A way out the Korean Peninsula Conflict

Johan Galtung, expert on peace studies, proposes a solution to the underlying Korean conflict.

The situation in the Korean Peninsula has never been so tense since the end of the Korean War more than 60 years ago. But it isn't just because of the nuclear bomb with missiles launched by North Korea and South Korea and Japan pro-nuke reaction, but because there haven't been any moves to solve the underlying conflict.

There has been a conflict between North Korea and USA that after 140+ years of victorious warfare had to accept armistice, not victory, in Korea.

Conflict means incompatible goals. Pyogyang goals are a peace treaty, normalization of relations and a nuclear free Korean Peninsula. And USA's goal is the collapse of NK regime.

But why does NK has a nuclear capability?

- NK is threatened by the USA-South Korea alliance and in general their "team spirit," in particular to deter conventional, or nuclear attacks; failing to fight back and especially is that attack might come from the US bases in Okinawa-RyuKyu and from Japan.  

- To have a bargain chip in any denuclearization, that of course has to be monitored.

- To show that they are not collapsing, that they are capable of making nuclear bombs and the missiles to carry them.

- As the ultimate response if threatened by collapse.

"Beat a dog repeatedly and it becomes crazy." NK has been beaten by an unholy alliance Seoul-Washington. This has make both North Korean and South Korean societies absurd and detached from reality.

A fundamentalist Confucian society with filial piety through the Kims, assuming that the spirit of Kim II Sung drifts down to son and grandson in the North; in the South through the Parks, at present running a society that is carbon copy of Japan down to the smallest details on the basis of hysterical anti-Japanism, run by Us micro-management.

They will both change. Absurdities are unsustainable.

There is a way out of this conflict. Build on the North Korean goals, hold NK to their words. Their regime will, like all regimes, change. Design a peace treaty, normalize diplomatic relations North-South and North-USA; and design a regime for a nuclear free peninsula.

The two instruments for normalization and denuclearization are then exanched by depositing them in a escrow with a third party, the UN General Assembly.

Then implementation, preferably quick.

But this is only the beginning. Is peace building based on cooperation for mutual and equal benefit, equity and on harmony the real challenge. These must be based on deep empathy with each other.

Of such proposals, here are two:

- There is a contested maritime zone between the two maritime borders, it can be used for joint fishing and joint fishing breeding. Share income 40-40-20, 20 for the ecology and administration.

- There is no flight Seoul-Pyongyang: start it both ways and use it also for the construction workers and personnel for two embassies.

It is unlikely that USA will come to its senses and initiate all this, but South Korea has to do it by becoming and independent, autonomous country, not a micro-managed, on at least this issue.

And there is another possibility: presidential power in SK grows to the two term UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon if elected candidate for the governing Saenuri party. He is alway emphasizing in dialogue when referring to the Korea issue. he would know how to handle a UN General Assembly Uniting for Peace.

Johan Galtung, professor in peace studies and founder of the TRASNCEND Network for Peace has published 164 books on peace related issues of which 41 have been translated into 35 languages. This editorial, "The Korean Peninsula Conflict: A Way Out" published on 30 May  in the TRASCEND Media Service.

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