60 Years After the End of the Korean War:
An Introspection on Taiwan’s Gain and Loss from the Korean War
The end of the Korean War 60 years ago bears historical significance in the post-WWII world history. Not only was it the largest-scale war fought since 1945, it also set off a full blown Cold War in the international system. While the Korean War was a malicious act waged by North Korea's Kim Il-sung against people of his own, it ultimately was a proxy war between the super powers. South and North Koreas merely provided a battlefield where the United States, China and the Soviet Union flexed their muscles in power struggle. As a result of Kim Il-sung's ambition, plus Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin's hidden agenda in taking part in the war, a tragedy was brought about with a deadly casualty of more than two millions people. .
The Korean War was a case of the Korean Peninsula submerged to a battlefield for the super powers after that of the First Sino-Japanese War. The turmoil that twice happened in the Korean Peninsula both yielded impacts on Taiwan; therefore Taiwan must not let down guard over any incidents happening in the Northeast Asian region. Although Taiwan was an outsider in the conflict between South and North Koreas, the situations in the Korean Peninsula twice affected Taiwan; and in both times, Taiwan benefited from them. As ironic as it may sound therefore, Taiwan should thank for the "war calamity" in the Korean Peninsula. As such, it comes a bit sheepish for the author to pen this article, and for that I request forgiveness from Korean friends and understanding to comprehend the effects of the Korean Peninsular situations on Taiwan from Taiwan's stance and perspective.
The first time the situation in the Korean Peninsular affected Taiwan was the First Sino-Japanese War in 1894 caused by the Donghak Party revolution. The Qing Dynasty lost the war and ceded Taiwan to Japan under the Treaty of Shimonoseki signed on April 17, 1895. At the time, Chinese secretary of state Li Hongzhang, in a bid to shed his responsibility, said in his report to Empress Dowager Cixi that: "There is no loss in discarding Taiwan because it is a place where birds don't sing, flowers have no scent, males are ruthless and females are unrighteous." . Li Hongzhang's remarks were the utmost insult to Taiwanese. So, Taiwan was a place not wanted by the Chinese government, hence was ceded to foreign power.
The intellectuals and gentry in Taiwan were indignant over the news, could not accept the fact that calamity was spilled over to Taiwan from war that happened in place as far as Korea. Ceding of Taiwan was a finality as Beijing was of the stance that "Taiwan, however importance, is negligible when comparing to capital city [in China.]" . On April 26, the Qing government ordered its officials to retreat from Taiwan.
Thereafter, in Japan's nearly a half-century rule in Taiwan, Taiwan's anti-Japanese movement mostly took place from 1895 to 1915, the first twenty years of Japan's rule in Taiwan. The anti-Japanese movement during the 20 years could, in general, be divided into three phases. The first phase was the "Yi-Wei war" from May 1895 to October 1895 for safeguarding the emergence of the Taiwan Republic; the second phase was the anti-Japanese guerrilla that took place almost yearly from the time till 1902; the third phase began from the Beipu Incident in 1907 to the Hsilaian Incident in 1915. The aforementioned anti-Japanese clashes composed of mainly Han people. It wasn't until 1930 that the Wushe Incident took place, an uprising led by Aborigines.
After the Wushe Incident, Japan strengthened Taiwan's constructions and structures in every aspect as it actively hoped to develop Taiwan into a production base for its policy of southward expansion. The various kinds of developments in Taiwan by the Japanese laid a strong foundation for Taiwan's modernization and industrialization, efforts and contributions for which the Taiwanese would never forget. If Taiwan had not been ceded to Japan but continued under rule of the Qing government, it, being a tiny island bordering China on the southeast, probably would always be left unconcerned by the authorities in Beijing, let alone undertaking construction and modernizing its development. So Taiwan, can be the way it is today, must pay gratitude to the First Sino-Japanese War caused by the Donghak revolution, the Qing Dynasty's defeat for which Taiwan gained from the calamity in Korea. While all these may sound ironic to the Koreans, from Taiwanese's perspective, it is an undeniable fact.
It is also the root to the reason why among the elder generation in Taiwan there harbors a sense of "nostalgia" for Japan. Because the one biggest difference between Taiwan and the Korea is that Taiwan, prior to being colonized by Japan, was not a country with an independent sovereignty and had no such thing as the so-called "Taiwanese nationalism." Therefore the Taiwanese are unlike the Korean people, whom suffered the subjugation of the Korea, feeling of which that subsequently brewed an anti-Japan sentiment. While the Treaty of Shimonoseki brought about the foundation for Taiwan's modernization however, Japan's colonization of Taiwan lacked moral legitimacy because, just like its colonization of the Korea, its purpose was to actualize its "Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere" and policy of southward expansion that it developed Taiwan mainly so to build it as a production base.
Taiwanese's reminiscence for Japan was further propelled into a sense of "homesickness," "pro-Japan" sentiment and then the idea for Taiwan independence after the 228 Massacre by the Kuomintang Nationalist army in 1947, which burst Taiwanese's expectation for "the motherland" and realized with a shock that this kind of motherland was worse than Japan. Many Taiwanese elites in droves went into exile overseas, promoting Taiwan independence movement.
The second time the turmoil in the Korean Peninsula affected Taiwan was 55 years later. At the time when the Korean war erupted, the Northeast Asia region was in an entire different situation. Taiwan became a base for Chiang Kai-shek to "reclaim the Mainland" when he lost the Chinese Civil War against the Chinese Communist Party and retreated to Taiwan. The United States was greatly disappointed by Chiang's Nationalist government's corruption. Five months before the Korean War broke out, then-US president Harry Truman on January 5, 1950 announced that the US would not intervene in the Chinese civil war and that it would not provide Taiwan with military aid and military advisors. On that same day, US secretary of state Dean Acheson, who had been of the opinion that "Taiwan never possesses a very important strategic significance," stressed that "any way providing further military aid and military consultants was not necessary." . Chiang Kai-shek in Taiwan at the time therefore can be said as an international orphan with all odds against him and that he could only fight a lone battle.
With the outbreak of the Korean War, the situation in Northeast Asia suddenly changed and the US' strategy in the Far East subsequently had to change, too. Taiwan initially was not within the US' defensive line, two days later however on June 27, Truman stated that "... the occupation of Formosa by Communist forces would be a direct threat to the security of the Pacific area," and decided to send the US Seventh Fleet into the Taiwan Strait. The US' military protection prevented Taiwan from falling into Communist hands, and Chiang Kai-shek's regime became the biggest beneficiary from the Korean War.
Chiang Kai-shek at the time immediately realized that Taiwan's international isolation could be salvaged via the Korean War. On June 30, he told US General Douglas MacArthur the willingness to offer 33,000 of his troops and 20 military transport aircrafts to help in Korea. The offer was rejected immediately by the US. The Truman administration was concerned that if Taiwan dispatched troops to take part in the war, it might cross the Yalu River over to Mainland and prompted Chinese Communist to send in force to the war and bring about a larger-scale international war. The US' stance was obviously affected by British prime minister Winston Churchill's policy of appeasement toward the Communist. .
Although Taiwan did not send troops to take part in the war, the bitter feud between the Nationalists and the Chinese Communist from the Chinese civil war continued on between the two side of the Taiwan Strait in a power struggle via the Korean War in the Korean Peninsula. Especially with regards to the prisoner of war (POW), the Nationalist government was all out with force aiming to win the political tussle and humiliate the Communist with international propaganda. Taiwan provided with the United Nations (UN) military personnel the much-needed interpreters, Chinese language teachers, journalists and the like.
The 21,400 Chinese "volunteer soldiers" surrendered on the front line and POWs captivated by the UN force were mainly kept at places such as the Geoje Island. Via interpreters, it was learnt that a good number of the POWs wished to defect from the communist world for freedom. Taiwan's foreign minister Yeh, George Kung-chao then quickly openly stated that "the Republic of China government will take in POWs who have been confirmed by allies to have professed wish and willingness to quit the Communist and defect to Taiwan." Then via the media influencing public opinion around the world, it led the UN to, on humanitarian concern, proposed voluntary repatriation (where POWs could choose which side to return).
In July 1951 when the armistice negotiation began, China noted that "all POWs be released and repatriated without delay after the cessation of active hostilities" as stated in the Article 118 of the Geneva Convention. "Not a single one is to get away," Mao Zedong order the Chinese negotiators, a callous statement that dragged the Korean War to one-and-a-half more years longer and an increase of hundreds of thousands of Chinese casualties. . The issue of POWs was the most debated and time-consuming matter during the armistice negotiation.
The Chinese POWs could be divided into three kinds: ones who were originally Kuomintang soldiers who were arranged to serve in the Communist military after being taken captivated by the Communist in the wake of the Chinese civil war; ones who were not soldiers but forced to take part in the military; and ones who were Communist soldiers all the way through. The POWs were initially kept in Pusan and, following questioning by the UN military personnel, were transferred to POW camps on the Geoje Island before again being transferred to Jeju Island's Moseulpo.
All sorts of infightings took place in the POW camps, all initiated by the Communist soldiers. These included trumpeting of communist propaganda via ways such as language, attitude and conducts and forceful approaches such as physical assaults, killing and arbitrary body-dumping in which body parts were thrown outside the camps when the POWs were out on duty. Purpose of these infightings was to gain an upper hand in the camp by which, over time, the camps would be known as either controlled by the Communist or by the Nationalist. As for the UN force, they could not be bothered nor would they be able to do anything about it when there came "a few missing" at time of roll-call. They pretty much left the POWs ran on their own within the POW camps.
On the surface, the POWs were questioned and verified by the UN Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission (NNRC) chaired by India on their desire which side they wanted to return. The Communist argued that "all POWs be repatriated" whereas the UN force was of the opinion of "volunteer repatriation." The "volunteer repatriation" proposed by the UN force's representative in the armistice negotiation attempted to use the situation that "a large number of Chinese and North Korean POWs refused to be repatriated" as a way to propagate "the failure of the Communism."
Eventually Chinese Communist agreed to the "volunteer repatriation" on condition that a process of investigation and persuasion be included. On the surface, the Communist agreed to the accord although in reality the implementation of POWs who wished to remain with their captors were arrangement in way that favored China (locations of the camps were largely located on China and the North Korea's front lines), whom demanded that all POWs be transferred to38th parallel and managed by the NNRC, in which the India military personnel was partial towards China.
Interpreters sent by Taiwan's Nationalist government found out that almost eight or night out of every ten Chinese volunteer soldiers POWs were actually former Nationalists soldiers during the Chinese civil war who were brainwashed and became members of the Communist army. Of this type of POWs many of them indicated their unwillingness to be repatriated back to China Mainland. 14,715, or two third, chose to go to Taiwan. The remaining POWs who chose to return to Mainland were mostly treated as "defectors" or "special agents" and most of them were either expelled from the party or rejected from joining the party, again and again tormented in political purges.
When the armistice negotiation began, the Chiang Kai-shek government was all out with efforts in a bid to win on the front of international propaganda. He assigned the task of receiving POWs to his son, then-deputy secretary of the defense council Chiang Ching-kuo. Chiang Ching-kuo then dispatched his trusted aides in the party and the military, Chen Jian-chung and Wang Sheng, to Korea in charge of bringing back the some 14,000 POWs. Wang Sheng brought with him some 100 military personnel and stationed in various POW camps.
The receiving of the 14,000 POWs was considered a big victory for the Taiwan government in its tussle against the Communist. The Kuomintang fingered the Chinese Communist of brainwashing the POWs while the Chinese Communist charged the Kuomintang of interfering with their thoughts. Essentially, both sides were doing the same thing, each wanted to draw more POWs to its side. For example, among the main directives the Kuomintang handed out to the various POW camps as part of its work inciting defection were eliminating potential Communist moles, trumpeting firm resolution to return to Taiwan, standing in unity with North Korean "anti-communist defectors" and winning over Indian military personnel's favorable impression. Chiang Kai-shek, meanwhile in Taiwan, also publicized announcement calling for anti-communist fighters to defect the Communist for freedom.
In a bid to show their loyalty for Chiang Kai-shek, the anti-communist fighters started a tattoo movement in which they tattooed on their arms or chests with words such as "against communists and Russians" and "pledged to eliminate communists." At the time there was also a popular slogan going around: "One heart, back to Taiwan, one life, eliminate communists."
The POW camps were managed by neutral nation India's military force. If a camp was deemed controlled by pro-KMT power, it would raise the Republic of China's national flag to make known their determination. The flag was dyed red with the POWs' blood. A thousand copies of the flags and letters inked with blood from the POW camps are kept and put on display at the Ministry of National Defense's history archive and the Kuomintang headquarters.
To welcome the arrival of the "anti-communist fighters," the Republic of China government convened a number of meetings discussing related issues and called on UN force to must stop supervision in line with original schedule. On January 23, 1954, the anti-communist POWs arrived Taiwan in three groups. They were met with big welcome from the Taiwan public upon arrival in Keelung. They were dubbed as "Korean War fighters" and paraded down the streets in Taipei City as part of the celebration; liberty bells in various cities nationwide all struck 23 times.
Equally emotional was Chiang Kai-shek. On January 23, after receiving briefing that the POWs had all arrived Taiwan safely, the 67-year-old man who retreated to Taipei and long suffered from insomnia, slept for nine hours. The next day, he wrote on the diary: "[Last night] was the best sleep ever since the start of the year." In the diary, Chiang Kai-shek described the event as "the biggest victory to [our] moral over the past five years' fight against the Russians." In a diary entry dated December 31, 1950, Chiang Kai-shek wrote: "The [opportune] Korean War from the above, mostly ought to thank God...prompted the US to defense the justice, oppose the Communist, not giving up on the Far East and change the whole situation..."
The Republic of China government designated January 23 as the "123 Liberty Day" to commemorate the event that "salvage compatriots in the Mainland from the hands of the Communists."
Of the 14,000, some 6,000 of them were once members of the Chinese Communist Party. In separate groups, they pledged and renounced their party memberships. In late Aril, about 9,000 were sent to army, navy and air force and began their service in military accordance with their previous ranking. The remaining some 4,000 formed a group titled "Anti-communist Fighter Combating Corps."
To accommodate these anti-communist fighters, a "Fighter Village" was set up in Linkou, with Wang Sheng in charge of the Anti-communist Counseling Office counseling these anti-communist fighters. They resided in four newly-built bases in Linkou, Dahu, Hsiahu and Yangmei.
Infightings also took place at the Fighter Village. On the surface, the incidents constituted of cases such as violation of regulations, out on holidays without prior permission, molesting females when being out of the village, selling commodities the US military had distributed to them and such. These various incidents later further a notch, with reports such as rumor-mongering, blackmailing, assaults at night, murders and suicides. At the time, nearly hundred of international journalists were in Taiwan watching and observing how the Republic of China government treated the anti-communist fighters.
The first step counseling the POWs with communist party membership background was the self-renewal movement. Second step was the self-confession movement and third step was the informing movement aimed at clearing out moles lurking among the anti-communist fighters.
These anti-communist POWs later served in the military and took part in the 823
Battle and most of them lived the remaining of their lives at the Anti-communist Counseling Office. In an expansion of accommodation for the elderly discharged anti-communist fighters, the office in 1975 was relocated to Sanhsia in Taipei county. In line with the change of time and to enhance care for these elderly retired military personnel, the government on September 1, 1994 combined the Anti-communist Counseling Office wit Tucheng's Mainland Veterans Counseling Center and renamed it to Taipei Veterans' Home. Its headquarters is located in Sanhsia with the one in Tucheng as its branch, totaling an area of 38 hectares.
These fighters lived most of their lives in Taiwan until the lifting of Martial Law in 1987 that, on October 15 that same year, the Executive Yuan passed regulations governing visits to the Mainland, hence allowed them the chances to visit their hometowns and paid tribute to their parents whom they had never seen again since their youth after defecting to Taiwan for liberty. Of course in a bid to rid unnecessary problems when visiting relatives in the Mainland, some among the fighters got rid of their tattoos bearing words such as "against communists and Russians."
These some-14,000 anti-communist fighters brought for the Chiang Kai-shek regime great international propaganda effects, but Chiang Kai-shek didn't treat them well. Because most of them were prisoners captivated by the Chinese Communist during the Chinese civil war whom later were arranged to become part of the People's Liberation Army. These people were unwanted by Mao Zedong hence were sent to the battlefields in the North Korea. As for the Kuomintang, they were considered "two-time defectors," therefore could not be entrusted with the military dared not to entrust them with important posts. Most of them spent the remaining time of their lives at the Fighter Village. They could be said as the tragic characters successively abandoned by regimes on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
The Korean War truly saved Taiwan and so Chiang Kai-shek's regime. Without the US Seventh Fleet being sent to the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan could very well being brought into the fold of Ma Zedong's Communist Party; If Mao Zedong did not send troop into the Korean War and dispatch large force in the Manchuria area, the Communist army stationed along China's southeast coast certainly could invade Taiwan by force any time, or even conquer it. Henceforth, the US' Truman administration also comprehended the important strategic location Taiwan possessed and brought the Chiang Kai-shek regime, which it was going to abandon, back to the anti-communist alliance headed by the US. As such, Taiwan was referred to as an "unsinkable aircraft carrier," a strategic position for the US to make good on defending the west Pacific ocean.
However, to the Taiwanese (including 85% of the population who were benshengren — people who came to Taiwan from China centuries ago — and 13 % of the population who were waishengren — Mainlanders who came to Taiwan in 1949 with the Nationalist army), it was yet a beginning of another disaster when Chiang Kai-shek, with the US' assistance, fortified his regime and leadership Under the banner of "reclaiming the Mainland," the Chiang regime carried out high-handed rule, which, to the people in Taiwan, was no different from being yet another colonization, with its level of viciousness and ruthlessness exceeding far beyond that of the Japanese military imperialist rule.
The author agreed strongly with the joint statement that the forum is slated to issue at the end of the event. "In Taiwan, the Chiang Kai Shek regime, denounced by people in China and forced to flee to Taiwan in 1949 and despite all the barriers of forming a regime, succeeded in establishing a dictatorship in the wake of the Cold-War policies of the US in East Asia after the Korean War. After the Korean War, Chiang’s regime stage a white terror campaign against the people of Taiwan by extending the nationalist-communist civil war, and defended its dictatorship by taking part in the US containment of the Taiwan straits on the one hand and placing extreme constraints to political and social development of the country on the other." The statement in general highlighted Taiwan's problems albeit in a more simplified form.
Since coming under Japan's colonial rule, Taiwanese have been seeking self-governance (exactly the concept of self-determination introduced by US president Woodrow Wilson), especially so in 1945 after Japan's defeat in WWII. However the wish has not been respected nor actualized. Except for the eight yeas between 2000 to 2008 during which the period Taiwanese "are their own masters," throughout the 400 years of Taiwan's history, Taiwanese have not governed themselves but ruled by foreign regime. From the Spanish, Dutch, the Qing Dynasty, Japanese to currently the Kuomintang, all are foreign regimes.
In 1944 before Japan's defeat, the Nationalist government established a "Taiwan Investigation Committee" and started deliberate policies concerning the take-over of Taiwan after the war. At the time, there was a resolution "banning Taiwanese from ruling Taiwan." . The issue of not letting "Taiwanese governs Taiwan" was itself a complicated issue. It included the power struggles among the banshan — Taiwanese who went to China and joined the Kuomintang during Japanese colonial rule, opposition from feudal-thinking Kuomintang officials and of course also Chinese who found Taiwanese with imperial emperor-centered thinking as being untrustworthy and such. The truth however was that Taiwan since Japanese-rule period had established an electoral system and rule-by-law and order, to not let Taiwanese ruled themselves was simply unacceptable to Taiwanese.
What became worse was that after the Kuomintang took over Taiwan from the Japan's hands in 1945, one-and-a-half years later in 1947 there occurred the tragic 228 Massacre (official investigation report issued in 1994 noted that nearly 18,000-28,000 people were killed in the massacre), and plus the island-wide purges that subsequently followed and the 38-year-long Martial Law Era, also known as the White Terror, the calamity was not less than that of the National Guidance Alliance(국민보도연맹) and the Jeju April 3rd Massacre.
Then, Chiang Kai-shek's regime retreated to Taiwan in December 1949 after losing the Chinese civil war to the Chinese Communist Party. Before that on May 19, at the time when there was no war nor turmoil happening on the island of Taiwan, governor of Taiwan Province Chen Cheng promulgated the Martial Law, a move that was obviously was to pave way for Chiang Kai-shek's rule in Taiwan after retreating from China. With the implementation of the Martial Law, people's basic rights enshrined in the Constitution were usurped, among them included the freedom to assembly and gather and the freedom of expression as well as ban on political parties, newspaper and traveling abroad. The 38-year-long Martial law was the world's longest Martial Law period. Under the Martial Law, people were monitored by secret agent system of the Kuomintang's security apparatus, the Taiwan Garrison. If Korean friends can imagine the picture from the idea of the "Rule of Emergency Decree No. 9," it then won't be hard to comprehend the pain the Taiwanese had had to endure.
The four years between 19545 to 1949 could be said as a vital period that changed Taiwan's fate in the history. One colonial government left, yet came another new colonial government that was even more ruthless. Can't the Taiwanese never be able to "be own their own?" When thinking of the situation facing Taiwan, do the Korea friends here today feel a sense of deja vu that, left the Japanese militarist, yet came American imperialist? How similar Taiwan and Korea's fate are alike.
Just like Korea's Jeju 43 Massacre, during the White Terror Era from the 1950s to 1987 before the Martial Law was finally lifted, there were a total of 29,000 political sentences resulted from frame-up, a total victims of 160,000, among them nearly 7,000 were executed; more than half of them were political prisoners executed in the period between 1949-1960.
Many must be curious that how was Chiang Kai-shek, who "parachuted" from China Mainland to Taiwan where only had a few Kuomintang members, could rule Taiwan for 55 years? If it was Korea, a foreign regime parachuted from Shandong Peninsular to Korean Peninsular, how long would you let it rule? Given Korean people’s nationalist characteristics, I'd give it five years top, and then overthrown by you. It's shocking that the autocratic Chiang Dynasty of the Kuomintang could control the people in Taiwan for 55 years!
It relied on the high-handed rule of the military and the secret agents and the enormous assets left behind by the Japanese which it seized to become its own party assets, hence becomes the richest political party in the world. It relied on weaponry and money to control the Taiwanese. Employed force to clamp down threats from the people, as shown in the cases of the 228 Massacre and during the White Terror. The large party assets could be used during election times to "invest" on local politicians or buy votes from voters, allowing this political party with no basis of people's mandate in Taiwan to fulfill Taiwan people's need for democracy via "charity-style" kind of local elections.
Other than the military and secret agency systems, the Kuomintang further achieved the purpose of controlling and taming the Taiwanese via across-the-board management in areas such as education, judiciary, media, public servants and the like. For example, with feudal-thinking style of examination system, it produced rigid unitary-style of thoughts and as baits for people seeking fame and high social status. As a result, the three generations in Taiwan who received the kind of education from the Kuomintang had all thoroughly been brainwashed and lost the capability of think independently.
It further used media to control people's thoughts (just like the current Beijing authorities do) and put people on trials with a judicial system that's neither just nor independent. Former Kuomintang official had even once stated with pride that: "The Kuomintang owns the courts." In view of the unfair media and judiciary controlled by the Kuomintang in Taiwan, I believe Korean friends who had been under the rule of military dictatorship regimes could identify with such a feeling. What a despicable and absurd modern history from the two countries!
Of course Taiwanese cannot deny that because of the various military needed during the Korean War, they had in part propelled Taiwan and the neighboring counties' economic growth and developments. Under the economic assistance from the US, Taiwan's Kuomintang regime rebuilt Taiwan as a base for "reclaiming the Mainland." The productivity needs for the Korean War prompted changes in Taiwan's industries, evolving from farming-oriented industry to light industrial industry. Whether it be the military protection or the economic development, Taiwan indeed ought to thank the Korean War.
Today on the sixtieth anniversary of the signing of the armistice of the Korean War, one can't help but be overwhelmed with a mixed feeling of emotion as one looks back on the impacts of the war on the nearby countries. Earlier this year, North Korea's incessant saber-rattling threatening stability in the Northeast Asian region when in fact it does not have what it takes to start a war. Nuclear weapon was merely a mean for it to threat the world, the usual "going-off-the-cliff" diplomatic tactic employed by North Korea. North Korea authorities know better that if there comes a second Korean War, not only would the entire territory in North Korea be flattened, the North Korean Dynasty would also be doomed.
According to a report by Professor Shigemura of Japan's Waseda University, North Korea in 2005 imported only 520,000 tons of petroleum, in comparison to South Korea's 120 million tons and Japan's 230 million tons that same year. Shigemura was of the opinion that North Korea fundamentally does not have enough petroleum to fight a war.  As a matter of fact, most of North Korea's petroleum comes from China, therefore China, well aware of how much petroleum is imported to North Korea through the oil pipes in Yalu River, knows the most that North Korea has no capability to start a war.
The only possibility for North Korea to initiate a war is to have the support from China, as it did back then. However, China today is different from the China back in the 1950s. At the time, not only could Mao Zedong be extremely bossy towards Kim Il-sung, both China and North Korea then needed the Korean War to help consolidate their own power, in addition to getting weaponry supply from the Soviet Union and bluffing and blustering.
In 2013 today however, China has entered a new era and system ruled by Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang. They may at most have contacts with North Korea's old guards but share no kinship with Kim Jong-un, plus the differences in seniority in terms of ages, the generation disparity has changed the China-North Korea relations. The series of sabre-rattling from North Korea, started with its nuclear weapons test in February this year, may also have the Xi-Li system feeling annoyed. Beijing authorities' position toward North Korea is getting tougher as it agreed to the UN's sanction resolution against North Korea. Given China's change of attitude towards North Korea, it is impossible that it would help North Korea fight a second Korean War.
In comparison with the fiftieth anniversary marking the outbreak of the Korean War in 2000 in which then leaders from South Korea and North Korea met at the Pyongyang Summit, replacing "confrontation" with "reconciliation," some ten years later, the Lee Myung-bak government yet let the situation rolled back to the tense atmosphere as it was then during the Cold War era. What direction is the South-North Korea relations to head to is an issue testing the political wisdom of Asia's first elected female president.
The author is of the opinion that North Korea must be incorporated into the international system; only when North Korea becomes a normal country, free from international isolation could it be stopped being regarded as "a trouble maker." How hard is it to have a new "peace treaty" replace the "armistice"? It all actually just hinges on the ruling governments' moment of thoughts.
When the Unification Ministry no longer "probes on how not to unify," it is the beginning of reconciliation for the South-North Korea relations. Only to thoroughly rids the old Cold War Era trend of thoughts 60 years ago can the icy field of the Cold War remnant on the Korean Peninsular starts thawing, constructing "Smart New Thinking" in the "Smart Phone era" of the 21st century.
I sincerely hopes the president, with female's distinct characteristic delicate thoughts, could bring about a "reconciliation miracle" for the South Korea and North Korea.
Since last year I have been repeatedly stated in Taiwan and China that Korea is the one and only country in the world that is the most "active and progressive," creating miracles every 20 years: The "economic miracle" (early 1960s to early 1980s as one of the four Asian dragons), "political miracle" (late 1970s to late 1990s, from autocratic regime to a full-democratized country), "diplomatic miracle" (early 1970s to early 1990s, implementation of "The Northern Policy") and the "cultural miracle" the world is witnessing now with the Korean wave sweeping over the world.
So, with Korean's particular creativity and power of execution, a "reconciliation miracle" between South Korea and North Korea certainly is in the foreseeable future.
The First Sino-Japanese War in 1894 and the ceasing of fire in the Korean War in 1953 remain as valuable lessons for Taiwan today. The Taiwan problem is not just a matter of cross-strait relations but concerns the overall security issue in the Northeast Asian region. Taiwan's international strategic position is far more important than it was 120 years ago and Taiwan people's sense of independence is also more clear than that of 120, 60 years ago. Seeking international supports while cementing its democracy systems are ways that would allow Taiwan this unsinkable aircraft carrier of the Cold War to reborn and become the "key anchor of the stability in the Northeast Asian region" in the 21st century.
As the only two Confucian-cultured countries in Asia that achieved successful democratization in the post-WWII, Taiwan and South Korea certainly have the "moral legitimacy" to unreservedly safeguard the peace and stability in the Northeast Asian region.
The seeds of war calamity nurtured with tears and bloods 120 and 60 years ago should today in the 21st century grown to be a "Tree of Democracy." (As the Korean saying goes that: "The tree of democracy must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.") It's time we blissfully harvest the fruit of democracy.
God bless Taiwan and Korea!
 Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, “Mao: The Unknown Story“, 2005, Jonathan Cape, UK. Chap. 34~35.
 Yao Chia wen, “Ten Sayings which Influenced Taiwan”,
 Shao Yu-Lin, “My Mission to Korea: A Personal Record of Modern Sino-Korean Relations”, 1980, Biographical Literature Press, Taipei
 “Mao: The Unknown Story“, Pp. 362, Chap. 35.
 Cheng Tze, “Take-over and reconstruct Taiwan after war”, Pp. 59~65
 Fukuda Keisuke, “Kim Jong-il and North Korean Problem”, Pp. 42
This paper presented in the International Conference hosted by "Professors for Democracy", Aug. 28, 2013, At Press Center, Seoul, Korea