Law in Contemporary Society

End of War (?)

-- By ChloeJo - 16 Apr 2024


Reflecting now, I find myself unsure of what exactly I want to express in this second essay. We discussed war in class, and naturally, my thoughts turned to the Korean War. As an international student from a country where the war technically continues, this topic feels both relevant and personal. I aimed to delve into a more technical and legal subject with my limited knowledge of war that I have learned in Constitutional law class.

Revising this essay, I realized that what I truly want to write about is the “real subject” of the war – honoring my grandfather, a Korean War veteran. His story, and the stories of many like him, are the real subjects of this war. His hearing impairment from handling artillery serves as a constant reminder of the conflict, while news of his recent battle with lung cancer underscores the ongoing state of war. The real subject of the Korean War is not just the political or military maneuvers, but its enduring human impact on those who lived through it. This revision is dedicated to writing about what I genuinely feel is important, not just what I think others want to hear from me.

Has the Korean War Ended?

After World War II, the Korean Peninsula was divided along the 38th parallel, with a Soviet-backed North and an American-backed South. On June 25, 1950, the Northern Korean People’s Army invaded South Korea, aiming to militarily conquer the South. Fearing that the Soviet Union and Communist China might gain more power, U.S. President Truman sent troops to join a combined United Nations military effort. The war lasted three years and concluded with the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement by the United States and China. Despite the cessation of hostile activities, the Korean Peninsula remains divided, with military personnel from both North and South Korea occupying the demilitarized zone.

Thus, technically, the Korean War has not ended. The document signed in 1953 was an armistice, not a peace treaty, of two other countries. According to the Humanitarian Law Guide, an armistice is a truce, a temporary suspension of hostilities, not a formal end of war. Although the technical meaning of armistice has changed over time, this distinction is crucial because it means that the Korean War is still ongoing. Indeed, both North and South Korean leaders believe that a state of war exists, and both their behaviors and communications with their own people and the international community are consistent with this belief.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the idea of Korean reunification seemed both desirable and possible. From conversations with my grandfather, I have come to understand the deep yearning for reunification among many older Koreans. For those who remember a time before the division, reunification represents a return to a homeland that has been fragmented by decades of conflict. However, the human reality is one of indeterminate separation, ongoing danger, and significant human costs. This makes me question whether we are still the same Korean people we once were, or if decades of division have fundamentally changed us.

Moving Forward- the "real subjects"

In all honestly, I don’t know the answers to the question of whether reunification is desirable or not – I am not a political analyst or policy expert. The reason why I am writing this essay is to talk about my country and keep my identity as a Korean. As Winston Churchill said, “A nation that forgets its past has no future.” It is my obligation to remember who I am and honor those who protected this country. The stories of the “real subjects” are essential in understanding the true impact of the Korean War and the ongoing struggle for peace and unity.

My grandfather’s experiences serve as a powerful reminder of what has been lost and what can still be achieved, providing a personal lens through which to view the complexities and aspirations of the Korean Peninsula. Preserving the stories of the “real subjects” of war and promoting their healing are crucial steps. My grandfather’s hearing impairment from handling artillery, his recent struggles with lung cancer, and his stories of camaraderie and loss are personal testaments to the enduring impact of the Korean War. These experiences highlight the human cost of conflict and the importance of remembering and learning from our past. They remind us that behind every political and military maneuver are real people with real stories and sacrifices.

In writing this essay, I aim to honor my grandfather and all those who have suffered and persevered through this long-standing conflict. I wish to keep their stories alive and reflect on what it means for our future. By remembering our past and understanding the complexities of our present, we can strive to build a future where the Korean Peninsula is no longer a symbol of division and conflict but one of unity and peace. This hope is not just for the sake of a geopolitical ideal but for the countless individuals like my grandfather whose lives have been irrevocably shaped by this war. Ultimately, the task of the future is to ensure that the sacrifices of the past are not forgotten and that we work towards a world where such sacrifices are no longer necessary. It is about fostering understanding, compassion, and cooperation, and finding ways to bridge the divides that have kept us apart for so long. It is about honoring our history while striving for a better, more unified future. My grandfather’s legacy, and that of countless others, demands nothing less.


Webs Webs

r3 - 10 Jun 2024 - 00:43:18 - ChloeJo
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