A terrible legacy of the Korean War is the deeply distasteful regime of the Kim family in North Korea, whose militaristic displays might embarrass their Chinese allies, even if their terrible human rights record has failed to do so. Successive dictators from the Kim family and their generals and henchmen have run their country into the ground, maintaining their power through police and internal terror backed by concentration camps like the notorious Chonko-ri Prison.
This is in stark contrast to South Korea which had the same starting point when the Korean War finally came to a halt 60 years ago this week. The war devastated both the south and north as the fighting moved up and down the entire country, leaving 1.2 million people dead on both sides out of a total population of about 30 million (20 million in the south and 10 million in the north).
South Korea had a period of military governments, but moved on to become one of the world’s most secure and prosperous democracies. North Korea had a dictator whose successors built a disastrous regime as their country disintegrated around them. The final end of the Korean War will come when the north collapses and the two halves of a single country are reunited, to the great benefit of the whole Korean people and the world at large.