Saturday, April 28, 2018|2 a.m.
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Here’s a difficult fact that’s certifiable by any rudimentary evaluation of modern Korean history: The genuine news about Korea captures almost everybody by surprise.
Who, for example, would have predicted the break out of the Korean War almost seven years ago? Who understood, in the depths of South Korea’s financial suffering after that titanic disaster, that the South would burst into blossom as a significant industrial power?
And who would have believed, in the darkest moments of military dictatorship under Park Chung-hee then Chun Doo-hwan, that Korea would emerge as a democracy total with nationwide, provincial and local elections?
Those are just a few of the shocks and surprises that have actually rocked South Korea given that the end of Japanese guideline in August 1945 and the development of the Republic of Korea in the South three years later. The development of North Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, founded the next month, has actually been equally full of surprises, many infamously its success in producing nuclear warheads and the missiles to send them to remote targets because the late Kim Jong-il purchased the first underground nuclear test in October 2006.
A quick tip of some of the shocks, for much better and for worse, with which the majority of us in Korea are quite familiar, is by method of getting around to the surprises of the previous year and a half.
Initially, we had the Candlelight Revolution, leading to the failure of Park Chung-hee’s daughter Park Geun-hye and the increase of a liberal president, Moon Jae-in. Then came a stunning turnaround of the march toward a second Korean War that seemed possible while Kim Jong Il’s kid Kim Jong Un bought tests of ever more effective warheads and missiles.
Who would have forecasted, as the brand-new year dawned, that Kim III, scion of the dynasty established by his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, who managed the intrusion of the South in June 1950, would have chosen enough was enough and send a group, accompanied by a number of hundred entertainers and Taekwondo wrestlers, to participate in the Pyeongchang Olympics? And who knew he would in fact reveal “willingness” to discuss quiting his nuclear program?
Can all this flurry of news, consisting of the drama of Kim’s announcement of suspension of nuclear-weapons screening, be genuine or are we being badly misguided? Will President Moon and “Respected Leader” Kim come up with a magic formula whereby he really does devote himself to quiting the nuclear program, not simply suspending it?
We’re so familiar with disappointment and disillusionment in dealing with North Korea that it’s tough to be positive. Possibly we need to just be grateful that Moon and Kim are conference, and see it as the beginning of an attenuated up-and-down procedure. For sure, whatever they stated or did at Panmunjom, the Moon-Kim discussion will have a substantial impact on whatever takes place when President Donald Trump and Kim meet.
That’s assuming, of course, that Trump and Kim really do fulfill. Trump himself has actually gone up and down on North Korea like a yo-yo. Was it not just a few months ago that he was threatening to release “fire and fury” on North Korea? And who can forget his referrals to Kim as “Rocket Man” and “Little Rocket Guy”– the adjective “little” a sneering pointer of Kim’s weight?
Now Trump is reversing field to a degree that has American supporters of reconciliation slamming him for misguiding everybody by stating Kim has actually currently settled on denuclearization.
Actually, as the usual cast of think-tank experts and TELEVISION yakkers in the overload of Washington have actually been loudly noting, Kim has not done anything of the sort. He’s just stated he won’t test anymore nukes and rockets.
In reality, North Korea hasn’t checked any nukes because its 6th underground test, without a doubt its most effective, most likely a hydrogen bomb, last September. The nuclear test website, which Kim made a program of closing down, is still functional, according to 38 North, the noted dispenser of within details about the North’s nuclear and rocket program.
Is it not possible, nevertheless, to be a little too doubtful if not negative about North Korea’s guarantees and objectives? The reason I ask is we might remain in for a surprise, and not all the surprises are bad.
Might Kim have seen the light and decided he has far more to acquire, and absolutely nothing to lose, by getting along with the South, and with the United States too? In the long history of shocks and surprises, may we dare to fantasize genuine and enduring peace?
As Moon and Kim met Friday in Peace House, simply south of the North-South line in the Joint Security Location established in the truce that ended the gunfire in July 1953, the dream lived on.
Donald Kirk has been a columnist for Korea Times, South China Early morning Post and lots of other newspaper and publications. He composed this for InsideSources.com.