Tensions rise between US and North Korea

November 20, 2012 4:39 pm

Tensions rise as North Korea tried, for the third time, to blast a rocket into orbit on Friday the 13th of April this year. This unrest is said to be caused by the sudden change in government after former leader Kim Jong Il died last year. The Obama administration officials are calling for a stable and peaceful transition of power in North Korea but this is appearing to be a lot more difficult than they thought.

Kim Il- sung, Kim Jong-il’s father, had been ‘grooming’ his son for 2 decades to prepare the strict communist state for a change in power whereas Kim Jong-il was said to have only spent a year and a half with his son. Cato Institute senior Doug Bandow said the son subsequently “has had little time to establish himself” adding “There are several potential claimants to supreme authority in the North, and the military may play kingmaker.”

Christopher Hill, former U.S ambassador, said that the ‘military leaders will prop up the son, including the high-profile adviser Chang Song Taek,’ and that ‘Chang Song Taek is a very savvy operator and there will be some efforts from him to help ease Kim Jong-un’s hands on the reins’. So surely, after all of this outside help, North Korea will be in good hands, able to communicate effectively with the West, and state their military and scientific ambitions- such as the rocket?  Sadly this may not be the case. Many analysts agree that Kim Jong-un will not fully become leader until after 3 years of training as David Kang, a Korea analyst and an international relations professor at the University of Southern California, said he would not expect Kim Jong-un to take power formally right away. ‘Not only because he’s totally untested and he’s less than 30 years old, but Kim Jong-il also waited three years before formally becoming the head of state.’

It has been agreed by many that the new leader Kim Jong-un has not been fully prepared and seems to have become a puppet leader meaning all of Kim Jong-il’s men are still in power and still making the decisions. So should we still be worried that North Korea has gained a new leader? It is believed that although the rocket launch was a spectacular failure, it warns America and its allies to be cautious of this new leader. Many believe that North Korea’s intentions are to restart another Cold War. Others say America and South Korea should re-engage the government in Pyongyang, the city that borders between North and South Korea. Both views ignore the fact that Kim Jong-un is following a path of alternating provocations and peace offensives paved by his grandfather Kim Il-sung and perfected by his father, Kim Jong-il.

For more than 50 years, the legacy of the Kim clan has had a strict hand with the military, using terrible purges and competition to force loyalty. The idea that the military will one day challenge Kim Jon Un is an illusion created by North Korea that works in their favour by creating a sense of free speech. Except for the invasion of South Korea in 1950, North Korea has never suffered the consequences of their attacks and provocations, in fact it has been rewarded for false pledges. From January 1968 through to 1983, North Korea was never penalized in any meaningful way- for example in 1968 North Korea sent commandos into South Korea to kill the President Park Chung-hee, and on Kim Il-sung’s birthday in 1969 the North ambushed and attacked four American soldiers patrolling the military demarcation line. Later during the thaw of the Cold War where Kim Il-sung called for diplomatic talks with America, he resumed attacks by making yet another attack on the South Korean President in 1974. This record shows that North Korea doesn’t respond to either rhetorical hostility or diplomatic civility. Its latest ballistic stunt followed a long pattern of ignoring outside warnings. This means that it is now down to America to change its usual response and put their foot down with the infamous oppressive and secretive state.

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