Sung-Yoon Lee

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The great sacrifices made by Americans in the Korean War, the legacy of the close US-South Korea relationship over the past 60 years, and future US strategic interests in and around the Korean Peninsula should not be sacrificed at the altar of diplomatic peace.

Sung-Yoon Lee is a scholar of Korean and East Asian studies, and expert on North Korea.

Quotes[edit]

Real peace is won by resolve and sacrifice, while ephemeral peace is all too often concocted only by vowels and consonants.
  • At the very least, the ill-advised rush to "peace" is a likely candidate for the historical annals of self-destructive appeasement. The great sacrifices made by Americans in the Korean War, the legacy of the close US-South Korea relationship over the past 60 years, and future US strategic interests in and around the Korean Peninsula should not be sacrificed at the altar of diplomatic peace. Real peace is won by resolve and sacrifice, while ephemeral peace is all too often concocted only by vowels and consonants. (talking about a potential peace treaty between North Korea and the U.S., to replace the decades-long armistice signed in 1953)
The lessons of the most traumatic past must be learned and continually relearned, not only to prevent such a tragedy from repeating itself, but also to honor, as one nation, those who made our freedom possible, and to remember that freedom is certainly never free.
  • For many South Koreans today, the Korean War is little more than a tragedy of the past or a tale in abstraction. For others, it is a trauma best forgotten. But on Memorial Day, the South Koreans, as a nation, must not forget the suffering and sacrifice in their national historical experience. The lessons of the most traumatic past must be learned and continually relearned, not only to prevent such a tragedy from repeating itself, but also to honor, as one nation, those who made our freedom possible, and to remember that freedom is certainly never free.
Given the stark contrast between the two countries [North and South Korea] one can safely draw at least one conclusion: There is nothing inherent in culture or history that ipso facto should keep a country poor and enslaved
  • A power vacuum in Pyongyang will require the immediate dispatch of South Korean and U.S. troops. Next will come other regional powers — Chinese peacekeeping forces securing the northern areas, followed by the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force transporting people and supplies along the Korean coastlines. In the short term, a multiparty international presence north of the 38th parallel under the nominal banner of the United Nations will enforce order and provide aid. But even when the dust from the flurry of human activity and balance-of-power politics settles, the task will not be done.
  • En route to Tokyo in 1945 to embark on the occupation of Japan, U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur laid out his goals for Japan to his aide, Maj. Gen. Courtney Whitney: "First destroy the military power, then build up representative government, enfranchise women, free political prisoners, liberate farmers, establish free labor, destroy monopolies, abolish police repression, liberate the press, liberalize education, and decentralize political power." The transformation of North Korea will require nothing less.
It’s also important for Washington to hold quiet consultations with Beijing to prepare jointly for a unified Korea under Seoul’s direction, a new polity that will be free, peaceful, capitalist, pro-U.S. and pro-China.
  • It’s also important for Washington to hold quiet consultations with Beijing to prepare jointly for a unified Korea under Seoul’s direction, a new polity that will be free, peaceful, capitalist, pro-U.S. and pro-China.
  • The North Korean state is essentially two things: 1) a large money-laundering concern; 2) the world’s largest prison and slave labor camp. Now, however, it is a large money-laundering concern and prison camp that has additionally extorted its way to nuclear weapons. Any U.S. policy should begin and end with the knowledge of what North Korea really is. It is not a state engaged in the normal give-and-take of diplomacy, seeking "security assurances" in return for "denuclearization" or some other such deal conjured up by diplomats whose experience is in dealing with real countries who negotiate in good faith. Rather, North Korea has had a pretty good run with its current approach of extortion, criminality and the deprivation of its own people.
  • Development experts and theorists of democratization take note. South Korea has the same culture, historical legacies, and so on as its neighbor to the North. And yet it is an advanced industrial economy and a thriving democracy that has just, despite its Confucian culture, elected a woman as president. It has managed to reach this high point of prosperity and human dignity because of — to reduce a complex set of phenomena to its minimal essence — different institutions than those in the North: democratic and capitalist ones. (I realize that I may be violating some tenet of doctrinaire realism with this observation. For the less doctrinaire, the contrast between the two Koreas is a useful reminder of why we try and favor and even push for democratic capitalism). Given the stark contrast between the two countries one can safely draw at least one conclusion: There is nothing inherent in culture or history that ipso facto should keep a country poor and enslaved.
In the surreal world of the DPRK (...), a life of extreme servitude to the state is freedom, and national strength is preserved by keeping the people ignorant of the outside world.
  • Since the Kim regime is governed by the need to dominate South Korea by threatening the region with nuclear annihilation, its willingness to use its lethal powers will only grow unless it is confronted by the specter of bankruptcy and the consequent destabilization of its rule.

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