The following AP (Associated Press) photograph appeared in January 2003 on the CNN News site. (The translation is mine.)


With the power which unites the whole nation,

let's bash the United State's provocative scheme for nuclear war.

After I translated it, I pondered whether it really needed translation. Even without translation, the picture conveys the usual anti-American venom. The intense and often irrational position of the North Korean regime is clearly depicted. I must admit I have a bias in this regard. I can remember standing eyeball to eyeball with the North Korean soldiers in Panmunjom and seeing the hatred in their eyes. I still vividly remember 1969. I can still see the psyops pamphlets that the North Koreans routinely dropped in the DMZ lying around on the ground.

North Korean Psyops pamphlet found in DMZ in 1969

And I can still hear the blare of their speakers in the zone that spewed anti-American propaganda throughout the night.

North Korean Speakers in DMZ

The Armistice which purportedly ended the Korean War, will soon be 50 years old. After all of this time, with all of the concomitant costs in men and materiel, we find ourselves closer than ever to war. And while this process has unfolded and while the North Koreans have become increasingly intransigent, the South Koreans seem to become softer and and softer. While it is true that the South Koreans have a strong desire to forgo another shooting war on the peninsula -- anyone who has seen pictures of Seoul and the rest of South Korea in the aftermath of the Korean War, can understand why. Add to this the South's fervent desire to reunite the country and the many families that have been separated since the end of the war, it becomes clear why they have been so prone to coddling the North Koreans for the past several years.

In the past three months, the North Koreans have upped the ante in a big way. Their abrogation of their obligations to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and their resumption of uranium enrichment operations pose grave risks to the South Koreans and the international community. The South Koreans seem unwilling to deal with the problem. There are even some Korean intellectuals who blame the Bush administration for provoking the North Koreans. Follow this link for an essay which argues this position. It is time for the United States to take a firm stand against the North Koreans and make it clear to the South Koreans that they will have to either get in line or we will begin bringing our troops home.

Clearly the worst case scenario is one where the North Koreans transfer a nuclear weapon to a terrorist group or rogue nation, either of whom would be quite happy to deliver to one of our American cities. How anyone cannot be concerned with this potential threat after 9-11 is beyond me. It is high time for the United States to squeeze North Korea with or without the South Koreans. As a minimum, this should include search of all marine vessels arriving and departing at North Korean ports to intercept contraband cargo.

In closing, if you would like to know more detail on the North Korean situation, follow this link to an essay published by Foreign Affairs Magazine recently. The writer presents opinions and facts pertaining to the current activities of the North Korean government.

Don M. Lopez