I read with some amusement this morning that North Korea has vowed that, effective March 11, it is cancelling the 1953 armistice agreement that ended the Korean war. In and of itself, this kind of saber-rattling isn’t very funny. The two Korean states are still technically at war with one another, and nobody wants the Korean peninsula to erupt into violence again. But I laughed when I saw the headline because I distinctly remember that the government of North Korea already announced that the armistice was over back in May 2009.
The reclusive government of North Korea has always had a penchant for brinkmanship and has regularly violated the armistice anyway. In November 2010, for example, the North Korean military launched a full-on artillery attack on Yeonpyong Island in South Korea that killed four and injured nineteen. The South Korean military returned fire while the bombardment went on, but otherwise did not engage in serious military retaliation.
Among all the ‘trouble spots’ in the world, Korea has always been the one that scares me the most—even more so now that North Korea has nuclear weapons. Aside from the North Korean pattern of belligerence, their government just seems to be wholly disconnected from reality. Other belligerent states like Iran and the Hamas government of Gaza are dangerous, but they are somewhat predictable and they are motivated by ideologies that, though irrational, can be analysed and understood.
North Korea, on the other hand, can’t even keep its story straight from day to day about whether the 1953 armistice is still in effect or not . . . there isn’t even solid ground from which we could begin having serious negotiations. It’s reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984, where ‘truth’ is constantly shifting based on the leader’s whims at the moment. I just hope Kim Jong-un doesn’t decide on such a whim to start a nuclear war. . . .