Why the Proposed Korean ‘End of War’ Declaration is Kinda Pointless


I neglected my website here in the second half of 2021. Sorry. I was really busy rushing three articles into submission before the end of the year. Two got accepted, at:

Foreign Affairs (with a friend), on US alliances and the ostensible damage Trump did to them, which actually didn’t happen, because no US ally bolted or even hedged the US, because they’re just unwilling to absorb the domestic adjustment costs of really de-linking from the US even if Trump is a total jerk to them,

Korean Observer, on North Korea sanctions and why they are a good idea even though everyone hates them apparently at the conferences in South Korea.

These are scheduled for publication in the Q1 and Q2 journal volumes respectively. I’ll post the original, pre-edited versions so that my/full ideas are out there, but probably not till after the published version has been out for awhile.

On this site, I will try to start posting more, with links to my op-eds and other writings. I will also update the ‘What I am Reading’ section to keep better track of what I think readers ought to read themselves.

I started writing for 1945.com last month, so a lot of these posts will be of the short essays I write for them.

Finally, I find myself ‘micro-blogging’ at Twitter more than using this website. So please follow me there if you are interested in a more regular stream of my thoughts on northeast Asian security and US politics.

So my first piece for 1945, from a month ago, was on the ridiculous ‘end of war’ declaration idea floated by the Moon administration. Moon pushed hard for it last year, but nothing came of it, and it’s faded away. Why? Because no one what it was since it was not a treaty. Would it bind North Korea? Would Pyongyang stop its long history of provocations along the inter-Korean border if the US and SK signed it? Would NK cap its WMD programs or retrench the KPA from the DMZ? Of course not. So why would we sign it?

Anyway, here it is:

As South Korean President Moon Jae In enters the final months of his presidency, he has pushed hard for an ‘end of war declaration’ (EoW), ostensibly to conclude the legally unfinished Korean War (1950-53). There has been extensive discussion of this idea, including at thismagazine. ‘EoW declaration’ is a curious locution – in Korean too (종전선언) – because wars traditionally end with a treaty (also a different word in Korean – 조약). The Korean War was paused in mid-1953 by an armistice. That armistice has never been upgraded to a treaty. It is unclear if Moon’s declaration is supposed to replace that armistice, supplement it, be a ‘semi-treaty’ of some sort, or is just symbolic.

For the rest, go here, please.

Robert E Kelly
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science & Diplomacy
Pusan National University