The tensions in the Korean peninsula are like a jar of kimchi that has been fermenting way past its expiration date. It's been six decades since the signing of the Korean War “police action” cease fire. The divisions between the two Koreas have only intensified with time and are far wider than the demilitarized zone that separates the North and South near the 38th parallel. In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, the Americans and Russians decided that Korea would be divided in half under the control of the two super powers. The Koreans didn't get the memo and weren't consulted on the deal, but have been living with the consequences ever since.
Both the U.S. and Soviet Union orchestrated the establishment of “cooperative” governments in their respective “spheres of influence.” The Russian army is long gone, but our military is still there with around 28,000 troops stationed in South Korea serving as a trip wire to bring us “back to the future” in the Korean War part two.
The Cold War is over but the inertia it created, continues. U.S. bases in Europe originally set up to counter a threat from the Red Army, remain. Troops stationed in South Korea for the purpose of preventing a “domino effect” of world communist domination are still in place. Paying for the perpetual defense of prosperous nations only makes sense in the bizarro world of global politics.
South Korea has twice the population and depending on what estimate is used – 10 to 20 times the GDP of North Korea. The South's military is modern and fully equipped. In part, because of the U.S. military backing for all these years, South Korea has not had to come to terms with reconciliation or reunification with their northern brothers.
Trying to decipher the intentions of Kim Jong-un or whether or not he is the one really calling the shots is any “expert’s” guess. It sounds like Kim Jong-un modeled his threat-making skills after comedian Jeff Dunham's puppet, Achmed the Dead Terrorist. "Silence! I will kill you!" is funny coming from a puppet, but then again, Achmed doesn't have his hands on any nukes.
True, it's hard to take a figure like Kim Jong-un seriously. Young, overweight, bad dresser with a lousy haircut, he's a comedian's dream dictator. He does have a gorgeous wife, however. Kim Jong-un may be all bluster, and as long as that is all it is, we can be amused. While North Korea's military may not be capable of victory, it is still lethal enough to make all those involved pay a heavy price for “winning.”
I know that Dennis Rodman is a tough act to follow but our president should at least give Kim Jong-un a ring on the phone, after all, they both like basketball. The worst case scenario of presidential contact is that nothing gets resolved – just like it hasn't for the last 60 years. War could break out before this article goes to print or tensions could fester for who knows how long. Until the lid is taken off that jar of kimchi, the potential of one big mess will only get worse with time.