Historical Reckoning in Korea?

Verdict of history: North Korean leader Kim Il Sung with Chairman Mao Zedong decades after the Chinese intervention in the Korean War, and some of the Chinese troops captured after thousands were sent to fight in Korea in 1950

With the end of the Second World War and Japan’s defeat, the Soviet Union and the United States divided and occupied Korea. The Korean War soon followed, from 1950 to 1953. This year marks the 65th anniversary of the signing of the Korean armistice agreement, the longest ceasefire in existence without a peace treaty, explains Kathryn Weathersby, who teaches history at Korea University in Seoul. “The two sides may struggle to craft a peace regime when they hold diametrically opposing views of the origin and nature of the war,” she argues. Soviet archives available to researchers since 1991 “make it abundantly clear that the Korean War was not simply an escalation of border fighting of 1949, but the result of deliberate decisions made at discreet times by Joseph Stalin and Kim Il-sung, seconded by Mao Zedong.” Kim Jong-un has expressed hope of converting the armistice agreement into a peace treaty. An effective peace regime requires trust, Weathersby concludes, and trust requires honest reckoning with historical facts. – YaleGlobal