I was pleased to see "A pragmatic overture to Pyongyang" (Editorials, Jan. 20). Another war on the Korean Peninsula--with conventional and nuclear weapons--would devastate both Koreas and greatly damage surrounding countries. The 12 million residents of the Seoul metropolitan area and 8 million other South Koreans live within the range of North Korea's artillery. North Korea maintains more than 13,000 artillery pieces and airplanes in underground tunnels along the Demilitarized Zone.
If South Korea were destroyed, the world would lose a dynamic and democratic country that its 47 million freedom-loving people have built with a great deal of U.S. support. South Korea has become a shining showcase of democracy and economic power to the people living in non-democratic countries around the globe. It therefore would be foolish not to seek peaceful resolutions of the North Korea crisis. To achieve that goal, it is imperative for the U.S. to actively engage China, Russia, and Japan. Prosperity and stability in the region will help North Korea gradually open its door to the international community. Eventually, the outcome of the U.S. engaging North Korea now would be democracy and a market economy in the region.
Byong Moon Kim
Today & Tomorrow Center
St. Paul, Minn.
Your "50-year face-off" timeline on Korean history ("The other Korean crisis," Asian Edition Cover Story, Jan. 20), states: "1950-1953: North Korea invades South. U.S. and China fight proxy war on Korean soil." Some 40,000 U.S. soldiers died during the Korean War, along with several thousand more allied troops; an estimated 400,000 Chinese troops were killed.
Describing that as a proxy war is plain wrong.
There must be a flaw, because this suggestion seems too simple: Why doesn't the U.S. buy North Korea's exports? Everything. Surely, we can outbid Yemen. If North Korea's foreign trade totals $2.3 billion, we could buy all of it for less than a rounding error in the cost of a possible war. We can use their missiles to test Star Wars, scrap the small arms, destroy the drugs and counterfeit currency, and still come out ahead. We might even be able to exert long-term influence to shift that output to useful, peaceful products.
Champaign, Ill. "The Welch legacy" reports that Gary C. Wendt--who was supposed to be the savior of Conseco Inc.--led it instead into bankruptcy ("The best (and worst) managers of the year," Cover Story, Jan. 13). Wendt obtained a $45 million "hiring premium" from Conseco, and after 2 1/2 years, abandoned it in dire shape while he departed with a bundle. For some CEOs, such as Wendt, "nothing succeeds like failure."