Event ReportsPublished on Nov 05, 2013
North Korean army, which is the fifth largest in the world with a very high artillery pile, should not to be under-estimated, according a former Indian military intelligence official.
North Korean Army should not be under-estimated
North Korean army, which is the fifth largest in the world, should not to be under-estimated, according a former Indian military intelligence official. Initiating a discussion on the ’Korean conundrum’ at the Chennai chapter of Observer Research Foundation recently, Col. R. Hariharan (Retd) said North Korea also has a very high artillery pile which he attributed to the ’Soviet Doctrine’ that called for artillery build-up.

Saying "North Korea is nothing but a family-run business," Col Hariharan spoke of the nuclear capabilities of the authoritarian state. He said North Korea has crude nuclear bombs which do not have proper delivery systems. He also dwelt in detail the missile capabilities of the State.

Col. Hariharan pointed out that South Korea on the other hand had agreed back in 1974 to not develop nuclear weapons. Its army is also smaller in strength compared to the north’s.

Speaking about unification efforts of the two Koreas, Col Hariharan explained the geographical location of the border. He said in the demilitarised zone, none other than border troops is permitted in the 8-km wide area between North and South Korea. Tracing the progress made by both the countries in their relationship, he said in 1991 both nations were admitted to the UN. And in 2003, they got as close as they could towards reunification when the first summit between two leaders took place. But the whole political scenario changed in 2005. However, a second summit was held in 2007.

Col. Hariharan noted that what exists between North and South Korea is not a peace treaty, but an armistice to maintain a cease fire in that region. The 33rd Parallel that ran along the original divide between North and South was later tweaked according to the geographical area. He said the North had sent large patrols into the South’s territories and in 1973 alone, nearly 44 incursions were reported.

Col. Hariharan said Japan remained a common enemy to both North & South Korea due to various reasons including the previous occupation and exploitation of Koreas by the Japanese during the world war.

Talking about starvation problems in North Korea, Col Hariharan said the country had always been prone to famine, mainly due to its geographical position which makes agricultural activities difficult in the region. However, he had no doubts about the sustainability of the country as such, as it had been doing for such a long time now.

During the discussion, it was noted that while the South had seen 11 different Presidents so far while the North had witnessed just two leaders. This also emphasised the basic ideological differences between both the countries. As far as economies are concerned, while the per capita income of North was mere $1500 whereas the figure was a high $32,000-plus for the South.

When asked about the recent series of threats by the North, Col. Hariharan said that it could have been an action to appease the domestic population apart from the military command. He also said that Kim Jong-un has to prove himself as a leader before the military leaders trust him.

When querried about stability of new Kim’s regime, Col. Hariharan said that military is the only threat to the new leader’s regime.

(This report is prepared by Ramalingam, Va, 1st year BA, Journalism & Mass Communication, S R M University, Chennai)

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