April 16, 2005


S. Korea Rejected U.S. Plan on North
: Calling it an obstacle to its sovereignty, Seoul voided joint strategy in case of regime collapse. (Barbara Demick, April 16, 2005, LA Times)

U.S. troops stationed in South Korea were forced this year to scrap a contingency plan for the collapse of Kim Jong Il's regime in North Korea because of objections by Seoul, the South Korean government said Friday.

Seoul's rejection of the classified plan, which was supposed to be developed jointly by the U.S. and South Korean militaries, is the latest sign of tension in the alliance.

The strategy, code-named Op-Plan 5029, mapped out military responses in the event that Kim suddenly lost power and the communist country started to come apart.

South Korean officials apparently feared that the United States would take command in case of a power vacuum and that it would hastily send its troops toward Pyongyang, perhaps under the flag of the same U.N. command that waged the 1950-1953 Korean War.

South Korea, which considers the entire Korean peninsula its rightful territory, wants to take the lead if the North Korean system collapses.

If they want to be left on their own then leave them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 16, 2005 7:51 AM

At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if the ROK started shooting refugees if the border collapsed. They are more afraid of unity than war.

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 16, 2005 8:36 AM


You're right. The ROK looked at German unification and projected what would happen if they had to absorb the North.

Posted by: bart at April 16, 2005 10:12 AM

france didn't have to absorb anything and their economy isn't doing so hot. germanies problems go a lot deeper than having to absorb the gdr.

as oj says, its their problem not ours. ungrateful curs.

Posted by: cjm at April 16, 2005 11:32 AM

Other than denying the Communists taking over all of Korea, just what is our interest here? None, right? Mainly general wishes of good health & vague friendship.

Posted by: at April 16, 2005 11:34 AM

South Korea is a major trading partner and increasingly a strategic ally, as their participation in Iraq shows. The failure or success of Korean democracy, rightly or wrongly, will rebound to the US, as we are certainly its founder.

THe population of the DDR was about 1/4 the size of the BRD's. It had about 1/4 the real GDP per capita. The DPRK is about 1/3 the population of the ROK and has less than 1/10 the real per capita GDP. The ROK doesn't have anything close to the reserves of cash the BRD did at the time of German unification. Thus, the problem of Korean unification is of an entirely different scale from the German.

France may not be doing so hot, but they do have twice the per capita GDP of the ROK.

Posted by: bart at April 16, 2005 12:05 PM

You knew the alliance was in trouble when the SKs did not leap at the opportunity to send 70,000 soldiers (twice our garrison there) to Iraq. It would have been a win win for them as it would have given their troops some good live fire training.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at April 16, 2005 1:03 PM

south korea is the worst kind of "ally", just as McCain is the worst kind of "republican". i am not saying re-unification is easy, but it does provide the opportunity to increase the wealth of a region -- if the right political/cultural patterns are in place. the fact that south koreans fear reunification is a symptom of a profound weakness in their society.

Posted by: cjm at April 16, 2005 1:29 PM

Bart: also recall that West Germany offered an insanely generous exchange rate to the East, swapping marks for ostmarks at one for one, when the true value of ostmarks was a fraction of that. No wonder reunification cost them so much!

Posted by: PapayaSF at April 16, 2005 4:15 PM

Letting North Korean aggression and/or chaos swallow the South would be a good thing, as it would show the rest of the world that we're in an era in which if you tell the US to f--k off, we simply say "OK," and leave you to your fate. It might even make some countries start to mind their manners.
OK, it's over the top to say it would be a good thing. It would be a horrible thing, but it would have that small silver lining.

Posted by: Tom at April 16, 2005 8:16 PM

Robert - South Korea is a draft country, and countries with a draft never want to send their troops anywhere.

bart - It was the West German welfare state that created the biggest problems, you can't easily absorb a poor population that can immediately increase its income by going on welfare. South Korea doesn't have such a welfare state. There might be a self-interested motive in wanting to shun the North, but that's compensated by Korean nationalism which urges reunification. Two other obstacles in South Korea are: (1) Koreans are quick to fight and hard to disabuse of a grudge; the stress of reunification might cause many North Koreans to turn to violence; and South Koreans fear them. Koreans just don't trust other Koreans. (2) The left wing parties, in power now, are filled with Communist sympathizers who want to maintain the North Korean regime. Many were funded by the Communists in their days as student activists.

Posted by: pj at April 16, 2005 8:33 PM

Pull our troops ... now! Send them to Guam, Taiwan or the Syrian border. Just get them out of there and that will provide a bit of reality to Kim and the ROK.

Posted by: Genecis at April 16, 2005 8:44 PM

move them to vietnam.

Posted by: cjm at April 16, 2005 11:42 PM

"South Korea is a draft country, and countries with a draft never want to send their troops anywhere"

PJ tell OJ

Posted by: h-man at April 17, 2005 6:58 AM