The Korean Conflict, 70 Years Later

August 4, 2023

RFI President Eric Patterson authored a piece published in WORLD Magazine this week in which he reflects on how the difference between the two Koreas vindicate “the fight for freedom.” Patterson in particular contrasts the flourishing environment of religious freedom in South Korea versus the environment of religious repression in North Korea. He writes:

This week marks the 70th anniversary of the Korean War. The long-term results of that war—the long-term division of into the two nations of South Korea and North Korea—demonstrate the differing results of democratic and Communist systems. Americans should be proud that their fathers and grandfathers led the UN force that saved South Korea from being conquered by the communist north. We should also be proud that America continues to be a force for good in the region.

It is what came after the war that is so stunning. Over time South Korea gradually matured into a peaceful, democratic, market economy that exports its goods and culture worldwide. It ranks as the 13th largest economy in the world, with global brands such as Samsung, Kia, and Hyundai. Korean BBQ, bakeries, and K-Pop music are available from Los Angeles to Dubai. Its military has served as peacekeepers in places such as Afghanistan, and it has a dynamic, highly religious society. Indeed, it is home to large Pentecostal, Presbyterian, and other Christian congregations.

All of this happened under the security umbrella of the United States and its allies under the early authorization of the United Nations. To be clear, the United States is not a colonial power. We did not invade South Korea. We helped liberate the South Korean people from the Japanese and later the Communists. We continue to work alongside the South Korean military to keep the peace in the region. That alliance, which includes Australia, Japan, and others, is a bulwark against the aggression of both North Korea and China.

North Korea stands in stark contrast to all of this and is a reminder of how ugly and evil rule by a Communist elite is. A new article by Bloomberg reports that North Korea’s economy is just one-30th that of its southern neighbor. North Korea’s population often faces food insecurity as a small oligarchy lives well at the expense of the majority. North Korea’s barbed wire keeps its own people in rather than defending its populace from external aggression. It has developed little to export, contributes little to the global common good, and spends an inordinate amount on sophisticated weapons production, including ballistic missiles that could strike targets as far away as Australia and the United States.

North Korea is one of the worst places to be a Christian or a religious person of any sort. The state has developed a nationalist mythology around the ruling family that combines historic Korean symbols with a materialist Communist ideology. Neighboring China finds North Korea’s aggressiveness both useful and irritating. On the one hand, pugnacious North Korea puts Japan and others on edge. On the other hand, the last thing that China wants is a million half-starved, desperate North Koreans flooding its borders.

Read the full article: “The Korean Conflict, 70 Years Later.”