We were taken straight to Panmunjom DMZ (Demarcation Military Zone) after that. Dr Hung, an associate editor from Hanoi whispered to me, "No way, bro. Not easy to deal with the North."
The whole world was concerned about an escalation after North Korea turned Yeonpyeong Island into an inferno on Tuesday. Many parents and girlfriends of conscripted soldiers are extremely worried after the latest incident. Seoul cannot proudly declare that South Korean forces are eager to risk their lives to fight against the North.
So what can they do to resolve the dilemma? They cannot continue to allow North Korean provocations, but they also cannot start a war.
In early 1951, when Winston Churchill was the leader of the British opposition, he told his fellow members of Parliament, “It is lucky for me that the Korean War broke out now. We have no choice but to fight, but if I were still the prime minister, I would have been called a war maniac. I would have been the one to send young Brits to the battlefield. The omniscient God did a favor for me.” Even the 'heroic leader' did not find it pleasant to make the decision to go to war.
No citizen in the world welcomes war. That’s why peace has always been an ace in the pocket in American presidential elections. The candidates knew too well that they would not be able to keep their election promises, but they pitched antiwar slogans nonetheless.
President Woodrow Wilson’s successful re-election campaign in 1916 had the slogan, “He kept us out of war.” Twenty-four years later, Franklin D. Roosevelt was re-elected with the same campaign promise. Of course, the US ended up in both WWI and WWII.
It is only natural that former US President George W. Bush is one of the least-loved presidents after starting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The two wars are criticized for lacking justification. The United States relies on an all-volunteer military, but only 2 per cent of congressional representatives’ children are enlisted.
During the Vietnam War, half of the graduates of Princeton University served in the military. In 2006, only nine Princeton graduates participated in wars. If the privileged class shared the sacrifices of war with the poor, America might not have started its wars, argued American philosopher and Harvard University professor Michael J. Sandel.
Korea requires its citizens to serve in the military, but its far from a fair system. The president, the prime minister and members of the cabinet did not fulfill their military duty.
While some analysts saw the latest incident as a North provocation, it raised concern that should the South returns fire, a new Korea War would flare again and this time, the possibility of dragging the whole world into a nuclear war cannot be discounted.
No one wants the tensions between North and South Korea to escalate into full-scale combat. But neither can North Korea be allowed to attack its neighbor at will.