Separated at Birth: How North Korea Became the Evil Twin
By Gordon Cucullu
Lyons, 2004, 320 pp.
The Korean Conundrum: America's Troubled Relations With North and South Korea
By Ted Galen and Doug Bandow
Palgrave Macmillan, 2004, 224 pp.
Separated at Birth is a smooth account of how the two Koreas, with their common culture and strong national identities, evolved into such totally different countries. Cucullu, who has spent his career working on Korean matters in the U.S. military, government, and industry, skillfully weaves his personal experiences with Korea-beginning when his father, an Air Force officer, fought in the Korean War, and continuing with his own military career, which gave him access to high-level intelligence on North Korea-into a recounting of Korean events. Cucullu's portrayal of the North revolves around the Kim dynasty, with both father and son coming across as cruel and heartless tyrants but also clever negotiators who often outwitted their U.S. counterparts. He is not overly troubled by the younger Kim's threats to go nuclear and sees China as having a key role to play in maintaining peace in Northeast Asia.
Carpenter and Bandow of the Cato Institute have written a provocative and up-to-the-minute analysis of what Washington should do about a potentially nuclear North Korea and an increasingly anti-American South Korea that has become unrealistic about the North. Their conclusion is that the time has come for Northeast Asians to manage their own affairs-for the United States to withdraw its troops from both South Korea and Japan and to notify both governments that the "mutual" defense treaties will be terminated. South Korea, in their view, is fully capable of handling the North, and it is past time for Japan to take the lead in maintaining peace in Asia. Although Asian specialists will surely denounce Carpenter and Bandow as "isolationists," they have set the stage for a spirited debate even if it is unlikely that their proposals will become policy.