WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING
ON IN NORTH KOREA?
Television news network CNN is reporting that North Korea has threatened to “nullify the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War.” North and South Korea have technically been at war since 1953, the news network report said. “The 1950-53 civil war ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty,” the report went on.
Why is North Korea being so bellicose? The following article contains more background on this question than many people may feel interested enough to read, but for those who choose to spare a few moments, there is an opportunity to come to a larger understanding of just what is happening in our world — and to explore this secondary question: Is there any way that The New Spirituality, and the messages in Conversations with God, could be applied in this situation to bring an end, at last, to humanity’s apparently insatiable need to bring itself to the brink of hostility, and, if nuclear weapons are used, straight into Mutually Assured Destruction?
IN-DEPTH NEWS ANALYSIS
So let’s look at what is going on here. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency says that North Korea cites “U.S.-led international moves to impose new sanctions against it over its recent nuclear test,” according to the CNN report.
North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test on Feb. 12. That test met with widespread international condemnation from the global community of nations, which has desperately been attempting to limit the spread of nuclear weapons for decades, using a combination of cajoling, pleading, negotiation, threats of economic sanctions, and sanctions themselves.
North Korea insists that it has the same right as any other nation which has already conducted its nuclear tests and developed its nuclear weaponry, to do the same thing — and that no one is going to stop it.
In order to try to stop it, many of the world’s nations — including, notably, North Korea’s own military ally in the Korean War, China — have condemned North Korea’s position, saying the proliferation of nuclear weapons must end, not continue, and certainly not be expanded, if humanity is to have a safer world — to say nothing of a world that even survives.
North Korea has indicated since the Feb 12 test that this latest nuclear blast was “more powerful than its two previous detonations” in 2006 and 2009, and that it used “a smaller, lighter device, suggesting advances in its weapons program,” the CNN report said. (The full report may be found here: http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/05/world/asia/north-korea-armistice-threat/index.html?hpt=hp_t2)
The United Nations Security Council has since met “to consider a proposed resolution to authorize more sanctions against North Korea,” CNN’s news report continued.
And so, the back and forth sallies continue and the sabre rattling goes on, leaving millions around the globe wondering: What will it take to bring peace to this world at last? Others ask: What does North Korea want that it feels it can’t get any other way? Is there nothing that can bring an end to all this?
The difficulty increases exponentially when nations can’t even sit down and talk about these questions. Just to keep so-called Six Party Talks going has been a major (and failed) ordeal. As Wikipedia reports:
“The six-party talks aim to find a peaceful resolution to the security concerns as a result of the North Korean nuclear weapons program. There has been a series of meetings with six participating states: South Korea, North Korea, China, United States, Russia, and Japan. These talks were a result of North Korea withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2003.
“Apparent gains following the fourth and fifth rounds were reversed by outside events. Five rounds of talks from 2003 to 2007 produced little net progress until the third phase of the fifth round of talks, when North Korea agreed to shut down its nuclear facilities in exchange for fuel aid and steps towards the normalization of relations with the United States and Japan.
“Responding angrily to the United Nations Security Council‘s Presidential Statementissued on April 13, 2009 that condemned the North Korean failed satellite launch, the DPRK declared on April 14, 2009 that it would pull out of Six Party Talks and that it would resume its nuclear enrichment program in order to boost its nuclear deterrent.North Korea has also expelled all nuclear inspectors from the country…However, it pledged a no-first-strike policy and to nuclear disarmament only when there is worldwide elimination of such nuclear weapons.”
There is more. Wikipedia reports that “Cheonan-Ham, a South Korean patrol vessel with 104 people aboard, sank after an unexplained explosion tore through its hull while conducting a normal mission in the vicinity of Baengnyeong Island at 09:22 p.m. on March 26, 2010. An investigation conducted by an international team of experts from South Korea, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Sweden concluded that Cheonan was sunk by a torpedo launched by a North Korean Yeono class miniature submarine.This incident caused rising tension and antagonism between North and South Korea.
“On November 23, 2010, North Korea shelled South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island. Two South Korean soldiers were killed and a dozen injured after North Korea fired dozens of artillery shells onto a South Korean island setting more than 60 houses ablaze and sending civilians fleeing in terror. These two incidents stood in the way of holding Six Party Talks during this period.
“On 29 February 2012, the United States and North Korea announced a ‘leap day’ agreement that the U.S. would provide substantial food aid in return for the North agreeing to a moratorium on uranium enrichment and missile testing and a return of IAEA inspectors to Yongbyon, leading to a resumption of the six-party talks. On 16 March 2012, North Korea announced it was planning to launch a satellite to commemorate the late founder Kim il-Sung‘s 100th birthday, drawing condemnation by the other five participants in the Six-Party Talks, casting doubt on the “leap day” agreement.
“On 6 April 2012, North Korea’s rocket (satellite) launch failed to enter into orbit, and was declared a failure by the United States and South Korea. In addition, the launch was described as a provocative test of missile technology, and the United States subsequently announced the suspension of food aid to North Korea.”
And that’s roughly where things stood until the latest North Korean underground nuclear blast on Feb. 12. So why is North Korea insisting on being so bellicose?
First, a bit more background, again from Wikipedia: The Korean peninsula was governed by the Korean Empire from the late 19th century to the early 20th century, until it was annexed by the Empire of Japan in 1910. After the surrender of Japan at the end of World War II, Japanese rule ceased. The Korean peninsula was divided into two occupied zones in 1945, with the northern half of the peninsula occupied by the Soviet Union and the southern half by the United States. A United Nations–supervised election held in 1948 led to the creation of separate Korean governments for the two occupation zones: the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the north, and the Republic of Korea in the south. North Korea and South Korea each claimed sovereignty over the entire Korean peninsula, which led to the start of the Korean War in 1950. An armistice in 1953 committed both to a cease-fire, but the two countries remain officially at war because a formal peace treaty was never signed.Both states were accepted into the United Nations in 1991.
North Korea is a single-party state under a united front led by the Korean Workers’ Party (KWP).The country’s government follows the Juche ideology of self-reliance, initiated by the country’s first President, Kim Il-sung. After his death, Kim Il-sung was declared the country’s Eternal President. Juche became the official state ideology, replacing Marxism–Leninism, when the country adopted a new constitution in 1972.With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991, North Korea lost a major trading partner and strategic ally. Combined with a series of natural disasters, this led to the North Korean famine, which lasted from 1994 to 1998 and killed an estimated 240,000 to 1,000,000 people.North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il adopted Songun, or “military-first” policy in order to strengthen the country and its government.In 2009, references to Communism were systematically removed from the country’s constitution and legal documents altogether.
North Korea has been described as a totalitarian, Stalinist dictatorshipwith an elaborate cult of personality around the Kim family and one of the lowest-ranking human rights records of any country.As a result of its isolation and authoritarian rule, it has sometimes been labelled the “Hermit kingdom“,a name once given to its predecessor, the Korean Empire. In 2011 North Korea had the lowest Democracy Index of any nation on Earth. North Korea is one of the world’s most militarized countries, with a total of 9,495,000 active, reserve, and paramilitary personnel. Its active duty army of 1.21 million is the 4th largest in the world, after China, the U.S., and India.It is a nuclear-weapons state and has an active space program.
That’s the end of the Wikipedia entry. Here is the entry reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six-party_talks
Now, as to my personal analysis…
I have visited the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, and worked with others, including friends in South Korea, to lessen tensions between the two nations. With Dr. Ilchi Lee — a South Korean author and the founder of a variety of mind-body training methods, including Dahnhak, Dahn Yoga, Respiration, Brain Education, and DahnMuDo — I jointly formed the New Millennium Peace Foundation, and we each made a significant financial contribution to creating a major peace initiative, with a public event in South Korea a number of years ago, at which former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore was the keynote speaker.
Dr. Lee and I wondered if there was any way that a new spiritual and philosophical foundation for not only the Korean Peninsula, but the world entire, might produce an environment in which North and South Korea (and all the world’s people) might be ultimately united. I wonder that still today, and so does Dr. Lee.
From the North Korean point of view it would seem that (and this is just my analysis) it has wanted from the very end of the Korean conflict (the state of war itself, as we have earlier explained, has never ended, but the active, ongoing military conflict has) to be recognized as an equal among nations, having the same status and the same rights as other nation states. While it has been admitted to the United Nations, it has never really gained this respect and full recognition from the United States (whose soldiers fought side-by-side with South Korean soldiers to prevent the complete takeover of Korea by the northern communists), and it not forgotten that it was thwarted in its attempt to claim the entire Korean Peninsula as its own in the early Fifties.
Now, in the second decade of the 21st Century, it continues to insist on parity with other nations, and that it why it has said that it will embrace complete nuclear disarmament only when every other nation does. Of course, those nations holding an arsenal of nuclear weapons (chief among them the U.S. and Russia) have no intention of completely disarming themselves, saying that their nuclear weapons capabilities are used as deterrents.
North Korea says it is developing its nuclear weaponry for the same reason, as a deterrent to what it claims to be belligerence toward it by the United States. It likewise feels it has a right to launch satellites and to test missiles that have the capability of carrying nuclear warheads.
There are observers who have said that North Korea’s divergence of the biggest share of its resources to its military build up has been at the expense of its people, huge numbers of whom live in abject poverty. My own analysis of this is that, having eschewed communism, the North Korean government was found a way to serve two ends simultaneously: (a) increase its military might (including nuclear and missile capabilities); and (b) provide income for millions of its people (as noted above, it has the fourth largest army in the entire world, and a total of 9,495,000 active, reserve, and paramilitary personnel) without seeming to be providing them direct government assistance and violating the formal North Korean philosophy of self-sufficiency.
In other words, not all that much different from the Works Progress Administration created in the United States in 1938 (renamed in 1939 as the Work Projects Administration; WPA). This was the largest and most ambitious New Deal agency of Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency, employing millions of unemployed people (mostly unskilled men) to carry out public works projects,including the construction of public buildings and roads. In much smaller but more famous projects the WPA employed musicians, artists, writers, actors and directors in large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects. The only difference between this and North Korea’s undertakings is that North Korea has used its government to employ people only in fields associated with the military, but the concept is the same: use the government to provide employment for the masses of unemployed by serving the needs of the nation as the government defines them.
The question I am considering today from a spiritual point of view: What understanding or message of The New Spirituality as exemplified in the Conversations with God dialogues could have any effect whatsoever on such seemingly intractable situations?
I think of two off the top of my head. One is so hugely general that it does not seem as though it could be immediately applied, barring an absolute miracle in terms of a change of thinking by all the players in the game. The other is so specific that it could open the door to instant healing of the rifts that cause the divisions analyzed in the many paragraphs above.
The first message of CWG that I wish we could overlay on the entire global circumstance of this day (not just the Korean situation) is the statement: We are all one. The embracing of this spiritual truth as a functioning physical expression would produce a radically new and different geopolitical reality overnight. Short of an invasion by creatures from outer space, however, I am not sure what could produce such an instant transformation in humanity’s thinking about itself.
No, this is a long-term shift in self-conceptualization, and can best be achieved by educating the next generation through the presenting to our children of a New Cultural Story about humanity. This is the work now being done by The School of the New Spirituality, whose CWGforParents team is creating a 52-week School-in-a-Box program, giving parents around the world the tools with which to share the most important concept of Conversations with God with their offspring — including, of course, the concept that We Are All One.
The second approach emerging from The New Spirituality could, on the other hand, produce surprising and even strikingly rapid results. It is the asking of a single, simple question — but with the pure and honest intention to listen to the answer, and then to actually do something about it.
I would be asking North Korea, “What hurts you so bad that you feel you have to be able to hurt others in order to heal it?” North Korea says it wants economic sanctions lifted. The U.S. and other countries say, “Only if you stop escalating the arms race by continuing your development of nuclear weapons capability.” Some have alleged that North Korea in the past has said, “We will,” and certain sanctions have been lifted, only to result in North Korea moving ahead in a clandestine way to continue to develop its nuclear capability. In other words, the allegation goes, North Korea can’t be trusted to keep its word.
Publicly, North Korea says it will discontinue nuclear military development “only if the U.S. and the other nations completely disassemble and dismantle your own nuclear weapons capability.” The U.S. and other nations say, “This is our deterrent to global war. We can’t and won’t do that.” And there it is.
Unless it’s not. Unless the U.S. and other nations did, in fact, ever enter into a Global Disarmament Accord. The chances of that happening seem to most observers to be virtually nil. But we will talk more about this in our next post, as we address a larger question about our world: Can The New Spirituality change anything at all?
For now, your input and comments about the current events on the Korean Peninsula, and possible solutions, are invited below.