Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Blogging live from my hot-box office in Seoul. Why does everyone in the room have a fan except for me? Why does hot weather sap the energy out of a person and make them enormously drowsy regardless of the quantity of coffee consumed?

Asia Times has provided space for comments about upcoming anniversaries in Korea. (The link re North Korea info at the bottom is v interesting). Memorial Day is this Friday but the article talks more of the June 2001 summit anniversary and the outbreak of the Korean war anniversary. I didn't notice mention of the death of the two school girls anniversary coming up June 13 (I think) which is also an important one for both countries as it should indicate the sentiment of the vocal minority regarding US-South Korea alliance and could strain the inchoate friendship between Bush and Roh when Roh agreed to be a tad more hard-line-ish regarding North Korea. Evidence of which is becoming apparent but may not actually translate into action.

But the comment that caught my eye was one referring to the notion that US presence on the Korean peninsular is what justifies the existence of the North Korean state and its commitment to remaining a nation constantly ready for war. This may be so and in many ways it could be argued that if the US were to leave the threat of war may diminish to the point where inter-Korean relations, through the peace and prosperity policy may actually start to gain greater momentum. However, such ideas that support the removal of the US often need to go a step further to analyse the likelihood of an arms race developing, particularly between Japan, China and South Korea in the absence of a major power to deter these countries from striving to gain regional dominance. Indeed a key reason to eradicte the threat of North Korea's atomic arsenal is to avoid an arms race. Paradoxically, the removal of the US forces in Korea poses a similar threat. If US stays they threaten North Korea which in turn builds up nuclear weapons to protect itself thereby sparkin an arms race in the regions as Japan and others seek to block the threat of North Korea. If US leaves, they leave behind a power vacum which would induce Japan and others to build up weapons to gain dominance and protection from neighbouring countries all with long histories of rivalry and war.

On the US-North Korea front the delegation of Congressmen to North Korea seems to have gone well from a political correctness point of view. But it seems like one of those politically-motivated-not-likely-to-lead-to-anything kind of events. The lack of press coverage would also indicate this.

Currently reading:

"Hell" by Yasutaka Tsutsui