(The National Interest) -- North Korea may be planning another missile launch. Otherwise unremarkable for little except its eccentricity and brutality, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea may soon acquire the capability to attack the United States with nuclear weapons. Washington should disengage and leave the North Korea problem where it belongs, with the DPRK’s neighbors.
American involvement in the Korean peninsula dates back more than a century, but Japan’s absorption of the small kingdom ended any official relationship. After Tokyo’s surrender in 1945 the United States and Soviet Union divided the former Japanese colony, leading to the creation of two competing states and ultimately war in 1950.
Only Washington’s intervention prevented the DPRK from conquering the Republic of Korea. For years the impoverished and authoritarian ROK was vulnerable to a renewed North Korean attack, especially if backed by Moscow and Beijing. So U.S. forces created a military tripwire.
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But that threatening world disappeared long ago. South Korea began its economic take-off in the 1960s, racing past the North. The 1972 U.S. opening to the People’s Republic of China reduced tensions between the two Koreas’ respective patrons. The collapse of Soviet communism and Maoist madness meant Pyongyang would fight alone in any future conflict. Today both Russia and China have far greater economic relations with the South than the North.