This is an outline of the presentaiton I gave this past Tuesday.
Objective of the presentation:
1. The United States is committed to defending South Korea with twenty thousand U.S. soldiers, who by design, are supposed to die in the event of a North Korean attack. And, the committment is enormous (half a million soldiers - OPlan 5027 (original link was bad). There is also a OPlan 5029 that South Korean President Lee Myung Bak recently agreed to that outlines what the United States and South Korea will do in the event of the North Korean regime collapsing).
2. The events that are unfolding in the Koreas have a direct historical explanation and that during the rest of this semester, we will examine the historical dimension behind these events.
Why should I care about Korea?
The United States is bound to goto war, moreso than by treaty, but by the continuing presence of U.S. soldiers that serve as a "tripwire." In the event of a North Korean attack on South Korea, the United States would instantly find that about 20,000 American soliders would be dead and the country will instantly be at war. The United States is actually then committed to sending half a million soldiers to Korea (Operational Plan 5027).
According to the 04 December 2000 South Korean Defense Ministry White Paper, the United States would deploy up to 690,000 troops on the Korean peninsula if a new war breaks out. The United States apparently had considerably increased the number of troops that would be deployed in any new Korean conflict. The figure had risen from 480,000 in plans made in the early 1990s and 630,000 in the mid-1990s. The latest Time Phased Forces Deployment Data for any contingency on the Korean Peninsula is comprised of 690,000 troops, 160 Navy ships and 1,600 aircraft deployed from the U.S. within 90 days (OPlan 5027-00, GlobalSecurity.org).
This is a very scary thought, especially in light of current U.S. committments to Iraq and Afghanistan and potential problems that may arise with Iran and China (as the U.S. is committed to defending Taiwan as well). Moreover, as the United States is currently in a position of seeing rising government deficits for the forseeable future, it becomes even scarier that those in control of U.S. foreign policy with respect to North Korea could actually fail to form a single, coherent policy as happened during the first half of the first George W. Bush administration ("A Long Road to Pyongyang" : Foreign Affairs Nov/Dec 2007). This is probably the number one reason why Korea should be important to all Americans and that students such as ourselves should take an interest as to first what is going on over there and what it is the United States government is actually doing about it. Not many Americans or South Koreans actually think war is possible, but, as pointed out in class that is exactly what was said about World War I. World War I did in fact occur and Europe has yet to regain its position in the world that it had enjoyed in the time leading upto the Great War.
Past fifteen years or so...
Major trends and events on the Korean Peninsula in the past fifteen years were also explored -- the most significant of which was the belief that North Korea was indeed interested in giving up nuclear weapons and introducing market reforms. However, I pointed out that informal markets that did spring up in North Korea did not mean that North Korea was actually interested in reforming its economy (as many in South Korea, Europe, and some in the United States believed), but rather that it was a loss of North Korean state control over its people that led informal markets to spring up as they replaced the food distribution regime that collapsed during the famine. This did not become apparent until the twilight years of the second George W. Bush administration (Also, I did refer to a large market area in the northern outskirts of Pyongyang and I couldn't remember its name. The market district I was referring to is: Pyongsong (not to be confused with the city of the same name)). Moreover, the significance of the famine was also pointed out in that it has for the first time since the end of the Korean War, made it possible to get some idea of what is actually going on in North Korea.
A point that I also touched upon:
America does indeed have a government owned, news broadcasting agency that was formed after the end of World War II. However, as the United States Federal Government is prohibited by law of broadcasting directly to American citizens -- a form of propoganda, it is not widely known to Americans. However, in the 21st century and with access to the Internet, Americans can at any given time go and check it out.