Chairman of the Worker's Party of North Korea
His actual title does not include the qualifier, north. But it is unlikely Kim-Jong-Un will ever steal South Korea out from under his, technically, fellow Koreans beneath the 38th Parallel. The border between North and South Korea is reputedly one of the most heavily guarded. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers on both sides watch and wait. Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is not very far off. Only 30 miles or so away, its citizens detest Kim-Jong-Un and are not visibly shaken by his taunts. Still, they keep gas masks handy and maintain shelters. According to military experts, North Korea could not prevail upon South Korea by conventional means. That is, one cannot help but speculate, where the nuclear element comes in. It changes the odds. It does so, however, at an incalculably high risk, including the decimation of the aggressor's entire population. A nuclear attack -- for what? -- cannot be tolerated.
Our theologically-minded brethren tell us that not money but the love of money is the root of all evil. I would not argue, but which is it, after all, the former or the latter, that accounts for the current crisis? Granted, both North Korea and Iran, which keeps a low profile these days, are working on developing their own nuclear weapons. But North Korea began its nuclear program by purchasing Scuds from Egypt, according to Newsweek. Money talks. At the same time, North Korea, in the almost unanimous consensus of valued opinions, is willing to deliver a portion of its stockpile for a price. Russia already provides nuclear-related materiél to Iran. My question above is a trifle unfair in that we are dealing with nations, not persons. But it is the mind of Kim-Jong-Un that desperately requires accurate analysis, as well as the sick mind of whoever is in charge of Iran, whether President or Ayatollah. It freaks one out to even so much as contemplate the use of nuclear weapons by relatively small nations whose gripes are basically petty and provincial. Nevertheless, that is how it presently stands.
The DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. It used to be under the thumb of the USSR and was thus Communist. To date, the United States rarely fought Communism with relative ease. The Cold War took forever and seventy years of Communist autarchy ruined countless lives. Propaganda video, however, shows North Koreans ice-skating, jumping up and down at the sight of their beloved leader, munching on snacks, and putting on live shows, as well as making movies. Their screen excoriates America and defends the purer interests of North Korea. Documentaries mention in passing that the nation, going back thousands of years, has a Confucianist background. At the moment, it has made its best progress toward keeping the country population alive. The famine of the late 1990s, somehow called "The Arduous March" has not been forgotten. Statistics are unreliable, but it appears that at least 500,000, and as many as millions, died. Part of the problem, of course, is that whatever money the nation accumulates is spent mostly on the military as well as the showcase capital, Pyongyang.
One googled website calls Kim-Jong-Un a Divine Monarchist. Thus begins a word game with no end. True enough, he was not a brilliant student in Switzerland, and it is unproven as to whether or not he is an artillery expert. Certainly, he never earned four stars, and yet, he is a man without an equal. His father Kim-Jong-Il only began a rudimentary nuclear program. The son has taken it to new heights. We learned the hard way from Saddam Hussein that foreign armies are subject to re-evaluations. The Iraqi's million man army turned out to be kind of a pushover. Nonetheless, it was cruel and intimidating to Kuwait. But it fell quite easily to the assembled multi-national coalition that invaded. Thus, we know that Kim-Jong-Un has a strong and populous army, very well trained, but hamstrung by obsolete tanks and lack of experience. They have not been tested, to put it otherwise, like those short and medium range ballistic missiles.
No matter what, a nuclear weapon (in addition to biological and chemical weapons), is worrisome. Unfortunately, the geopolitics involved are hopelessly entangled. One thing seems to be emerging, and that is a bridge toward Radical Islam, starting with Iran. Iran is suspected of also acquiring nuclear weaponry via the black market. North Korea and Iran make strange bedfellows. But they share a common state of sustained belligerence toward America. If I had any advice, it would be to work if only off-the-record with Russia and China toward curbing the level of North Korea's hostilities. The map above shows just how relatively small the area of contention is. It gets even smaller since it basically rests on the shoulders of Kim-Jong-Un. My best guess is that he will eventually fade from view. But this does not take into account his simmering psychological disposition. He likes all things military. He is especially fond of nukes. If he does in fact fade from view, he will return at a later date.
Mandsu Grand Monument
The Hermit Kingdom
The nomenclature of North Korea indicates its isolationism from the global community. It could very well be that many North Koreans are among the happiest people alive today. There is, to be fair, talk of excessive executions, especially by watchdog agencies. But for the most part, permitted documentaries do not hint at a citizenship cowed into complacency. Mention is made of a fuzzy "Juche Ideology" which informs much of how North Koreans live and think. A scholar from Russia says that it is entirely incomprehensible and thus cannot be criticized. Defectors must cross into China, where they are routinely rounded up, if possible, and sent back. China supposedly likes having a buffer zone. To the indigenous population, Kim-Jong-Un is not a dictator but a father, greatly loved. In fact, over there, it is impossible to lavish enough praise upon him.
Again, my guess is that this leader is spitting into the wind. North Korea is relatively poor, though improving. It has 25 million people. Some are healthy; some are gravely ill. The only patient seen in the three or so documentaries I sampled did not look the least bit ailing. Apparently, the government furnished her private room with a large flatscreen. Some treatment. But one interviewee claimed there were no taxes, free houses, amusement parks, and nutritious food to spare. During the Day of the Sun, the birthday of Kim-Il-Sung, everyone buys flowers to show respect. Schoolchildren make pledges and receive in return red scarves. I am also guessing that a frequent negative scenario that plays itself out in the mind of Kim-Jong-Un is that his mythological kingdom is economically vulnerable. A recent news clip has him calling sanctions heinous. Even so, his smooth manipulation of the international press, together with over-dramatic tests of nuclear weapons, in broad daylight gives those concerned much to think about.
North Korea, Unwanted Dead or Alive
True enough, America would like to see a unified Korea. After all, it fought a bitter, unpopular war toward that end, never accomplished. But that which can be harvested from literary and online sources indicate North Korea has few if any predators. South Korea considers the north an undesirable expense if it were added to its regime. China prefers North Korea as a satellite, however small. Russia, to the north, has had strained relations in the past with South Korea. Interestingly, North Korea's War Museum explains how the DRPK defeated both Imperial Japan as well as Imperial America. There are a number of highly imaginative "what if" novels out that do not come close to North Korean history, as told from the horse's mouth. Nevertheless, its propaganda is perhaps more transparent and honest than many another nation, which is not to say, by any means, it is commendable.
On the other hand, these are tough times for fiery dictators and terrorists. Both are encountering forceful resistance. Our world has always preferred sleep to wakefulness. Their threats are real; there is no reason to believe that more innocents will not perish. But one can realistically envision a time during which neither dictators nor terrorists exist. According to a Moscow-based report, an office in Seoul is monitoring human rights violations inside North Korea's prison camps. Many allegations are afloat accusing Kim-Jong-Un of meting out extraordinary punishments for bizarre reasons, such as reading the bible, falling asleep at the wrong time, or not crying when it is deemed appropriate. As to what can be done about this is a brain twister. North Korea is closed shut. It is hard to get in, harder still to get out. The free world will continue, regardless. One cannot say the same for North Korea, not in its present incarnation. A hair-trigger action is likely to produce the same in terms of automatic response or greater. If Kim-Jong-Un is allowed to usher in a new age of advanced destructive weaponry, the world will have nobody to blame but itself.
A Defector Speaks Out
Carl Richardson on May 14, 2017:
Good comment. Somehow it all ties in.
Ashutosh Joshi from New Delhi, India on May 13, 2017:
When looking at a problem like this with rogue states pursuing their nuclear ambitions and the resulting threat perception, it seems we miss the key or the connecting link, which is Pakistan - the hub of radical Islam that supplied these nations as well as Libya with the nuclear blue print.
If one is to thoroughly analyze the two nations vis a vis the threat perception as well as nuclear nonproliferation, its a no brainer who would stand out. But then again that doesn't matter we should deal with Libya, Iran and DPRK.