Wikipedia gives us an idea of how things have been going there since the fourteenth century. The Korean peninsula was a single nation under the so called Joseon dynasty which lasted from 1392 until 1910.
In 1905 Japan defeated Russia in a war that ended with the Treaty of Portsmith, negotiated in Maine under the auspices of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. Under that treaty, Korea was left as an independent nation known as the Korean Empire.
Well, not exactly independent. The Koreans had to sign a protection agreement with Japan. “Protection” lead to annexation by Japan in 1910.
The Koreans weren’t exactly happy with that arrangement, and a number of resistance movements cropped up, mostly in neighboring Manchuria, China and Siberia. These efforts were coordinated under the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea in exile. Korea remained under Japanese control until the end of the World War II.
Soviet Russia was invaded by Nazi Germany in June of 1941. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor that year, Germany declared war against the U.S.A., but Russia did not enter the war against Japan. The Russians had their hands full with Germany.
But Stalin promised Roosevelt that Russia would enter the Pacific War as soon as its war with Germany was over. Germany surrendered in May of 1945. On August 9th Russia invaded Manchuria, which was then occupied by Japan.
That was just one day after the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Three weeks later, Japan surrendered, Russia chased the Japanese out of North Korea and the United States occupied South Korea.
It was agreed that Korea was a single nation and efforts were made to reunite North and South. The U.S. and the Soviets were unable to agree on the terms of unification and so the North and South remained divided.
Still, Korea is, by nature and its history, a single nation, having a common language and ethnic culture. In June of 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, triggering a war that lasted until 1953. The Korean War ended in a stalemate, with the establishment of a demilitarized zone along the 38th parallel.
Today, North Korea is a communist dictatorship ruled by a man named Kim Jong Il, who succeeded his father, Kim Il Song. Kim Il Song ruled the country as premier from 1948 to 1972 and from 1972 until 1994 as President.
Kim Jong Il is the first leader of a communist country to have inherited the job. What we know about him is that he loves basketball and had developed a friendship with Dennis Rodman. And that he has led his country to become a nuclear power.
Most recently, it has become known that North Korea has developed atom bombs that can be delivered in inter continental ballistic missiles. That prompted President Trump to do some sword rattling of his own.
What does Kim Jong Il want? I suspect he wants the same thing his father wanted in 1950: to unite the Korean Peninsula as one nation, with himself as the leader.
It’s hardly big news when a politician wants to be the leader. Unfortunately, the folks in Korea still live in the dark ages of politics, when achieving pubic office was a matter of killing all the opponents.
Perhaps, instead of escalating a war of words with North Korea, President Trump would be better advised to send Secretary Tillerson and Dennis Rodman to Pyongyang and Seoul to suggest that a convention be called for the purpose of drafting a constitution for a unified Korea.
North Korea has more land, South Korea has more people. We have the same problem among the United States. That’s why we have a bicameral national legislature.
Is it too sanguine to suggest that such a convention might produce a document that begins with the words, “We, the People of Korea…”?