Friday, 9 March 2018


It is probably too much to expect that the announcement on the White House lawn in the early hours signals the beginning of the end of the sixty-eight-year Korean conflict. However, it does ratchet down the nuclear tension. Hawks in Washington warn that there have been false dawns before, but surely they must concede that the dictatorship in North Korea has never gone this far before.

Two factors must have pushed President Kim into the prospective historic talks with the US President. Firstly, behind-the-scenes pressure from China. Secondly, the prospect of ending UN sanctions. The poverty, peaking in episodes of starvation, of the common people has not cut the icy attitude of the family dictatorship in the past. However, the latest roster of sanctions has clearly threatened the very functioning of the state.

So it looks as if President Kim is ready to concede - after enough caveats wrung from President Trump and his southern neighbours in order to save face - that nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula be put beyond use.

Over one thousand United Kingdom servicemen lost their lives in the Korean war which broke out in 1950. There were also long-term physical and mental traumas. We had joined the US in a coalition under the UN banner, which would not have come together if the Soviet Union had felt able to attend the critical security council meeting and wield her veto. We were forced to borrow to finance our continued military expenditure, which was otherwise being wound-down after the world war.  That debt burden hung over the 1950s and 1960s.

The Korean war stopped in 1953, but reached only a truce. North Korea is still technically at war with South Korea. My initial euphoria at watching, live, the South Korean delegation on the White House steps, similar to my viewing of the breaching of the Berlin Wall, is therefore excusable, but there is a long way to go.

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