What makes dealing with North Korea so difficult?


Carter Fournier, Staff Writer

In recent weeks tensions between North Korea and the United States has escalated as North Korea continues to test its nuclear capabilities against the wishes of the United Nations. Tensions between the USA and North Korea are nothing new. We have had a shaky relationship with the Country since the Korean war of the early 1950s when the North tried to invade the US backed South Korea to unify the Korean peninsula.

The United States got involved in the war fearing communist aggression in the region. Both sides fought for over 3 years in some of the worst fighting in history. By the end both sides were basically where they started at the 38th parallel (The border between North and South Korea.) The North and South signed a armistice agreement in 1953 but no peace treaty was ever signed.  Technically both countries are still at war over half of a century later.

Although aggression is nothing new we are in uncharted territory as North Korea has ballistic missiles and may even have a nuclear bomb small enough to fit inside those missiles. Theoretically those missiles could reach the US mainland or especially other allies in the pacific like South Korea and Japan.  So what are the our options. One option is to try and work with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and make some sort of a deal with him.

CIHS Social Studies Teacher Mr Miller has this to say- “I think we should continue using all diplomatic and economic means as possible to stop the growth of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities. China will certainly need to become more involved. We should also increase intelligence assets to identify target sites should it become necessary to strike their missile storage and production facilities. Our allies in the region, specifically South Korea and Japan should also prepare to deal with North Korea as well. They are at far more risk than we currently are, so they should be willing to bear most of responsibility for reducing or eliminating North Korea’s nuclear capabilities.”

Sadly, some people also familiar with the matter believe that may be unlikely because he has seen other dictators around the world try to work with the US only to be assassinated later either by the US or overthrown by their own people. Dictators don’t really retire and many of them die in brutal fashion. He believes that working with the United States could spell the end for him and his regime so he’s acting tough. Building nuclear weapons is one way to make things more complicated therefore the US would be less likely to try to intervene and take over North Korea because of what he could do to our allies in the pacific like South Korea and Japan.

When asked whether the US should at least try make a deal or agreement with North Korea CIHS Social Studies Teacher Mr Lowman had this to say-”If this results in a more stable Pacific region why not!  A stable Pacific region results in a safer world in my opinion.”

North Korea, even without the nukes, is a big danger to its neighbor South Korea. On the North Korean side of the 38th parallel there are large numbers of deadly artillery  aimed at the capital of South Korea (Seoul) which is a mega city of nearly 10 million people and a metropolitan area of 25 million people that live close to the North Korean border. Any provocation could prove to be a disaster for South Korea possibly costing the lives of thousands of people. Also, that artillery is so well hidden behind heavy blast doors that it would be nearly impossible and take them all out with missile strikes. Evacuating Seoul could prove extremely difficult and deadly for the people there.

CIHS Social Studies Teacher Mr Galligan has this to say- “This cycle; North Korea behaving aggressively-the U.S. and the world responding with a rebuke followed by diplomatic work-then North Korea backing down; has been going on for many years.  However, this time there are two obvious differences:  North Korean weapons development has unfortunately been more successful, and President Trump’s use of a much more aggressive communication style than recent previous Presidents.  These two factors make North Korea’s future actions less predictable than they usually have been. We need to Utilize all diplomatic means available to convince North Korea not to use them and China needs to wholeheartedly join other countries in their diplomatic attempts at keeping North Korea from behaving irrationally.” 

Many people here in the United States believes China should make a bigger attempt to control North Korea because China is the county’s largest trading partner. Here is what Mr Lowman believes“They definitely need to share in this burden of controlling their isolated neighbor.” Mr Miller also had this to say-”China has been the most important trade partner for North Korea and will likely have the most leverage. As the Chinese become more powerful they will need to take more responsibility in their region of the world. Unfortunately, this also means the United States will lose leverage in the region.”

It is true that in many ways China is a big reason the North Korean government has been able to sustain itself, but why? As it turns out they don’t want the DPRK to fall apart because it will create chaos and cause an influx of refugees and immigrants on China’s border. So China supports and props up the North Korean government against the wishes of other countries but it would be against Bejing’s interests to stop or even restrict trade with the DPRK. The issue of what to do with North Korea is very complicated and touchy because a mistake can can kill millions. As this issue continues to be debated it is important to be informed on this issue as well as others. The North Korea situation will continue to be fallowed closely.