Nuclear weapons have held the world hostage for more than 70 years. Although they possess terrifying power and the world has come close to nuclear war on several occasions, these weapons have only been used twice, in 1945, by the United States against Japan. Advocates of deterrence believe that nuclear weapons actually kept the peace… Continue reading North Korea: Nukes vs. War?
When, in early March, Donald Trump agreed to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the Washington foreign policy elite nearly suffered a collective heart attack. For one thing, the announcement came as a complete surprise. Trump had telegraphed his other foreign policy bombshells well in advance: leaving the Paris climate accord, ripping up the Iran… Continue reading Playing Trump for Peace
In South Korea these days, a popular dish at trendy restaurants is budae jjigae—an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink stew full of noodles, red pepper paste, Spam, sausages, kimchi, American cheese, baked beans, tofu, and whatever else the chef might want to throw into the mix. Budae means “battalion” in Korean, which points to the stew’s origins in the Korean War.… Continue reading Left Behind by Korea’s Success
Korean reunification is, for the most part, an ideal rather than a concrete plan. But that hasn’t always been the case. In the 1950s, reunification was a military goal: the forced absorption of one side by the other. Neither side was able to achieve that goal. In the 1960s and 1970s, when the two Koreas… Continue reading What Would Korean Reunification Look Like?
As the world focuses on the war in Syria, the refugee crisis in Europe, and the primary slugfest in the United States, the two Koreas are heading toward a catastrophe in the Far East. Although relations on the Korean peninsula have been deteriorating for the better part of eight years, the last six months have… Continue reading Darkness at High Noon
In the famous tearjerker Love Story, a young woman dying of cancer tells her boyfriend that “love means never having to say you’re sorry.” North Korea has generally adopted the same attitude toward South Korea, with a small twist: juche means never having to say you’re sorry. Indeed, Pyongyang has never been very good about… Continue reading North Korea’s Sorry Politics
Reunification, for Koreans, has a mythic quality, like the Promised Land or the Holy Grail. Most Koreans dream of reunification, of a time in the future when the North and the South will join together to recreate the Korean whole that existed before division and Japanese colonialism. It’s a lovely idea, but no one has… Continue reading Reunification: The View from the North
Horse Avoiding Alley is almost gone. For more than half a millennium, this narrow alleyway in the heart of Seoul stretched for several kilometers parallel to and just half block north of the major thoroughfare of Jongno Street. Its name, Pimatgol in Korean, refers to the route that commoners took to avoid constantly bowing to the aristocrats… Continue reading Letter from Seoul
Korean human rights activists send all sorts of things by balloon across the border into North Korea. The winds propel thumb drives containing movies, anti-government leaflets, dollar bills, even ChocoPies. One evangelical Christian group boasts that it has sent across 50,000 New Testaments and 500,000 Christian flyers. Freedom Fighters of North Korea (FFNK) claims to… Continue reading Korea’s Balloon War
If any country were in need of a national program of conflict resolution at every level of society, it would have been Germany after it reunified in 1990. East and West Germany were like a couple that had rushed into marriage with very little understanding of what it would be like to live together, merge… Continue reading Conflict Resolution and German Reunification