of those talks it would be a great thing for all of humanity. That would be a great thing for the world. Very important.”
But where is this headed? Is it a real chance of peace or just a flash in the pan? And what are the long term objectives of the Koreans? And is there any chance of a military intervention by the US in North Korea after the games are over - or was there ever a chance of this? Could the situation there lead to a global WWIII? Well you can probably see from the title of this article that it is going to challenge many pre-conceptions that you may have based on media articles on the topic. So, let’s look at this closely.
BACKGROUND TO THE TALKS
So first, after much tension there is a definite thawing of relations between South and North Korea after Kim Jong Un’s New Years speech. He is keen on sport and he said he wants their ice skating pair to take part in the Winter Olympics. The US responded by agreeing to put a halt to all joint military operations with South Korea for the duration of the games (this has long been a sore point for North Korea who see them as preparations for an invasion). Soon after that, North Korea reinstated the hot line with South Korea and offered to meet for talks about the possibility of their ice skating pair competing in the Winter Olympics in February. These talks are happening today.
Trump tweeted initially saying that he thought North Korea was trying to drive a wedge between South Korea and the US. However he soon changed his tune and took credit for the developments, said talks are good, and that the US hopes to join the talks at a later date.
CONTINUING ANXIETY AMONGST SCARED PEOPLE WHO READ THE NEWS
Still, many people continue to be anxious about the situation in Korea. As a blogger who often writes Doomsday Debunking posts, I am currently averaging several PM's a day from people who are scared that the situation in Korea is going to lead to WWIII, and we get many posts about it to the Doomsday Debunked Facebook group as well. They think that it is going to lead to a war between North Korea, China and Russia on one side and the US and its many allies on the other side, involving exchanges of thousands of nuclear weapons. They now worry that Trump may be planning to attack North Korea immediately after the Winter Olympics, and that this will lead to WWIII.
All this could hardly be further from the truth. This article is based on the research I did to find out more to answer their many questions and I am writing it to help others who may have the same fears as they did and be similarly in the dark about the true situation and confused by the articles in the media.
CHINA AND RUSSIA DO NOT SUPPORT NORTH KOREA’S NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM
First, China and Russia are not allies of North Korea. It is not even a communist country. It was communist originally, immediately after the Korean war when it was split between North Korea supported by Russia and China and South Korea supported by the US. However, North Korea rejected communism some time back, striving instead for a concept called Juche, or independence from China, and all other countries. It has its own independent style of government based on a form of Confucianism. It is a totalitarian regime but not communist. Or at least, it doesn’t think of itself as communist and the North Koreans would say that the foreign journalists who describe them as such have got it wrong. They say they are socialist, but not communist. Also neither China nor Russia recognize North Korea as an ally.
China do have a mutual defense pact with North Korea but it was signed decades ago and independent commentators say that there is no way that modern China would honour it and support North Korea in a war with the US. The relationship between China and North Korea is an uneasy one. And China are not at all in support of a nuclear armed North Korea. The last thing they want is a government with this strange ideology (to them) in possession of dodgy nuclear weapons and unreliable missiles.
Then, the two Koreas are not just looking for an uneasy peace and for North Korea to drop its development of nuclear weapons in exchange for removal of sanctions. That’s a US perspective, but both South and North Korea aim for reunification of the two countries into a single country. As difficult as that may seem with their two such different styles of government, ideologies, etc, that is their end aim on both sides. I was surprised to discover this, as it is never mentioned in recent news reports on the Korean situation. Both Koreas are strongly focused on this, and you can be pretty sure that reunification of Korea is going to be top of the minds of the negotiators in talks between North and South Korea, whether or not it is actually a matter of discussion so early into the proceedings.
Neither side are thinking in terms of war. North Korea has no wish to invade South Korea, nor do SK want to invade NK. Also you can be sure that NK will not drop a nuclear weapon on the US just in response to a Trump tweet. They respond to his fighting words and bluffs with more fighting words and bluffs on their side. But there is no way they are going to respond to fighting words with a bomb strike. NK developed its nuclear weapons as a deterrent only - and the deterrent, and all their many years of work on it, becomes useless if it is ever used.
Anyway I will go into all that more later. But to start with I want to talk about how it is impossible for the US to do any kind of military intervention in North Korea.
WHY THE US CAN’T ORDER A MILITARY STRIKE AGAINST NORTH KOREA - THE US CITIZENS IN SOUTH KOREA AS A GUARANTEE OF PEACE
You might think - why can’t the US just bomb North Korea and invade it, as they so often have done with other countries? The US invaded Syria, Iraq, Libya, they intervened in Afghanistan, controversially they launch drone strikes against militants in Pakistan, and are often involved in military interventions in one way or another.
You might even turn your mind back to Vietnam and wonder if we could have something like a rerun of the Vietnam war as a future prospect in Korea.
However there is one thing new in this situation that none of those previous wars had. There are US civilians in South Korea. The US can tolerate military losses, even hundreds, or thousands of soldiers dying in warfare. But they have no stomach at all for civilian casualties.
Also, South Korea has not just a few US civilians, easily evacuated. What some of you may not know is that it is one of the most beautiful countries in Asia. It’s a tourist magnet for millions of tourists from China, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Thailand. A total of 13 million tourists visit South Korea every year. That’s 35,600 tourists arriving in South Korea, on average, every single day. It also has two million foreign residents as well. Details here
And amongst all those tourists and residents, there are many from the US too. The US has had a presence in South Korea ever since the Korean war and the work they did to help rebuild South Korea after that. South Korea has 150,000 US citizens, many civilian - including families of soldiers, members of the civil service, teachers of English as a second language etc. It had over 650,000 US tourists visit in 2016. That’s 1,780 US tourists arriving in South Korea on average, every single day.
Here are some promotional videos to give you an idea of the sort of place it is, and why it attracts tourists from all around the world:
So - what happens if Trump decides to do a military strike on North Korea as he has often threatened to do? Well first, it’s hard to know what is bluff and what is fantasy. It might well be that some of the administration, some senators, even Trump himself have contemplated actually intervening in North Korea in a military way. They may have considered a drone strike to assassinate Kim Jong Un or strikes to eliminate their long range missiles.
However -what happens when North Korea responds with retaliatory strikes on South Korea or further afield? How can Trump or the US knowingly trigger such a response without warning all those tourists?
He has to tweet something like: “I’m about to do a military strike on North Korea - cancel your holidays!”. Can you imagine the outrage if he doesn’t? People who had flown out to South Korea the day before, were relaxing in Seoul and a bomb strikes their restaurant or house or beach or tourist spot, and all are killed. Others that canceled their flight at last minute and were saved. Parents losing their children. children losing their parents, husbands losing their wives and wives losing their husbands, all because Trump didn’t warn them about what he was going to do. This is politically impossible. for him.
They would also have to evacuate those tourists already there as well as the civilian US residents from South Korea. That last is a point made in several of the articles including this one reported in “The Atlantic”
If war was imminent, we would likely see something we haven’t yet: an evacuation of Americans—civilians, military family members, non-essential personnel—from South Korea, according to Abe Denmark, who served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia under Barack Obama. “It’s impossible to hide because it’s over 100,000 people,” he said, and it “would signal that things are getting really dangerous.” How to Tell If North Korea and America Are Actually Headed to War
The ones I read however haven’t mentioned the issue of all the tourists. But there is no way Trump could evacuate the residents and ignore the tourists.
And - Trump is not mad or suicidal. He may be impulsive and appear to have a short attention span but he is also shrewd. He must be, to have got this far through such a turbulent presidency that would have unseated probably any previous president if he’d encountered the same issues. He might go to the generals and say “Let’s bomb North Korea” but they would bring up the issue of when to warn the US citizens in South Korea - they have to - and there is no answer to that.
Let’s unpack this a bit more. He has to warn not just the US civilians in South Korea, and the US tourists that arrive there every day, and that are in the country already. He has to warn his allies too. He would do any military action with co-operation of the South Korean military anyway so they would know. But he’d also have to warn the Japanese, and surely he’d warn the Chinese too of his intentions. But they also would have to tell their tourists to cancel their holidays in South Korea.
South Korea does have many bomb shelters for just this eventuality. But who is going to stay in a bomb shelter in South Korea when you can leave the country?
And there is no way this can be kept secret. The South Korean tourist industry would shut down overnight. Everyone headed for South Korea would cancel their holidays. Those already there, as soon as they get the messages from their friends saying to get out of there, would be queuing at the airports trying to get early flights back.
But in addition to this you have the 100,000 or so US civilians resident in South Korea who at least will most of them want to take an immediate holiday away from South Korea. And in total the two million foreign residents in South Korea would want to leave too, most of them - at least for a few weeks for the duration of the war (likely to last at most two weeks before North Korea run out of supplies). All wanting to leave when on average there are only 35,600 tourists leaving every day. Now you have two million plus wanting to leave, all on a single day. It’s logistically impossible.
Just a single tweet from Trump saying “Warning to US citizens in South Korea, we are about to bomb North Korea” would lead to a total halt of the South Korean tourist industry, a chaos which the region would probably take a long time to recover from, and millions seeking to leave the country by boat, by air, through the Chinese and Russian borders, in whatever way they could. Especially so with all the media attention and stories about millions likely to be killed in South Korea and the prospects discussed in the media of biological, chemical and even nuclear attacks if North Korea gets desperate.
All that tourist industry would halt overnight.
Also, just this massive evacuation would have a major economic impact on the region, and hit the South Korean tourist industry very hard. Many people would go out of business.
So - to evacuate would be a really major thing to do. The US would totally be on the spot if it did something that triggered such a major event as that. It wouldn’t need to start a war. Just one tweet could do all that.
Surely it’s just inconceivable that the Trump administration knowingly puts all those US civilians into danger without warning them that a war is about to break out. How could he start a war without warning them and doing his best to evacuate them? It would surely be the end of his presidency.
At least - so it seems to me. Can you see any way that it could be different? Do say in the comments.
Also, there is no way it can be kept secret. There is no cover story they could use to explain mass evacuation of tens of thousands of US civilians. And since some of the North Korean missiles can reach Japan, what about US citizens in Japan too? Do they evacuate them as well?
So, as several articles have said, that would be the sign that he is serious about it, if he evacuates US civilians. But he can't do that - unless very serious - as the effects would be huge all without even firing a shot.
ONLY ONE SITUATION IN WHICH THEY COULD DO A SURPRISE ATTACK
There is only one way they could attack North Korea without warning anyone in a surprise attack. That is if they were close to 100% sure that North Korea would not retaliate. But all the evidence according to the various commentators on this that I’ve read is the opposite.
They all say that it’s close to 100% certain North Korea would retaliate to a US attack. And that’s a big deal.
The thing is that many of the North Korean long range missiles are buried in underground bunkers, some even deep within mountains, well concealed. The US don’t necessarily know where all of them are. Other weapons are portable and camouflaged. Their missiles use solid fuel too, so don’t have to be loaded with liquid hydrogen, no preparation is needed. Like the ICBMs of the major powers, they can be launched with seconds of notice.
If desperate they also have stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons. Their missiles can reach heavily populated areas of South Korea - but not only that, also Japan and Guam.
It would of course be the US military’s top priority to destroy these long range missiles. But since they don’t know where they are and many are buried, or easily hidden and camouflaged and portable, the only way they can do that is with ground forces and an action that would last days. During all that time, North Korea would continue to fire long range missiles at South Korea and its main city Seoul and further afield. Indeed they would feel they have to do this with utmost urgency since they are soon going to lose the capability as the US destroy the missiles.
For the details and background, see
- Securing North Korean nuclear sites would require a ground invasion, Pentagon says
- South Korea Reveals Plan to Hit The North With a Huge Missile Barrage If War Erupts
The whole war would last for an estimated two weeks, before North Korea would run out of supplies but the first stage of destroying their long range missiles would last several days.
So, it doesn’t seem that the US could be planning a surprise attack to destroy the North Korean military capabilities to the extent that it is no longer a threat to the millions of people in South Korea and beyond. It is just not a practical military possibility.
Because of the reality of the situation, to attack at all is a major step that one can't imagine them doing just because of paranoid fears. And the consequences are so huge that they couldn’t just evacuate all those people as a military bluff.
Something with such major consequences surely would have to be discussed in Congress. But even then - how could even a declaration of war in Congress be carried through in practice?
WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR THE WNTER OLYMPICS IN SOUTH KOREA?
South Korea will host the winter Olympics in February 2018. Probably you don't think of it as a country with snow- but they do have their snowy areas too.
The US and South Korea are surely not going to start a major war with North Korea before, or during the Winter Olympics.
Some have been suggesting that means that the US will attack after the Olympics are over - but that is still a gamble with the lives of thousands of US citizens. I don't see how they could do that. The advisers of the Trump administration must be telling them this.
So what about the other way around, would North Korea in some way take advantage of the games and try to disrupt them? On the face of it this may seem plausible - but if you try to figure out what motive North Korea would have for doing this, it doesn’t make much sense.
MIGHT NORTH KOREA DISRUPT THE WINTER OLYMPICS?
Short summary: No. The situation is very different from 1988, when the disrupted the summer Olympics with a bomb on an airplane that killed many people.
This time around political experts are saying that North Korea have nothing to gain from disrupting the games. They have two excellent figure skaters that they hope to enter and though they have missed the opportunity to qualify, they are likely to be entered still as a wild card from the IOC. The US normally does military exercises in the region at around this time of year and if they were to postpone those then it could be an excellent opportunity for diplomacy. Well, now they have.
The International Olympic Committee sees no cause for concern about North Korea and the Winter Olympics.
Also Kim Jong Un has just said that they plan to participate in the Winter Olympics, see North Korea's Kim says nuclear weapons will prevent war with U.S. The US has also hinted that they are considering postponing their usual military exercises for this time of year until after the Olympics.
Here is the ice skating couple who will probably compete for North Korea in the Winter Olympics in South Korea following Kim Jong Un's New Year speech which shows indication of warming relations with South Korea:
BBC News account of his speech: North Korea's Kim Jong-un issues threats and olive branch
South Korea took them up on this, see North and South Korea to begin talks
WHAT ABOUT THE BOMB ON A PLANE IN THE 1988 SOUTH KOREAN OLYMPICS?
It is true that North Korea did put a bomb on a plane in 1988 to disrupt the South Korean olympics back then. For details, see Korean Air Flight 858 - Wikipedia
However that was a very different situation. South Korea was a weak country making its first steps towards a powerful economy and democratic rule. North Korea felt they could strike a blow to that whole process:
North Korea hoped to prove that Seoul couldn't provide security for the Games at a critical time for its southern neighbor.
For South Korea, the 1988 Games represented a “coming out,” said Patrick Cronin, an analyst at the Center for a New American Security. The country was emerging from the shadows of a series of military and autocratic rulers with a vibrant economy and democratic rule.
Preparing for the 1988 Olympics helped propel South Korea toward democracy,
The situation is very different today. South Korea is a powerful, wealthy, modern country. In the list of countries by GDP by purchasing power parity, South Korea ranks 14. List of countries by GDP (PPP) - Wikipedia - I know that these measures can be a bit misleading sometimes but there can be no doubt it is a wealthy modern country. North Korea, if it appears in the list, is below 100.
Balazs Szalontai, an associate professor at Korea University, said it is unlikely that North Korea would attempt a terrorist attack today. It is possible, though, that the North might "try to steal the limelight" and stage a naval confrontation or carry out a missile test in an effort to embarrass or humiliate South Korea.
South Korea wants to avoid that and "will probably go to great lengths to pacify and calm down North Korea," Szalontai said.
And the International Olympics Committee says there is no hint of a threat
"There is so far not even a hint that there is a threat for the security of the Games in the context of the tensions between North Korea and some other countries," Bach told reporters.
"We are in contact with governments concerned. In all these conversations with the leading figures in the different governments we can see there is no doubt being raised about the winter Games of 2018."
Before the latest developments, experts were saying that the Winter Olympics provided a perfect opportunity for diplomacy and a thawing of relations
The upcoming Olympics provide the perfect opportunity for the United States and North Korea to sit down and talk.The upcoming Olympics provide the perfect opportunity for the United States and North Korea to sit down and talk. Washington can offer to suspend the military exercises, and in return Pyongyang might offer to suspend its nuclear and missile tests. The North would agree to send its athletes and not blow anything up. Then, Trump, Moon, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un can look like statesmen taking the high road to protect the proud history of the games and the athletes.
Then in his New Years speech Kim Jong Un has said they want to take part in the Winter Olympics:
“North Korea’s participation in the Winter Games will be a good opportunity to show unity of the people and we wish the Games will be a success. Officials from the two Koreas may urgently meet to discuss the possibility,” Kim said.
So with all the parties involved keen for them to attend, it seemed reasonably likely.
It’s not just the winter olympics, there are the Paralympics too:
South Korea's unification ministry said Tuesday that there are some signs that North Korea is preparing to take part in the PyeongChang Paralympics slated for March, though the North has not officially announced if it is joining.
And now it is clear that it is going ahead, at least, no other outcome of the talks seems likely.
So then, if both sides play it right, it is an opportunity for diplomacy too. It's not like the 1988 case because South Korea is now a highly successful, wealthy, democracy and there is no way that disrupting the olympics would change that
SUMMARY SO FAR
So, it’s not something that’s worth worrying about. If the US starts evacuating US civilians by the tens of thousands from SK then I'd start worrying that they are headed for a restart of the Korean war which would be very nasty. I don't think a global war is likely at all from the Korean situation - I think that's just bluff / trying to get China to act.
The Winter Olympics don’t seem a particular cause for concern and indeed are an opportunity for negotiation. With North Korea participating then all is good to go for a peaceful Olympics.
I'm just saying all this on the basis of what I read reading the best sources I could find.
But one thing seems abundantly clear. If Trump was seriously considering war with NK, he would have to seriously consider evacuation procedures and what to do about tourists - he would absolutely have to think through this.
I can't see how he could look at the current situation and say "Okay let's bomb NK". The only way he could do it is if for some reason he was pretty much 100% certain they would not retaliate but how could he be that?
SO WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE FROM THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION SAYING ALL THIS ABOUT A MILITARY ATTACK ON NORTH KOREA - IF IT IS NOT AN OPTION FOR THE US?
It has to be bluff, and if there is an end game I think it is to try to persuade China to step up on its sanctions and other actions, as they never fail to mention the need for this.
However they don’t seem to be following a single coherent strategy here. The current US administration seems to be in division with Rex Tillerson saying one thing and Trump another. For instance Rex Tillerson’s suggestion of meeting North Korea without pre-conditions that was immediately dismissed. Eventually this resulted in Kim Jong Un taking the diplomatic initiative himself in his New Year speech.
So it's a confusing message for both the Chinese and North Korea,
They have however succeeded in getting China to agree to major increased sanctions, 90% reduction in petroleum imports. But those may take a while to take effect.
There has been some fuss recently with Trump accusing China of evading those new sanctions. But it is all allegations with no evidence. It was a Taiwanese company and China deny involvement. Ship seized amid row over North Korea oil
WHAT HAPPENS IF TRUMP JUST ORDERS A MILITARY ATTACK ANYWAY?
Trump’s actions are so volatile that you might wonder if he might just order a military attack that the generals don't think is justified or sensible. So what happens if he does that?
The answer for a nuclear attack in a similar situation, according to the hearing in the Senate was that four star generals can and would have to refuse under international treaty and military ethics. This is basic training that all soldiers have - that you shouldn’t obey an illegal order to fire on unarmed civilians - taken to the next level for situations encountered by generals. It has to be appropriate and proportional. For more on this, see Can Trump order a nuclear attack on civilians in North Korea in peace time without Congress approval? General Kehler says no.
But this suggests a broader question, what if he orders a conventional attack risking lives of thousands of US civilians in S. Korea, would the generals again refuse to carry out his order? I’d have thought the situation was similar, but maybe that's something that needs to be clarified similarly.
Anyway - I think that Trump is not mad. He is “canny”, rather, as they say in Scotland, shrewd and astute in his own way - he has to be to have survived so many things that would have lead to almost any other politician ending their career. He would know that to do this would be the end of his time as president, and huge in its consequences. I can’t see him doing this.
IS NORTH KOREA PLANNING WAR?North Korea also, despite all its rhetoric, doesn’t show any signs of preparing for a major war. Far from it. They are taking precautions to prevent accidental war.
Dunford, in fact, told senators this week that North Korea’s military activities have not matched the government’s escalating rhetoric. The United States hasn’t detected a “change in the posture of North Korean forces” as a result of the “charged political environment,” he testified. A South Korean lawmaker who heads the legislature’s intelligence committee claims that the Kim regime is seeking to avoid accidental conflict by ordering soldiers to report up the chain of command before taking any military action.
North Korean propaganda may loudly and confidently condemn Trump as the “trouble-maker of humanity,” but North Korean officials are quietly struggling to square Trump’s fiery tweets with the sober statements of his advisers, and reportedly reaching out to American Korea experts in search of clarity.
WHAT ABOUT THE NORTH KOREA - CHINA MUTUAL DEFENSE PACT?
This is about the broader issue. Many are scared that if war ever broke out there, it would not be a local war but ramp right up to a global nuclear war between China, Russia and the US.
However that again seems to be sensationalism.
This is rather illuminating, it’s about how the US has no real military options again, but goes into more details than most of these analyses: What would a U.S.-North Korea war look like?
It actually looks at what would happen if the US tried a "limited war" with NK and how China might respond - they think China would try to maintain a 50 km wide border strip of NK along their border.
The tricky thing for China is that despite the deteriorating relations, it has a mutual defense pact with North Korea. But experts think it is unlikely China would come to NK's aid in a limited war with the US (if such happened). The relations between the countries have deteriorated a lot with the nuclear weapons not winning NK any friends in China.
“While the mutual defense treaty obligates China to come to North Korea’s aid in times of war, no one believes that China will fulfill this obligation,” said Zhang Baohui, a professor of political science at Hong Kong’s Lingnan University. “The Chinese government has not mentioned this treaty for a long time.”
However, he goes on to say that if the US was about to invade and unify the whole of Korea then the Chinese might interfere to protect part of NK as a buffer zone for China. More about that here in this article in the Japan Times.
Wikipedia article on Chinese NK relations China–North Korea relations - Wikipedia
WHAT ABOUT THE NORTH KOREAN DEFECTORS?
This is an article from South Korea: EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Dec. 22. It suggests that because NK’s situation is getting worse due to the sanctions, they could make more provocations against SK. How would provocations help their dificult situation? I don’t really follow that reasoning. On the other hand - he seems to be arguing that the SK government should add preparation for nuclear attacks to its monthly civil defense drill and evacuation drills as well - that seems reasonable enough, however unlikely the scenario.
It's local Korean politics, and based on the local situation there. It does seem reasonable though to assume that the last paragraph in an article like that is the main point in it. Just because people tend to write articles ending with their punch line.
WHAT IS THE NORTH KOREAN END GAME?
Their end game is diplomacy, not war.Even if they were a super power, still there are no good options involving launching nuclear weapons - it is a lose lose situation. But NK don't even have the possibility that a first strike could achieve anything beneficial to them. Even if they thought the US was about to attack them with nuclear weapons, there is nothing they could do to prevent that from happening and a first strike therefore is utterly pointless for them.
For more on this see my earlier post here: Did you know: North Korea is not communist - nobody else wants them to have nuclear weapons - and their leader is not mad
This is from a South Korean think tank. They think that NK will try to start up talks on nuclear disarmament with the US and SK after they successfully prove re-entry for an ICBM, (LEAD) N. K. to seek talks with U.S. after ICBM's successful re-entry: Seoul think tank I wonder if he might try to actually do his suggested hydrogen bomb test via ICBM to the Pacific - that would really prove his capability. Might do that if they won't come to the table.
But as things are going at the moment maybe it won't come to any of that. Maybe the Winter Olympics talks can segue through to peace and reunification talks.
However there is much more to it than this
NORTH AND SOUTH KOREA’S WISH FOR REUNIFICATION
Neither North nor South Korea see an invasion as their end game. Nor is their aim an uneasy peace where North Korea surrenders its nuclear weapons in return for dropping sanctions and various concessions. Rather, both of them are really keen on the eventual aim of reunification of the two Koreas. That may surprise you given the differences in ideologies - but it is something most Koreans long for.
"Featuring two Korean women in traditional garments reaching out to one another holding up a map of a unified Korea, the symbolism is obvious. Erected in 2001, the arch is sited rather aptly, on the Tongil expressway which leads straight to Panmunjom and eventually, Seoul. The three principles (formalized by Kim Il Sung during a meeting with the South in 1972) are independence, peaceful reunification and national unity."
View from Open Street Map, Google
North Korea is not communist now, though it was originally when Korea first got separated into the northern part supported by Russia and China and the southern part supported by the US. It rejected communism long ago in favour of Juche which is a goal of national sustainability and independence. Especially, they want to be independent of China who historically has had Korea as a vassal territory.
It has the aim to bring into being a heaven on Earth based on Confucian ideas which don’t have ideas of an afterlife, in a religion called Chendoism. Their religious aim instead s a hierarchical ordered society of peace and harmony with Kim Jong Un at its head. Their ruthless behaviour has this as its objective. They want a unified Korea - but not by conquest. Both North Korea and South Korea have as their main aim not warfare, nor an uneasy peace with a non nuclear North Korea - but a unified Korea.
The South Koreans see the details somewhat differently from North Korea. They are not aiming for a unified country based on Chendoism but rather based on modern democracy and capitalism. Their predominant religion is Christian, with Buddhism as the second most popular religion, and the majority of them profess no religious beliefs at all. So - they have this shared objective of a unified country but their ideas about how to achieve it are very different.
The South Koreans also see unification as likely to be the result of the collapse of the North Korean government. They even have tried to work out how to fund it, with an estimated cost of reunification of a trillion dollars. They have proposed a tax that would fund the cost of reunification. However the North Korean government is proving very resistant to collapse and this doesn’t seem likely despite all their hardship.
The North Koreans are willing to undergo vast amounts of hardship and to pull together to keep going through the sanctions imposed on them by other countries in pursuit of their aim. The leaders don’t of course suffer from famine but they have a fair bit of support from the people too - must do. We need to remember the background that North Korea - and indeed both Koreas suffered horribly in the Korean war. But especially in North Korea where as a civilian - not a soldier - living in North Korea your chance of dying during the war was the same as for a soldier in the trenches during World War I. The Korean war is a living memory of their older people. This is a strong incentive to remain independent and to do everything they can to prevent foreign invasion - however invalid that perception may seem to us.
Now when I described the North Korean aim there - that was the official line of the government as outlined for instance in Kim Jong Un’s New Years speech. However, in a survey of 100 North Koreans who were visiting China on business or to visit relatives, then a very different picture emerges. Only a minority want a country unified under the North Korean government. Nearly all think it will be a peaceful process and not the result of collapse of their government. But most think it will be either a mixed system of government or the South Korean political system extended to North Korea.
Few of them have degrees - so they are not the intellectual elite of NK, just ordinary folk - and not defectors so not people of unusual views either. The main thing they may have that sets them out from their compatriots is that they do have some exposure to conditions outside their country. The author of the article describes these results as "startling".
Korean unification flag which has been flown on several occasions when the two Koreas participated as one team in sporting events. For instance both countries usually walk in together under the same flag during the Olympic opening ceremonies, even though they then go on to compete separately
Also interestingly - China is keen on reunification too, so long as the unified Korea is not hostile to China. They don't require it to be an ally. just not hostile to them - and that the foreign powers withdraw from any military involvement in Korea after reunification.
The article is here: Korean Reunification: The View From the North
This is the wikipedia article on Korean reunification - the South are already preparing for it and wondering about how to deal with the cost estimated at around a trillion dollars - though less interest amongst young Koreans than older Korean reunification - Current status
This is Kim Jong Un's New Year speech where he gives the government official line on reunification towards the end. It's interesting to read as we seldom hear the NK official perspective on their own situation in the West.
Kim Jong Un’s_2017 New Years Address
I was especially interested in all this - as I can't remember reunification even being mentioned in recent news stories. It's all about just achieving a peace treaty for them. The idea that we have to live with a separate NK and SK and just find a way forward to do that peacefully.
But it is obvious that reunification is going to be top of the agenda - or at least if not on the agenda, uppermost on their minds as they meet to talk about their future. If not right away, some time down the line. Both governments are very keen on it though they disagree on how to achieve it and the final political system of course.
They have often marched together as one team in the Olympics opening ceremonies. Here they are as one team for the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
This is a point that I think many foreigners have probably missed altogether, like me. Except for those who have been to South Korea and spoken to South Koreans.
- North Korean - Likely Used Light Mock Warhead To Fly Further&Not About To Invade South Korea Or US Invade NK
- Tense Situation On North Korea - Not Like Cold War Cuban Missile Crisis However
And in my Debunking Doomsday blog on Quora:
- Can Trump order a nuclear attack on civilians in North Korea in peace time without Congress approval? General Kehler says no.
- Debunked: North Korea plan to set off a supervolcano eruption by dropping a nuclear bomb on Yellowstone
- Why North Korea is not about to invade South Korea - or the US invade NK - and why you don’t need to be scared of a NK hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific
- North Korea Update
- Tense situation concerning North Korea
See also List of the articles in my Debunking Doomsday blog to date and you can try searching that page for a word like “Nibiru” or “Yellowstone” or whatever to find articles of interest.
Also if you want to help make a difference, you can sign and share these petitions- and do have a look at the comments to get an idea of the scale of the problem. Click “Join Conversation” to see more of them.
- To Google - please do something about the nonsense in Google News!
- To Youtube: Halt Ads on Doomsday Videos
- To Journalists: Debunk Rather than Dramatize "Doomsday" Stories - The Vulnerable Get Suicidal
You may also be interested in my:
- Google News Without The Nonsense. It’s much the same as Google News, with the sensationalist nonsense fake news filtered out. Try sorting it “by relevance” as well as “by date”
And if you need help - well message me of course and comment on any of these posts - and you can also join our Facebook group Doomsday Debunked. .
You can post there about stories that scare you and get replies from others who help debunk them. Or you can join the No Scary Posts version which only gives debunks (you can use PM's to ask for a post to be debunked).