May 28, 2023

Rival Reputations: North Korean attacks on the U.S. military

Jackson's book points to a time when the U.S. dealt with the DPRK very differently

By the time of the Yeonpyeong Island bombardment in late 2010, there was a sense – at least among the foreign visitors who’d been there less than 20 years – that we had reached unprecedented territory and no one know what would come next. Coming after the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun years, in which the two Koreas held summits and figures on both sides of the DMZ suggested the U.S. was the obstacle to unification, the violence appeared particularly stark, and the deaths of 50 South Koreans signaled the potential for the loss of much more.

Those well-versed in the history of the peninsula’s post-war period know, however, that things have been much worse: North Korea’s 1987 bombing of Korean Air Flight 858, killing all on board; the Rangoon bombing in 1983 that wiped out much of the Chun Doo-hwan cabinet, and multiple plots to assassinate Park Chung-hee in the 1960s and ‘70s. And that’s just North Korean violence against South Koreans.