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The Dead End of Appeasement

May 31st, 2009 by Chuck · 4 Comments · Foreign Affairs

What Can the US Do to Ease Tensions With North Korea?

That was the headline I saw on Fox News today, while they were discussing the subject with some guest.  Of course, the question translates directly into this, more honest one: What can the US do to appease North Korea now, since all previous appeasements have failed?  It reminded me of a scene I had recently watched in a Korean historical drama, called Jumong.    The episode examined, and dramatized, the idea of appeasement.

The scene involves the deposed King of Puyo (a Korean kingdom), named Kumwa, lecturing his son, Taeso, who had forcibly taken over from him. Taeso has refrained from killing the King, evidently, because the people would revolt if he committed regicide. So he is ruling under the fiction that the King is incapacitated from a wound received in a recent war against the Han (China), in which Kumwa was attempting to recover lands taken from Korea by the Han in an earlier conflict.

Kumwa: I heard the Han demanded a hostage. Is that true?

Taeso: Yes.

Kumwa: You might be my representative, but shouldn’t you have told me earlier?

Taeso: I was going to, after giving it enough thought.

Kumwa: So, are you done thinking?

Taeso: Yes.

Kumwa: What will you do?

Taeso: I’m going to send a hostage.

Kumwa: Don’t you have any pride?

Taeso: Why wouldn’t I have any?

Kumwa: Yet you’re going to send a hostage and accept that we’re a tributary state?

Taeso: We can’t afford to talk about pride. The Han is just waiting for a chance to make us pay for the war. I had to marry a woman I don’t love just to put an end to it. If one hostage will save thousands of lives, why not? Your Majesty, pride won’t stop a war. I’ll reap the benefits of not starting one.

Kumwa: Give up one thing to avoid a war and the Han will demand something else. You’ll use Puyo’s peace as an excuse to back out again and again until you’re at a dead end. What will you give them then? Will you let them conquer us if they want to? Will you die for them if they ask you to? Can’t you see the reality hidden behind the so-called benefits?




This is indeed the fruits of appeasement. Bush did it too often, and for Obama, it is the only option he considers. How long before we reach the dead end?

4 Comments so far ↓

  • Myrhaf

    I bought the first box set of Jumong on amazon. I doubt I’ll be able to get anyone in my family to watch a series with subtitles. Ah, well — their loss.

  • Chuck

    Subtitles have never bothered me. Dubbing is much worse. Did someone else recommend Jumong to you? It’s not as good as Dae Jang Geum, but it is still an interesting story. The first few episodes reminded me of Braveheart. I’m up to about episode 60 now, out of 81 total.

    And if you don’t mind watching them on your computer screen, you can watch them for free – on DramaFever, along with many other Korean dramas, including Dae Jang Geum.

  • Myrhaf

    I’ll have to check out Dae Jang Geum.

  • Galileo Blogs

    Yes, to Dae Jang Geum. I also reviewed it on my blog. It is a great work of art.