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I don't full understand this whole North/South Korea thing - can someone explain it to me?

(210 Posts)
KenAdams Wed 03-Apr-13 19:30:09

And why have America got involved. And what is the big deal about Chinas position?

I feel very thick blush

OhLori Wed 03-Apr-13 19:46:43

Well, as you know North Korea is a crazy "communist" country in the old-fashioned style of Albania - i.e. totally unhinged. North Korea has a tremendous hatred for the West and of course South Korea, which is a rich and highly successful developing/capitalist nation. Its very sad, lots of Koreans families were split when the country split and the North Koreans have suffered a lot of hardship under their dictatorship.

Perhaps someone else can enlighten us on the rest ie. China and the US's position, but its a dangerous situation all round.

quoteunquote Wed 03-Apr-13 19:49:02

Get this book for a few quid, off the net, it a real page turner, it will take you a couple of hours to read very slim, and you will probably re read it again straight away, then recommend it to anyone who even mentions North Korea.

it really gives you a feel for how the whole sorry mess was created and the consequences.

I spoke to Barbara after I first read it , very interesting woman, would be worth having her on a MN chat, book club type thing sometime.

quoteunquote Wed 03-Apr-13 19:50:18

please report back when you have read the book, I would love chat about it.

Wishiwasanheiress Wed 03-Apr-13 19:59:42

China has strong allegiance to NK. So would very likely back it up in a fight. USA and china are colleagues but not friends. Often disagree. This war will begin by marketing and hyperbole. NK has a very young and rich new president. He has to prove himself. NK people are allowed little outside contact. If new president decides USA has slighted them he can make a big thing of it and the people would mostly follow ( except obvs for those who try to use Internet/twitter etc), china might not ask for much proof thus kicking off a big fight without really much to go on. Much of that could happen without the rest of the world realising til the first nuclear bomb drops.

It would make an excellent bond plot really. I'm trivialising much but the broadly that's the very basic. There's a shed load of detail. Chinas position will be interesting as they own so much US real estate. Will they want to damage it?

SparePants Wed 03-Apr-13 19:59:55

Another recommendation from me for Nothing to Envy. I read it because I traveled in S Korea a few years ago. I did the whole tourist trip to the DMZ and the threat of being shot was very real. The history is so complicated I can't pretend to have a real handle on it. The US still have very large numbers stationed in Seoul and at the border so are all geared up for another barney.

KenAdams Wed 03-Apr-13 20:09:51

Thanks quoteunquote will get that on Kindle now.

I see! Don't the West import a lot from China, especially in terms of manufacturing etc? Is that too much for China to lose? And will it hurt the West significantly to stop trading with them?

caroldecker Wed 03-Apr-13 20:12:55

Korea was occupied by Japan from 1910. After the 2nd world war, the allies split it into US dominion in the South and Russia in the North. This split into a democratic south and communist North. The original Korean war (early 50's) was between these 2, with the US and UK supporting the South and Russia and China supporting the North.
The peace left the two states with an unoccupied zone between them full of landmines etc.
The North is the most controlled society in the world, and was supported by communist China and Russia throughout the cold war. The Chinese see it as a useful buffer zone between them and 'western' influences.
The people have no contact with the outside world, including no radio, only state tv, no phones, no internet or computers.
All visitors are permanently accompanied by state minders who control what you see and who you speak to.
The current crisis is caused as the Chinese do not want to close it down, but also are building much better international relations and rely on international trade, so do not want any aggression.

KatyTheCleaningLady Wed 03-Apr-13 20:13:41

A third recommendation for Nothing to Envy.

I've read several books on North Korea, and it's mind boggling to try and comprehend the amount of brain washing and enslavement of the North Korean people. Peter Hitchins described them as a land of "racist dwarfs" because they've been brainwashed into fearing the rest of the world and literally starved to the point of being stunted in height.

North Korea has always issued shrill, hysterical threats to the US and South Korea, but their recent rhetoric has gone even further and they're belligerently doing missile tests and working on nuclear weapons.

China has always sided with them. For decades, North Korea was propped up by the USSR and China. Then the Soviet Union collapsed, and they began to fall apart. China still sided with them but now it seems that China is more interested in trade with the West and has been less supportive of late.

South Korea is probably less afraid of war than with the prospect of 25 million impoverished North Koreans (who are still legally citizens of the South and entitled to aid and benefits) streaming in, ignorant, helpless, and ill prepared for life in a capitalist society.

KatyTheCleaningLady Wed 03-Apr-13 20:14:56

Or maybe that was Christopher Hitchins. The one who recently died, not the one who writes for the Daily Mail.

KenAdams Wed 03-Apr-13 20:16:00

These are all brilliant summaries, thank you. I couldn't find a news article that told me all of that anywhere!

KenAdams Wed 03-Apr-13 20:18:09

So the general consensus is that NK will get nowhere without China then?

Latara Wed 03-Apr-13 20:20:17

Young North Korean leader throwing toys out of his pram basically... trying to prove he's a hard man.

CockyFox Wed 03-Apr-13 20:23:15

Without China anything NK do would be suicide, with the chinese backing them it would be a world changing conflict.
It all depends on the sense of the chinese.

KatyTheCleaningLady Wed 03-Apr-13 20:25:06

Ken, I think so. I really doubt China would go to war over this. In fact, I think China has been quietly backing away from North Korea as the threats become more bellicose.

Iamsparklyknickers Wed 03-Apr-13 20:26:49

Weighing in with my internet gleaned knowledge smile

My understanfing is that although China are allies, they're pretty much in agreement with the rest of the world that rocking the boat in North Korea is to be avoided, nobody is quite sure what they'd do with a nation of brainwashed, starved, undereducated and tortured people. The sins of the father is basically a cornerstone of law in NK, you could find yourself chucked in one of their prison camps and having to tell your children that they and their children will be serving out your sentance.

NK are considered a joke internationally, but it's concerning as although they are limited in technology they're just mad enough to use it. To invade by land would be a non starter for the simple reason their army is huge (one of the few ways to ensure you get fed) and trained without the technology we've become so reliant on. I'm pretty certain that's one of the reasons the US didn't come out well the last time they were at war with them (same in Vietnam).

For anyone interested, This NK propaganda video is translated and gives an idea at what their population is taught about the west.

Iamsparklyknickers Wed 03-Apr-13 20:32:02

Just had a google and found this article published today - you must have discovered a super power! Use it wisely.

Merrylegs Wed 03-Apr-13 20:32:30

Nothing to Envy will give you a real insight. You will read it like this shock

MarmaladeTwatkins Wed 03-Apr-13 20:37:31

What is concerning is that surely, the more Kim Jong Un rants and threatens, the more he is going to have to do something? He is talking himself in to a corner.

KatyTheCleaningLady Wed 03-Apr-13 20:39:57

Iamsparklyknickers, I laughed like a loon at that video.

IShallWearMidnight Wed 03-Apr-13 20:42:11

I've just watched that video, and am speechless shock. Is it actual footage filmed by NK, or (as I suspect) cobbled together bits from disaster areas and homelessness reports?

Off to look at the website linked too am feeling shamefully ignorant

HandMini Wed 03-Apr-13 20:43:11

I've read Nothing to Envy and agree it's a brilliant, terrifying and totally unputdownable book.

I visited S Korea a few times and its incredibly sad to hear how families have been completely cut off by the divide.

CockyFox Wed 03-Apr-13 20:43:29

Marmalade - It worries me, I really think he will do something but like I said the consequences of that depend on the Chinese

MarmaladeTwatkins Wed 03-Apr-13 20:43:44

They are masters of bullshit. Remember Kim Jong ll claiming that he could walk from age 3 weeks and invented the hamburger? grin

FullOfChoc Wed 03-Apr-13 20:47:10

Very interesting summaries thank you.

Do North Korea have any Nuclear weapons though? Does anyone actually know for sure?

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