Within hours of Air Force One’s landing in South Korea, President Barack Obama --- sensing a photo op with the presidential election less than eight months away --- was peering through binoculars toward North Korea yesterday in his first visit to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) which has bisected the peninsula since the Korean War cease fire almost 59 years ago, notes Grumpy Editor.
Chances are North Koreans had binoculars trained on the president who wore an identification badge reading: Barack Obama, Commander in Chief.
Reuters said Obama “spent about 10 minutes on a viewing platform at the DMZ, talking with some of the soldiers on guard as the flags of the United States, South Korea and the United Nations flapped loudly in the brisk, cold wind.”
With print and broadcast media trailing his movements, the president visited the DMZ on the eve of a global summit on nuclear security hosted by South Korea.
“You guys are at freedom's frontier," Obama told about 50 troops crammed into a dining hall at a U.S. camp near the DMZ, one of the world's most heavily fortified frontiers.
The Korean War remains open ended with no peace treaty signed. Battles ended with a cease fire on July 27, 1953.
The Korean War, also labeled the “forgotten war,” erupted when 135,000 communist North Korean troops crossed the 38th parallel into South Korea in pre-dawn hours of June 25, 1950.
For the U.S., the war resulted in 36,940 military deaths, 103,000 wounded, 8,142 missing in action and 3,746 prisoners of war.
Prolonging the war were entries of communist Chinese soldiers battling U.S. troops on the ground and Russian pilots in Soviet-built jets fighting U.S. airmen.
Chinese troops killed or captured thousands of U.S. military personnel and managed many prisoner of war camps in North Korea.
Obama was threatening to cancel planned U.S. food aid to North Korea following its announcement that it plans to launch a long-range rocket next month.