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tv   AHA Interview - U.S.- Korea public affairs version  CSPAN  January 6, 2018 2:49pm-3:09pm EST

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it has been for some i've known. i know people who became judges theso disliked decision-making process that they left the bench. i was an advocate. i found the decision-making process to be enormously challenging and enormously satisfying. i love being a judge. the opportunity to resolve sometes, large and small, of them have large public significance. that is a very satisfying role. >> watch sunday night at 9:00 eastern on book tv on c-span2. koreath korea and south plan to meet for the first time in years ahead of the winter olympics next month and south korea. we recently spoke with a historian about the background
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of the relationship between the two countries and the involvement in the night states -- the involvement of the united states. this is just under 20 minutes. david is a historian at university of wisconsin madison who specializes in a timely field, u.s.-korea relations. what is the most important thing that anyone who is watching the news right now worrying about the state of things should know about korea and north korea? >> the most important thing to understand is that the division of korea was originally a u.s. idea. this was never supposed to be permanent. korea would eventually unify. that did not happen. the division became permanent. much,ason this matters so
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the koreans see themselves as one people, one nation, one race, and would like to be reunified. especially south koreans who have family in the north. koreans hold the united states responsible for that decision. there is a latent strain of running through korean society that doesn't always manifest itself but could manifest itself in a very strong way under the right circumstances. thing, theyexing have two very different governing systems. how would that rectify itself? in their minds? look at the situation in north korea versus the south, how does that all fit? >> the koreans like to claim they have 7000 years of history
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on the korean peninsula. that is simply not true, but it's true that they have a very long street as one united people. divergent, bute that has been a recent development. they look at the long path they've had together as proof that in the future we can reunify. how exactly would that happen? that very much remains to be seen. it's not clear how that would happen. the official plan is for a confederation, a loose confederation between the north and the south. while they try to work out the very sticky details of how you unify the state. it is practically impossible as long as the kim regime is in power in the north. therotect the partition, united states has had troops there since the end of the conflict. how many troops do we have on the ground today?
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how many are from the south? >> there's about 28,000 troops on the korean peninsula right now. they are under a concentration program right now. the next few years, they will be re-concentrated into one large base south of seoul. they were a tripwire force. any invasion of the south by the anrth would guarantee in american entrance immediately into the wort. to narrow the american footprint in south korea and concentrate the americans into one zone and get them out of the center of seoul. the garrison has ended up being right in the middle of seoul. it was outside of seoul, but seoul has grown so rapidly that
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the pace is now in the very center. to ais a minor irritant large group of foreign troops stationed there. >> do they support the u.s. president? >> certainly does. in a perfect world, the koreans would wish the united states was not there. they wish they could manage their own security affairs on their own. it's a widely held view that the u.s. presence is needed to balance the competing interests of china and north korea and the soviet union. the koreans would certainly like to live in a world where the americans would be gone. there is that tension up americans but not necessarily wanting them. >> you said it's impossible as long as the kim regime is in power. give us a brief history of the kim regime. >> the kim regime initially is
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the guerrilla fighter against the japanese was very young, he was an officer in the red army, he was brought to north korea by the soviet union who established him as a puppet leader. they were thinking they could exert more influence on him then they could. kim il-sung maintained an independent line from the soviets and chinese communist party. he ruled north korea until the early 1990's. kim jong-il took over. , kim jong-un took over. >> when you are watching news -- of kimother jong-un, how do you see his leadership style
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comparing with his predecessors? >> it's a bit hard to tell. it is quite a bit early. it is difficult to credit the news reports that come out of north korea. it is very opaque what goes on. there's a lot of tales of extreme violence which may or may not be true. is true that he has definitely purged some of the holdover leadership from his father's regime, including his uncle. it is seen as unlikely that his style of leadership is going to end up in results that were all that different from what his father and grandfather pursued. >> what should the american public know about the everyday korean life? how it has changed since the conflict. >> it's important to understand ves veryh koreans' li chairman asleep based on what class they are part of.
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vary dramatically based on what class they are part of. there's the high-level bureaucrats in the west. these people do not go hungry. they live in buildings with heat. then, there's millions of other north koreans that live in the countryside in immense deprivation. it is a daily struggle. there was a time when north koreans were starving by the hundreds of thousands. knew this was a way to maintain power. this makes them different from the soviet regimes. constitution their to remove all references of coming i communism.
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this state is interested in keeping their people underdeveloped. they are too busy with their own survival. >> we occasionally see these -- the folder that cross the line recently. our policy is based on the fact that we presume all the north koreans wish for a better life and some semblance of a democratic process. >> i'm not sure that is the case. if you were to ask a lot of north koreans, they would see the 1960's and 1970's as the golden era for north korea. they would prefer to go back to that rather than life in the west. -- they hadra is
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economically secure lives. north korea had a robust ration system. they were developing the nation fairly quickly. the north koreans lived in apartments with heat. their lives were fairly good. there's an ideological element to it. that many koreans north korean defectors who come to the south find their lives empty. profit, which they are taught to disparage. korea, it's about maintaining the north korean race and the north korean revolution. every north korean has a purpose in that struggle. seet of them, you will defectors saying terrible things about kim jong-un. they are less likely to say the same things about kim jong-il.
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see north korean defectors kim il-sung as a visionary leader and a great nationalist for the korean people. >> which of the everyday american know about the current south korean government's toi think it is important understand that south koreans have a sense of grievance against united states, not just because of the division, it is well-known that we divide korea and establish a separate state. 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 well invade. 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
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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 -- you will see it laid out that it was the lack of american security guarantees that will encourage the north to invade. when our president does things like paula 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. that as a possibility preemptive or preventative strike against north korea without firm south koreans support could lead to a backlash against the american president
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-- against the american presence in south korea that could have unforeseen consequences. 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 -- that do at the moment but could change drastically with a rash of american decision. it is possible we could do this and get away with it, but nobody knows. 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 but toot to level soul, point out to south koreans that americans had just rolled the dice with tens of millions of
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korean lives hanging in the balance. and then to ask the south koreans, do you really think you still media americans -- you still need the americans, because they are the greatest threat to security on the 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 to they have? chinese have tremendous influence but it is a blunt weapon. the chinese could put you norm is pressure on the north korean imports,hey could cut but doing so would risk the collapse of the regime. most of the people would not go
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south, they would go north into china. the northern border is not militarized at all. 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 reason -- in that region and 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's could be much more severe than they want.
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onlet's spend a minute japan. what are their concerns and how 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 or, to wage offensive 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. relations between the south koreans and the japanese are not good. causese militarism 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
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fundamental questions about the relationship with each other and the security of northeast asia. the answer to those questions will not be agreeable to all parties. as a historian, is there a metaphor you can use to describe the current situation as you're looking at it? thinking -- is it a tinderbox waiting for a spark or something other than that? 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. our alliances with south korea, fairly strong and robust, but that does not mean that certain actions, particularly preventative
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strikes against north korea, because this edifice to come down with shocking speed. shot -- a very timely subject for historians. thank you so much for your time. >> thank you very much. on monday joined c-span live for the results of a public opinion survey on american and japanese views on north korea. discussionalso be a on the diplomatic and military options concerning north korea's nuclear program. monday at 10:00 eastern on c-span. c-span, where history unfolds daily. in 1979, c-span was created as a public service by america's cable television companies and is brought to you today by your cable or satellite provider.
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journal"'s "washington live every day with news and policies that impact you. will takemorning, we a look at the future of health care and what changes congress is considering this year and the latest on the protests in iran plus the trump administration's response. c-span's "washington journal." live at 7:00 eastern sunday morning. join the discussion. joining us now is "stars and stripes" reporter nikki wentling. she is here to talk about veterans benefits in 2018. thanks for joining us. what are the biggest changes we can expect to see in veterans' benefits this coming year? guest: one of the major changes is with student veterans.


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