North Korean Flag

The North Korean Threat

Whether it is insults directed at US president, Donald Trump, or their increasing aggression and the possible threat of nuclear warfare, most people recognise that North Korea is not the idyllic paradise that its official documentation suggests. The country has the highest number of military and paramilitary personnel in the world, is actively testing nuclear weaponry, and with tensions riding, many have referred to the current situation as being the prelude to the apocalypse. North Korea considers itself to be an independent socialist state that operates under the ‘Juche’ ideology. It is reported that the country has the worst human rights records in the world, with stories from refugees often including abuse, rape, torture, and the continued existence of famine and extreme poverty. The country also had many difficulties with food production, with the majority of the people reportedly suffering from malnutrition and water-borne diseases. There have even been reports from drones and refugees that suggest that the country currently has an estimated 16 concentration camps, or high-security prison camps, akin to Nazi Germany. Aimed at ensuring conformity to the rules, these concentration camps are reserved for those who are considered to have defected from the North Korean philosophy, and prisoners are reported to be held in brutal conditions and executed for petty crimes.

It is a country that has been founded on a cult of personality, with Kim II-Sung being considered as their eternal leader; although his heirs have since taken the reign. While they believe themselves to be a democratic country, in that elections are held every five years. There is only one option on the ballot paper; with some suggesting their skewed version of democracy is indicative of Stalinism. Strict media censorship means that there are just three TV channels, two of which are only available on the weekends, and the overall majority of films and TV available for citizens is built on propaganda. With the central aim being to promote this cult of personality that has allowed the Kim’s to retain their positions of power. This was apparent when recent reports stated that a 14-year-old girl had drowned in a river in her attempts to save a picture of their leader. North Korean- US relations are particularly turbulent as a result of the Korean War. Between 1910 and 1945, Korea was under the rule of Imperial Japan and it was not until the Soviet Union declared war on Japan in 1945 that Korea was liberated from their rule. Three years later, the country split into two regions, the North and the South, but this was only supposed to be a temporary affair, with both governments believing that they had retained the right to rule over the entire land mass. North Korea invaded South Korea on 25th June 1950, and to stem the fighting, 21 counties eventually contributed to the UN and NATO force; allying themselves with the South. 88% of this military personnel were from the USA. In the following years, there were a number of incidents that created tension between the two countries, with the threat of nuclear weaponry and chemical warfare being ever present. This is in spite of both counties ratifying the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, in which it states that non-nuclear states should not seek to acquire nuclear weapons and promote disarmament worldwide. In 2008, as a result of the Six-Party Talks, North Korea agreed to all US nuclear inspection demands. With results in 2004 reporting that the country had between 2500-5000 tons of chemical weapons, including nerve, blister, and blood and vomiting agents. It was also stated that North Korea had the ability and technology to cultivate and produce chemical warfare, including anthrax, smallpox and cholera.

The symbol of the regime in North Korea

Throughout the 20th Century, and into the 21st, the relationship between North Korea and the US has been tumultuous. In recent months, the current president of the USA and Kim Jong Un have been exchanging insults online. US President Donald Trump called the North Korean leader ‘rocket man’ and promised that the country ‘will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen’. In response, Kim Jong Un delivered an unprecedented personal statement, considered to be the first direct address to the world by a North Korean president, In which he said that Trump was ‘mentally deranged’ and a ‘dotard’. The latter left most people scrambling to their dictionaries, with the Oxford Dictionary defining the term as being an old person, who is usually weak or senile. While these insults may be more indicative of two schoolboys in the playground, such words were exchanged by two of the most influential men in the world. This bickering between two immature boys, who really should have better priorities, has been ridiculed around the world. Kim Jong Un’s continued testing of nuclear weaponry has left most people concerned that this is, in fact, the prelude to mass destruction, and yet Trump’s continued response is childish retaliation. While Trump said that North Korea’s nuclear weaponry poses a ‘grave threat to the peace and security of our world’, it is suggested here that both of them, and their silly arguments, could result in the greatest threat ever to the safety and security of all global citizens.