Woke up this morning to hear more sabre rattling between North Korea and South Korea and the United States. I'm not sure that many Americans understand the history of these hostilities. It's been going on since a truce was signed in 1953, putting the settlement chances in some weird half century "limbo" where nothing is agreed to and nothing is settled. The truce has been chaotic and uncertain and leaves both North and South on a kind of permanent knife edge of war.
Last year I wrote a blog about the infamous "tree cutting" incident of 1976. While stationed in Korea I took a stateside leave and by the time I got back American and Korean troops were in a higher DEFCON and sabres were rattling then also.
Since that time too many U.S. Presidents have played the pawn in North Korea's game of nuclear chess and fishing boat roulette. It seems always to be driven by one of these incestuously retarded Kim Il Juns, whether I, II or III. And it usually comes when North Korea has a bad rice crop and the populace are starving. Seems that the "crazy Kims" start raising a little hell, just long enough for the western allies to pay attention, then acceding to a requests for a few hundred million tons of rice. A more permanent tension is brought about by North Korea's massive failure to feed her people under a communist tyrant and their persistent jealously of South Korea's remarkable economic success over the last three decades.
So while all out war has never broken out since that half century old truce was signed, the tension between the two nations is palpable. I served two tours in Korea and that "war tension" was always present while I was there. It doesn't help that South Korea's capitol at Seoul is but a cannon shot away from North Korea's front lines. Nor has either Korea forgotten that 3.5 million civilians were killed during the last outright war.
My first introduction to the Korea military was in Vietnam. While our Aussie allies there seemed to focus on drinking all the Fosters they could find, and the Filipino's spent most of their time black marketing American goods with the BX ration card, the Koreans were tough "take no prisoner" fighters.
I recall a time when I was sent on temporary duty to Phanh Rang Air Base for some heavy weapons training. A flight of us Security Police were undergoing .50 cal weapons training just off the base. We were in fixed positions and firing at large oil barrels half way up a mountain a half mile or so away. Midway through a firing session our group began taking mortar rounds from the other side of that target mountain. We were forced to don asbestos gloves and load white hot .50 cal barrels onto trailers and skedaddle back to base. The base immediately dispatched a Vietnamese Army Unit out to the village from which the mortars were launched. The unit came back and reported they were unable to find the Viet Cong units responsible. Then someone dispatched a South Korean patrol to the same village. The Koreans lined up the villagers and asked where the Viet Cong were. When their query was met with silence the Koreans opened up on the first villager in line. In less than a minute a dozen or so Vietnamese were leading the Koreans to the Cong who had launched the mortars. The South Koreans took them prisoner, confiscated the mortars...case closed. When we heard about the incident later that night we Americans were a bit awed, and disgusted by the Koreans savage methodology.
Six years later, when I began serving my first tour of duty in South Korea I would come to better understand the South's hatred of communism. They have lived in the cross-hairs of a North Korean threat all of their lives. They have family ties in North Korea and know the extent of their suffering.
And so, the half century truce continues. And so does the tension and constant threat of war. If events go as they have in the past, the current heightened tension will dissipate. However, I do have to give President Obama credit for sending those B-2 bombers in last week. The news this morning reports that F-22 Fighters have also been sent in. Our air staff reported last week that, should events escalate into war, our Air Force stationed in South Korea could take out the entire North Korean Air Force in less than 50 hours.
From the air staff to God's ears....those folks up in Seoul are having their Kim-Chee and eggs this morning and praying for peace.