Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What's wrong with the Koreas?

I'm not going to pretend I know anything about North Korea -- or for that matter South Korea. But my friend Christine Ahn does and she's got a point of view on current tensions that people may not have encountered. She sees North Korea's recent nuclear test as yet another episode in a cycle of challenges and feints of violence that all arise from one cause:

At root is the fact that the U.S. is still at war with North Korea. When two nations are at war, there is no room for mutual trust. And so the tit-for-tat games will continue at the cost of an opportunity to denuclearize the Korean peninsula, stabilize Northeast Asia, and divert critically needed resources to the people - not just in North Korea, but South Korea and right here at home.

What we fail to realize is how much this is costing: the millions of North Korean people who endure hardship for the right to be free from another U.S. military invasion, the millions of dollars and Korean won spent on further militarizing the Korean peninsula, the Cold War legacy in the form of National Security Laws in South and North Korea, and the millions of families who are still divided by war.

It's clear that the Six Party Talks were designed to fail. The U.S. entered the talks intending on denuclearizing North Korea, and North Korea entered with the hopes of normalizing relations with the U.S. What would actually break the deadlock is to give the North Koreans what they want: peace. It's about time President Obama actually practiced his rhetoric and gave peace a chance.

Like I said, I don't know much about the Koreas, but it certainly makes intuitive sense to me that maintaining a state of "war" that still festers over fifty years after the shooting stopped is no the way to find peaceful solutions.

A group of Korea-American activists maintain an FAQ on their Korean Peace Treaty campaign. I found their approach to understanding the Koreas broadening. The other two locations I can think of where peoples live in proximity with no peace treaty -- Israel/Palestine and India/Pakistan in Kashmir -- aren't doing so well. There might be something to the idea that what is needed is a peace treaty.

1 comment:

sfmike said...

It's very much one country and one culture, one of the oldest on earth. This is a stupid, destructive blip in historical time, and the sooner they are reunited the better. And no, the United States is not helping matters, at all.

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