After 70 Years, Peace Treaty Needed to End Korean War

Note: This article is being re-posted from May 4, 2013, due to its continuing relevance today. Although some events cited in the article are a decade old, we see a repetition of events in 2023, only at a more dangerous level. Some experts concur that the threat of nuclear war over the Korean Peninsula never has been greater. Nonetheless, only this article’s title has been changed to “After 70 Years” rather than “After 60 Years.”

By Mark P. Barry

“The Korean peninsula was divided into north and south, not because our people wanted it, but because of the influence of the surrounding powerful nations….We have to transform the existing situation, where the United States, [Russia], China, and Japan play a leading role in the international order as they keep our nation divided….[W]e should develop the proactive influence of our people and of Korea so the neighboring superpowers can cooperate in the reunification of the Korean peninsula instead of obstructing it.”

— Sun Myung Moon, Cheon Seong Gyeong, 231-8, 1992.5.11

While Korea is the fatherland of our faith, Unificationists should remember that the peninsula continues to live under an uneasy truce signed [70] years ago this year. It’s also easy to forget that for 35 (in effect 40) years, it lived under oppressive Japanese colonialism, and that from 1895, two wars (Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese) were largely fought over it. We overlook that Korea has experienced [128] years of turbulence, captivity, division, and conflict.

With the 24-hour news cycle, Americans understandably fixate on North Korea’s latest threats, but the underlying cause of the problem of North Korea is the absence of a peace treaty following the 1953 Armistice that halted the Korean War.

Because there has been no permanent peace, the Korean Peninsula is inherently unstable in a neighborhood, as Rev. Moon’s words above attest, where the interests converge of four major powers: China, Russia, Japan, and the United States.

The world media’s obsession with North Korea’s bizarre behavior and larger-than-life threats ignores the fact the North has remained a festering problem in international relations for decades. Since 1990, the almost exclusive focus has been on Pyongyang’s nuclear program. The North’s nuclear capability is extremely important and cannot be ignored, but the nuclear issue won’t be solved by focusing on it alone.

The only lasting way to solve the problems presented by North Korea is to bring about a permanent peace agreement for a peninsula still in a state of war that will also lay the basis for eventual reunification. In the process, the nuclear issue will be resolved as part of comprehensive mutual security arrangements.

The absence of permanent peace in Korea not only gets short shrift in the media, it is a reality shunned by policymakers, who merely recalibrate U.S. policy toward the “Norks,” as former Obama Asia official Kurt Campbell dubbed the North, and excuse the lack of wise use of American power and diplomacy on Korea being the “land of lousy options.” But as analyst John Delury said, “everything that Washington and Seoul are doing is reactive….We need to break that cycle and essentially…go on the offensive, not with weaponry, but with diplomacy.”

Continue reading “After 70 Years, Peace Treaty Needed to End Korean War”

Website Built with

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: