What Is North Korea Saying?
North Korea is an isolated country that is known for its reclusive attitude, but what is the country saying? Though the citizens of North Korea are not typically communicating with the media or engaging in public discourse, it is safe to assume that their thoughts and feelings are heavily monitored and controlled by the government. From this, it is intriguing to ascertain what North Korea is actually thinking and feeling, given their restrictive and highly monitored environment.
North Korea’s conversations can be seen through its national policies such as diplomacy, military activity, and military weapons. These actions, however, have to be understood with regards to their close relationship with the United States and its affiliated allies, and their internal struggle for independence and stability. These behaviors, both internationally and domestically, are manifestations of their hopes, struggles, and withdrawal from global conversations.
Internationally, North Korea’s diplomatic activities include promising to reduce the number of their nuclear warheads and destroy the Yongbyon nuclear facility in 2005. This prompted the United States government to sign an agreement called the Six-Party Talks back in 2007. In recent years, North Korea’s diplomatic strategy has shown a strong emphasis on building relationships with its Eastern neighbors, China, and Russia. This is seen in their joint military exercises with China and Vostok-2018 military drills with Russia.
Domestically, North Korea has showed signs of slowing down its austerity measures, which had imposed restrictions on its economy to support military initiatives. The presence of a new leader, Kim Jong-un, and recent initiatives to boost the economy have been seen as a widening of their internal conversations. This is in line with the new reforms, known as Byungjin, which combine economic developmment and nuclear power. North Korea is also seeking to reform its labor and agricultural policies alongside developing strategic projects such as the information satellite ‘Kwangmyongsong’ and the international green fund ‘Northeast Asia-wide Peace and Friendship Entity’.
The United States and its affiliates have been largely unwavering and firm in their response to North Korea in recent years, especially when it comes to the security of the country’s nuclear weapons. Despite the strong reactions from the US, North Korea has had a record of expressing persistent demands for peace and denuclearization discussions and for the US to abstain from its belligerent policies against the country.
In conclusion, it can be said that North Korea’s conversations, both domestically and internationally, are an indication of their hopes and struggles, a steadfastness in not wanting to be part of the international community, while also trying to engage in dialogues and discussions to ensure their survival.
North Korean Sanctions
The economic situation in North Korea has been a subject of great interest to the international community due to the extensive sanctions imposed on the country by the United States and its allies. These sanctions are largely in place due to concerns of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and oppressive totalitarianism, but also in response to its military activity. This was most notably seen in the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2094 of 2013, which placed strict restrictions on North Korean trade.
The sanctions, in many ways, have caused North Korea’s economic system to deteriorate. The limitations placed on financial assets and the import of petroleum products has created a shortage of resources, reducing economic production. The drastic reduction in imports of essential commodities and supplies to North Korea has also pushed up the price of essential items and created a significant difficulty in maintaining the level of necessary production.
In certain parts of the country, human rights abuses are permitted under the pretext of protecting national security. These sanctions have been particularly detrimental for North Korea’s disabled and vulnerable citizens who have been the most affected by this economic crisis. The sanctions have also caused negative impacts on North Korea’s foreign relations with its main trading partners, such as China.
The sanctions have provoked North Korea to direct its attention more towards its nuclear programs and away from bettering the condition of its population, as it seeks to prove itself as a formidable and powerful nation in front of the international community. This was most notably seen in 2019 when the country began testing missiles, a move which has been met with criticism by the UN Security Council and even South Korea itself.
The presence of sanctions has been instrumental in the discussions of the denuclearization of the country, as a means of potentially reducing the economic restrictions currently imposed on North Korea. As a result, many attempts have been made to bring North Korea to the negotiating table. This has been met with some success in the form of the United States-North Korea summit held in 2018, alongside other informal talks with South Korea and China.
United States-North Korea Relations
The relationship between the United States and North Korea has been a complex one in recent years. With North Korea’s nuclear capabilities growing, the US government has taken a strong stance on its policy of denuclearization and maximum pressure. This has caused a great deal of tension between the two countries, and has led to an increased number of military exercises and threats from North Korea.
Despite the increasing animosity between the two countries, the US has maintained its plans for denuclearization, and in turn its firm stance on North Korea. The US has been unwilling to compromise, as seen in its rejection of North Korea’s offer to ease the sanctions in 2018. This was also seen in the US’s refusal to offer economic assistance to North Korea in 2017, a move that further strained the relationship.
The US has also adopted a rhetoric of maximum pressure and increased its defense capabilities in the region. This includes frequent military drills with South Korea, deployment of anti-missile defense systems, and the stationing of military personnel in the region to prevent North Korean military activities.
At the same time, there has been an effort by the US government to create diplomatic channels between the two countries. This has been seen in the historic 2018 summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and the ongoing US-North Korea peace talks, leading up to the signing of a joint statement in 2019. The US, however, has maintained that the talks are conditional on North Korea showing real commitment to denuclearization.
As the US looks to further pursue diplomatic objectives, it has also maintained its stance underlying principles of respect for North Korea’s autonomy and security. Despite North Korea’s actions and rhetoric, the US remains committed to driving the diplomatic process and finding a peaceful resolution to the decades-long conflict.
South Korean Response
South Korea has routinely strived for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, particularly in its relations with its northern neighbor. This is seen in the various joint statements and statements of understanding issued between the two countries, such as the 2018 Pyongyang Joint Statement which saw South Korea urging North Korea to denuclearize.
South Korea has also maintained economic and cultural relations with North Korea, despite the economic sanctions imposed on the country. This includes initiatives such as the Gaeseong Industrial Complex, a South Korean funded industrial park in North Korea, and the renovation of the Gyeongui Line railway connecting the two countries.
In response to the US government’s policy of maximum pressure, South Korea has taken a more measured approach to the North Korean situation. This is seen in their efforts to seek diplomatic solutions, such as the numerous summits between their respective leaders, and the Panmunjom agreements of 2018 which sought to reduce military tension between the two countries.
South Korea has also put forth its own proposals for denuclearization, such as the Sunshine Policy of 1998 and 2018. This policy aimed to increase cooperation with North Korea and form partnerships among the two countries, a move which was largely seen as an opportunity to ease North Korea’s sense of insecurity and encourage it to open up its economy. The policy, however, was largely met with criticism from the US which viewed its insufficient emphasis on the denuclearization of North Korea.
South Korea has consistently strived to seek peaceful resolutions to the Korean peninsula problem, despite the lack of progress made towards actual denuclearization. The country has heavily invested in resolving the situation and has become a major international actor in the process of finding an acceptable resolution.
The North Korean situation has attracted wide attention from the international community, particularly from the United Nations. This was seen in its establishment of the six-party talks back in 2007, which was a multi-party forum aimed at finding a diplomatic solution to the North Korean issue. It also involved the participation of major powers such as the United States, South Korea, China, and Russia. These talks, however, failed to reach any concrete agreements or progress towards denuclearization in the Korean peninsula.
The United Nations has also conducted numerous studies of the human rights situation in North Korea and has issued various resolutions condemning their breach of international rights standards. This includes the United Nations’ Committee of Inquiry on the issue of the human rights violations in North Korea in 2014, which led to the passing of the UN Security Council Resolution 2270 in 2016. This imposed further economic sanctions and human rights related safeguards against North Korea.
It is also worth noting the role of China in the North Korean situation, as it is one of the few international actors that have kept open channels of diplomacy and economic aid with North Korea. China is one of the few countries to have maintained a dialogue with North Korea, and have repeatedly supported its efforts towards denuclearization.
The overall sentiment among the international community has been one of patience and effort for a peaceful resolution to the disputes in the Korean peninsula. This has been largely echoing by other countries, such as France and Japan, which have both issued statements condemning North Korea’s military aggression and emphasizing the importance of diplomatic talks and economic sanctions.
North Korean Media and Publicity
The media presence of North Korea is largely controlled by the government and is used to shape public perception of the state’s political and economic objectives. This is seen in its following of a pro-North Korean narrative and its use of the medium of propaganda to indoctrinate citizens and create a cohesive public identity. The presence of the media has, in recent years, seen an increased presence of foreign journalists, bloggers, and reporters in the country.
North Korean media focuses heavily on the glorification of the ruling party and its leadership, with a great emphasis placed on proclaiming the authority of the ruling Kim family. It often presents North Korea as a powerful and prosperous country and its citizens as fully supportive of the ruling government and its policies.
The North Korean government has also employed the use of censorship to suppress any forms of dissent or criticism towards the government.Government-controlled media is heavily monitored and censored, and any forms of foreign media or material critical of the state is strictly banned within the country. This creates a heavily policed environment and discourages any forms of public discourse or dissent.
Despite the attempts of the North Korean government to control media, it is clear that various outlets, both virtual and physical, exist in the country. These outlets, however, remain heavily censored and constrained by the government. This makes it difficult to understand the conversations, thoughts, and feelings of the North Korean public, as the media remains a highly regulated, and often dissenting, space in the country.