A Dilemma to Discern
North Korea is a nation that has grown more and more isolated, authoritarian and hostile in recent decades. It is a country mired in poverty with its citizens suffering from food shortages and a declining economy. It is also a nation with a pocket of nuclear weapons and an advancing missile technology. For these reasons, the international community finds itself consistently at odds with the rogue nation.
The current controversy regarding North Korea is whether there will be an imminent war. A war between the two nuclear-armed nations would likely result in terrible destruction and casualty numbers, potentially being on the level of a world-war. This fear is the cause of much hesitation and uncertainity, as the cost of war is heavily weighing on the minds of many.
In regards to whether such a conflict will occur, the experts remain divided. Many note North Korea’s consistent aggressiveness and menacing attitude towards its neighbors as a strong reason to belive hostilities will emerge. However, former diplomats, foreign ministers and military leaders also operate with optimism. They suggest that North Korea is continuing to diplomatade and that the chances of war are minimal.
Recently, the United Nations had spoken out against North Korea’s missile testing, with Security Council announcing further sanctions. This is a step in the right direction to restain North Korea from the further usage of their weapons. They also revoked the sanctions imposed by Pyongyang after it had carried out nuclear tests.
Military leaders of the US, such as General Douglas McArthur, suggest that any potential conflict has the potential to be highly unpredictable due to the lack of reliable information we have in regards to North Korea’s means of defence or the intentions of the current Supreme Leader, Ki-Jong Un.
Meanwhile, Russia has had a long relationship with North Korea, ultimately striving towards establishing peace between the two nations. In an aide-memoir from the representative of Russia, the nation had assured that “the dialogue between us andthe North Korean regime is kept open, solely with the intent of preventing any future military actions by either of the parties involved”.
In addition, the US government has used its power to try and diplomatically resolve the problem, with President Trump having claims of “The United States is worked very hard with China and with other countries on the North Korea issue”.
Domestic Issues in Perspective
Apart from their idiosyncratic foreign affairs, North Korea faces critical domestic issues. In 2017, North Koreans experienced famines and had to cope with critical income of only $2,000-3,000 per capita in a year, one of the lowest in East Asia. The financial recession, caused by the already-established sanctions, is contributed heavily to North Korea’s financial burden. This leaves North Korea vulnerable to a high rate of poverty and their citizens in a desperate need of humanitarian aids.
The living condition is even further damaged due the production of materials such as arms and military vehicle. Materials needed to produce basic necessities are traded in favor or military supplies, amidst the looing international pressure. This leaves the dwindling resources to the military, which utterly deteriorates the standard of living among North Korean citizens.
The issue at hand has also attracted criticisms from human rights organizations who spoke out against the oppressive regime. Amnesty International accused the country to violating human rights, with their citizens subjected to “sustained and severe repression” and regular public executions. The citizens are also barred from using the internet and having access to foreign broadcasts, essentially caging their mind and spirit.
Amid the situation is hope, however faint. The international pressure mounts, which can potentially lead to either swift resolution or a potential revolution. In recent years, states such as Syria had experienced rapid changes, which North Korean activists hope they can imitate.
A South Korean Solidarity Group is also pushing for a protest amongst North Korean citizens, who they urge to stand up against the regime. The group has also recruited a number of people, who had defected from North Korea, to further the cause. Ultimately, the group aims to overthrow the Kim regime and the idea of establishing a democracy to bring peace to the region.
The financial crisis and the mistrust of the regime had led many citizens to turn against their government and inspired them to join the movement for a better future. In an effort to contain these protests and to weed out any potential rebellions, the North Korean authority had heavily regulated gatherings, with reports of citizens who were suspected of joining the movement to be persecuted and sent to prison camps.
Although a number of overseas companies are barred from investing in North Korea, a select few are able to seize the plethora of investment opportunities available. The most lucrative of these investments come from novel technologies and government contracts, with a number of large corporations being able to exploit the lucrative trades of North Korea.
The potential returns would be high, while the risk is often minimal due to the North Korean’s oppressive and corrupted regime. This sparks immense interest in investors, with many companies striving to take advantage any potential openings the country may have.
Superpower countries such as the United States, China and Russia are already competing to be the first to secure commercial opportunities in North Korea. The Chinese have already made their presence clear, with reports of China’s investment funds have been used to fund a number of North Korean businesses over the past two decades.
North Korea had recently severed economic ties with China due to their dissatisfaction of the Chinese delegations’ decisions. This has ultimately limited the access to resources for North Korea, leading the nation to turn towards foreign aids for survival.
South Korea has been especially generous in their aid, with food and medicine being sent to North Korea to help in their internal struggles. Their initiatives were not reciprocated by the North however, as their governments continue to carry animosity and hostility.
Meanwhile, international nations are fighting to help solve North Korea’s ailing situation and are pushing to improve both the economical as well as humanitarian issues in the region.
The United Nations Development Programme has put in millions of dollars in an effort to providing food aid, which is being directly sent to the citizens. In line with these actions are reports of hospitals being equipped with much-needed medical supplies and cosmetic aesthetic changes in the regions.
In Terms of War
The other major issue with regards to North Korea is the potential for war. A growing number of military Analysts believe that it is possible we will witness heightened tension between the two nations, with North Korea making frequent attempts to test the international waters.
Recent claims have been made denouncing any potential involvement in South East Asia, although their true intentions remain unknown. This is further backed by North Korea’s lack of military action in response to the United Nations sanctions, as the country is still dragging its feet on the matter.
On the other side, military forces of foreign nations are already preparing for the worst. The US has already deployed submarines to the Korean Peninsula, while Japan has began patrolling the areas surrounding the Korean Peninsula.
The international community agrees that the situation is a volatile one, with a single miscalculated action from either side setting off a conflict the nations are not able to withstand.
Deterrents and Actions
Most nations remain adamant about keeping their interactions with North Korea solely for diplomatic intentions and no other. This is demonstrated by the recent expelling of the North Korean diplomat from the United Nations.
These deterrents are seen as necessary to prevent any military actions from defecting international peace, as sanctions and embargoes act as a way to restrict the access of North Korea to military supplies and weaponries.
The success of such sanctions depend heavily on the cooperation of the international community, of which some nations are already providing. Reports have been around of neighbouring countries searching their trade ships, while China and Russia are putting further pressure on North Korean by limiting any support they offer.
The international community is also working together to contain any war-mongering intentions of North Korea and enforcing a peaceful resolution.
China is one of the major forces that is working to contain the threat of North Korea and is pushing for collaborative work between all agencies and countries to end the standoff.
The United Nations Security Council is also taking note of this towards this international Cold War by continuously monitoring the situation and working with international nations to provide solutions .
In a statement from the UN, the leader of the Security Council, Elbana Zvan said, “We must remember that this is an issue about international safety and peace, and as such, our solutions must reflect the interest of the entire international community”.
Although the question of whether war will break out remains unanswered, it is undeniable that the ongoing standoffs between the two states have spurred much fear amongst the international community.
Regardless of North Korea’s motivations, the international nations should strive to achieve peace and will be an uphill battle to find a resolution that is mutually beneficial. Ultimately, the responsibility of the country’s safety falls on the governments and international agencies of the world, as they endevour to find a way out of this stalemate.