tv Korea U.S. Relations CSPAN January 8, 2018 11:47pm-12:08am EST
went into prison, they are definitely poverty-stricken for the rest of their lives. it is totally connected to poverty. .atch sunday night next, historian david fields on the background of the relationship tween north korea and south korea and the involvement of the u.s. >> david fields is a historian. what is the most important thing that people should know about korea and u.s. korea relations >> i think the most important thing to understand is that the division of korea was originally
a u.s. idea. this idea was never supposed to be permanent. the division became permanent, and it is no doubt whose idea it was originally. the reason this matters so much as the koreans have never seen , oneelves as one people race. they would very much like to be reunified. this matters because in many ways, koreans hold the u.s. responsible for that decision. there is a latent stream of anti-americanism running through korean society that does not always manifest itself. >> the perplexing thing about them seeing themselves as one nation, is they have two very different governing systems.
how is that rectified? if you look at the situation and deprivation of people have an north korea versus the south, how does that all fit? >> it all fits by looking backwards. the korea fund takei -- the koreans like to claim that they have 7000 years of history. but is simply not true, they do have a very long history as one united people. has been a fairly recent development in the last 50 years. they look at the very long path they have had together as proof that in the future, we can reunified. happen,tly would that that very much remains to be seen. it is not clear how that would happen. the official plan is for a confederation, a loose confederation between the north and south initially while they work to work out the very sticky
details of how you reunify the state. it is probably impossible as long as they can regime is in power. , how protect the partition many troops do we have on the ground today and how many are south? >> ie believe there are around 28,000 troops on the korean peninsula right now. base we under a concentrate program right now. this is important because previously they were stationed around the dmz. of the south by the north meant almost immediate shedding of american blood. they'll probably still happen, but the dynamics have changed. one of the reasons they wanted to do that, was they wanted to
narrow the american footprints in south korea. when it was originally constructed, it was outside of soul. soul has grown so rapidly that the space is now in the very center. as the south korean government support the u.s. presence still go >> it certainly does. world, the koreans would wish the u.s. was not there. they would wish that they could manage their own security affairs on their own. is a widely held view that the u.s. presence is needed to balance the competing , north korea,hina formally of the soviet union.
the koreans would certainly like to live in a world where the americans could be gone. there is that tension of meeting -- meeting -- needing the americans but not necessarily wanting them. >> you said it is impossible as long as the kim regime is in power. give us a history of the kim regime. >> the first leader is kim il-sung who was a guerrilla fighter against the japanese. he was an officer in the red army, he was brought into north korea by the soviet union to establish him as a puppet leader. when they did that, they were probably thinking they could exert more influence on him than they could. in fact, kim il-sung maintained an independent line, both from the soviet union and from the chinese communist party. after he consolidated power in north korea. he ruled north korea until the
early 90's, at which point his son kim jong-il took over and then with his death i believe in -- with his death in the early teens, kim jong-un, his grandson, took over. >> when you're watching news reports and other ways you get information on kim jong-un, how do you see his leadership style comparing with his predecessors, his father and grandfather? >> it is a bit hard to tell. it is still a bit early. it is difficult to credit a lot of the news reports that come out of north korea. it is opaque, what goes on. there are tales of extreme violence which may or may not be true. it is true that he has definitely purged some of the holdover leadership from his father's regime, including his uncle. it seems unlikely that his style of leadership is going to end up in results that are all that different from what his father and grandfather pursued. >> what should the american public know about the everyday
korean's life and how it has changed in the years since the conflict? >> it is important understand that north koreans lives very -- vary tremendously by what class they are a part of. there is the class that lives in pyongyang which has a fairly good life by north korean standards. an excellent life by north korean standards. it would not compare much to the life of a high-level bureaucrat in the west, but these people do not get hungry, they live in buildings that have heat, they have privilege. there are millions of other north koreans in what is referred to as the wavering class who live in immense deprivation and a daily struggle for subsistence. there is not a lot of starvation, but there was a time when north koreans in these wavering classes were starving by the hundreds of thousands. tohink it is important
understand that the kim regime uses under development as a way of maintaining its power. this is what makes it different from the soviet regimes. we make a mistake if we still think of north korea as a communist regime. they modified their constitution in the early 2000's to remove all references of communism. this is not a state interested in developing its people. it is interested in keeping them under developed. a people that is trying to meet their own subsistence will not be a threat to the regime. they are too busy with their own survival. >> we occasionally see these dramatic bids for escape, most recently a soldier from north korea that crossed the lines. our policy is based on the fact that we presume that all north koreans wish for a better life and for some semblance of a democratic process -- is that the case? >> i'm not sure that is. if you would ask north koreans, they would see the 1960's and
the 1970's under kim il-sung as a golden era. what they would prefer is to go back to that rather than life in the west. >> what is the golden era? >> they had economically secure lives. north korea had a robust ration system, nobody went hungry. they were developing quickly. north koreans lived in apartments. their lives were fairly good, compared to what they had under the japanese. there is an ideological element to it. many north korean defectors who live in the south find south korean existence empty because their lives are about nothing from their perspective besides the pursuit of profits, which they are taught to disparage. life in north korea's about something, it is about maintaining the north korean race, about maintaining the
north korean revolution and every north korean has a purpose in that struggle. a lot of them, especially the north korean defectors, say terrible things about kim jong-un. there are less likely to say those things about kim jong-il and you'll never hear them say anything about kim il-sung. even defectors see kim il-sung as a visionary leader and a great nationalist for the korean people. >> what should the everyday american know about the current south korean government? >> i think it is important to understand that south koreans have a sense of grievance against united states, not just because of the division, it is well-known that we divided korea and established a separate state. we helped establish a separate state. then we left korea in 1949 against the wishes of the south korean government at that time
who begged us to stay, who said if you leave the north koreans will invade. they asked for concrete guarantees from the united states that in the event of a northern invasion we would come back. those guarantees were never given. this is part of the reason that joseph stalin gave kim il-sung permission to invade south korea. that was not the only factor, but that was an important factor and one the south koreans have not forgotten. if you go to the war memorial museum in seoul you will see it laid out that it was the lack of american security guarantees that encouraged the north to invade. when our president does things like call south koreans free riders, threatens to tear up the korea free trade agreement, these things are very upsetting to south koreans. when he refers to the sea between korea and japan as the sea of japan instead of the east sea, it makes south korean blood
boil. i think there is a possibility that a preemptive or preventative strike against north korea without firm south korean support could lead to a backlash against the american presence in south korea that could have unforeseen consequences as far as our position in east asia. >> this is the historians lesson for the age, to understand we do not have a rock solid ally in south korea. >> we do at the moment but that could change drastically with a rash american decision. it is possible we could do this and get away with it, but nobody >> we do at the moment but that knows. i feel like there is a subset of possibilities as to how this crisis could play out. we think if we strike the north first, x number of south koreans will die.
i think it would make much more sense from the north korean perspective if we were to attack them, not to level seoul, but to point out to south koreans that americans had just rolled the dice with tens of millions of korean lives hanging in the balance. which is what we would be doing. and then to ask the south koreans, do you really think you still need the americans, because they are the greatest threat to security on the korean peninsula. >> we have referenced china a few times. what is the current influence that china can exert on north korea? we always see from our policy makers that we are looking to them to have a bigger footprint and to help stabilize the kim jong-un regime. what kind of influence do they have? >> the chinese have tremendous influence but it is a blunt weapon. the chinese could put enormous pressure on the north korean
regime, they could cut imports, but doing so would risk the collapse of the regime. if the regime of collapsed most , of the people would not go south, they would go north into china. the northern border is not militarized at all. in a some places it is hardly even a marked. that is the chosen route by defectors. this is not at all what the chinese want because they could lose a buffer between themselves and the americans in the south and there is a tremendous number of ethnic koreans who are chinese citizens, who live in that region. this is one of the minority populations in china that has had no problems with nationalism. the koreans are extreme and ardent nationalists and you would be inviting tens of millions of them into your country which has problems with minorities in other places. this is not at all what the chinese want.
the chinese want the north koreans to behave, they want them to stop doing missile tests, but they do not have a way of forcing them to do it. they have one button they can push and the repercussions from pushing that button could be much more severe than they want. >> let's spend a minute on japan. what are their interests and have they matured or changed? >> the effect of this crisis on japan is alarming and one of the bigger stories that is not being told. for the first time in decades the japanese are talking about rearmament. japan has an explicitly pacifist constitution. they have no armed forces, they do not possess the right to wage war, to wage offensive or outside of japan, all of that is changing now because of the north korean threat and the japanese are beginning to discuss revising their constitution. this matters because relations
between the south koreans and the japanese are not good. japanese militarism causes further mistrust among the south koreans. one way of viewing what the north koreans are doing is forcing all of the nations involved -- south korea, the united states, and japan, to ask fundamental questions about the relationship with each other and the security of northeast asia. this is at a time when the answer to those questions will not be agreeable to all parties. >> in closing, as a historian, is there a metaphor you can use to describe the current situation as you're looking at it? i am thinking -- is it a tinderbox waiting for a spark or something other than that? >> a better metaphor might be some sort of precarious tower that is fairly strong but brittle, something made of iron. it is strong, but it cannot
stand a lot of shocks. it can look strong and collapse suddenly. i think our alliances with south korea, with japan are fairly strong and robust, but that does not mean that certain actions, particularly preventative strikes against north korea, could cause this edifice to come down with shocking speed. >> a very timely subject for historians. thank you so much for your time. >> thank you very much. >> c-span "washington journal" live every day with policy that will affect you. on tuesday, we will discuss immigration policies and a possible amid shutdown from capitol hill with democratic and republican congressional members. "washingtonatch
-- give thes terrified to speech. he prayed to god that he would not mess it up. he climbs the stairs to the pulpit and looks out and sees his wife in the crowd here and roosevelting because 's dead. the nation is in shock. she never won at to be the first lady. she never wanted her husband to be president. she is frightened for him. and while, he has to get up there and inspire conference in his administration and the whole world. the world has to understand that america where -- will continue. >> sunday night on c-span. trump spoke of the american farm bureau federation annual convention in nashville. he talked about the economy, the
tax reform bill, deregulation, and rural development. following his remarks, he signed two executive actions aimed at expanding broadband internet access in rural america. agricultural secretary sonny perdue introduces the president. sec. perdue: ladies and gentlemen, you are in for a real treat this afternoon. thank you for showing up. the last sitting president to speak to the american farm bureau federation was president george h.w. bush 25 years ago. so it is an indication of what this president thinks about your organization and u.s. people and what you do for the united states economy. just think about it -- a year ago -- you remember what it was like a year ago? washington was accustomed to writing regulations that strangled growth and freedom.