South Korea

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and United States President Donald Trump met at a historic summit in Singapore on June 12 that concluded with a joint statement. Those who want peace and denuclearisation on the Korean Peninsula have welcomed the success of the summit. Though the end of the war has not been declared, a decisive step towards complete denuclearisation and an end to mutual hostilities has been taken.

The intra-Korea summit on April 27 may well be recorded as historic, writes Youngsu Won from Seoul, but questions remain about how stable any peace that emerges will be.

The Panmunjeom Declaration signed by Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in clearly signifies Korea’s transition to peaceful coexistence. This development is welcomed by all except for anti-communist hysterical lunatics, nationally and internationally.

Last October, the hashtag #MeToo went viral around the world as women shared their experiences of sexual harassment and assault.

When South Korean prosecutor Seo Ji-hyun made a historic televised revelation in January of sexual harassment she had suffered in 2010 by a senior prosecutor, it stirred the rapidly spreading #MeToo movement across South Korea.

About five million women went on strike and marched in Spain on March 8 in support of a call for an international women’s strike to mark International Women’s Day and demand a just and egalitarian society, TeleSUR English said that day.

This winter has been extremely cold in South Korea, with temperatures regularly reaching well below -10°C — perhaps another sign of climate change.

Will a verbal war between a senile dotard and a little rocket man result in an actual war? Probably not, but at the moment, the risk is unprecedented.

The reason it remains unlikely is simply because the consequences of any actions are so catastrophic. Right now, this is the only deterrent to war.

US President Donald Trump made the unprecedented threat to “totally destroy” North Korea, not in a tweet or off the cuff remark, but in a written speech before the United Nations General Assembly on September 20. No other leader of a country has ever stood before the UN and openly stated its intention to destroy another country. 

Coupled with Trump’s earlier threat to rain down “fire and fury” on North Korea, this threat must be seen as one that at least includes the possibility of a nuclear attack.

Many commentators in the US and elsewhere have poured cold water on the idea there could be a short term war between the US and North Korea.

The Guardian said on August 9: “But despite two unpredictable nuclear-armed leaders trading barbs, most observers believe the possibility of conflict remains remote, with the North Korean leadership using its nuclear program as a bargaining chip rather than an offensive weapon.”

US exports to China totalled US$116 billion last year, while its imports reached $463 billion. The $347 billion deficit accounts for almost 70% of the US’s total trade deficit.

US President Donald Trump’s most influential senior advisers, Peter Navarro, who heads the National Trade Council, and US secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross, call China “the biggest trade cheater in the world”.

Moon Jae-in, of the liberal Democratic Party, won South Korea’s May 9 presidential election with 41% of the vote, easily defeating his arch-conservative opponent Hong Jun-pyo, who won about 24%.

The elections took place after the impeachment of conservative president Park Geun-hye for her involvement in a huge corruption scandal. Park, from Hong’s right-wing Saenuri Party (renamed Liberty Korea Party in a bid to rebrand), was forced out by the huge “Candlelight Revolution”. Millions of Koreans mobilised in an ongoing series of candlelight protests to demand her impeachment.

The elections also took place in a context of the threat of war in the Korean Peninsula with US President Donald Trump’s administration ratcheting up tensions with North Korea.

Less than three months into President Donald Trump’s reign we can already say that there is a non-trivial chance that the United States will soon be engaged in a nuclear war.

The threat is still remote, but the pieces are in place. An aircraft carrier group is en route to the Korean peninsula and anonymous sources have threatened a pre-emptive strike against North Korea.

At 11.22am on March 10, Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court Lee Jeingmi announced the court had unanimously decided to dismiss President Park Geun-hye. With that, after a 92-day trial, Park’s presidency was over.

Sitting in Gwanghwamun square on December 31, the screen rapidly dialled up to 10 million as it added up the number of participants in the past 10 candlelight protests against the corrupt influence over President Park Geun-hye by powerful corporate interests.

Every Saturday evening for the last two months of 2016, people had come out in the streets calling for Park’s impeachment. On December 9, an impeachment motion had been passed in the National Assembly by an overwhelming vote.

When Donald Trump is sworn in as president on January 20, he will take over the running of the US intelligence agencies — the CIA, FBI, NSA etc — that have brought charges to discredit the outcome of his election.

The Electoral College has rubberstamped Trump’s election and Congress has ratified it. The storm over allegations of Russian interference in last year’s elections will pass as The Leader takes charge and cleans house in these agencies.

But there are some things that should be noted about this brouhaha.

South Korea is currently in a vortex of an unprecedented political crisis.

President Park Geun-hye is under huge pressure to resign after a series of exposures of her shameful scandals related to Choi Soonshil, her friend of 40 years and daughter of Reverend Choi Tae-min who allegedly dominated a young Park after the 1975 assassination of her mother.

Despite the rain, hundreds of people turned out in Seongju County on September 4 for a candlelight vigil for the 54th night in a row. Their message is clear: no to the United States’ planned deployment of the THAAD missile defence system, not in Seongju or anywhere in South Korea. Seongju, a small town of mainly melon farmers, today finds itself at the forefront of a struggle against a new proposed US military deployment in the region. It is a deployment some warn could rekindle the Cold War.

Pages

Subscribe to South Korea