The Two Koreas: Slippery Slope
1953 Armistice brokered by General Thimayya
In 1950 Kin Jong-un’s grandfather, Kim 11, then President of North Korea invaded South Korea, which eventually drew both China and USA into the fight: China in support of North Korea and USA on the side of South Korea.
In 1953 war was brought to an end and an armistice was drawn where General Kodandera Subayya Thimayya of the Indian army, as head of the UN Peace Keeping Mission brokered the armistice, where-in the US kept some troops stationed in South Korea. Since then the armistice has held out except for odd skirmishes across the demilitarized zone.
In the past a few unsuccessful attempts were made to draw up a peace treaty. In the meanwhile North Korea developed, nuclear weapon and carried out six texts. It also developed, long range missile capable of hitting American main land, and in fact held out threat of hurling missiles across the Pacific. In response to this the U.S. President threatened North Korea with, “fire and fury”, and more importantly intensified sanctions.
North Korean President Kim Jong-un has a record of sorts. He murdered his uncle and tried to poison his cousin.Carried out purges and killed thousands of his countrymen and has surrounded himself with only those in the military loyal to him. The country’s economy is in a poor state.
However tensions were reduced somewhat with North Korea taking part in the Winter Olympics in South Korea. More recently Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met in the demilitarized zone in the border village of Pamunjom. The meeting was marked by some candid moments with sweeping pledges with President Kim declaring that he was there to end the history of confrontation.
He even went to the extent of declaring that he would shut down the site of nuclear tests by May and denuclearize his country, if the price for doing so is right, such as a security guarantee from the U.S., removal of sanctions and withdrawal of its troops from the Korean Peninsula. Though no time line was mentioned. This needs to be seen in the light of the reports that during the last nuclear weapons test, the underground tunnel at Punggye-ri had collapsed and it meant carrying out future tests in the open.
This sets the stage for U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Kim Jong-un meeting in end of May or early June 2018, where Trump is expected to persuade North Korean regime to relinquish its nuclear arsenal. However some caution is apparent in that establishing a verification system that is both acceptable to Pyongyang and assures U.S that the North is living up to its commitments is one of the more difficult feature of such an agreement. This is the main content of American dilemma.
Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, who had recently met Kim as a representative of President Donald Trump to set the agenda for a bilateral meeting noted that he had impressed on Kim to be prepared to talk about things that matter most. He also raised the issue of release of American detainees in North Korea.
. It is not only about adopting an irreversible denuclearization policy but equally dismantling of long range missiles. However this elimination of only long range missiles leaves both South Korea and Japan with the prospect of living with the threat of short range missiles from North Korea.
China too has played a positive role in bringing Kim Jong-un to negotiate with South Korea and USA, but this needs to be seen in the light of pressure of sanctions on trade being imposed on it by the Americans. Moreover it is difficult to assess the long term game plan of China. After all it had transferred nuclear technology to North Korea .
While these developments in the region are welcome, hopes and apprehensions appear to run on parallel lines. After all both Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump are un- predictable and the meeting ground of their divergent requirements somewhat slippery.