The Era of Crisis, Korea's Politics
Why couldn't the international community block the isolated and collapsing
country from developing nuclear weapons? With the four major powers, the
US, China, Russia, and Japan being deeply involved in the effort, North
Korea is triumphantly touting its ability to fire missiles across the
Pacific. How could this be possible? As an explanation for this mystery,
I'm going to tell you the annals of diplomatic history which have caused
this to happen and what South Korea can and must do to cope with this
Historically speaking, from the division of the peninsula to the outbreak
of the Korean War, and now North Korea's acquisition of the "bomb", the
Korean problem has always been handled consistently with gross negligence,
misunderstanding, misjudgment, a lack of strategy, and paralysis. Korea was
divided because the US was negligent after it invited Stalin to this
peninsula. After Stalin broke the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact and
entered Korea, the US got flustered by the advancing Soviet forces and
hastily drew the 38th parallel as the demarcation line between the US and
Soviet occupation zones. The Korean War was also a similar case. In the
same year China was made communist, the US pulled its troops from South
Korea and excluded South Korea from the "US defense perimeter" in the
Pacific. Five months later North Korea started the Korean War, a war that
resulted in over 5 million casualties. About the nuclear program, in 2002,
President Bush declared North Korea a member of the "Axis-of-Evil."
However, he did nothing but tempt North Korea to prompt its nuclear weapons
development, fixing his attention on Afghanistan and Iraq. For long
stretches of time, North Korea was a "problem," but not a "crisis."
But first and foremost, we Koreans blame ourselves. What have we Koreans
done while the superpowers were putting aside or exploiting North Korean
matters? Korean leaders have been preoccupied with holding summits with the
North Korean leader. Some said North Korea had neither the will, nor the
capability to develop nuclear weapons. When the US confronted the North
Koreans with evidence that they were developing highly enriched uranium,
top advisors to the South Korean president accused the US of creating a
crisis by making unfounded accusations, thus becoming North Korea's
advocates. During 10 years of "Sunshine Policy," South Korea transferred
nearly 10 billion dollars worth of cash, goods, and aid to North Korea.
Applying Aesop's fable "the North Wind and the Sun," South Korea willingly
supplied the opportunities and resources to equip North Korea with nuclear
bombs and long-range missiles. Now, we're in the state of desperately
finding ways to escape from this formidable predicament.
The new administration of President Park Geun-hye plans to launch its
"trust politik." However, its success will depend on whether we have a
powerful deterrent. The international community also needs to make the
denucleariation of North Korea its highest priority.
The following options are what I'm suggesting to solve this urgent
First, US tactical nuclear weapons that were withdrawn in 1991 should be re-
introduced to South Korea.
Second, the agreement between South Korea and the US to transfer wartime
operation control to South Korean forces in 2015 should be nullified.
Third, in this time of crisis, plans to move the US 2nd Infantry Division
south of the Han River, should be stopped.
Fourth, threatened by a nuclear state, South Korea should consider
withdrawing from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as stipulated in
article 10 of the treaty. By doing this, we can develop our own nuclear
capability in a way comparable to that of North Korea.
Fifth, dialogue can and should be an option with the condition that
denuclearization is at the top of the agenda.
The ultimate option is the fundamental change in the North Korean regime as
it happened in China. The denuclearization of the Korean peninsula will be
the last hurdle before the peaceful reunification of Korea. Let Koreans
keep their miracle by wisely overcoming this hurdle. We need our own people
and our neighboring countries to help by converging on this.
Translation by Soo Jung Kang
President of Salt & Light Education