The world of international relations is constantly changing, as illustrated by the events in North Korea. In recent weeks, the world news has been transfixed on the actions of the tyrannical leader of the country, Kim Jong-un, and it is easy to see why.
The endless articles on the situation highlight the complexity of the issue. The rogue state’s acquisition of nuclear weapons threatens the very existence of American hegemonic power due to the destructive capability of such weapons. The world remains puzzled by the intention behind the continued barrage of ballistic missile launches and nuclear weapons tests, but the intentions may be clearer than previously thought.
It seems that the display of proud Korean soldiers marching across Pyongyang highlight the desperation of the situation within North Korea.
These elaborate military displays in a nation renowned for its incapability of solving starvation suggest that North Korea seeks recognition on the global stage as a nuclear power. This manoeuvre taken by Kim Jong-un has made North Korea a theatre for war despite the country realistically lacking the capability to strike the United States.
One may argue that the strategy adopted is working, with America deciding to soften its language in the new sanctions against the rogue state. It seems probable that Kim Jong-un is attempting to establish North Korea as a world power in order to gain the numerous benefits that come with global recognition. The use of nuclear weapons is a guaranteed method of achieving media attention whilst scaring the United States and her allies into accepting North Korea as a nuclear state open for trade.
In embracing North Korea as a nuclear power, Kim Jong-un maintains his god-like image as the man who led his people into the twenty-first century. If this is true, Kim Jong-un appears delusional for adopting such a violent method, but it may be the only method available. According to Yun Sun, a senior associate at the Stimson Center, ‘The North Korean’s development of nuclear weapons is aimed at the eventual reunification of the Korean peninsula.’ Considering the United States’ refusal for reunification it seems likely that nuclear weapons remain the only tool that will allow diplomatic discussions between the two states. This dangerous method highlights the internal problems within North Korea, and the desperation of Kim Jong-un.
Thankfully the probability of North Korean success is slim, but it raises a question on whether or not the approach of the United States is going to be successful. The United States reaction to the crisis was predictable, with the US President promising ‘fire and fury.’ This response shows Donald Trump’s ability to talk tough and fail to follow through on his rhetoric with aggressive action, a situation similar to Kim Jong-un, who has not utilised the opportunity to strike American military personnel. It seems probable that the North Koreans seek recognition and acceptance rather than a violent conflict.
As history should have taught us, diplomacy is better than war.