North and South Korea
End the Korean War
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“He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide disputes for strong nations far away; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Micah 4:3 ESV).
In 1910, Korea was annexed by Imperial Japan. After the 1945 Japanese surrender at the end of World War II, Korea was divided into two zones, with the north occupied by the Soviets and the south occupied by the Americans. Negotiations on reunification failed, and in 1948, separate governments were formed: the socialist Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the north, and the capitalist Republic of Korea in the south. An invasion initiated by North Korea led to the Korean War (1950-1953). A ceasefire was declared by The Korean Armistice Agreement, but no peace treaty was signed.
In April 2018, the leaders of both Koreas pledged to remove all nuclear weapons from their peninsula and vowed to work toward an official end to the 65-year old hostility. A meeting between North Korean President Kim Jong-Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-In contained many firsts: Kim became the first North Korean leader to step inside the South. In an apparently unscripted moment, the North Korean leader invited Moon to step across the demarcation line that divides their two countries. They did so, holding hands, and then stepped back into South Korea. “South and North Korea confirmed the common goal of realizing, through complete denuclearization, a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula,” a statement signed by the two leaders said. “I came here to put an end to the history of confrontation,” said Kim.
After three summits (in 2000, 2007, and 2018), the leaders of South and North Korea finally pledged that “there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula and thus a new era of peace has begun.” The two leaders agreed to “hold dialogue and negotiations in various fields including at a high level, and to take active measures to implement the agreements reached at the Summit.” They will establish a joint liaison office with resident representatives from both sides and encourage active cooperation, exchanges, visits, and contacts at all levels. They also agreed to proceed with reunion programs for families split between North and South Korea, on the occasion of National Liberation Day on August 15. And there will be practical steps to connect and modernize railways and roads, building on a 2007 agreement.
For Moon, the question now is what he will do with the movement toward a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War — stopped but not technically concluded by an armistice in 1953 — and, consequently, how he can help set the conditions for Kim to conclude some kind of denuclearization deal when he meets with U.S. President Trump. The two leaders’ joint statement referenced only the “common goal” of peace and a denuclearized Korean peninsula; it did not actually establish either. Any agreement will have to include some sort of process to inspect Pyongyang’s nuclear facilities and verify that every aspect of Kim’s weapons-making program has been eliminated.
The Cost of War — Money and Lives
The Korean War cost the U.S. about $340 billion in today’s dollars. According to the data from the Department of Defense, the U.S. suffered 33,686 battle deaths and 2,830 non-battle deaths. South Korea reported 373,599 civilian and 137,899 military deaths. Data from Chinese sources reported that the Chinese suffered 114,000 battle deaths and 34,000 non-battle deaths. Chinese sources also reported that North Korea suffered 290,000 casualties, 90,000 captured, and a large number of civilian deaths. Because the country remained divided, it was necessary for the U.S. to continue to defend South Korea from
attack. This involved 26,000 service members from all military branches, costing about $1.5 billion per year, half of this reimbursed by Korean taxpayers.
In his study, “What Every Person Should Know About War,” author Chris Hedges estimated that during the past 3,400 years, there have been only 268 years without conflict — 8 percent of modern history. He estimates that about 108 million people were killed in 20th-century wars, not including tens of millions by Mao and Stalin starving Chinese and Ukrainian farmers. Using a report from the Congressional Research Service, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the most expensive wars in U.S. history. The Mexican-American War cost just $2.4 billion, or 1.4% of GDP in 1847, but spending on World War II accounted for 36% of GDP in 1945, or $4.1 trillion. These are the most expensive wars in U.S. history. According to the Watson Institute at Brown University, since the terror attacks on the U.S in 2001, the U.S. has spent $5.6 trillion on military operations in 27 countries. Around 370,000 people globally have died from direct war violence and another 800,000 indirectly, with 10.1 million refugees displaced.
Man’s Way of Peace versus God’s Way
Rulers such as Kim Jong-Un imagine that they are masters of human destiny and that they will be able to achieve peace through promising not to use the impressive strength of their military. Yet the cost of such imaginations is dear in both dollars and lives. And eventually, war continues somewhere else.
The Bible prophesies that man’s efforts for a peaceful world will fail in a great final conflict termed Armageddon (Revelation 16:16). After this conflict, leaders will begin to look up to a higher authority for help. Though we do not know how far ahead this may be, it will be as described by the Prophet Micah. “In the last days … the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it … Many nations shall … say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob: and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. … He shall … rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid … the LORD of hosts hath spoken it” (Micah 4:1-4).
Micah describes this mountain, or kingdom of the Lord, as the mountain of the house of the Lord. This house of the Lord is Jehovah’s ruling house, made up of those whom the Scriptures identify as his own family of sons. Jesus is chief among these, and together with him will be those who have accepted the invitation to suffer and die with him. To these the promise is given that they shall live and reign with him. The Apostle Paul says, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:16,17).
Micah said, “And people shall flow unto it.” Human experience has been that when imperialistic governments extend their influence over other nations, many flee for refuge into other countries. But it will not be so in Christ’s kingdom. As people learn of its blessings and protection, they will flow into it. “And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD … and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” By the time this portion of the prophecy is fulfilled, the nations will have relegated the ways of war to the past. They will be ready to look to God alone to provide peace through his son, Jesus the Christ, the one who by that time will be recognized as the rightful king of the earth.
Human wisdom has always contended that the only way to keep the peace is to be prepared for war, but this order will soon be reversed by earth’s new king. This will bring far-reaching changes in human outlook and experience. No war or preparations for war means no deaths of the young nor victims of war. Those who experienced the fear of savagery will feel truly safe. Christ’s kingdom will institute an education program of peace, and war, or preparation for war, will, after a final testing period, be eliminated forever. “They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9 NASB).