A significant day for both Koreas. In the South, this is 韓한國국戰전爭쟁 停정戰전協협定정締체結결날 (Armistice Day), where the North refers to it as the 조국해방전쟁 승리 기념일 (Day of Victory in the Great Fatherland Liberation War). Famous enough in North Korea, a song was made about it:
On this day, the KPA veterans received pork and candy. In developed nations, where people are worrying about their ever-growing waist-line, we tend to forget that sugar is also a resource of energy, so passing out candy is a big enough deal. Let’s not forget how we got to this point: North Koreans invaded, America came in to help and reached far up into the 鴨압綠록江강(Yalu River), where the Chinese felt so threatened, that they decided to react.
The war wasn’t actually a knee-jerk reaction to American interventions, as they like to claim. In an earlier post, I had brought up an documentary by 鳳凰衛視(Phoenix Satellite TV), celebrating China’s relationship with Korea. They mentioned scores of ethnic Koreans who fought in Chinese units against the Japanese during the 抗日戰爭 (Second Sino-Japanese War). The main reason why the Koreans were willing to subordinate themselves into Chinese units, was that Korea was annexed by Japan. Considering Sino-Korean historic relations, and the common enemy of Japan at the time, this was a good solution. Problem is, after Japan lost, the Chinese Civil War ended the temporary truce between the Chinese Nationalists and the Communists. So how are the Koreans involved with this Chinese civil war? Some moved the 大대韓한民민國국臨임時시政정府부(Provisinal Government) back to Seoul. Others stayed behind with the Communists and Nationalists to fight. The Nationalists lost, and fled for Taiwan. The 中華人民共和國(People’s Republic of China) was formed in 1949, and about eight months later, the Korean War started with North Korea’s first strike on the South, cornering them right at 釜부山산(Pusan). How was the North Korean army able to get all the way down there so quickly? At the time, most of the people in the North Korean army, were Korean remnants from the Russian units who had fought the Japanese. However, a much larger number of Koreans were from the 人民解放軍(Peoples’ Liberation Army), who had fought the Japanese AND the Nationalists (who at the time of the war, was better equipped than the Communists). This was in contrast to the Koreans who took the Provisinal Government back to Seoul, which consisted primarily of politicians and civilians.
Some people in China say they didn’t send in an Army, it was a “volunteer force to aid Korea in attacking the American Imperialists”. Yeah, they are about as civilian as the 1st American Volunteer Group (AVG). But hey, they also said their relations were like “lips and teeth”, yet the PRC, the very government that gave up entire branches of its PLA to North Korea and had fought on their behalf, is now closer to the South Korea.
There has been much pressure on China to exert some influence over North Korea on the nuclear issue, to change its stanc on the refugee issue, well simply, its entire relations with North Korea altogether.
In the case of North Korea, although China does share the US-ROK goal of denuclearization, it understands very well that denuclearization is not the endgame in the mind of either Washington or Seoul. In the event of a North Korea contingency, the US and ROK would likely pursue not just a policy of denuclearization but also one of stabilization leading to a South Korean-led reunification. Successful implementation of this policy would inevitably alter the power equilibrium on the Korean peninsula.
This goes back to the idea of having North Korea there as a buffer state. I personally think at this point, it’s very outdated (maybe this will change by the next incoming President, unless Xi does like Putin, installs a puppet, and then comes back). There are many Chinese willing to do criticize North Korea, and are already questioning why they still have relations with them. Not to mention the tiny sea squirmish of the past, but the nuclear threat is enough to disrupt Northeast Chinese and coastal provinces across the Yellow Sea too. I think it’s more accurate to say that China is cozying up to South Korea primarily to push its North Korea agenda on the South, but also if the North does implode, they won’t lose much interests thanks to already-improved relations with Seoul.
If that really is the case, China will be the big winner. Just as it was during the Korean War.