Current tensions between North Korea and the United States are at their highest since the Korean War (1950-53). When discussing the current crisis, however, it is important to remember that today’s conflict cannot simply be attributed to the individual personalities of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un; instead, it is rooted in Korea’s turbulent history of foreign occupation, liberation, and division. As we approach August 15, the day in 1945 when Korea was liberated from Japanese colonial rule, we must remember that Korea’s liberation was cut short by the arrival of US occupation forces and that Korea’s division into North and South Korea ultimately precipitated the Korean War.
The Korean War ended in an armistice. Because a peace treaty was never signed, the United States and North Korea remain in a state of war and the peninsula remains divided.
It’s Time to De-escalate
In response to Trump’s threat to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea following its latest ICBM missile test, North Korea announced that, if attacked, they are prepared to launch a missile strike on US military bases in Guam. Trump’s threat of a preemptive strike on North Korea heightens the danger of global nuclear war. Amidst this state of heightened tension, US-ROK joint military exercises are scheduled for August 21.
Nodutdol for Korean Community Development calls on the US government to immediately start talks with North Korea, without any preconditions. We also call on the United States and South Korea to end their joint military exercises.
Meanwhile, South Korean President Moon Jae-in recently decided to proceed with THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) deployment. Allegedly a missile defense system, THAAD will only serve to escalate military tensions in the Asia-Pacific region. Residents of Seongju have been protesting daily for over a year since Park Geun-hye first attempted to push the system through through without democratic due process.
Elected in May after the “Candlelight Revolution” ousted Park Geun-hye, Moon promised to reevaluate THAAD deployment. Despite this promise, Moon has now decided to push it through. Many attribute this undemocratic, unilateral decision to have been motivated by North Korea’s recent ICBM tests and US pressure.
We call on the US and South Korean governments to stop the deployment of the THAAD system in South Korea. We call on Moon Jae-in to follow the people’s mandate to stop the deployment of THAAD and to open a dialogue with North Korea.
End the Travel Ban
Amidst escalating tensions, the United States has banned travel to North Korea for anyone holding a US passport. Set to begin on September 1, 2017, the directive was made to “avoid another tragedy like that which Otto Warmbier and his family endured.” However, increased isolation will do nothing to prevent such tragedies. A better solution would be to establish diplomatic relations with North Korea so that potential tragedies can be resolved diplomatically.
Such isolation–the end goal being regime collapse–is often put forth as the only possible option to this conflict. But there are a growing number of people, including diplomats and foreign policy experts, who say that US policy toward North Korea has simply not worked and that talks are the only way forward. The only way to truly help the human rights of North Koreans is through engagement and diplomacy, not war.
For the past 6 decades, Koreans on the peninsula and in the diaspora have called for peace in Korea — today, we call on the United States to take the diplomatic steps needed to achieve peace on the peninsula and to finally end the Korean War. Instead of deploying more weapons systems, banning travel, and pushing for greater UN sanctions on North Korea, the United States must engage in diplomatic talks with North Korea.
It is high time to end the Korean War and to move toward peace and reconciliation. Such a path would be true embodiment of the spirit of August 15.
No to War! Peace talks now!
- Stop war games / military exercises
- Stop war threats / provocations
- Peace talks now
- End travel ban to North Korea
- No THAAD!