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☞ Issue 231
글씨크기 크게 글씨크기 작게 기사 메일전송 기사 출력
Peace for all, not to mention prosperity

How a U.S.-DPRK Peace Treaty could benefit the U.S.

Moon J. Pak (2014/02/16 10:15)  

By Moon J. Pak

The three-year-long Korean War that ended in 1953 nearly completely devastated the Korean peninsula. The war that caused two million casualties ended in a ceasefire on July 27, 1953, more than 60 years ago, through an Armistice Treaty signed in a small village called Panmunjom near the Demilitarized Zone(DMZ).

Koreans, then estimated 30 million on the peninsula roamed the war-torn land; hungry, cold, poor and powerless. Most of them did not even fully understand at the time, how this war of proxy had happened, and how Korea got entangled in the cold war between the super powers.

Before the Japanese occupation of 1910, Korea had maintained its sovereignty for 5,000 years, despite its location in a geopolitically critical area in Northeast Asia. Although it became enmeshed in countless foreign invasions, Korea was able to maintain its ethnic identity, cultural uniqueness and territorial integrity..

However, the corruption, ignorance and social injustice rampant in the last days of the feudal Lee Dynasty, resulted in the 36 years of Japanese colonial occupation that began in 1910. Then, the end of the WWII had resulted in the division of Korea into North and South through decisions made by the victorious Allied Powers (Yalta and Potsdam Agreements), thus sowing the seeds of the Korean War.

The 1953 Panmunjom Armistice Accord resulted in a ceasefire on the peninsula. The Treaty specified that within three months, a peace treaty would be signed by the signatories including the U.S., China and North Korea. In spite of the persistent request from the North in the past 60 years, this promise was never carried out by the U.S.

In spite of this continued division and the threat of resumption of the war, the Korean peninsula in the past 60 years has seen a remarkable and almost miraculous economic development. The combined population has increased to 70 million, and at least in the South its GDP has grown to approaching 11th of the world. The average life span in Korea now approaches 80 years of age. In national defense, it has a combined armed force of 1.5 million, and the North has nuclear arms with missile technology providing the country with the deterrence from any foreign threat.

A new era has begun on Korean peninsula that could also bring peace and prosperity in the entire Northeast Asia, and for this reason it is essential that there be peace and improved relationship between the two Koreas for which the Peace Treaty and normalization of the international relationship between North Korea and the United States is an absolute prerequisite.

During the past half century, U.S. policy on North Korea has shown a lack of consistency and firm basic principles. It is characterized by a hegemony-based unilateral approach demonizing the North. The policy perspective has never taken in the details of the relationship based on true historical background. It has also been a flawed approach based on unrealistic and baseless expectation that the regime is doomed to collapse.

The U.S. policy on North Korea or for that matter on the entire Korean peninsula must be based on mutual respect, equal partnership and must recognize that the re-unification is the ultimate goal of all Korean people. A peaceful normalized international relationship with North Korea would lead to the establishment of a peaceful normalized relationship between the two Koreas. U.S. would benefit from its new position, as a trusted and respected partner in Northeast Asia,

In the past half century, U.S. has been involved in one war after another; Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian War, Iraqi War, Afghanistan War, followed by a series of conflicts in Mideast. This warmongering has damaged the image of our country in the world and has also mocked the national purpose of the country as established by its founding fathers. Our country is feared by many as a hegemonic, imperialistic, militaristic and dangerous superpower.

By ending the Korean War by converting existing Armistice Treaty into a Peace Treaty, the U.S. will regain her long lost international respect and trust, and more importantly, help it become the kind of country envisioned by its founding fathers.

The past half century of war has had a tremendous negative effect on U.S. economy. In my lifetime I have witnessed a piling up of crushing national debt, economic depression almost comparable to the period of 1930’s, record widening of gaps between the rich and poor resulting in social instability. A peace treaty with North Korea could be the first step away from an unsustainable war economy and toward the return of prosperity and social stability in the U.S.

It has been said that the 21st century is opened by China. Its rapid development and metamorphosis are gaining momentum unprecedented in human history. In this context, the role of the United States should be as the leading power in economy, military, technology and culture. Its role should not be as the competitor or detractor to their emergence. We should not fear their power.

Instead the U.S. should rather look upon the developing China in a futuristic peaceful framework based on friendship and partnership. It should be ready to assist China’s development, provide companionship, leadership and even partnership in many international affairs. In this context, it becomes clear that the stable peaceful relationship between the U.S. and the Korea, both, North and South will be a great geopolitical benefit to the U.S.

In other words, U.S. Asia Pivot Policy might be an essential and natural direction for the country, except that it must not be a military pivoting but a peaceful, friendly and socio-economic and cultural pivoting.

Korea has been a closest neighbor of the China by virtue of shared history, geography, and culture for 5,000 years. The relationship has often been tumultuous and often politically delicate. Koreans respect China but Koreans also suspect China. By normalizing relationship with North Korea and promoting the peaceful re-unification of the two Koreas, thus ensuring the emergence in the peninsula of a militarily strong, technically advanced, economically well-endowed partner, U.S. will gain a tremendous benefit in the formulation and conduct of its future China policy.

Lastly, one of the major benefits of peace treaty with North Korea would be the positive effects on Korea’s economy. The re-unification of the two Koreas could make possible a powerhouse economy, which would include a strong motivated work force from the combined population of 70 million , broad variety of mineral resources from North, wealth of capital and known highly-developed technical resources from South and needless to say, access to the world’s largest market, China right across the border..

“The Miracle of Han River” could be repeated as the “Miracle of Daedong River” The U.S. could be an essential partner during this important time in Korean and global history.
Furthermore, through its partnership with Koreas, it has an opportunity to participate in China’s development as well as the future economic enterprises involving Manchuria, Siberia, and other vast undeveloped areas known to be rich in natural resources with endless energy potential.

Ending the Korean War by converting the Armistice Treaty into a Peace Treaty with North Korea and partnering in Korean reconciliation therefore will have a tremendous beneficial effect on the future of the United States.(January, 2014)

Moon J. Pak, M.D., Ph.D.
Senior VP, Korean American National Coordinating Council (KANCC)
Chairman, US-DPRK Medical Science Exchange Committee (UDMEDEX) 248-656-0177

(Korean Quarterly, Winter, 2014, Vol.17. No.02)

U.S.-DPRK Relation

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