North Korea invades South Korea

Armed forces from Communist North Korea invaded the American-supported republic of South Korea today when they crossed the 38th parallel, the boundary that divides the zones. It was unclear at first whether the United States would take direct military action to defend the nation. However, South Korean Ambassador John Myun Chang said during a conference at the State Department, “I don’t think the United States will abandon us.”
—The Cedar Rapids Gazette on June 25, 1950.

North Korea declares “sacred war” on U.S. and South

SEOUL  – North Korea said on Saturday it would begin a “sacred war” against the United States and South Korea at “any time necessary” based on its nuclear deterrent, in response to “reckless” military exercises by the allies.  — Reuters July 23, 2010

I had predicted there was a likely chance that North Korea would launch a second attack on the South this year on the weekend of June 25th.  I had based my forecast on several factors.

  • June 25th marked the 60th anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s daring attempt to reunite the country under the communist banner.  Since his son, Kim Jung Il is known to be superstitious, he could not ignore the auspicious value of the 60th anniversary determined by the Chinese Zodiac.
  • The Dear Leader’s deteriorating health brings urgency to the choice of his successor, an issue that is being contested by the progressives who support dialogue with the South and the hardliners who are dedicated to renewing hostilities.
  • Time is running out for Kim junior to escape the shadow of his father and make his own mark on history. The gravity of this Shakespearean drama must have received added impetus after his nemesis, George W. Bush, succeeded in out-warring his father.
  • The South’s mighty ally is already overburdened with its military adventures in the Middle-East and Central Asia and economic collapse at home. If George “Rambo” Bush and his neo-con posse couldn’t be provoked into firing the first shot, what threat can the North feel from a hamstrung black president.
  • Japan had just demonstrated a comical lack of leadership while China proclaimed its disinterest in the whole affair hoping to avoid yet another border land conflict.
  • The weekend of June 25 saw the world leaders confabbing in Toronto while their constituents focused on South Africa’s World Cup spectacular.

I was completely and gratefully wrong about June 25th. The only extraordinary political violence that weekend was on the streets of Toronto. What I now fear is that the date may have been the only error in my gloomy forecast.
Today, all of these factors except the last remain relevant. The odds of the Hermit Kingdom succeeding in militarily reuniting the peninsula may seem impossible to us, but it would not be the first time an Asian adversary gambled on America’s inability to react. I hope they are playing yet another one of their repeated bluffs; but I fear our faith in rational politics may once again be shattered.