North Korea's communist government wants an even bigger communist territory. Dictators want a bigger number of people to enslave. This is one big malady of communism and BIG governments.
South Korea's democratic government does not need additional territory to conquer. Hundreds of big S. Korean corporations -- producing telecomms and electronics/appliances to cars, ships and consumer products -- are successful in putting up branches and offices in many countries around the world. The S. Korean people are free to travel and migrate to many countries around the world.
The N. Korean people and state-owned corporations do not have that privilege. The N. Korean government's concept of any expansion is only via military occupation of the south, ultimately.
How short are the N. Koreans? This picture of a N. Korean spy beside an American (left) and S. Korean (right) soldiers provide somehow an answer. When people are starving or are not eating enough, they tend to become shorter, smaller, if not become outright malnourished.
Meanwhile, what could be the solution to the N-S. Korean conflict? Not a war, as much as possible. They went to war in 1950-53 already, and both sides lost. A serious war, should it happen between the two, will however, result in a lopsided loss to the North given the level of economic and technological advancement of the South. But still, a war is a war and millions of Koreans on both sides will die, a prospect that is not acceptable and tolerable.
I am not familiar about the politics and the various international diplomacy options in the Korean peninsula. Nonetheless, I still hope that a serious war will be averted. I'd like to see a "Fall of the Berlin Wall" type of democratization in N. Korea.
Update: November 24, 2010
The exchange of artillery fire between North and South Korean army seemed to have eased, but the tension remains. The South's fighter planes did not fly yesterday but they were ready to fly and pound Northern targets. See the NYT report here. It should be safe to assume that the North's fighter jets were also ready to fly and attack then. It is good that no further escalation of the conflict happened, and it should not happen as much as possible.
Before the shooting yesterday, the major clash between the two Koreas was the sinking of a S. Korean warship Cheonan last March. The North denied that it was them who torpedoed and sank the ship, resulting in the death of all sailors in the ship, but there was no other possible reason to explain the sinking.
Prior to the shooting yesterday, the North was warming up to the South, especially after a huge flooding that affected the North in early September this year. The North asked for food and other supplies. It also initiated some moves that tended to divert the public's attention away from the sinking of the S. Korean ship. And suddenly, the shooting started between the two sides.
One of our friends in the free market movement in the world is the Center for Free Enterprise (CFE, http://eng.cfe.org) based in Seoul, S.Korea. Its President, Dr. Chung-ho Kim, is a good friend of mine since 2005.
Our picture here during the Atlas round table discussion on Friedrich Hayek's book, "The Constitution of Liberty", held in Phuket, Thailand, September 2005. From left: Dr. Hiroshi of the Institute for Free Economy, Japan; me, Chung-ho, and Mr. You of the Japanese for Tax Reforms.
Last November 9-10, 2009, Chung-ho and I were among the Asian free market delegates to the Atlas Freedom Dinner and conference held in Mayflower Rennaisance Hotel, Washington DC. The event was the commemoration of the 20th year of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of communism in Europe.
Chung-ho was one of two freedom fighters who gave the "Toast to Freedom" that night witnessed by more than 300 people. Chung-ho said something like this.
In Berlin, they had the wall that separated West and East Germany then. When former US President Ronald Reagan went to Europe in the late 90s, he told Mr. Gorbachev of Russia, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down the wall."
In Korea, it's not a wall, it's a fence, that separates North and South Korea. As President of the Center for Free Enterprise in S. Korea, I urge Mr. Kim Jong Il of North Korea, "Mr. Kim, tear down the fence. Let your people enjoy freedom and democracy. Let the people of the two Koreas be reunited."
Chung-ho received a long standing ovation for his short but emphatic statement.
With the recent development in the Korean Peninsula, it seems far out that a peaceful reunification of the two Koreas, similar to the reunification of the two Germanys after the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, would happen soon. Such belligerence destroys whatever confidence building that were started in the past.
You don't build confidence by sinking a war ship for no reason at all and making not a single apology after that. You don't build confidence and trust by firing artilleries. You don't build confidence by bragging that you have plenty of centrifuges for your nuclear arms build up.
Communism and statism sucks. This should be a constant and painful reminder to people who harbor that socialism or communism is the way to "humanize the world."