Korean Libertarians Express Cautious Optimism Over Peace Talks

By: Tho Bishop

This weekend’s historic meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea offered hope for a peaceful resolution to a conflict that has gone on for over 60 years. Of course peaceful rhetoric and photo-ops can only go so far, and numerous commentators with experience in North Korea – including our Michael Malice – have expressed skepticism at the notion that a true diplomatic solution can ever be reached with Kim Jong-un.

I was curious to hear from Korean friends who not only grew up under the cloud of potential North Korean aggression, but are highly skeptical of their own government. How much faith did they place in recent developments?

William Park, an economics PhD student at the University of Missouri, Mises U alumnus, and Senior Advisor at Students for Liberty:

Personally, it was a good starting point to make a permanent peace in the Korean peninsula. I don’t know whether the dictator, Kim Jong-un would keep his promise, but at least, starting communication and interaction is good for each country. When the interaction is enlarged and North Korea opens their border and market, then mutual benefits will get rid of the possibility of war.

When I talked to some Korean libertarians about this issues, some people look positive about the treaty, but other people were very suspicious about the action between the dictator and Korean president, Moon Jae-in because the former liberal president, Kim Dae-jung used a meeting as a political tool. After the meeting with the former North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-il in 2000, he became very popular among Koreans and won the Nobel Peace Prize. However, he aided to the North Korean government, and it means that he used taxpayer money. Also, he failed to make North Korea open their borders. People think that it failed to make North Koreans know what capitalism is and freedom is, but just help the North Korean government survive by providing money and resources.

However, almost all libertarians (except fake libertarians) agree that the direction of foreign policy of South Korean government is a right way and hope that it would make a permanent peace. Plus, it’s just a beginning period, so we think we need to wait until the North Korean dictator do a credible action such as no provocation.

In other words, we think we need to wait to discern whether it is just a political action to increase popularity in both countries or a genuine treaty.

As another student noted, peace in Korea requires more than just a political agreement, it also requires trade between the 38 parrallel north. 

Allen Jeon, President of Students for Liberty Korea

This is very encouraging because they made “end of war” and “removal nuclear weapon” declaration. However, there are also concerns. In the past, the North Korean regime has destroyed the agreements and declarations eight times. So there is still a possibility that they can override the declaration at any time. But I don’t think it’s necessary to be overly pessimistic and necessary to be overly optimistic Because no one can predict the future…

What I personally wonder is what kind of transactions have been made between Trump and Kim Jong-un….We live in an unhappy world where we have to rely on the decisions of a few people.

…To maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula, the government must carry out its non-interventionist foreign policy And we must reduce the possibility of war through free trade and free market. Mises and Kant said free trade brings “peace” and reduces “the possibility of war.”

Another member of Students for Liberty Korea student is optimistic that a diplomatic agreement reduces the hope for a larger, unified Korean government, but hopes to see a peace agreement bring an end to South Korea’s mandated military service:

Seojun Lee:

I welcome peace treaty with North Korea. The peace treaty will remove opportunities for Korean Reunification. I don’t want our government reunify with North Korea and become bigger.

But I also think if conscription in South Korea stays, the peace treaty is meaningless.

Hopefully we will see the peace process continue on the Korean peninsula.

We’re also very excited for the growing Austro-libertarian movement in the South, with Korean translations being provided by the wonderful team at Mises Korea

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