A view of two Koreas

Published: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at 04:54 PM.

The manner in which this past Saturday’s anniversary of the Korean War’s armistice was celebrated by the two sides — North Korea and South Korea — is but one indication of the challenges we face in ending this 60-year-old war.

We’ve been lulled into a belief the war is over when in fact the armistice signed on July 27, 1953, merely was a cessation of hostilities, a ceasefire and end of the killing we hoped would lead to peace.

Communist North Korea put together an elaborate celebration this past Saturday of its alleged (by only them) "win" in 1953 with a giant military parade, tens of thousands of flag-waving automatons and goose-stepping soldiers marching, tin-soldier like, in precise unison reminiscent of Nazi Germany, and a massive fireworks display.

Its democratic, and obviously more confident neighbor to the south settled for, according to the Washington Post, a reserved speech at a war memorial by South Korean President Park to memorialize the anniversary. Her speech, attended by only several thousand people, called for the end of hostilities between the two sides.

Humans fail too often to take a long view and settle instead for a near-sighted view of success, a view that is often wrong. Even if the Korean War had been a victory for the North, it sure was a short-lived one. In the 60 years since, South Korea has grown into one of the freest and economically vibrant democracies on earth. Its citizens enjoy one of the world’s best standards of living. Compare that success to North Korea, one of the poorest, saddest, most repressed nations in the world.

A nighttime satellite photo of the two Koreas shows the stark difference in standard of living. North Korea is clearly a failed, darkened pit compared to the bright beacon of its successful brother to the south.

The current border, oxymoronically called the "demilitarized zone" or DMZ, between the two sides is the most heavily defended border in the world. Seeing it and the North Korean troops defending it are to witness hate incarnate.

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