ANALYSIS/OPINION:That drumbeat you hear is Korea marching toward unification.
No gunshots. No missile launches. No tanks rumbling over the 38th parallel as in June 1950.
No, this is a people’s push. Just like they erupted in Eastern Europe in 1989 on the way to obliterating the Berlin Wall that November and unifying Germany the next year.
No one saw that revolution coming. Well, almost no one. President Reagan sure did in 1987 when he exhorted USSR boss Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.” And plenty of Germans hoped the Soviet would.
But having lived in Germany back then, I know the man in the street didn’t think the wall was coming down in his lifetime.
So it is with Korea. Most people figure North is red, and South is fed, and never the twain shall meet
We see on TV that corpulent commie in the North killing relatives and generals while starving his citizens. And we conclude that the South has no chance of blending its Samsungs into the whole peninsula.
And yet, that was exactly Germany’s outlook 28 years ago. Reagan’s Brandenburg Gate oratory notwithstanding, the main feeling was: Forget it. The Soviet grip on East Berlin and all the countries behind the Iron Curtain was too tight. Hungary tried to break loose in 1956. Czechoslovakia gave it a shot in 1968. Rusky armor brought both uprisings to a screeching halt.
Finally, freedom reigned. Eastern Europeans said enough of the Bear and took over their countries.
Now it’s Korea’s turn. Just like Europeans shed communism 44 years after the end of World War II, red-drenched Asians are ready to bulldoze to freedom six decades after the Korean War.
Make that freedom, food, electricity, education, singing, dancing and money. The 25 million North Koreans are so destitute, they make $4 a day, with 70 percent of the population undernourished, reports the United Nations. They practically have to grovel to eat, a condition that led Yeonmi Park to flee with her family to China 10 years ago. Now living in America and traveling the world, the 23-year-old shares her plight via speeches, YouTube, a book and interviews with papers such as Britain’s Express: “There was nothing else to eat, no food left. All I knew was that China had lights and we didn’t. I thought the light coming from there meant I might be able to find something to eat. I didn’t go to be free. I just wanted some food.”
Then they look to the South, where 51 million former countrymen make $26,000 per year while generating LG electronics and Kia cars.
North Koreans want that good life. So how to get it? Unification.
The key to pressuring the collapse of the Demilitarized Zone is China. The communist giant cemented Korea’s split in 1953 and keeps the North limping along. Donald Trump on the campaign trail hammered that Chinese connection.
Now as president, Mr. Trump recently met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and followed by tweeting: “North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!”
By problem, Mr. Trump means missiles. But he knows the best way to fix the shaky half of Korea is unity. Is that possible? You bet it is. John Bolton, the former U.N. ambassador, wrote in The Washington Times last month that simply put, “The Korean Peninsula will be reunified. Its division in 1945 was purely expedient, intended to be temporary, and just as unnatural as Germany’s contemporaneous partition. The only questions are when and how Korean reunification will occur. China, through its massive economic power over North Korea, could itself quickly remove any Pyongyang regime.”
In 1952, Dwight Eisenhower secured his election with his commanding “I shall go to Korea.”
A year later, President Eisenhower told the Chinese he was serious about using atomic weapons to end the Korean War. They got the message, agreeing to the armistice just six months after Ike took office.
Now for Trump time. Compel China to remake that land across the Yalu River into one Korea. It will be the 45th president’s grandest deal.
• Bucky Fox is an author and editor in Southern California.
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