Korean Peninsula – L’après guerre froide dans le monde

I am grateful that I can still read Chinese since my French is still rather basic. The above was translated by 北京 : 商务印书馆, 1996. The original by Charles Zorgbibe – ‘Lawyer and historian of international relations‘ – was put into print in 1993. I concur with the translation of the title by the publishers, this was <冷战后的世界>. What interested me was the world from the French perspective. [Interestingly, the series was named Que Sais-Je, in other words – What do  know? It mirrors the final line in French playwright Yasmina Reza’s work <God of Carnage>.]

The author held an optimistic view towards tensions on the Korean Peninsula where both Koreas (North and South) remained at war since only an armistice was signed back in 1953. I see why he had reasons to be positive. China was prodding North Korea to make peace with South Korea. The United States was planning to execute the Guam Doctrine or Nixon Doctrine to pull troops from Asia (eventually). In 1990, the then Soviet Union recognised South Korea. There was also the significant event between the two Koreas with an agreement to ‘resolve differences, adhere to mutual non-aggression, conduct trade, and cooperate’ in 1991. China likewise normalised relations with South Korea in 1992.

Yet as one sees today, reunification does not seem near. The basic premise of German-styled peace progress is flawed, at least based on the anecdotal evidence I have heard. West Germany basically ‘gobbled up’ the East. The led to a tremendous strain on the finances, I have heard one person say that he would not go back to Germany ‘to starve’. In 2010, German paper de Spiegel stated: ‘…economic benefits that West German politicians promised failed to materialize.’ This parallels a recent television discussion this year on Channelnews Asia, where a Korean put forth the view that South Koreans saw North Korea as ‘a burden’. At the time of publishing (1993), North Korea spent 20% of its income on defence, 12% of the male workforce was in the military against 6% in the South.

But perhaps the largest sticking point was the development of nuclear weapons by North Korea in 1991. This was discovered by the United States. It seems that this is crux and key to the entire puzzle? That the North Korean oligarchy or dictatorship is giving its all to maintain power and a life of luxury through means as dangerous as nuclear missiles?

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