Korea Policy Institute | July 27, 2016
July 27th marks the 63rd anniversary of the United States’ temporary armistice with North Korea. In 1953, the armistice halted the combat, but was meant to be a temporary measure until a peace treaty was negotiated. That has yet to happen The Korean War continues.
During the three year Korean War, four million died – 3 million Korean civilians, a million Chinese volunteers and 37,000 U.S. troops, and the peninsula was devastated. Almost 97% of the northern portion was destroyed. Ten million families remain separated by the division of the two Koreas, including many in the United States. Billions have been spent as North and South Korea maintain huge military forces, and build weapon systems, including nuclear ones. The U.S. still maintains some 28,000 troops on bases throughout South Korea, while carrying out massive “war games” aimed at the North, and now is deploying the controversial THAAD anti-ballistic missile system in Seongju, South Korea.
During his Presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to sit down and talk with Kim Jong Il. Instead, during his presidency, tensions have continued, and militarization increases.
As the U.S. embarks on its presidential elections, the new president has the responsibility and should take the initiative to reduce rather than increase the military tensions on the peninsula. Six decades is already too long to wait for peace.
As James Laney, the former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea has said: “One of the things that have bedeviled all talks until now is the unresolved status of the Korean War. A peace treaty would provide a baseline for relationships, eliminating the question of the other’s legitimacy and its right to exist. Absent such a peace treaty, every dispute presents afresh the question of the other side’s legitimacy.”