Saturday, April 6, 2013

Guest Post: North Korea Continues To Rattle Sabers

North Korea Continues To Rattle Sabers
Colonel Donald J. Myers USMC (Ret)

Each time that North Korea does something to irritate the USA or South Korea, we seem to be surprised. The North Koreans have been doing that since the armistice in 1953. Their people starve while their military remains one of the largest in the world, and in order to finally feed their people, they promise to be good and we send food and other sustenance. 

In 1979, I arrived in South Korea for another year long unaccompanied tour. Much to my surprise, the billet that I was programmed to fill had been eliminated on the joint staff. The Air Force colonel who was assigned as my boss in the command center said that they had wanted to produce a film about Korea to be used to brief incoming officers, especially senior ones, about Korea, its history, and its armed forces and the threats from the north. He asked if I would be interested in doing it. WOW!! I asked if I could think about it and let him know.

I had already read a lot about Korea during the war and wrote a paper on the Marines at the Chosin Reservoir while at the Naval Academy. I first checked out the local base library and discovered that it had quite a collection about Korea and its history. I then went to the base TV and radio stations and checked their capabilities. Following that, I went to the section that made training programs for the base-Training Support Activity Korea (TSAK). Again I was impressed.

I checked out a book on making movies and also looked at a few magazines on the subject. I learned that there were filming crews in the Philippines that could be made available for the job. I also spoke to some more people who were familiar with filming and costs. 

I think that I took two or three days to do all of the above and then met with the colonel. I told him that I would do it. It would take three months, cost one hundred thousand dollars, and be 45 minutes long. I would need to have access to all the military bases in Korea and cooperation from the Korean armed forces. The film would be classified because it would cover specific numbers of military personnel in both South and North Korea.

I ended up flying all over South Korea filming and interviewing. At the end of the day, I would edit and mark tapes and then later return to my room and write the script. I also viewed all the film that TSAK had on the Korean War and marked certain portions for inclusion in the film. This was a fantastic project and I worked about 18 or 20 hours a day and was never tired. I was really having fun while learning so mush about Korea. The final tally was two foot lockers full of tapes when I flew to Norton Air Force base in California to edit the final result while adding the music and narration. That took about a week working with experts in the field. They were fascinated by what we had produced with so little experience.

I had trouble trying to catch a government flight back to Korea, and that resulted in my missing the deadline of three months. It took one day longer than the three months to complete the film. The cost was under budget, and it was 50 minutes long rather than 45 minutes. A couple of months later, we learned that the film had won an award from the Air Force at Norton for the best film of the period. 

What I learned during this time is that North Korea consistently challenges the south. They have several tunnels under the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that can accommodate a regiment an hour to pass through and some of them have been discovered. They have significant forces on their side of the DMZ and can attack with little or no warning. They are constantly checking to see how we and the South Koreans will react. They have been successful in convincing the USA that they will do certain things if we provide oil, food and other items. Although we do our part, they rarely ever fulfill their promises, but we continue to be fooled.

The current leader in the north is Kim Jong Un and his father and grandfather preceded him in power. As one sees pictures of the military leadership in the north, it is obvious that they are quite old and probably set in their ways. In comparison, Kim Jong Un is in his twenty's and never served in the military or acted in any other leadership capacity. His father picked him as his successor and everyone fell in line.

I suspect that North Korea will promise to reduce its nuclear capability if we send some type of support such as food. That has worked ever since 1953. The biggest threat is that the North, South, or the United States does something stupid that is difficult to ignore. World War I started because of the assassination of the Austria's Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophia. Athens and Sparta went to war more than once because of minor allies starting them.

South Korea has a new president, we have a new Secretary of State. The potential for a misstep is possible, but it will not happen if we use our good sense and do not act foolish by considering North Korea more of a threat than it really is.

No comments:

Post a Comment