News By/Courtesy: Ritwik Guha Mustafi | 02 Apr 2020 12:46pm IST

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Tensions erupted after division of Korea by external powers
  • The war lasted for three years from 1950-53
  • The relationship between South and North Korea remains complicated till date

'War is neither glamorous nor attractive. It's monstrous. It's nature is that of tragedy and sufferring'. After the end of the Second World War, the two remaining superpowers of the world- The United States of America and the Soviet Union engaged in an ideological 'faceoff', otherwise known as the cold war. The US supported ideals of democracy and capitalism whereas the Soviet Union supported ideals of dictatorship and communism [1]. 

On 9 August 1945, in the closing days of World War Two, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan and advanced into Korea, at the request of the United States. Though the Soviet declaration of war had been agreed by the Allies at the Yalta Conference, the US government had agreed with the Russian government earlier that the Soviet advance would stop at the 38th parallel, which it did. The US government forces arrived a few weeks later and occupied the area south of the 38th parallel, including the capital, Seoul [2]. When Japan fell during the Second World War, Korea was suddenly free, and hoped to finally be able to decide the fate of their own country. The Soviets wanted to expand the sphere of communist influence into Korea. The United States countered by encouraging the establishment of democracy. Additionally, the United States stressed the importance of containment, which is a foreign policy used to prevent the spread of communism [3]. 

North Korea became a Soviet-supported communist regime under the leadership of Kim Il-sung; South Korea became a U.S.-supported democratic state under Syngman Rhee. The communist leader of North Korea, Kim Il Sung, decided to attempt to reunify Korea under his control. On June 25, 1950, Kim launched a surprise invasion of South Korea [4]. Just two days after invasion, US President Harry Truman launched a counter-offensive by deploying an US-led coalition to Korea [5]. The war carried on for almost 3 years from 1950-53. In 1953, an armistice treaty was signed between China, US, Soviet Union, and North Korea, ending the war and creating a heavily armed two-mile long Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) which exists till date.

After the disintegration of Soviet Union, North Korea faced a lot of financial crisis and to challenge its isolated status in the world, it began testing nuclear missiles and intercontinental ballistic missiles. North Korea has often carried out missile tests and artillery shelling over South Korean and Japanese borders, and has termed the US-South Korean military exercises to be 'agressive' to itself [6]. In 2018, US President Donald Trump, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in entered into talks about denuclearzation, cooperation, peace, and tranquility but the meetings and talks haven't resulted in a concrete policy [7].

For solving this ongoing crisis, the leaders on both sides have to be realistic. A good start would be to formalize North Korea’s promise of no nuclear or missile (short- and long-range) tests and America’s commitment to end military exercises on the peninsula. Another would be to negotiate a trade similar to that proposed in Hanoi, closure of Yongbyon in exchange for selective sanctions relief. Conventional disarmament steps also could be included in the process. The nuclear weapons and the damages inflicted to both sides during the Korean War would act as a detterent to any future attacks [8]. A war cannot end or change a war; the ultimate desirable ending is peace.

References:-

1.) Mark Kramer, Ideology and the Cold War, 25 Review of International Studies 539-542 (1999).

2.) ADRIAN BUZO, THE MAKING OF THE MODERN KOREA 48-49 (1st ed. 2002).

3.) Adam Richards, United States involvement in the Korean War, STUDY.COM (April 2, 2020, 01:25 P.M.), https://study.com/academy/lesson/the-korean-war-causes-and-effects.html

4.) JAMES T. PATTERSON, GRAND EXPECTATIONS: THE UNITED STATES, 1945-1974 207-210 (Oxford University Press, 1996).

5.) ibid. at 211.

6.) BRUCE CUMINGS, KOREA'S PLACE IN THE SUN: A MODERN HISTORY 488-496 (2005).

7.) Philip Rucker et. al. , North Korea's foreign minister says country seeks only partial sanctions relief, THE WASHINGTON POST (April 2,2020, 01:33 P.M.), https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-and-kim-downplay-expectations-as-key-summit-talks-begin/2019/02/28/d77d752c-3ac5-11e9-aaae-69364b2ed137_story.html

8.) Doug Bandow, How to slove North Korea crisis one and for all, THE NATIONAL INTEREST (April 2, 2020, 01:35 P.M.), https://nationalinterest.org/blog/korea-watch/how-solve-north-korea-crisis-once-and-all-82321

 

 

Section Editor: Pushpit Singh | 02 Apr 2020 15:47pm IST


Tags : Korea, division, external, war, complicated

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