chapter  5
28 Pages

Military balance and arms race between the two Koreas

As we have seen in Chapter 4, the competitive arms buildups of the two Koreas started before the Korean War and continued during and after the war. As the peace conference at Geneva in 1954 did not bring political solutions to the conflict, the Korean War has not technically ended. The ROK did not sign the Armistice Agreement on 27 July 1953, although the ROK armed forces were under the operational command/control of the United Nations Command (UNC). More important, the War produced a rigid and enduring system of national division characterised by opposing ideologies and regimes, deep-rooted mutual suspicion and hostility, and an arms race.1 Both sides agreed, nineteen years after the Armistice, on the July 4th Joint Communique in 1972 that emphasised the reunification of the nation through peaceful means. In December 1991, again 19 years thereafter, the two Koreas agreed on the Agreement on Reconciliation, Nonaggression, Exchanges and Cooperation, with a six-point Joint Declaration on the Denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. However, little progress has been achieved; the agreements have been lip service. Military preparedness has been the principal occupation of elites on both sides of the DMZ.