After watching this movie I was forced to ask myself if I was swindled in the same way the rest of the American public was swindled just before the invasion of Iraq—did I know that the government and the media were peddling lies about nuclear weapons to justify the destruction of a faraway country most of us knew nothing about, or did I suspect, even slightly, that something was amiss, and that Saddam Hussein (that already near-forgotten name) was nowhere near the sort of arch-nemesis everyone was making him out to be?
The truth is that I did know—and the more horrific truth is that I did nothing. I may have been a bad student at the time, but I was no fool, and I was fully aware that everyone who supported the invasion, or did nothing to stop it, was on the wrong side of the conflict. Every name our enemies called us was true. We are the imperialists. We are the murderers. We are the terrorists. There is no justification and no excuse for my actions. I did nothing, and now hundreds of thousands or even millions of innocent people have been killed for no reason. Never again.
After realizing this, I asked myself if the same thing were occurring a second time, and the truth is that it occurs continuously; in places like Palestine or the DRC, but also just a few hours north of my current location, in North Korea, where the situation is both different and identical to the one we faced in Iraq under the lunacy of George W. Bush and an entire nation aching to revenge itself upon just whoever it was who destroyed the World Trade Center.
Currently, so far as I can tell, the question is not should we attack North Korea, but when will we attack North Korea? And the perception is that that nation is belligerent, cruel, backward, barbarous, and really just begging for a suicidal conflict—while their people, meanwhile, support the government in all particulars, are insane, etc., etc., and will die to the last man to defend the ruling dynasty. Throw in the nuclear weapons and you have all you need to justify a war that will end millions of innocent lives.
The pattern has been established so thoroughly in the last century that it is now impossible to ignore: a minority of ruthless tyrants takes control of a country, holds it hostage, and finds itself fighting a war against Western Europe or the United States: in that war, the civilians who have little or nothing to do with that minority—often propped up, previously, by the United States, as with the Vietcong (against the Japanese), the Taliban (against the Russians), and Saddam Hussein (against the Iranians)—are the ones who pay the price for losing “the great game” and making a bad move on “the grand chessboard”. The same will happen to the North Koreans.
The Kim dynasty is to blame for the shelling of Yeonpyongdo, and not the Korean people, who are not only the victims of the Kim dynasty’s mismanagement, and the amazing power of its propaganda machine, but also largely unable to communicate with the outside world. It is the responsibility of all free-thinking citizens on the planet to find a way to bring the Kim family to justice without sacrificing the lives of the millions of people it currently holds hostage in a nation which has been called a giant prison, filled with concentration camps which are themselves packed with anyone who lifts a finger against the ruling class. A peaceful solution culminating in the arrest and trial of the Kim family is therefore the only viable solution to the problem currently facing the two Koreas.
I can’t speak for the situation in America, where it seems as if the media is making it appear as if war is inevitable, but I can say that here in Korea the only thing preventing a war from happening is the North Korean artillery aimed at Seoul. I don’t know exactly how powerful the guns are, or how soon they could be destroyed by the South Korean military, which has already proven itself to be utterly feckless on two recent occasions, but it seems certain that thousands of civilians would die in the capital if a war were to begin. On the other side, the Kim family is aware that they would lose everything in a fight with the outside world. So the stalemate goes on, and life continues in the South, at least in Busan, without much notice of the missiles and the guns in the North. Most South Koreans appear to be fed up with the actions of the North and blame the entire country for the actions of its hostage-takers. I believe they think the North Korean people are cowards for not rising up against the Kims, but one wonders what they would do in such a situation—where you and your entire family are sent off to die if you so much as chuckle at the absurd news reports you are forced to watch or listen to almost continuously.
At the time it is easy to say that war is necessary, as it’s always been for the last century when hindsight makes it clear that war was absolutely unjustified; it’s easy to say that to make an omelet, you have to break a few eggs, and that innocent people have to die if we plan to bring peace, justice, and prosperity to the whole of East Asia. The obvious and impossible question is, how many innocent people are necessary to accomplish our aims? At what point does the number become too high? How many people are we willing to murder in order to bring the kind of sham democracy that today exists in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, and even South Korea itself, to the North? And if any of these people were your friends and relatives, your wives, husbands, children, parents, would their sacrifices seem necessary to such a ludicrous cause?
Things have died down for the moment, but they’re bound to heat up again sooner or later, and when they do, we must do something. We can’t sit by while the same people choose to murder and destroy in our names. The only answer to these questions is peace.