North Korea asked Beijing in 1965 to send troops in preparation for another war on the Korean Peninsula, a Chinese scholar said Thursday, citing declassified diplomatic documents.
Cheng Xiaohe, a professor of international studies at Renmin University, said in a paper released at an academic seminar hosted by the Institute for Peace Affairs in Seoul, that North Korean leader Kim Il-sung told China‘s envoy to Pyongyang that he wanted to start a second Korean War and that a conflict with South Korea was inevitable.
The claim is based on the document submitted by the Chinese Ambassador Hao Deqing to Beijing following his meeting with Kim.
Kim founded North Korea following World War II, launched the 1950-53 Korean War and ruled the communist country until his death in 1994.
The professor said Kim argued that the only way to unify the country was to use force and claimed that ordinary people in the South were rising up to take part in the class struggle.
Cheng, however, said that the North Korean leader was unable to carry out his plan and the country effectively lost the “historic opportunity” that last existed in the 1960s to unify the peninsula by armed conflict.
He said that after the meeting there is no evidence to suggest that Kim again discussed an invasion of the South with Beijing.
The scholar then said that while an invasion is the only way for the North to unify the Korean Peninsula, the risk and fallouts are so great that it is not a course that can be easily pursued by Pyongyang.
He made it clear that at present, international circumstances and utter lack of support make it highly improbably for the North to choose to go to war.
On the issue of Seoul absorbing the North in a German-style unification process, Cheng predicted that Beijing could be made to support such a development.
He pointed out that China does not view a quick and peaceful unification as a bad thing. Such a process should entail a merging that is free from outside interference and able to contain fallouts from affecting other parts of the region.
The scholar said that if the South can take responsibility for handling the cost of unification, maintain peace and stability, and ensure China’s interests are protected, Beijing can accept a unified Korea.
He said this stance will be the case even in the unsatisfactory event of Seoul continuing to maintain its military alliance with the United States after unification.
Related to the latest revelation, local academics said the late North Korean leader made numerous remarks hinting at his intent to start another conflict, yet was constrained from following through due to numerous hurdles.
“At the time Kim met Hao, there was considerable upheaval in Seoul that may have caused the leader to consider triggering another war but because of the presence of U.S. troops such a move would have been realistically impossible to carry out,” said Park Tae-gyun, a professor of modern Korean history at Seoul National University.
Peter Beck, the Korean representative for the Asian Foundation, meanwhile, said that most people agree that a unified Korea is to Washington‘s advantage. He added that the astronomical expense of the “unification cost” is something that needs to be looked at in detail and needs to be prepared. (Yonhap News)