By Victor Jeong, Co-Editor-in-chief
The two Koreas are no strangers to conflict. Reminders of just how brittle the barrier between both worlds consistently appear, and before anyone can forget that the these two countries are at war, another headline pops up. With tensions reaching another all time high, it’s clear that in a war of kindred countries, both time and tear has taken it’s toll.
Barely a day goes by without some mention of what North Korea is doing in the news, whether it be another propaganda campaign or inflammatory statement towards the South. Whether it be a Facebook comment chiding the actions of the North, or a casual insult directed towards the North in conversation, South Koreans have also become fixated with their antagonistic sister country. All eyes are on the fragile armistice as the two countries go toe to toe like two children ready to fight during lunchtime. But as the children spit and stare at each other, telling the other to hit first, they often forget the damage that has been done.
The damage can be trivial. It can be as childish as flying “Choco Pies” across the border to inflate the black market economy and aggravate the North Korean government. It can be as provocative as blaring incendiary propaganda at the DMZ through large speakers. It can be as heartbreaking as lost limbs and life aspirations resulting from landmines planted at the border. Every hostile action serves as a slap in the face and a reminder that the only thing that separates these countries is a piece of paper.
In recent times, tempers have flared and relations have boiled down to a minimum yet again. Jets are scrambled, armies put on alert and children evacuated from the DMZ, a routine that has become shockingly commonplace in our modern age. Although we are distracted by the paraphrased threats and the recycled statistics, we play a dangerous game of “war Jenga” filled with a sinister sense of one-upmanship. We push and pull, waiting for something to happen–but nothing does.
With provocation growing increasingly serious and blatant, it’s clear that the tension between the two countries has become impatient. Sixty years is a long time, and maybe both sides are getting tired of arguing. What’s important is that the collateral damage is adding up. Before it was pride and ego, now it’s limbs and loved ones. It’s a price that can’t we can’t afford to pay for too much longer.
Although the most recent disputes will likely fade, the significance doesn’t lie in each conflict. Every conflict serves as a simple reminder of how flimsy the distinction between peace and hostility can be. Every time the pressure starts to recede, it’s a thrust back into the forefront of the news.
Perhaps a second Korean War is on the horizon, for better or for worse. A catharsis on the scale of two nations and the cacophonic chaos that follows might settle things for good. In the wake of the destruction, perhaps the tension in Korean air space will be gone at last. Perhaps a rebuild is in order. But nobody can know for sure what implications a second war would have, and as long as the two countries trade angst-filled blows, the question remains– when is enough… enough?