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Opinion: Fearing North Korea Leads to Dangerous Ideas

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For decades, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or North Korea, has been an isolated aggressor, constantly trying to shout its way to the world stage without any real substance behind its bark and no real ally behind its bite. It is a nation that was never meant to be, a product of a geopolitical pissing contest between two hubris superpowers who carved up a burning world in an attempt to rebuild it.

Korea was a unified, independent nation before being annexed by the Empire of Japan in 1910. That occupation lasted until 1945 when the Allied Powers liberated the Korean Peninsula and then bickered about how to rebuild it. The result was disastrous: Korea was divided along the 38th Parallel with Marshal Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union administering the North and Harry Truman’s United States controlling the South.

The current North Korean leader, the infamous Kim Jong-un, keeps his people in the dark. North Koreans are taught that America is a warmongering enemy who divided the country during the Korean War and seeks to kill them all. No outside news is allowed in the country and the starving masses of the North are led to believe they have the highest standard of life in the world. Kim Jong-un is a dictator in every sense of the word, the latest in a line of tyrants that have a direct link to the barbarous Joseph Stalin.

What we have in Korea is a complicated situation that must be dealt with using a delicate hand. Well, we don’t have a delicate hand. Instead, we have the tiny, orange, bumbling hands of a president who resembles a moderately trained circus orangutan more than a diplomat. Watching President Donald Trump discuss geopolitics is as painful and as watching a babbling toddler try to recite the work of William Shakespeare and what he’s done in regards to North Korea is akin to throwing a flaming wrench at a wasp’s nest and wondering why you got stung.

But the antics of Trump aside, Americans shouldn’t lose much sleep over potential war with North Korea. The propaganda against the United States by Kim Jong-un exists not because the regime is secure but because they most certainly are not. As people suffer they demand reason; they demand answer. When the answer is simply “You suffer because we don’t care about you and we have all the money” you need a pretty good excuse. So, you invent a boogieman, a villain equal to the level of pain throughout the country. In the case of North Korea, their boogieman is the United States. If the people live in constant fear of America and her military, they will ignore the atrocities of their own government in exchange for their “protection” from a star spangled monster that goes bump in the night.

The boogieman lie only works if that villain is not an actual threat to the nation. Kim Jong-un’s greatest nightmare would be the lot of his citizens seeing how well off South Koreans are under United States tutelage. If they were to learn what it is like to actually live in a democracy why would they put up with the Kims anymore?

A real war with the United States is one that North Korea could not win in any conceivable way. North Korea’s enemies are abundant and close by; their former allies, China and Russia, have condemned them for their leader’s outspoken provocations towards the United States. An actual war with the United States or American-protected South Korea would end in disaster, topple the Kim regime and possibly even reunite Korea under Southern rule. Losing power, the falling of the cult of personality to American prestige is Kim Jong-un’s biggest fear. Only a foolish man fights a war he knows he cannot win and, despite the common misconception, Kim Jong-un is not a foolish man.  

A solution to the North Korean issue is not easily found. Frankly, I doubt that any reunification of the Korean Peninsula is possibly at this point. In the seventy-two years since the end of World War II, the two nations have become unrecognizable to one another. Korea has not been a unified state since 1905 when Japan first occupied the peninsula. Combining two cultures which have diverted so drastically would not fix the problem at hand but create new ones.  

Creating a unified Korea, even under the government in Seoul, would create a Frankenstein state, a nation that is not one, but two states haphazardly sewn together.

Whatever the case, North Korea is not a threat to the United States, her citizens or the American way of life. Now is the time to stand in solidarity behind the imprisoned masses who are left in squalor by a tyrannical leader. This is a situation with no clear path but there is one thing I am certain of: Americans have no need to fear for their own lives. Through that fear we lose ourselves, we lose our way. We fall for dangerous ideas. Just ask the people of North Korea.

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