Staunton, July 4 – Andrey Lankov, a leading Russian specialist on Korea who now teaches at Seoul’s Kookmin University, says that the way in which the DMZ between North and South Korea came into being is a partial model for how the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is likely to end.
The Korean “scenario,” he says, is relevant because the de facto border between the two countries is likely to be where the line of the front is when an armistice is concluded; but it isn’t because talks about a Russian-Ukrainian border won’t be as short and simple as was the case in the Koreas (profile.ru/abroad/kak-byli-razgranicheny-juzhnaya-i-severnaya-korei-i-mozhno-li-etot-opyt-ispolzovat-na-ukraine-1111341/).
“The history of the DMZ and its preddcessor, the demarcation line along the 38th parallel provides clear confirmation of the aphorism that ‘nothing is more permanent than the termporary,” Lankov says. The line was drawn in August 1945 when Japanese resistance collapsed and Korea was divided between the communists and the non-communists.
The actual line was drawn by two American colonels, Dean Rusk, who later became secretary of state, and Charles Bownsteel who rose to the rank of lieutenant general on the basis of a National Geographic map the two had in their possession. They didn’t expect it to last long but to be replaced by a more general settlement on the peninsula.
More than half a million North Koreans passed through it in the period before Pyongyang launched its attack in 1950, an attack that began as a blitzkrieg that seized almost 90 percent of the south, provoking first a Western and then a Chinese intervention that led first to the western control of the entire peninsula and then to a stalemate near the 38th parallel.
When peace talks began in the summer of 1951, the line of demarcation between the two sides was much as it had been and neither side believed it could change that anytime soon. As a result, the two agreed to the DMZ again even though talks on other issues dragged on for two years, in the expectation that there would be a more general settlement.
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