Tensions Increase between North and South Korea
The tension between North and South Korea has been a historical divide between two nations that dates back to the Korean Peninsula War in the 1950s.Recently, South Korea has accused its northern neighbor of an imminent threat as a result of ,nuclear arsenal and weapons of mass destruction that North Korea has been amassing.The threat is so serious that the United States, Japan, China and Russia are all attempting to solve the crisis.
In the meantime, North Korea continues to strengthen its military presence in the region and has threatened to use nuclear weapons against its opponents. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has not made his intentions clear, yet he has made it clear that his country seeks to expand its power and influence in the region.
The question is whether or not North Korea will eventually attempt to take over South Korea or if its actions are simply posturing and saber rattling. To answer that question, we must look at the long history of hostility between the two countries, which has seen periods of open hostility, strained negotiations and recently renewed threats.
History of Hostilities Between North and South Korea
The two nations have been in a state of uneasy peace for 60 years, after the armistice that followed the Korean War in 1953. This agreement maintained the de facto boundary line between the two states and acknowledged the presence of the two Koreas’ respective military forces in the area. The situation has since been characterized by a heightened Cold War atmosphere.
In recent years, tensions between North and South Korea have only escalated further.In 2018, both sides exchanged artillery fire across the maritime boundary. South Korea accused Pyongyang of shelling one of its islands, while North Korea claimed Seoul’s response to a marooned North Korean fishing boat was an act of aggression. North Korea conducted nuclear tests and conducted long-range missile tests, prompting an international response of condemnation and implemented economic sanctions.
North Korean Military Capability
North Korea has one of the largest standing armies in the world, valued at 1.2 million personnel and led by Kim Jong-Un, the nation’s supreme leader. They are estimated to be in possession of up to 10,000 tanks, 7,000 pieces of artillery, and 60 submarines and 70 minor naval vessels. North Korea has also acquired an arsenal of ballistic missiles, including the KN-08, which has a range of up to 7400 miles, potentially allowing it to reach the United States in theory .
In addition to its conventional weapons, North Korea is thought to possess around 70kg of plutonium, allowing it to make nuclear weapons. According to some estimates, the nation has up to 20 such devices, plus the material for several more weaponized devices.
Aims of North Korea
Kim Jong-Un’s announcement of a “final victory” in North Korea is often seen as proof of his ambition to take over South Korea, but it’s important to understand that the North Korean leader is pursuing something much more complex than a short-term victory. Instead, Kim appears to want to reunite the two Koreas under a single government, similar to the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990.
Critics of this scenario argue that Kim is a dictator and will not show respect for the citizens of South Korea. Further, even if a reunification were to happen, North Korea’s authoritarian government may seek to repress freedom, as seen in its oppressive treatment of its own citizens.
Regional and International Reactions
As the ongoing crisis between North and South Korea continues to heat up, the United States and China have both highlighted the importance of finding a peaceful resolution. The United States is leading international efforts to bring the two Koreas together, through the use of sanctions and, most recently, direct diplomatic talks.
The Chinese government, which remains North Korea’s closest ally, is reluctant to outline any successful strategy that could threaten its influence in the region. Meanwhile, Russia has a vested interest in seeing an end of the conflict, as it involves two important neighbors on its borders and could disrupt trade relations.
North and South Korea’s Overshadowed Common History
The two governments have managed to sustain a fragile peace for over six decades, yet there is much more to the relationship than history of military provocations and political sparring. South Koreans often point to the cultural similarities between the two countries, with many seeing a shared heritage and the decades of separation from one another.
The foundation of an eventual unification between the two is based on mutual understanding, historical awareness and a united effort to bridge the ideological gap between the two countries. This will require a resolute commitment on both sides to come together and work out a common vision, which would need to be established before any speculation of North Korea’s attempts to take over South Korea can be put to rest.
Potential Outcomes and Unanswered Questions
At this point, it is impossible to determine whether North Korea intends to take over South Korea in the future. It may depend on the success or failure of negotiations between the two states in coming years.
In the event of a failed agreement and further escalation, it could be argued that North Korea is capable of successfully taking over South Korea militarily. However, this is only likely to happen if the United States and other major powers were to drop their opposition, which could open up a whole new set of issues.
Will North Korea’s Military Strategy Succeed?
North Korea’s military strategy appears to be designed to intimidate and deter potential adversaries, while attempting to increase its strength and presence in the region. From a military standpoint, Kim’s goal appears to be to outmaneuver South Korea’s defenses and gain control of the peninsula.
In pursuit of this goal, North Korea has increased its military capabilities, upgrading its naval vessels, missiles and nuclear capabilities over the years.Some defense experts believe that the North has positioned itself for a concentrated attack on South Korea, with the intention of a quick victory and a decisive occupation.
Global Players Step In
The international community has been attempting to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict since the 1990s, and recently the United States, China, Russia and Japan have stepped up their efforts.
The United Nations also remains involved in the talks, although its role is less clear. UN Security Council resolutions have been passed in recent years in relation to North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests, yet have been either ignored or circumvented. It remains to be seen whether or not the UN can effectively act as a mediator between North and South Korea.
The Fear of Renewed Hostilities
Although there have been brief moments of optimism in recent years, North and South Korea continue to be in a heightened state of tension. There is a genuine fear among many in the South that an invasion by North Korea could be imminent, and that the six decades of peace could be dangerously disrupted.
But despite the growing tensions, there are encouraging signs that both sides want a peaceful resolution to the conflict. South Korea is keen to find a way to coexist with its neighbors, while North Korea has recently adopted a more conciliatory approach to international relations.
The Road Ahead for North and South Korea
The tensions between the two countries could be the first steps of an eventual reunification, where both sides acknowledge their faults, set aside their grievances and begin to build a shared future. That goal is ambitious and will require significant accomplishment of both North and South Korean governments.
Experts have warned that the complex decision making process required to reach such an agreement is not realistic, and that a more gradual process that relies on small compromises is needed. Achieving peace is an arduous task and requires the active involvement of all major stakeholders, including the United Nations and other global players.