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And he used to be such a nice, quiet boy

Countdown to the second Korean War has commenced

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Say hello to North Korea.

Just to take our minds off Swine flu and the Recession they have let off a few rockets and had themselves a little underground nuclear explosion.

While every country has the right to defend itself it doesn’t really need nuclear weapons to do it.  The rockets in question (not nuclear tipped at the time) were fired over Japanese air space, an overtly hostile act.

This is bad news for the region in general, particularly South Korea, traditional enemy of the North..

Kim Jong Il and his homeboys.  You talkin' to me?

Kim Jong Il and his homeboys. You talkin' to me?

The Korean war 1950-53 claimed 3 million lives and has never officially ended, a mere truce was called.  Talks to arrange a treaty have never happened.

The two Koreas are separated by a Demilitarized zone that runs the full length of the peninsular.  From behind barbed wire and trenches the two countries have eyed each other suspiciously since.

North Korea is a by-product of the Second World war, when it was occupied, north and south, by the Russians and Americans respectively.  After the two armies withdrew the planned all-Korean elections never happened.  The Soviet puppet government was led by Kim Il Sung, a dedicated Communist guerrilla.  It was he who founded the North Korean state in 1948.

Kim il Sung, Eternal President of North Korea

Kim il Sung, Eternal President of North Korea

The Korean war broke out in 1950 claiming 3.5 million lives.  After three years of offensive and counter offensive the two sides settled down on the armistice line.  After the war Sung was restored as leader and took the country from a Communist rule to an outright Stalinist one.  He banned foreign travel, importing and exporting goods, and nationalised and collectivized the country to within an inch of it’s life.  He developed for himself a bizarre personality cult where he was worshiped, much as Hirahito was in wartime Japan.  North Korea disappeared behind an iron curtain from where they have never reappeared.

After the fall of Communism North Korea was deprived of it’s economic lifeline with the USSR and it’s sluggish economy began to rapidly decline.

Kim Jong Il, Supreme Leader of North Korea

Kim Jong Il, Supreme Leader of North Korea

In 1994 the ‘Great Leader’ died, leaving his eldest son to take the reigns of power.  Kim Jong Il’s  first years did not go well, with two years of immense flooding and famine followed by a two year drought.  By then his country was down to just 18% of arable land and hunger was rampant.  Jong’s new policy was to give the military priority over everything, above all, food.  His power base comes from the army, and he uses it to control the millions of North Koreans he holds in his police-state.

Korea has had nuclear power for some time, but it’s power stations were closed down after sanctions and pressure from the US and China.  In the late nineties they started up again and began manufacturing nuclear warheads.  Jong’s government claimed it needed them for ‘Defence against US agression’.  The US is reported to have nuclear weapons silos in situ in South Korea.

Some people think Kim Jong Il is long dead.  It is known that he was diabetic and may have suffered a fatal stroke as long ago as 2000.  He is known to have employed several stand ins, just as Stalin and Saddam Hussain did.  Rumours abound that he was in negotiations with more moderate and liberal groups of North Koreans to bring foreign governments to peace talks.  If the North Korean military that Jong relied on to support his rule overthrew him, they could be using one of his stand ins as a front man.

It is not helped that Jong is a classic Bond villain with a very mysterious personality.  He has an explosive temper and a habit of making people disappear if they do not see his point of view.

He commands the People’s army, a body of 1.2 million men divided into the army, navy, air force, artillery and state security.  This force costs North Korea six billion US dollars a year.  The people’s Navy has a limited range capacity and is mostly a defence and coast guard unit.  The people’s air force too has limited range and capability.  The most advanced branch of the Military is Korea’s Artillery Guidance Bureau.  Now it is these boys who have the missiles, very similar to the ones Saddam Hussain allegedly had.  Some are silo based, others have mobile transporters.  But their biggest toys are  North Korea’s Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs).  These could launch a warhead with either a chemical, biological or nuclear capability.  Their range and accuracy is hard to judge but they could prove very bad news for South Korea or Japan.

Taepodong 2 Ballistic Missile

Taepodong 2 Ballistic Missile

So they are the forces arrayed against us led by this mysterious figure.  Now all we need is a plan to deal with him, while fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Any army has to be UN sponsored, and most likely US and Japan led.  Korea is an attractive war for certain US Generals.  Unlike the Taliban or Al Qaeda, this is a cold war army they were trained to fight in West Point.  They stand up and charge, they drive tanks, they fire and take flanks.  Now this is the kind of war the west likes to fight, where you can see and fight your enemy on the battlefield.  Much easier than that fighting in the hills act so common in Afghanistan.


Written by Nick Gilmartin

May 27, 2009 at 6:57 am

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