Exchanging Fire on the Korean Peninsula
The Intel Hub
By Nile Bowie
February 29, 2012
The 38th parallel dividing the two Korean nation states may be the most potent physical manifestation of antithetical idealism subsisting into the 21st century. From it’s guerilla warfare induced separation in 1945, to the highly touted present day threat of sacred war – the ideologies of the two opposing Korean nation states have worked to the advantage of powers largely using Korea as a proxy. In the south, the oligarchical cadre of President Lee Myung Bak has worked ad nauseum to dismantle the infrastructure of former President Kim Dae-Jung’s sunshine policy toward the northward regime. In an unfettered embrace for the military industrial complex, Lee has further aligned with the Pentagon and the Obama administration to secure an influx of state-of the-art-military technology.
To the North, ideology has always been far more relevant than economics. Beneath the first signs of Chinese-style market reform and the increasing presence of special economic zones, the effectiveness of state mythology surrounding its deified leadership may soon gently begin to be challenged as North Koreans learn more about foreigners and the world beyond their borders. Since its inception, the Northern population has been subjected to vigorous domestic propaganda espousing the pristine virtuousness of a uniquely homogenous Korean race – protected from the evils of the outside world under the everlasting paternal care of the Great Father Leader, General Kim il-Sung. Although always second to firepower, economic legitimacy appears to be more of a priority following the third dynastic handover into the remarkably stable Kim Jong-Un regime.
The threat of war has permanently occupied the Korean peninsula since the existence of its two nation states, with each side seeking to wholly absorb the other into its ideological and economic orbit. The South’s undisputed economic dominance makes it naturally suited to lead integrative efforts toward much needed reconciliation on the peninsula. Under the publically loathed chaebol regime model of Lee Myung Bak, the prospects of a mutual bloodless reunification appear stark. As one state begins to manufacture its own fighter jets and increasingly expands its arsenal of advanced military technology – the other brandishes a collection ageing Soviet-made machinery, suspected to be largely obsolete. Between the artillery exchanges of a hypothetical Korean Holy War, it must be asked – is South Korea really prey or predator?