Disclaimer: The author does not have the knowledge to speak authoritatively on the following subject. So he’ll just speak on the following subject.
North Korea has made a name for itself in the global community as an annoying little child who happens to crave attention in any form possible. However, it is a little-known fact that North Korea has on many occasions done some terrible things to its neighbors (particularly the one right below it) just because they thought they could get away with it. It is no wonder then, that some South Koreans may not view their North Korean with the sort of brotherly sympathy that most people might assume. I’ve chosen five of the most well-known events where North Korea decided to do something to piss off South Korea (and on occasion the US as well), so readers will see why the current missile crisis isn’t that worrisome to South Koreans. The North has done worse. And believe me, these are not the only things that the North Koreans have done.
Lee Seung Bok’s “I hate the Communist Party” (1968)
I’ve decided to go in chronological order, since it makes no sense not to. Now, the first incident that I would like to talk about involves a young Korean named Lee Seung Bok. How young was he? He was nine years old when two North Korean operatives snuck into a quiet village in the Gangwon province and demanded food and supplies from his family. The family obliged, since it was better than being killed to death by Commie spies. This was back in the heyday of the Korean Cold War, when clandestine combat operations between the two Koreas was rather commonplace. So the Commies took the food and could have simply left the family in peace, but nooo, they had to ask young Seung Bok whether he preferred North or South Korea, a rather stupid question to ask a South Korean kid. Naturally, Seung Bok said he liked South Korea better. How was he supposed to know what they wanted him to say? The North Koreans started viciously beating him, which is a rather petty thing for a grown man to do, and at one point, he cried out, “I hate the Communist Party!” This slogan was well known by all South Koreans due to the anti-Communist propaganda campaign run by President/military dictator Park Chung Hee during this Cold, Cold War, but unlike South Koreans who would laugh off a kid saying he hated the vices of the capitalist devils, these North Koreans did not take this very well and beat Seung Bok to death and mutilated his body. They then proceeded to kill and mutilate his entire family, of which only his older brother barely survived to tell the tale.
Unfortunately, the culprits were never caught but this little publicity stunt didn’t help the Communist Revolution in South Korea at all. Lee Seung Bok’s last words were used as an anti-Communist rallying cry to this very day, and the whole tale is really tragic in that it was the result of two very very different propaganda campaigns, one that was instilling an anti-Communist sentiment and the other making people into juvenile pricks with violent tendencies. In recent times, some people have questioned the validity of this entire story, saying it was concocted by the military regime to muster popular support. To these Seung Bok deniers, I say “STFU you pinko commies. I hate the Communist Party, and so should you.” No actually, the fact that there was an eyewitness AND photos of the aftermath seems to suggest these people are horribly misguided. But at least this was a spontaneous sort of incident.
Axe Murder Incident (1976)
The Axe Murder Incident (that’s what it’s called, look it up on Wikipedia) happened in the Joint Security Area (JSA), where a joint group of American and Korean soldiers were pruning a tree. Yes, they were pruning a tree. And they were doing it with the approval of the North Korean forces. However, while they were doing their North Korean-sanctioned pruning, a group of North Korean soldiers came up to them and told them to stop immediately, as the tree had been personally planted and nurtured by the Great Leader Kim Il Sung himself, and it would be a sin to do any damage to it. The commanding American officer ignored him, as it was probably the same bullshit that he heard every time he stepped into the JSA, but apparently, the North Koreans were serious about any threats they were issuing at this point. In a few moments, a guard truck with several North Korean soldiers armed with crowbars and clubs came and started attacking the American/South Korean soldiers, picking up the axes that the soldiers dropped and using them to attack the officers. Although the American/South Korean forces fought them off in a matter of seconds, the damage had been done and 2 American officers were killed.
For obvious reasons, the Americans and South Koreans were not pleased about this unprovoked attack and decided to respond with overwhelming force. And so Operation Paul Bunyan was initiated. Within 3 days, the Americans and South Koreans returned to the very same tree armed with grenade launchers, M16s, and chainsaws, and decided to cut the fucking tree down. They weren’t going to trim some branches and leave it at that. And if the North Koreans intervened, they would mow them down. Just like the tree. North Korea later apologized about the incident, probably because they were scared to death by what the Americans were capable of doing with chainsaws. Some say that this event could have led to war. Well, empires have gone to war for lesser reasons than two officers being hacked to death with axes.
Korean Air Flight 858 (1983)
Ever wonder why North Korea was ever designated a state sponsor of terrorism? Well, this flight had a lot to do with it. Korean Air Flight 858 was a flight from Baghdad to Bangkok that was en route from Abu Dhabi to Bangkok when it exploded mid-air, probably due to the time-activated C4 and PLX that was planted by North Korean operatives under the order of Kim Jong-Il, who wanted to create some bad publicity for the upcoming 1988 Seoul Olympics. Bastard. As a result of the attack, all 115 onboard were killed and the United States State Department specified this incident as a terrorist act and told North Korea to go screw itself.
Second Battle of Yeonpyeong (2002)
In the summer of 2002, all of South Korea was swept with World Cup fever. The South Korean national team had a miraculous run up to the semi-finals, where they were finally knocked out by Germany but not before defeating European giants such as Portugal, Italy, and Spain. It was only a few days after the semi-finals and the day before the final that a North Korean patrol vessel decided to cross the Northern Limit Line (NLL). Although South Korean patrol vessels warned it to turn back, another North Korean vessel joined it and subsequently started firing upon the South Korean vessels who had been monitoring them, because they were in South Korean waters. The South Korean vessels ended up beating the crap out of the North Korean ships, although they lost a ship in the process. After all, it’s militarily impossible to achieve victory unscathed if you’re on the business end of a surprise attack. But it’s not the fact that they surprise-attacked that was dickish. It was the fact that they did it while South Koreans were celebrating the World Cup held in South Korea. What a killjoy.
Everything in 2009
If you haven’t heard, North Korea’s been firing missiles all over the Pacific Ocean like a kid with too many firecrackers on the 4th of July and basically making things particularly miserable for all parties involved. But this basically sums up their regular activity. Except for the fact that they decided to test their nuclear capabilities the day after issuing their condolences regarding the death of former South Korean president Roh Moo Hyun, who happened to be one of a very few number of Korean politicians who believed in the Sunshine Policy. That was a dick move. They didn’t even care about the bizarre timing. And of course, when the world’s eyes were looking towards the aftermath of Michael Jackson’s death, they decided to test some more long-range missiles. Obviously they couldn’t stand having someone else take the spotlight, whether for good news or for bad.
North Korea is an attention whore indeed. The solution is obvious: as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said recently, North Korea is like a spoiled child craving attention that we should not give to them. If we decided to go along with the parenting metaphors, the appropriate course of action would be to smack North Korea around until it shut up, no? At least, that’s what I assume would happen, right?