History Podcasts

Korea: North Korean and South Korea

Korea: North Korean and South Korea

Korea is a region of eastern Asia located on the divided Korean Peninsula, which was split into North Korea, South Korea and a demilitarized zone, or DMZ, following the Korean War.


South Korea says Kim Jong Un has apologized for official's "unfortunate" killing at sea

Seoul, South Korea &mdash North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent an apology on Friday over the killing of a South Korean official near the rivals' disputed sea boundary, saying he was "very sorry" about the incident he called unexpected and unfortunate, according to South Korean officials.

It would be unprecedented for a North Korean leader to explicitly apologize to South Korea on any issue, and neither the North's government nor its state-run media immediately confirmed that any message of apology had been sent to Seoul.

People watch a TV showing a file image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, during a news program at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, September 25, 2020. Ahn Young-joon/AP

Kim's message, purportedly sent directly to the South Korean president's office, could help de-escalate tensions by easing anti-North sentiments in South Korea over the man's death, as well as mounting criticism of its liberal President Moon Jae-in.

"Comrade Kim Jong Un, the State Affairs Commission chairman, feels very sorry to give big disappointment to President Moon Jae-in and South Korean citizens because an unexpected, unfortunate incident happened" at a time when South Korea grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, Moon adviser Suh Hoon cited the North Korean message as saying.

On Thursday, South Korea accused North Korea of fatally shooting one of its public servants who was likely trying to defect and burning his body after finding him on a floating object in North Korean waters on Tuesday. South Korean officials condemned North Korea for what they called an "atrocious act" and pressed it to punish those responsible.

According to the South Korean government, the message received from North Korea on Monday said troops first fired blanks after the man found in the North's waters refused to answer, other than saying he was from South Korea a couple times. Then, as he made moves to flee, the North Korean troops fired 10 rounds. When they came near the floating object, they only found lots of blood but no sign of him.

North Korea

The troops determined he was dead and burned the floating object in line with anti-coronavirus rules, according to the North Korean message read by Suh.

Lt. Gen. Ahn Young Ho, a top official at the South Korean military's office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks during a press conference at the Defense Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, September 24, 2020, as South Korea accused North Korean troops of shooting a South Korean government official after they found him on a floating object in waters near the rivals' disputed sea boundary. The Kookbang Ilbo/AP

Senior South Korean military officer Ahn Young Ho told a parliamentary committee meeting Wednesday that North Korea likely killed the man because of elevated anti- coronavirus measures that involve "indiscriminate shooting" at anyone approaching its borders illegally.

Defense Minister Suh Wook said at the same meeting that the official was believed to have tried to defect because he left his shoes on the ship, put on a life jacket and boarded a floating object. Suh also cited circumstantial evidence indicating the defection attempt. Some experts say there wasn't enough proof to conclude he tried to cross over to North Korea.

The North Korean message was sent from the United Front Department of the ruling Workers' Party, a top North Korean body in charge of relations with South Korea.

The message said North Korea "cannot not help expressing big regrets" over the fact South Korea had used "blasphemous and confrontational words like atrocious act" to condemn the North without asking it to explain details of the incident. But it said North Korea is still sorry about such an incident happening on its territory and will take steps to prevent trust between the countries from collapsing.

The presidential Blue House said Friday that Moon and Kim had recently exchanged letters before the latest incident. In his letter, Kim expressed worries about coronavirus outbreaks and typhoon damage in South Korea and wished Moon a good health.

"Kim Jong Un's supposed apology reduces the risk of escalation between the two Koreas and keeps the Moon government's hopes for engagement alive," Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said. "The shooting incident was also turning South Korean public opinion against offering peace and humanitarian assistance to Pyongyang."

Before Kim's purported apology, Moon's government faced withering criticism by conservatives following its admission that officials already had acquired intelligence indicating the official's death right after it happened. Conservatives accused the government of deliberately withholding the information so as not to spoil the atmosphere ahead of Moon's speech at the virtual U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday, during which he repeated his calls for declaring an end of the Korean War in a bid to build a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Kim Chong-in, a leader of the main conservative opposition People Power Party, called the official's killing "a national security disaster" that was caused by Moon's "rosy illusion about North Korea."

Little is known about the slain official, except that he was a 47-year-old father of two who left behind some debts, according to authorities. Maritime police said Friday they were checking the man's cellphone records, bank accounts and insurance programs.

First published on September 25, 2020 / 6:07 AM

© 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Kim Jong Un, fearing loss of control, has grooming and parenting advice for North Korean women

Kim Jong Un didn’t attend the recent Seventh Congress of the Socialist Women’s Union of Korea, according to state media. But as the supreme leader’s words filled the auditorium on Sunday, hundreds of North Korean women dutifully took notes anyway.

Women should wear traditional clothing that helps make “all the aspects of life brim over with our flavor, taste and national emotions,” Kim commanded in a letter read by a top North Korean official. And so they did: Row upon row of women wore brightly colored dresses and blue face masks.

They should sing patriotic songs at construction sites and write encouraging letters to male soldiers, Kim said. And so they would, in a totalitarian state that left them little choice.

Above all, Kim warned women to protect their children from “alien ideology, culture and lifestyles.”

Things as seemingly minor as unusual clothing and speaking styles were, in fact, a “malignant tumor that threatens the life and future of our descendants,” he said, according to NK News, an outlet based in Seoul that focuses on North Korea.

Kim’s comments were the latest in a string of broadsides from Pyongyang against foreign influence, which the Hermit Kingdom sees as a serious threat. For years, flash drives full of Hollywood blockbusters and K-pop have flowed into North Korea via balloons, human smugglers and even helicopter drones.

North Korea recently tripled the maximum penalty for possessing such contraband to 15 years of hard labor, and it has successfully pressed South Korea to ban sending flash drives, leaflets or money across the border.


Contents

The division of Korea, which ended 35 years of Japanese control, was followed by a period of trusteeship by American occupation in the south. The first General Election of 1948 South Korean Constitutional Assembly election founded the First Republic under the supervision of United Nations. The Republic of China recognized the Constitutional Korean government in the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula and opened an Embassy in Myeongdong, Seoul, on 4 January 1949, four months after the establishment of the Republic of Korea.

The People's Republic of China (PRC) was founded in 1949 following the Chinese Civil War and Republic of Korea maintained relations with the Republic of China (ROC), whose government relocated to Taiwan, formerly a Qing prefecture that was under 50 years of Japanese colonial occupation from 1895 to 1945.

The United Nations condemned North Korea's military aggression against Republic of Korea in United Nations Security Council Resolution 82 and United Nations Security Council Resolution 84. The ROC voted in favor of both United Nations resolutions. During the Korean War, the ROC supplied material aid to ROK, [8] while the People's Republic of China gave North Korea combatants to support the People's Volunteer Army.

Both the ROK and ROC governments opposed socialism, as well as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and People's Republic of China (PRC). Neither ROK nor ROC recognized or formed a diplomatic relationship with the DPRK and PRC governments. The Republic of Korea referred to the PRC as 'Communist China' (중공, 中共), and the ROC as 'Nationalist China' (국부중국, 國府中國 before 1960s) or 'Free China' (자유중국, 自由中國 after 1970s). The government of the ROC also considered the Republic of Korea government as the sole legitimate state in the Korean peninsula. [9]

President Park Chung-hee visited Taipei on a state visit in February 1966, in which he expressed solidarity with the ROC and South Vietnam, declaring that: 'We are not breakwaters which passively protect the port from onrushing waves. We are not standing still only to be gradually eroded by the waves of Communism.' [10]

The Sixth Republic of South Korea furthered the Miracle on the Han River to the Economy of South Korea and opened diplomacy to Communist Nations (including building the foundation of Inter-Korean relations [11] and accepting co-existence with North Korea by entering the United Nations as "South" Korea [ citation needed ] ). Seoul also hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics. President Roh Tae-woo's next political ambition was to begin implementing Realpolitik with the neighboring countries in Northeast Asia. South Korea's movement away from anti-communist foreign policy to improve relations with nearby communist countries resulted in a deterioration of relations with ROC. This change was introduced to appease North Korea and ease the political anxiety and softens military tension in the Korean Peninsula Korea hoped to enable the possibility of a peaceful reunification in the Korean peninsula. As normalization began, ROK transferred diplomatic recognition from ROC to the PRC, and confiscated the property of the ROC embassy, transferring it to the PRC. [12] Taiwan is a member of Property Rights Alliance. [13] On 17 September 1991, the PRC withdrew its objection to South Korean membership in the United Nations. [14] South Korea was the last Asian country with formal diplomatic relations with ROC.

The annual trade volume between South Korea and Taiwan is around US$30 billion, with semiconductor products have been the largest item in the trade over the past few years. As of April 2016, the total amount of mutual investments between the two sides reached around US$2.4 billion in areas such as communication, consumer products, finance, information technology, iron, medicine, metal, securities and semiconductor. [15]

After Seoul's recognition of the PRC government in Beijing, direct commercial flights between Seoul and Taipei operated by Korean and Taiwanese airlines were terminated. Cathay Pacific and Thai Airways International however, operated the route as a Fifth Freedom sector. The reduction of scheduled flights caused tourist numbers from Taiwan to drop from 420,000 in 1992 to 200,000 in 1993, recovering only partially to 360,000 by 2003. [16]

On September 1, 2004, representatives of the two countries' unofficial missions, the "Korean Mission in Taipei" and the "Taipei Mission in Seoul" signed an aviation agreement allowing aircraft of each side to enter the airspace of the other. This permitted the resumption of direct scheduled flights by Korean and Taiwanese airlines and also allowed flights from Republic of Korea to Southeast Asia to fly over the island of Taiwan instead of detouring over mainland China or the Philippines. Analysts estimated this would save Republic of Korean airline companies ₩33 billion (US$29 million at 2004 exchange rates) in fuel costs and other fees. [17]

Former President of South Korea Kim Young-sam visited Taipei for five days in July 2001. During this visit, he met President of ROC (Taiwan) Chen Shui-bian at a lunch banquet, but the two were unable to come to an agreement over the wording of a joint written statement urging the resumption of direct air travel. Kim informed the embassy of the People's Republic of China in advance of his visit. [18]

In October 2004, following the aviation agreement, Kim came to Taiwan once more at Chen's invitation. He delivered a speech at National Chengchi University and toured port facilities in Kaohsiung, the sister city of Republic of Korea's Busan. [19]

The ROK government acted as the interlocutor [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] and supported Taipei's admission into Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in 1991 as a Chinese economy. Republic of Korea altered the nature of political acronym of Member States to Member Economies in APEC to make APEC formally a Trans-Pacific Economic Forum. Personnel of Taipei's Ministry of Foreign Affairs are forbidden to participate in the APEC, but the Minister of Economic Affairs of Republic of China, a special envoy appointed by the President of Republic of China and business representatives from Republic of China that publicly, can attend annual APEC Meetings under the name of Chinese Taipei. [25] [26] [27] Taipei can also host non-ministerial APEC consortiums and workshops concerning topics in which Taiwan has specific strengths, such as technology and small and medium enterprise. These consortia and workshops are intended to address only success on economics and business-related issues with other APEC Member Economies. Taiwan's participation in APEC is supported by the United States and accepted by People's Republic of China. The APEC Business Travel Card (ATBC) scheme applies to business travelers to and from Taiwan. [28] South Korea also supported Taiwan's initial participation in OECD and subsequent activities. [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35] [36]

The Republic of Korea re-established non-official relations with the Republic of China in 1993, interchangeably and reciprocally as Korean Mission in Taipei and Taipei Mission in Korea. [37] [38] Taipei Mission in Korea, Busan Office is located in the southern region of ROK. [39] Since 1993, there is a significant trade volume between the two nations. [40] [41] [42] Two countries have mutually extended to 90 days of stay with the exemption of visa for visitors from July 1, 2012. [43] The 19th Seoul-Taipei forum was held on October 13, 2010. [44] [45] [46]

Since China and South Korea established diplomatic ties in 1992, strong Chinese political and economic influences enabled the South Korean government to relax financial and political impediment to Chinese nationals in South Korea since 1970s, but 99% hold Republic of China (Taiwan) passports, including those naturalized as Korean citizens, or permanent residents, entry/re-entry permit, and rights of universal suffrage. [47] [48]

There is a rigorous scholarly exchange [5] and there are multiple ROC Chinese international schools in Republic of Korea:


Unification of North and South

What if North Korea and South Korea would become unified again? In the field of geography, there is a concept of regional complementarity , which exists when two separate regions possess qualities that would work to complement each if unified into one unit. North and South Korea are the classic illustration of regional complementarity. The North is mountainous and has access to minerals, coal, iron ore, and nitrates (fertilizers) that are needed in the South for industrialization and food production. The South has the most farmland and can produce large harvests of rice and other food crops. The South has industrial technology and capital needed for development in the North. If and when these two countries are reunited, they could work well as an economic unit.

Figure 10.34 Reunification Buddha in South Korea, Erected to Signify the Unity of the Korean People

The harder question is how and under what circumstances the two Koreas could ever come to terms of unification. What about the thirty-five to forty thousand US soldiers along the DMZ? What type of government would the unified Korea have? There are many young people in South Korea that would like to see the US military leave Korea and the two sides united. The generation of soldiers that survived the Korean War in the 1950s understands the bitterness and difficulties caused by the division. This segment of the population is highly supportive of maintaining the presence of the US military on the border with North Korea. Unification is not likely to take place until this generation either passes away or comes to terms with unification. The brutal dictatorship of Kim Jong Il, with his claimed nuclear capabilities, has been a main barrier to unification. This is a political division, not technically a cultural division, even though the societies are quite different at the present time. The geography of this situation is similar to that of East and West Germany after World War II and during the Cold War. Korea may have different qualities from Germany, but unification may be possible under certain conditions, foremost being different leadership in the north.


References

Choo, H.Y. 2006, ‘Gendered modernity and ethnicized citizenship: North Korean settlers in contemporary South Korea’, Gender & Society, 20(5), pp. 576-604. https://doi.org/10.1177/0891243206291412.

Jung, K., Dalton, B. & Willis, J. 2017. The Onward Migration of North Korean Refugees to Australia: In Search of Cosmopolitan Habitus. Cosmopolitan Civil Societies: an Interdisciplinary Journal. 9(3),1-20. http://dx.doi.org/10.5130/ccs.v9i3.5506.

Kim, E., Yun, M., Park, M., Williams, H., 2009. Cross border North Korean women trafficking and victimization between North Korea and China: an ethnographic case study. Int. J. Law, Crime Justice, 37(4), 154e169.

Kim, M. & Lee, D. 2013. ‘Adaptation of North Korean adolescent refugees to South Korean society: a review of literature’, Journal of Rehabilitation Psychology, 20(1), pp. 39-64.

Korea Hana Foundation 2014, Bukhan Italjumin Siltaejosa [A survey of North Korean defectors], Korea Hana Foundation, Seoul.

Ministry of Unification, Republic of Korea. Number of North Korean Refugees Entered the South Korea 2015. Retrieved from http://www.unikorea.go.kr/content.do?cmsid=1440.

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), 2014, Survey on South Koreans’ Perception about North Korean Refugees and Discrimination’, NHRC, Seoul.

Manual for the Resettlement of North Korean Refugees. Ministry of Unification. Retrieved from http://www.nkeconwatch.com/nk-uploads/Manual-for-the-Resettlement-Support-for-North-Korean-Refugees.pdf (PDF, 504KB) (Acessed Feb. 15, 2018).

Noh, J.W., Kwon, Y.D., Yu, S., Park, H., & Woo, J.M. (2015). A Study of Mental Health Literacy Among North Korean Refugees in South Korea. Journal of Preventive Medicine & Public Health, 48: 62-71.

United Nations Human Rights: Office of the High Commissioner, “What Are Human Rights.” Retrieved from http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Pages/WhatareHumanRights.aspx, accessed April 10, 2017.

Um, M., Chi, I., Kim, H., Palinkas, L., & Kim, J. (2015). Correlates of depressive symptoms among North Korean refugees adapting to South Korean society: The moderating role of perceived discrimination. Social Science and Medicine, 131, 107–113.

U.S.-based North Korean Refugees. A Qualitative Study (October 2014). Retrieved from http://bushcenter.imgix.net/legacy/gwb_north_korea_executive_summary_r4.pdf (PDF, 510KB) (Acessed Jan. 25, 2018)

Lee, Y., Lee, M., & Park, S., (2017) Mental health status of North Korean refugees in South Korea and risk and protective factors: a 10-year review of the literature, European Journal of Psychotraumatology.


North Korea Likely Culprit in Cyberattack on South Korea's Atomic Energy Institute

North Korea is the likely suspect behind a cyberattack on the South Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) last month which was caused by a vulnerability in the virtual private network (VPN) system, KAERI said in a press release on Friday.

Multiple unauthorized IP address accessed the KAERI internal network on May 14, Ha Tae-keung, a South Korean Representative and member of the parliamentary intelligence committee, said during a press conference. The think tank said it blocked the attackers' IP address and the security system was updated after the attack was discovered on May 31.

"It has been confirmed that a hacking accident occurred at the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute and the government authorities are currently investigating," the press release said.

The institute came under criticism for previously denying the attack when the story was initially broken by South Korean news outlet Sisa Journal. KAERI apologized for the denial in the press release, where it said the comment was made by mistake as the damage had not been confirmed.

"The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute apologizes for causing concern to the public due to this hacking incident," KAERI said in the press release.

One of the IP addresses was tracked through an analysis back to the infamous North Korean cyber espionage group Kimsuky, according to the institute and Ha.

"If the state's key technologies on nuclear energy have been leaked to North Korea, it could be the country's biggest security breach, almost the same level as a hacking attack by the North into the defense ministry in 2016," Ha said during the press conference.

The analysis was performed by Seoul-based cybersecurity firm IssueMakersLab on Thursday. The address traced back to Kimsuky was confirmed to be the same address that targeted COVID-19 vaccine developers in South Korea last year.

"Kimsuky is a hacking group that was identified in 2011. We have been watching their consistent hacking attempts on South Korean government-related agencies and several companies," Simon Choi, head of IssueMakersLab, told ABC News.

According to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA), "Kimsuky focuses its intelligence collection activities on foreign policy and national security issues related to the Korean peninsula, nuclear policy, and sanctions." CISA also noted Kimsuky specifically targets think tanks and South Korean government entities.

Kimsuky's most well known cyberattack occurred in 2014, when it successfully hacked into Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Company, which operates large nuclear and hydroelectric plants in South Korea. The power company supplies over 34 percent of the country's total power.


A Quiet Sentence Gives South Korea Back Its ‘Missile Sovereignty’

The South Koreans persuaded the Americans to slip a carefully crafted sentence in the middle of the 2,632-word joint statement issued by U.S. President Joe Biden and South Korean President Moon Jae-in at last week’s summit. It was a small line, one that went unnoticed amid all the talk about the U.S.-South Korea alliance and the need for dialogue on denuclearization of North Korea. But it was also the most explosive line in the document.

The words were both clear and opaque: “Following consultations with the United States, the ROK [Republic of Korea] announces the termination of its Revised Missile Guidelines, and the Presidents acknowledged the decision.”

The South Koreans persuaded the Americans to slip a carefully crafted sentence in the middle of the 2,632-word joint statement issued by U.S. President Joe Biden and South Korean President Moon Jae-in at last week’s summit. It was a small line, one that went unnoticed amid all the talk about the U.S.-South Korea alliance and the need for dialogue on denuclearization of North Korea. But it was also the most explosive line in the document.

The words were both clear and opaque: “Following consultations with the United States, the ROK [Republic of Korea] announces the termination of its Revised Missile Guidelines, and the Presidents acknowledged the decision.”

Moon exulted as he stood beside Biden after their summit, saying it was “with pleasure that I deliver the news.” Biden, smiling triumphantly as he hailed the success of the summit, was conspicuously silent about South Korea quietly gaining free rein to make any number of missiles, capable of carrying any size payload, flying any distance to potential targets ranging from North Korea to Pyongyang’s traditional allies, China and Russia.

The difference in emphasis was evident in the official reports of what Moon said at the briefing. The South Korean media had him describing the agreement as “symbolic and substantive,” but the White House transcript has Moon using a similar phrase to describe an entirely different agreement, reached in March, for the South to pay around $1 billion this year for keeping America’s 28,500 troops on U.S. bases there. Moon, according to the White House, praised the base agreement, down from $5 billion demanded by Donald Trump as president, for showing “the robustness of our alliance as a symbolic and practical measure.”

The missile guidelines were introduced back in October 1979, when the United States hoped to forestall a missile race that could vastly escalate North-South tensions. But South Korean presidents, whether dictators like Park Chung-hee or liberals like Moon, have always chafed under so-called guidelines imposed by the United States under which they had to yield to U.S. demands in return for security guarantees and technological exchanges. Reclaiming what South Korea terms “missile sovereignty” is thus a symbol of national pride.

As far as Moon is concerned, the search for North-South reconciliation through talks with the North has nothing to do with building up the South Korean missile system to the point at which it can match the North’s own missile defenses. The issues, he made clear, are totally separate. Back in Seoul this week, he saw the appointment of Sung Kim, a veteran American diplomat who’s now U.S. ambassador to Indonesia, as U.S. envoy on North Korean issues—one of the major dividends of the summit, up there with termination of the missile guidelines. The danger, however, is that missile sovereignty will lead to the feared battle for missile supremacy. South Korean missiles have a long way to go to rival those of the North, whose goal is to use them to send nuclear warheads as far as the United States, but skilled South Korean engineers may catch up sooner rather than later.

All bets are off. “The termination of the missile guidelines is a big deal,” said David Straub, a retired U.S. diplomat who served on the negotiating team that haggled with the South Koreans about the guidelines over the years. “Over decades, the United States only agreed very slowly and very reluctantly to easing of the restrictions.” Straub suspects the decision to terminate them is due not only “to the long-standing strong South Korean opposition to them under governments of both the left and the right” but also “to the United States’ desire to be able to take another measure in response to North Korea’s continuing development of nuclear weapons and missiles.”

The range of South Korea’s initial self-developed Hyunmoo missiles, introduced in 1986, was limited by the guidelines to 180 kilometers (about 110 miles). The Hyunmoo, literally “Black tortoise,” figuratively “guardian of the northern sky,” has undergone a series of convolutions, drawing on both American and Russian designs, as the distance under the guidelines was extended in 2001 from 180 to 300 kilometers and in 2012 to 800 kilometers, nearly 500 miles—enough to hit targets anywhere in North Korea and portions of China and Japan as well. Payloads were supposed to be no more than 500 kilograms (about 1,100 pounds) until 2017, when restraints on size were removed. “South Korea tended to push the limits of existing guidelines, if not exceed them at times,” Straub said. “I would be very surprised if their ambitions now are not expressed in much longer-range and much more capable missiles.”

Initially, “the sentence on dropping the missile guidelines appears to be a minor addition,” said Bruce Bennett, a researcher at the Rand Corp., but it “has major implications.” For some time, he said, South Korea has been ignoring the guidelines, building cruise missiles with a range of up to 1,500 kilometers. “The now greater potential range of South Korean ballistic missiles,” he said, focuses on enabling them “to hit targets in China, Japan, or Russia and eventually beyond.”

South Korea’s industrial prowess could lead to an arms race with devastating implications. Biden may have assented to removal of the guidelines in hopes of drawing South Korea into the Quad—the security dialogue including the United States, Japan, Australia, and India, all drawn together in common cause against China. Moon, hoping China will use its influence to get North Korea to enter negotiations on its nuclear weapons and missiles, is reluctant to have anything to do with the Quad but has had to respond politely under U.S. pressure.

“The primary target of the revised missile range is China, not North Korea,” said Choi Jin-wook, a longtime North Korea analyst in Seoul. “For a long time, South Korea has been under constraints of a missile range imposed by the U.S. Now South Korea is free, and that freedom was given by the U.S. The two presidents strongly implied that the U.S.-ROK alliance falls in the framework of Indo-Pacific,” meaning the Quad.

“The missile guidelines have long since outlived their usefulness,” said Evans Revere, another retired diplomat who worked on Korean issues at the State Department and the U.S. Embassy in Seoul. “The end of the constraints is a useful symbolic step”—one that “will enable our South Korean ally to take all the steps necessary to defend itself against the North, using the most up-to-date technologies and capabilities.”

That’s “important,” Revere said, “because the North Koreans took full advantage of the Trump administration’s lack of concern to strengthen its short- and medium-range missile capabilities in recent years.” At the same time, he said, “this decision will give the Chinese something new to think about since a U.S. regional ally now has the ability to develop more sophisticated and capable missile systems.”

In the long term, though, the stakes are still higher. As North Korean engineers and scientists are trying to figure out how to affix a nuclear warhead to a long-range missile, South Koreans are likely to imitate them.

“Those advocating that the ROK go nuclear generally do so because they have concluded that the North will never denuclearize,” Revere said. “The South needs to be similarly armed, or they have lost confidence in the U.S. deterrent commitment, or both. That’s why it’s important for the United States to constantly reaffirm its commitment to use all of the capabilities in its arsenal to defend South Korea, and to focus on the goal of ending North Korea’s nuclear threat.”

Neither the Chinese nor the North Koreans are at all happy about the summit. While the North remained silent initially, China’s ambassador to South Korea, Xing Haiming, said in careful understatement that he found the Biden-Moon joint statement “a bit discouraging.” Interestingly, however, he did not focus on the missile guidelines even though China has been extremely outspoken in its denunciation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system installed in the South a few years ago. Rather, he focused on the statement’s brief mention of Taiwan, which China has claimed as its own ever since the anti-Communist forces of Chiang Kai-shek fled to the island redoubt before the victory of the Communists on the mainland in 1949. “This is China’s internal affair,” Yonhap, the South Korean news agency, quoted him as saying in an interview with the South’s MBC TV network.

Just as South Korea wanted the freedom to fabricate all the missiles it wants, so pressure is mounting for the South to rival the North as a nuclear power. “Concern about having its own nuclear weapons has more to do with the U.S. ‘nuclear umbrella,’” Bennett, the Rand Corp. researcher, said. “Anxious to avoid U.S. allies building their own nuclear weapons and thus likely inducing others to do the same, the U.S. has for decades committed to a nuclear umbrella to protect the ROK, Japan, and other countries. But as North Korea builds ICBMs that could target the United States with nuclear weapons, the United States may become less willing to risk damage to U.S. cities in order to retaliate against North Korean nuclear weapon attacks on the ROK.”

Now, he said, “some South Koreans worry, for example, that the United States would not trade San Francisco to protect Seoul.” The joint statement, he noted, affirms “the U.S. commitment to provide extended deterrence using its full range of capabilities”—a reference perhaps to the nuclear umbrella. North Korea has yet to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile for carrying a warhead to the United States, but the day may come when the South aspires to fabricating its own ICBMs in a race for a localized version of mutually assured destruction.

Donald Kirk is a journalist and author who has been covering North Korea since 1972.


No, unfortunately. The border between South Korea and North Korea is closed to civilians. South Korea and North Korea are divided by the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), a buffer zone cutting across the peninsula which is 4km in width (2km in each Korea). Outside of extraordinary (typically diplomatic) circumstances, nobody is permitted to cross the DMZ. There are no scheduled flights, boats, trains, or similar transport services linking North Korea and South Korea directly.

The most famous section of the DMZ is the Joint Security Area (JSA) at Panmunjom, and you’ve likely seen it on the television. The JSA is the only segment of the DMZ where North Korean and South Korean soldiers stand face-to-face. Within the JSA, the iconic blue conference buildings straddling the political border (the military demarcation line) provides tourists the opportunity to ‘technically’ step foot between each Korea, strictly within the confines of the building.

Guided tours, typically day trips, can be taken to the DMZ from either North Korea or South Korea which routinely include a visit to the JSA.


Key figures

The most important key figures provide you with a compact summary of the topic of "Inter-Korean relations and issues" and take you straight to the corresponding statistics.

Cross-border activities

Cross-border travel cases between South and North Korea 2000-2020

Cross-border freight transport between South and North Korea 2000-2020

Kaesong Industrial Complex production value in North Korea with South Korea 2005-2020

North Korean defectors in South Korea

Number of North Korean defectors in South Korea 2005-2020

South Korea's stock market fluctuations caused by North Korean threats 2006-2016

Share of employment sectors for North Korean defectors South Korea 2020


Watch the video: Η γυναίκα που απέδρασε από τη Βόρεια Κορέα The woman who escaped from North Korea (January 2022).