What North Korea Can Teach You About Divorce

Mar 12, 2013

In 1950, North Korea and South Korea got into a fight about their divorce.  North Korea’s divorce attorneys’ (their political leaders, generals and the Soviet Union) strategy for the divorce was to send 75,000 armed troops over the border to work out the divorce.


Feeling threatened, South Korea’s divorce attorneys (their own political leaders, generals and the United States) responded in kind.


After three years of fighting (and tens of thousands of deaths) that did not resolve the divorce, North Korea and South Korea figured out that their fighting had not gotten them anywhere and reached a settlement called an “armistice”.


Flash forward to now.  For 60 years, the divorced countries have been fighting a cold war.  There is a demilitarized zone (“DMZ”) lying between their borders that neither country occupies.  But, each country has built up a large force on their side of this zone and maintained it for 60 years. 


During those 60 years there have been countless insults, threats, missile tests, shots fired across the DMZ and crises in which all out war was contemplated.  It has been an uneasy peace.


So, you ask, what does this have to do with you? 


If you are looking at a divorce, one tactic available to you is the North Korea option:  Garner a massive force and launch an all out war on your spouse to try to resolve the disputes.  Like North Korea, you may find that after years of combat, you are no better off, but tired of fighting.  You may both win some battles, but nobody is winning the war. And, you may find that the best you can do after all of that fighting is to create a DMZ of your own; an area where you don’t actively fight, but you aren’t actively seeking peace.  Typically, your kids, friends and other important people live in this area. 


Further, it is fairly common for the North Korean option to lead to events like those of today, when one of you finally forgets what the war cost you, rejects your tenuous peace and picks another legal fight. 


After 60 years, North Korea is in the same position it was when it all started, and nothing has improved.  Their ex-spouse, South Korea, still occupies the vast majority of their energy, money and efforts.  They are still embroiled in the same arguments they had 60 years ago.  They have not actually resolved anything; they have just taken a break from the active fighting, while continuing to devote their time, energy and money to arguing with their ex-spouse. 


And, now, today, 60 years later, they are reinvigorating the fight that they got themselves into so long ago.


If you are considering a separation and divorce, give some long hard thought to whether you want to employ the North Korea option.  If you think that situation has worked out well for them, then by all means move forward.  But, if you see the futility in that strategy, and the destruction that got them nowhere, then give some thought to diplomacy in your divorce.  Look into Collaborative Divorce and mediation.

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