The China Variable in the North Korean Conflict

Lately it seems like everywhere you look you're faced with a new story about North Korea's latest antics.  They just can't seem to put a top on it.  Now as things are heating up at the border of North and South Korea, many questions are coming to head.  What is going to happen?  Can North Korea back up their threats?  How are they allowed to act this way in this day and age, in that region of the world?  It's just crazy.

I know for myself, I have many times wished the UN nations would just cut through the bull and go in and remove the government.  It absolutely goes without saying that the Korean people would appreciate this gesture - on both sides.  Make no mistake about it.  North Koreans are not in full support of the regime there.  They have been beaten into submission by a tyrannical government much in the same way circus animals are.  They are impoverished, hopeless, and disillusioned, and the only choice they are faced with is to support those who are causing their grief.  Floods of people are daily trying to make the trek across the border at all costs.  Life simply has no meaning unless they put it all on the line to change things.

Be thankful if you are from a country that allows you freedoms of choice, career and family.  Be grateful that that the biggest issue you may face is whether or not the stock market will be up this month.  These are not the real issues in life.  The reality of North Korea reminds us all of that.

South Korea cares deeply for their family across a thinly drawn border.  They are all Korean, and one thing you learn about Koreans when living here, and if you're Korean yourself - Koreans love everything Korean.  Especially their own people, heritage and history.  

Were you aware that the South Korean government has many programs in place to encourage North Koreans to somehow make it to their side?  For example, if you are North Korean born and make it to the South, even if you fled the country at some point in history, you are entitled to financial support and housing on the government's coin.  Yes, this is true.

So why is it like this?  Would Koreans undermine their own ethnic and cultural bonds for a reason that is unclear to entire world?  No.  Of course not.

Let's not forget that it's history that shapes our present and helps to direct our futures in many cases.

As a North Korean descendant, I too would like to see the day when reunification happens.  

The history and experiences my own family lived to tell are salty and inhumane at best.  To be honest, most of the stories have been left untold.  It's difficult to get a nephew or son to appreciate the circumstances when he was raised in the safe confines of America.  Let alone sharing them with other Americans.  With no vantage point or appreciation, it's just pearls before swine.

History tells us of another force that shaped and affected the Korean war.  That being China.  

Their alliance with North Korea is sadly overlooked, yet holds possibly the greatest reason why North Korea is in existence today and why reunification is likely not going to happen.  There may be a bigger picture that doesn't actually deal with the Koreas, but with other initiatives of other nations.  Let's not forget about this China variable as we are presented with the latest and greatest of the Hermit Kingdom.

the Red Dragon Diaries

ESL, Travel, and Judo!


Re: The China Variable in the North Korean Conflict

Thanks for the great (video) analysis, and as you say always good to hear form others how they perceive this issue. Seems you are from a North-Korean/American background.

I totally agree with the 'buffer zone' principle you have mentioned. However, I have a different opinion as you might have guessed. 

South-Korea is an independent country and my take is that many SK would love to see the US leave, for various reasons, but the most important being that the US is as big an obstacle to peace in the region as China is (Note: I am not saying that SK isn't thankful to the US, they should be).

The reason China is using NK as a buffer, is the same reason the US would never agree on leaving. Lack of trust by both China and US in eachother. 


Let's say China would guarantee to protect SK from the North and they would assure SK's independence. Would the US be willing to leave SK and open the door for China and SK to solve the problem together? Personally, I don't think the US would.

SK is one of the biggest trading partners of China and reunification would have big implications for trade, tourism, stability etc.. SK and China working on a mutual plan for unification of Korea is in my opnion not impossible, but the US would have to make way for this.

Why do I put the responsibility with the US? My take is that the US is the only party involved, that does not have a necessary geographical presence (i.e. the US does not have boundaries with Korea nor China). With that, the US has a responsibility to make way when peace can occur.  But don't get me wrong, China has a big responsibility as well. Protecting SK and ditching the regime in the North to give independence to Korea as a reunified country. 

Korea and the region would benefit from unification, it would create stability and it would solve the biggest humanitarian disaster that currently exists in the region. But as always, human rights play the second violin, right next to the worlds smallest violin, and it is currently playing for almost everyone except the people of NK. 

Background: I am from the Netherlands and live in Hong Kong. My wife is Korean.  




Re: The China Variable in the North Korean Conflict

Thanks so much for your comment.  I'd have to say that my post sounded a bit one-sided, but the reality is just as you mentioned.  The other forces involved, the bigger picture, are the US and China.  It sure does seem that the Koreas are pawns in all of this.  I honestly can't think of any other reason why the 2 "countries" are not 1.

All we can do is hope and pray for peace and reunification some day.