Editor’s Note: These remarks were provided to freedom-loving people who gathered on the National Mall on November 5, 2022, for the K-Peace Festival organized by the Peaceful Unification Advisory Council – Washington Chapter.
Good afternoon. I would like to thank the Washington Chapter of the Peaceful Unification Advisory Council for organizing this important event and the officials representing the Republic of Korea whose vision and generosity will someday result in a United Republic of Korea.
Please accept my sincere condolences to all those who lost their lives and to those injured in Itaewon this past week. To the families and friends of those lost and hurt, the entire world mourns with you.
While that is a horrific tragedy for Korea, I know all of you here today know of another tragedy that has brought pain and suffering to the peninsula for seven decades. That is the unnatural division of Korea. I have spent much of the last four decades serving in Korea. I have learned much from the Korean soldiers with whom I served as well as many Korean people in the South from all walks of life who inspired me to understand the “Korean question” which is found in Paragraph 60 of the 1953 Armistice Agreement. The military commanders recognized that a political solution to the “Korean question” is required. That political solution is unification and the establishment of a United Republic of Korea.
We appear to be at a very tense point in Korea today. Kim Jong Un is executing a political warfare and blackmail diplomacy strategy to subvert, undermine, and weaken the ROK, drive a wedge in the alliance, and coerce political and economic concessions from the ROK, the U.S., and the international community. On September 8th he showed his true hand, that he considers the North a nuclear state and is prepared to use nuclear weapons to achieve the seven decades old goal of his father and grandfather: that is to complete the revolution, rid the peninsula of foreign forces, and dominate all of Korea under the rule of the Guerilla Dynasty and Gulag State. There should be no doubt in our minds that Kim will do in the South what the Kim family regime has done in the north to remain in power – he will deny the human rights of all Koreans and the Koreans in the South will suffer an unbearable fate.
Some say this is an inflection point in Korean history in which a major change could be upon us. But it also could be an opportunity if freedom-loving people in Korea, the U.S., and around the world are willing to seize it.
While the ROK/U.S. combined military force is demonstrating superior deterrence and defense capabilities to prevent war and defeat the North if Kim decides to attack, now is the time to develop a new strategy that rests on the foundation of our military strength.
It is time to initiate a superior political warfare strategy. It should be based on three lines of effort: a human rights upfront approach, a comprehensive information and influence campaign, and the pursuit of a free and unified Korea.
Human rights are not only a moral imperative but a national security issue because Kim denies human rights to remain in power.
Kim fears the Korean people in the North more than he fears the combined ROK/U.S. military capabilities because he knows the truth is the alliance is not going to conduct an invasion of the North despite his rhetoric. And when the Korean people in the north are armed with information it is an existential threat to the Kim family regime. We can all contribute to an influence campaign by sending in massive amounts of information from news to entertainment, providing practical information to assist “entrepreneurs” in their markets as well as information on how to affect change from within. We need to provide the truth about their situation in the North, South Korea, and the world. And lastly the Korean people need to understand they deserve the universal human rights which we all have and which we take for granted.
Information will provide Kim with three choices: He will understand his strategy has failed and change his behavior. The elite and military leadership will realize the strategic failure and force Kim to change. And if Kim does not change, the Korean people in the North can bring about the ultimate change.
The pursuit of a free and unified Korea is the most important strategic long-term objective for all Korean people. We all must understand the only way we are going to see an end to the nuclear program, military threats, human rights abuses, and crimes against humanity being committed against the Korean people living in the north is through achievement of unification and the establishment of a free and unified Korea. It must be secure and stable, non-nuclear, economically vibrant, and unified under a liberal constitutional form of government based on freedom and individual liberty, rule of law, free market economy, and human rights as determined by the Korean people. Again, a free and unified Korea or in short, a United Republic of Korea (UROK).
평화 “Pyeong Hwa” (Peace)
통일 “Tong Il” (Unification)
David Maxwell, a 1945 Contributing Editor, is a retired US Army Special Forces Colonel who has spent more than 30 years in Asia and specializes in North Korea and East Asia Security Affairs and irregular, unconventional, and political warfare. He is the Editor-in-Chief of Small Wars Journal. He is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Senior Fellow at the Global Peace Foundation (where he focuses on a free and unified Korea), and a Senior Advisor to the Center for Asia Pacific Strategy.