It all started on June 25, 1950. It caught everyone by surprise.
North Korea (NoKo) invaded South Korea with Russian tanks and 75,000 troops.
The result was horrendous combat under terrible conditions.
General Douglas MacArthur fought back all the way to the border with China at the Yula River. It is a remarkable account of courage, resilience and survival.
Then the Chinese invaded with 300,000 soldiers in human waves to drive Allied forces (22 countries of the UN Force) south to the 38th parallel (now called the DMZ) after which an Armistice was signed on July 27, 1953. A book that recounts one the fiercest battles at Chosin Reservoir is “Last Stand of Fox Company.”
How fierce was the fighting?
America lost over 54,000 soldiers and 7,800 missing. South Korean estimates nearly 140,000 killed and 20,000 missing.
Estimates are difficult but it is believed the Chinese lost between 200,000 and 400,000 soldiers with 8,000 missing. Estimates of NoKo soldiers killed are nearly 300,000.
Worse, estimates of civilian casualties in both Koreas ran into the millions.
The numbers are staggering.
All of this was during the regime of Kim Il Sung. Things were difficult for years until he died. Then his son, Kim Jong-il, took over in 1994. The relations continued to be testy, like a bruised fighter itching for another battle. When he died, his young son, Kim Jong-un, took over in 2011 and things only got worse.
What followed the in the years since the Armistice was open contention, skirmishes, occasional bombardments, and continued threats.
Attacks occurred on land, sea and in the air. American aircraft attacked, planes hijacked, and a foiled attack by a platoon of NoKo soldiers attempting to kill the Prime Minister. In 1968, a U.S. Navy ship was captured and the 83-man crew imprisoned for nearly a year. Many Americans and South Koreans would be killed by constant NoKo attacks over many years.
As time went on, the attacks got worse. A SoKo ship was torpedoed with 46 sailors killed. As late as 2015, NoKo used artillery to bombard islands and SoKo returned fire.
Along the way, agreements were signed, rescinded, renewed, broken and otherwise ineffective while NoKo continued development of missiles and nuclear bombs.
Notable efforts involved the nuclear NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty), IAEA agreements for inspections, NoKo violating nuclear fuel agreements, negotiations in Geneva that resulting in providing two nuclear reactors to NoKo, talks in Berlin and New York regarding missile development by North Korea, reunification talks, and so much more over decades.
The administrations of presidents Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton announced major progress and then failure.
The Kim family had been playing the West for all our gullibility. Today, Kim Jong-un has a standing army of 1.3 million men and a reserve of 7.6 million, all on a permanent war footing.
It hit a crescendo in 2017 with not only the development and multiple testing of nuclear bombs, but of successful land and sea based Hwasong ICBM’s that have the proven potential of hitting any city in the United States.
Then along comes President Donald Trump.
Trump set out to end this long saga of conflict and broken promises. He immediately stood firm against the NoKo actions and made Kim Jong-un a caricature “Rocket Man.”
As “Rocket Man” made insults and threats, he was met with counter threats and insults.
When “Rocket Man” showed his videos, danced with his Generals and threatened to nuke any city in America, Trump was not so impressed and issued his own warning to stop the threats or he will respond with “fire and fury like the world has never seen.”
Trump says we are “locked and loaded.”
Trump went on to tighten the economic screws on NoKo — tighter than ever done to any country in history. He did this with the critical support of China.
It wasn’t long before NoKo was not only feeling the pressure, but its economy at near collapse. It seems Trump has forced Kim Jong-un to the bargaining table.
It may all be just another fake move.
But considering the world is horrified at the thought of a nuclear war, any progress would be appreciated.
Of course, if Kim Jong-un sees that everyone is afraid of him, maybe he will laugh and go back to his war dances.
Incredibly, one man must decide the fate of not only his nation, but that of the world.
Will Trump get fooled like so many before him?
Has Kim Jong-un finally had enough and wants to focus on helping his people?
Time will tell, but if history is any indication, I would not be betting on peace just yet.
If Trump does bring real, certifiable peace, it will be nothing less than dismay for Trump haters.