Scorched Earth, Black Snow: The First Year of the Korean War

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Fourthly, through official documents, such as unit reports and war diaries, which are now declassified, and which live in the National Archive at Kew in London. Lastly, I mined the existing literature and cherry-picked data from that — with attribution, of course! Was your book written to help people understand the role of the UN in the conflict?

Primarily, it was written because I thought it was in incredible story that has been under told. That is not just a catchy title: it is appropriate to the subject and is backed up by historical content. The book contains first-hand, up-close-and-personal accounts of commando raids, close-range combat, air attacks and Biblical-level destruction. It includes accounts of previously unknown atrocities by both sides and details the horrific suffering of the Korean population in the savage war during the winter of , when some , refugees attempted to escape from the frozen, burnt-out wasteland of North Korea.

It certainly includes some inspirational accounts of heroism and comradeship - but on the whole, it is not a pretty picture. What is it like to be shot or bayonetted?

What does it feel like to do the same to another human being? What happens when napalm is dropped on your position? Why do men commit atrocities? These are things I wanted to know. But why? He is shipwrecked and destitute, the only survivor of the shiploads of men he led into the carnage at Troy. The Phaecians take him in, clothe him and feed him. At a banquet, as he eats and drinks, he recovers. Then a bard is bought in to sing of the battles at Troy. As he sings, the Phaecians are transfixed, but Odysseus breaks down and weeps: He personally experienced the horrors that the bard is singing about.

Homer is the foundation stone of Western culture, and this scene illustrates a fundamental contradiction in the human condition: We may hate to experience war and horror first hand, but we love to hear or read about it - hence the many genres of thriller, war, crime and horror in popular literature and film. So to answer your question: We all need to know this information as a warning from the past that will advise us for the future. Moreover, as humans, we may hate to experience war and suffering, but it makes great stories.

Scorched Earth, Black Snow

This is tragedy. The nation boasts veins of coal, iron ore, limestone, magnesite, graphite, copper, zinc, lead and precious metals. Finally, there is strong evidence that a secret directorate channeling money to Kim Jong Il earns hard currency through sales of military goods, contraband tobacco and narcotics. Money is needed for Kim to buy the allegiance of the elite, and these are the sectors U.

Low-end cross-border trade with China has expanded since the late s. Black markets and farmers' markets have always been permitted in limited forms, but since the s have expanded as the state-run distribution sector faltered. Few consider this real reform, however; most analysts see official tolerance of markets as being less about reform, more about acceptance of essential economic survival mechanisms.

Our Time in Hell: The Korean War

Central authorities periodically crack down upon market activity to reassert the primacy of central distribution, but such efforts have been increasingly ineffectual in recent years, indicating a weakening of central control. A currency re-evaluation at the end of was reversed after reported unrest: The move wiped out the savings of a nascent entrepreneurial class and led to hoarding of goods and produce.

If not members of the elite or the privileged military, poorly. With the state industrial sector largely idle, many citizens reportedly rely on state asset stripping, hoarding, trading and personal farm plots to survive. Amid economically booming Northeast Asia, North Korea is, literally, a black hole: At night, due to power failures, the lights go out.

Scorched Earth, Black Snow by Andrew Salmon | Waterstones

Primarily China, though there is limited investment from Southeast Asia and Europe. With Beijing maintaining strong political ties with Pyongyang -- which it sees as a buffer on its northeast border -- and investing heavily in the dilapidated state's natural resources, some South Koreans worry that North Korea is becoming an economic colony of Beijing.

Many nations -- including most of Western Europe -- have diplomatic representation in Pyongyang, though key players Japan, South Korea and the US do not. One demonstration of the effectiveness of the personality cult is the surprising number of defectors who are loath to speak ill of Kim Jong Il himself, blaming the country's problems instead on those around him. In the 57 years since the end of the Korean War, fewer then 20, defectors have fled to South Korea. The country keeps the doors of its labor and "re-education" camps firmly closed, but from the testimony of defectors who escape, it is clear that due process is largely absent, internees' family members suffer incarceration alongside internees, and near starvation diets and brutal treatment at the hands of guards are commonplace.

Public executions have been filmed, and some who have fled the country have made allegations of torture, forced abortions and even the testing of chemical or biological weapons on prisoners. The country's military suffers from outdated equipment and fuel shortages but possesses significant asymmetric capabilities -- notably massive special force units, biological and chemical weapons and heavy artillery dug into bunkers and ranged on Seoul. The country possesses both atomic materials and long-range missiles, although it is believed to have neither a nuclear warhead nor a missile with the range to reach the continental United States -- yet.

While many analysts say North Korea would never launch another war, which would spell the end of its regime, some fear that a pressured Pyongyang might lash out as a last resort. Another worrying scenario is of internal chaos, collapse or civil war, with factions competing for possession of fissile materials.

Why border hot-spot is Korean War relic

With the country threatening both South Korea and Japan, any military action could have catastrophic effects on global capital markets. He is the third son of Kim Jong Il and the man who, analysts in the South believe, is going to be named his father's successor, though there has been no official confirmation from the North. Being a scion of the most secretive family in the world's most secretive state, virtually nothing concrete is known of him.

He is believed to have studied in Switzerland, and to share many of his father's personal characteristics. His older half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, was expected to take power but today resides in Macau, where he is believed to operate businesses; he has told Japanese reporters that he has no interest in taking power. The middle brother is Kim Jong-chul, but according to the memoirs of one former regime insider, he is regarded as "un-manly" and not a potential successor.


He has accompanied Kim to Beijing, and many analysts expect him to guide the widely anticipated succession of Kim Jong Un. Jang's wife -- Kim's younger sister, Kim Kyong-hui -- has also been photographed widely with Kim on visits to military bases and factories, a strong sign of official favor.

There are no such signs, though -- unusually -- reports of public unrest following last year's botched currency revaluation have leaked out. Whether or not the populace would support a third Kim seems irrelevant, as the nation is still so tightly controlled that revolution appears unlikely. But would Kim Jong Un wield real power -- as his father and grandfather did -- or would he be the puppet of powerful figures in the party or the military?

This is unknown. Share this on:. Most Popular.

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