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Monday, March 14, 2005



To put this article in context:
1. The KPA, while smaller, was better organized, armed, and equipped than the Chinese Army. Logistically, it was the best Asian army of the period.
2. The Chinese civil war had only ended in October 1949. Whatever Mao told Kim, The CPA did not possess the means for taking their war across the straight of Taiwan, as long as the U.S. Navy could oppose them. (A highly likely event).
3. While a war in Korea which tied down the U.S. was thus in Mao's interest. It was not in their interest to enter the Korean War immediately. After all, the presence of U.S. troops at that time was only a presumption. There were no U.S. combat forces in Korea, and the Secretary of State had recently made statements that placed Korea outside of the U.S. area of interest. If the rapid attack plan worked (essentially the same strategy that they are presumed to have today), China would be the beneficiary without the loss of any troops. They could then reassess their prospects for taking Taiwan. Only if the NORKs botched the job would it be in China's interest to step in andsave Kim. But this would be for purposes of Chinese strategy and security, not Kim's. Thus any statements that the Chinese offered Kim troops from the outset that he refused must be judged carefully. If the offer was made, I doubt it was sincere.
4. Given the sheer numbers of recent Korean veterans of the CPA serving in the KPA, China stood to benefit in the post war period. These veterans would rise within the KPA hierarchy, giving China ideological allies within the KWP and KPA. Conversely, if the war turned into a total disaster, they would be well placed to step into any positions of leadership created as a result.
5. Kim Il-sung was hardly ignorant of the potential threat that the Chinese posed to his plans to lead North Korea. He already had serious competition from the true Korean communists (Pak Hyon-yong), but more numerous and potentially dangerous were the young reds who had returned from the Chinese civil war with serious combat experience and the bonds of a shared struggle. Some of them had been fighting the Japanese in Manchuria back when Kim Il-sung was safely in the Soviet Far-East, directing cross-border reconnaissance activities. These were far more dangerous than the "Soviet" Koreans, who in the last instance could always be branded "outsiders" and be shipped back to the Soviet Union. Thus, Kim Il-sung had more immediate reasons for favoring the Soviets and using them to counterbalance the Chinese than Korea's vassal status under the Choeson dynasty.

Note: Some of our Korean friends may need to reexamine their definition of "vassal" to mirror its meaning in the early medieval period. A vassal is not some stooge. El Cid Campeador was the ultimate example of a loyal, and largely independent, vassal. The vassal owed his lord a duty of loyalty, and military troops in time of war. While he would kneel (or "kowtow") to his lord, the relationship between them was not that of master and slave, but rather that of a higher and lesser lord.

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