Long ago, when a teenager, it was that long ago, the question of
up. At the end of the introductory
training for National Service in the Army the issue of where you might be
posted to arose. In those not so happy
days it could be anywhere. A lot of
those places had disadvantages. Korea
These included wars, places with terrorists (or freedom fighters if you insist), places that were very hot and dry, others hot and steamy, others cold and wet; there was plenty of choice. Even
was possible, if
you wanted to risk your lungs and liver. London
Except that there was not a choice. Someone in the deepest recesses of the War Office would rush out into the street, find a passing beggar and pay him a quid or two to pick the names of the sack blindfolded.
At least that was the theory and was regarded as the only rational explanation at the time for the way people were selected for the vacancies on offer. When the time came for our time for this particular lottery of life the nerves were twitching.
In the squad a couple of keen types had volunteered for
on the grounds that they
would have rapid promotion and it would be good for their CV’s, if that is,
they returned in one piece if at all. We
were all deeply grateful to them as the rest of us skiving louts were desperate
for a cushy number close to the bright lights. Korea
In the event, most of us were packed off to
where the forces were being
strengthened because of uncertainties.
The rest were scattered about largely in the Germany .
Of the two UK Korea
volunteers one finished up at Nuneaton and the
other on the staff at a military prison out in the wilds.
But there were stories about
and it is difficult to convey the views of us at the time without breaching all
the present requirements to avoid being judgemental or unkind on ethnic grounds
on those from the North. Korea
These arose not just from people who had been in the Korean War, but others from elsewhere in the Pacific where those of the North had some notoriety. Those who had been in Japanese Prison Camps during WW2 asserted that the worst places to be were those with North Korean guards who had volunteered for this duty.
The views today would seem extreme but to us at the time were regarded as well founded. One certainty was that mentally they were in another Universe and it was one to be avoided at all costs.
Sixty odd years ago the Korean War broke out because
was backing the North in
their immediate post revolutionary period.
was bidding for their friendship in the struggles of the Cold War. Remember that Russia is a Far Eastern power and
not just a Western one. Russia
If we have another muddle of ambitions and failures to come to terms among the great Pacific powers in how the North Korean problem can be addressed then it could turn bad but this time round with far wider economic consequences than in the late 1940’s.
Moscow and Beijing
need to cooperate quickly and effectively and to work with the USA and to defuse the whole
situation. Any idea of relying on normal
human or political thinking in Japan can be forgotten. They do not work like that and never have
Our media, government and others do not seem to realise the risks they are taking in just hoping it is just another passing row. At some time that simply may not be the case.