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Digital Archive International History Declassified

May 22, 1980

THE ISSUE OF THE NORTH KOREAN INVASION OF THE SOUTH

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    Japan and China discuss the possibility of a North Korean invasion of South Korea.
    "The Issue of the North Korean Invasion of the South," May 22, 1980, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, South Korean Foreign Ministry Archive. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/121294
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The Issue of the North Korean Invasion of the South

On PRC Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Han Nianlong’s recent visit to Japan, while sharing opinions with the Japanese side on the analysis of the situation in the Korean peninsula during the first Japan-PRC Routine Discussion, he stated, “[we] deny North Korea’s invasion of the South, welcome dialogues between South and North Korea, and at the same time, support South and North Korea’s independent and peaceful unification.” Mr. Mao, a Chinese living in Japan, provided supplementary explanations on the statement as the following:

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1. Prime Minister Ōhira, who visited PRC last year, has also made a quite specific request regarding the issue of the Korean peninsula. To summarize, “[I] hope that North Korea refrain from invading the South.” However, it can be said that such views are too optimistic.

Like how Japan has been viewing that “sparks are flying up on the Korean peninsula” for a while, the October 26 Incident has occurred along the same lines, with the South-North Unification Talks merely along the same line as well. Such series of activities are only another opportunity for North Korea to invade the

South.

2. PRC has already informed the United States that it is unable to keep North Korea under control, and the United States has acknowledged this. The United States has not informed Japan on this but has made a very specific request to PRC. Simply put, the United States has its hands tied in the Middle East, and the U.S. forces in the Far East exist in name only. This also includes the reinforcement of the Japanese military (self-defense forces) from the rear in response to North Korean invasion of the South as well.

3. However, for North Korea to invade the South it needs food and fuel (oil), and especially, a war would be impossible without fuel.

PRC controls North Korea through the supply of fuel (oil). Recently, it went as far as to temporarily halt the supply of fuel to keep North Korea in check. However, as Deng Xiaoping has told Prime Minister Ōhira, “PRC will make effort prevent North Korea from invading the South as Japan wishes, but it is up to North Korea to decide whether to listen to PRC or not. Also, it is impossible for anyone to stop (conclusively) North Korea’s yearning for the country’s unification.” In addition, North Korea is increasingly leaning towards the Soviet Union.

4. Military cooperation between the North Korean puppet regime and USSR is increasing considerably: USSR is currently training North Korean officers in its country; arms supply and military-to-military meetings are intensifying. North Korea has great expectations for the Soviet Union’s reinforcement of arms in the Far East, and believes that [it can] sufficiently resist the U.S. military. This is the opinion of most of North Korea’s military personnel. Such behavior by the Soviet Union is the same as how it supplied arms to Vietnam and Afghanistan, trained combatants, and invaded from behind.

5. While promoting talks for South-North unification, North Korea currently is consistently expanding and organizing its arms. North Korea’s important factories and facilities have already been moved to underground; communication is enabled via the subway system; food and fuel (oil) needed for war are being hoarded; and recently, [North Korea is] making every effort to reduce oil consumption (although there’s also the discontinuation of supply from the PRC). However, isn’t it true, as Han Nianlong has said, that an invasion of the South at this point would be impossible? Although it is said that an invasion of the South can be denied, it must be interpreted that the circumstances of the invasion of the South that was accelerated by the October 26 Incident have returned to its original state; political situation is a complicated matter.