With the latest – and perhaps, most serious in the increasingly strained relations between the U.S. and North Korea – missile test conducted by the volatile Kim Jong Un, tensions in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are higher than ever.
For decades, the mercurial situation in North Korea has frustrated the United States, who remain resolved to end North Korean nuclear capability. Many are still divided on whether to attack North Korea outright or to take a more passive, diplomatic approach to this world-threatening issue.
For North Korea, nuclear weapons are a way of ensuring its survival, a way of protecting itself from the “American threat,” thus intimidating the U.S. into backing away from the country.
For Kim Jong Un, nuclear weapons serve yet another purpose: by assuring his own country’s survival and intimidating other countries through nuclear might, Kim can at the same time maintain the status quo, thus securing his status as a deity-like figure in the eyes of the North Korean people.
However, this understanding of North Korea’s goals does lead to another question: why does North Korea, after all, view America as a threat? One possible answer: the Korean War. Ever since the devastation that occurred during the “forgotten war,” North Korea has always viewed America as a threat, blaming it for all of its problems. The North Korean people have never forgotten what happened during the Korean War, and the government uses that as a tool to unify its people against a common threat. It uses this logic to justify its attaining of nuclear weapons, claiming that it is to protect themselves from the United States, which, as an enemy, would naturally want to launch an attack on them. The blustery actions of the Trump administration only serve to fuel this fear.
So, then, seeing this reasoning behind North Korea’s wanting to attain nuclear capability, what would be the first step to solving the issue?
The first step to finding a solution would be to respond to North Korean fears about America – formally announcing that the U.S. will not attack North Korea unless provoked, as well as sending aid to the starving citizens of North Korea as a show of sincerity. This could be a crucial first step in negotiating at least a temporary halt to North Korea’s nuclear program, a process that would take much diplomatic energy from both sides.
By simply taking these initial steps and for once actually attempting to understand the volatile situation in North Korea, the U.S. can help set in motion actions that will help to end the threat of North Korean nuclear capability. Perhaps by doing this, the United States can end the tensions that surround North Korea and its relationship with the world.