South Korean peace activists rally against war tensions
In light of our recent post on a delegation of women peace activists from Hawai‘i traveling to Okinawa to lend their support to the protest the ongoing U.S. military build-up there, there is also a report that South Koreans are pushing back against their country's military alliance with the U.S. in preparation of possible conflict with the North.
Jon Letman is an excellent Hawaii-based independent sociopolitical journalist who focuses on the Asia-Pacific region. His most recent report published Wednesday, this time for the Daily Beast news website, tells of a similar situation as Okinawa's of a large U.S. military presence in South Korea and how that could exacerbate an armed showdown with their neighbor.
Letman writes that "For decades, U.S. Forces Korea have lived by the maxim 'ready to fight
tonight.' Meanwhile, 70 years of endless war preparations have meant
South Korea must pay today, a reality that has been lucrative for global arms dealers and their shareholders." That readiness for armed conflict has never been more tested than by Pyongyang's recently increased pace of testing missiles in open provocation to South Korea, Japan and the U.S.
In response, peace groups like Women Cross DMZ organized a large march this year "for Korean unification -- life, peace, and co-existence," said one organizer in Letman's report. They and other like-minded citizens -- nearly 77 percent, according to a recent poll -- are imploring their new president, Moon Jae-in, to open diplomatic talks with Kim Jong-un and broker a peace treaty between the North and South.
In a country where one in six families is directly affected by the peninsula divide, “the obliteration alternative is no
alternative at all,” says Alexis Dudden, a professor of Korean and Japanese history at the University of Connecticut, in the report.
In the meantime earlier Wednesday, three days after North Korea's long-range missile launch, the South, along with Japan and the U.S., flexed their allied air power in response as dud bombs were dropped near the DMZ. "North Korea’s actions are a threat to our allies, partners and
homeland," Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander,
in a statement.