A reasonable summary at Mother Jones of the events leading to the current situation on the Korean peninsula. Two things are notable, at first read, by their absence, though.
1) “(from 1994) …for three years the Clinton administration stalled on implementing the agreement, hoping that the highly militarized North Korean regime, its people suffering from starvation, would simply collapse.”
This is true, and it’s also true that more than 2 million Koreans died in the meantime. How inconvenient!
2) “In June 2000, the president of South Korea, Kim Dae-jung, acting on his own initiative and without consulting the United States, undertook a historic journey of reconciliation to Pyongyang, in an effort to eradicate the last vestiges of the Cold War on the Korean peninsula. His visit produced a breakthrough, and won him the Nobel Peace Prize.”
His visit and ‘breakthrough’ came, in typical Korean fashion, as a result of a bribe of several hundred million US dollars paid by chaebol Hyundai to the DPRK regime. Not all that deserving of accolade, perhaps.
This conclusion, near the end of the piece, is one about which I am very uncertain, to put it mildly :
If President Roh were to ask American troops to leave South Korea altogether, with perhaps only a treaty promising an American “nuclear umbrella” in case the North ever did use nuclear weapons, I believe a reconciliation between the two Koreas might come very speedily.
If the Americans leave entirely, I’m on the next plane out, too. Whether or not I think they ought to be here, they need to be here, at least until Kim Jong Il and his regime has collapsed, as it inevitably will.