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Korea: Conflict and Tension Between the Two Sides

Published On March 23, 2015 | Far East

From a geographical perspective, it has been argued that, the Korea peninsula is located in Eastern Asia. This region normally extends south from the Asian continent for around a 1,100km (683 miles). Of interest is the nature in which this peninsula is surrounded by water on three sides and naturally, some five water bodies seem to be touching the peninsula. Such waters bodies are Cheju Strait, Korea Bay, Sea of Japan, the Korea Strait and Yellow Sea respectively. From a political dimension, this region is divided today between North and South Korea as a result of the end of the World War II. The escalation of the tension between the two Koreans on the peninsula called for international concern around 2010 but conflicts on the peninsula among the two nations occurred also during the previous years.

History of the Peninsula

Historically, before the genesis of the tension and the rampant crisis that is triggering the conflict on this peninsula, the area was occupied by three nations – China and Japan. However, following the outbreak of WWII, Japan was attacked and defeated by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic, which is nowadays Russia. Consequently for Japan and Korea, Russia then had to occupy the Northern part of the peninsula on 10 August 1945 which is today North Korea. When Allies powers met at the Potsdam Conference after the end of the war, the peninsula was then shared into Northern and Southern parts along the 38 parallel respectively. This division then gave birth to North and South Korea to be administered by Russia and United States as declared during the conference. It is against this background that tension and conflict initiated in this area.

Actors and Early Manifestations of the Tension and Conflict

Looking at the conflict, it is axiomatic to say that, following the division of Korea,  both the two Koreas and the two Allies powers were all actors of the tension and the conflict that was generated in the area. Given the fact that, on the 18th of July 1948 South Korea had to draft a constitution and elections were held that were common to terrorism, and the event of August 15, 1948 that gave birth to the Republic of South Korea with the influence of the United States to be led by Syngman Rhee, conflict thus, could not be avoided. This was quickly followed by the USSR formation of a communist government of the Democratic People Republic of North Korea under the leadership of Kim il Sung that led to the collision of two different ideologies. However, in order to try to reunite the two nations back into one as was the case before Japan started controlling it, Synman Rhee and Kim il Sung tried but ended up in a failure. History seeks to explain to us that communism and capitalism are two parallel policies that have totally different views and have never had any proximity, so the failure should not startle us. We can also add, as an obstruction to the reunification, that USSR and China gave North Korea massive support so the fighting never ceased along the 38th parallel that divided the two nations. Taken into consideration the role the parties played, tension and conflict could have never be avoided and this only smoothly paved the way for the Korean War.

The Korean War

One cannot talk of the Korea War without taking in account that is was a rampant border conflict that culminated between the two young nations and sparked off and manifested in  the war which began in 1950. The war was however initiated by North Korea when she vehemently attacked South Korea on June 25, 1950 and had to face some obstacles when United Nations members, led by the United States, came in order to help maintain her capitalist colony even though North Korea successfully expanded to the South. However, the blow and slap for the United States was too heavy for her to receive as she mobilized forces, and on 19 October, 1951 the North Korea Capital Pyongyang was captured and the phase of the war had to be a two sided coin look. Put it factually and very interesting to note, in a very short period of time China and USSR intervined and also moved the war to the South which led to the capture of Seoul, the capital of South Korea. At this level, judging from the chemistry point of view, we can say the equation was balanced as both capitals of the two young nations divided along the 38th parallel had to be captured and parallelized the ideologies of Capitalism and Communism respectively, without any fear of contradiction. It is of note to say that there was some peace  in 1951, but fighting still occupied the year right up to 1952. To an extent, some level of compromise was reached on 27th July 1953 and the called for demilitarization of the area was enacted as they agreed to sign a truce.

The Truce or Armistice between North and South Korea

As seen in the last line above, the devastating consequences of the Korea war called for a Truce between North Korea, Republic of China, South Korea and the United States in order to help stopping the war in Korea. The brain behind this agreement was the Republican candidate of the United States in 1952, Eisenhower, who discredited his predecessor Truman of not handling the issue in Korea diplomatically as he ought to have done. After the victory of Eisenhower in 1952, he reminded the parties involved in the conflict about his intentions of using the atomic bomb, as was the case in Japan in 1945, if they did not succumb to an agreement to help end the disaster in Korea. Positively for President Eisenhower, on 27 July 1953, General William Harrison, who was representing the United Nations Command (UNC), signed the Armistice Agreement on behalf of the United States, the Chinese People’s Voluntary army and Nam II who represented the North Korea People’s Army signed for North Korea. The Truce focus  on the demilitarization of the conflict near the 38th parallel, while pending for a concrete permanent peace treaty that could be arrive at in the course of time. It is essential to point out here that South Korea never signed the Armistice Agreement and, as a result, has always been at loggerheads with North Korea both diplomatically and technically.

Today‘s Tensions Between The Two Countries

Actually, before getting into current tensions, it will be good to point out some of the previous incidents that occurred between North and South Korea:

-In 1968 the Cable News Network (CNN) reported that North Korea carried out an unsuccessful attacked in order to assassinate the South Korea president.

-In 1983, there was bombing in Myanmar in which 17 South Koreans citizens were killed and North Korea was blamed for that.

– In 1987 North Korea accused South Korea of bombing her airplanes.

– In 2009 was the attacked of Yeonpyeong and South Korea blamed North Korea for that and then started practicing military drills.

– On March 26, 2010 a South Korea warship was sunk, it is said that North Korea did it.

– On November 23, 2010 there was North Korea artillery attacks on South Korea Island of Yeonpyeong. While North Korea called it a war manuever, the South said the North was conducting a maritime military drill.

– On March 11, 2013 North Korea said the Truce that ended the Korea war was invalid merely because she wanted to work against the US sanctions to communist countries that were receiving funds for nuclear and missile programs.

– In 2014 there a new incident occured between the two Koreas during the 17th edition of Asian Games. South Korea refused to pay the cost and accommodation for North Korea Athletes as has ever been the case in the previous years.

Recently, the conflict between the two Koreas is more on an escalation dimension as can be seen when on the 7th of February 2015 North Korea tested, under the watchful eyes of its president Kim Jong Un through binoculars, an anti-ship missile into the sea. This was then interpreted by Yophamp, a South Korean newspaper, as the KN-01 sea-to-sea cruise missile of North Korea that has the capacity of going some 62miles into the sea. If we rethink as the others predecessors of Kim Jong Un  had ever  did, we will see that it’s a continues process of threats to South Korea as was the case in 2011. This fact is quickly supported by the numerous missiles and rockets tests that had taken place in North Korea ever since Kim Jong Un came to. Tension and conflict nowadays is also identified following the hypothetical statement that North Korea gave to United States and South Korea that if they refuse to give in for their annual large scale joint military drills in this March then, she will only have to impose a moratorium on nuclear tests as she termed it a rehearsal of an invasion.

Conversely, another situation that portrays the loggerheads between the two Koreas was manifested just a day after the anti-ship missile was tested by North Korea when she again launched on the 8th February 2015 five short-range missiles around an east coast town closer to its capital Pyongyang. It was noted that this missiles went as far as some 125miles northeast of Korea before they had to dash into the sea. South Korea and the United States are of the conception that North Korea is on the way of processing some intercontinental ballistic missiles with the sole aim of putting them inside missiles. Analytically, South Korea equally puts a dividing line between her and North Korea when she perceives and is affirming that the development of missiles by North Korea is to be using them to attack United States of America and South Korea respectively. Such ideas are merely smoothly paving the way for tension and conflict between the two countries.

On the 20th of March 2015, North Korea made it clear that she can fire nuclear missiles any moment from the date as she wants. This was confirmed by Sky news as the paper said it received such information from North Korea ambassador to Britain, Hyun Hak-bong. The ambassador made it clear that if North Korea left the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1993, it  does not mean that the country cannot fight with nuclear weapons.

To conclude, since the United State is a friend of South Korea and Russia a friend of North Korea, what is happening now between the United States and Russia could prove that a conflict in Korea remains inevitable. Equally, on 22 March 2015, North Korea took a clearer look vis-a- vis South Korea and her civic group that intend to deploy some anti –Pyongyang fliers to patrol the border through balloons. The North warned bitterly that it shall by all means use all her firepower strike possibilities to make sure they are dealt with drastically. It is of note to say that, both countries are still at war as the 1950 -1953 war ended in a Truce and not a permanent peace agreement. Maybe it will be of some importance to point that there are about some 2million troops in which 28,500 U.S forces are position around the 38th parallel that divides the two countries and are heavily armed. There will hardly be any negotiation in Korea if we take into account the Inaugural speech address of John F. Kennedy of the United States in 1961 when he said “let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate”. This is not the case in Korea as we can see.

Sources:                                                                                                                             

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