Thursday, 18 April 2013

A Few Words on The Hermit Kingdom

As someone who has always been fascinated by North Korea, these past few weeks have come nothing short of an in-depth exposure of the reclusive state and its disconcerting leader. With nuclear threats, warnings of war and what the U.S. has deemed 'bellicose rhetoric' flying, the peninsula is in an extremely volatile state. The question is: what is likely to happen next?

With more than a millon standing troops, and over eight million in reserve, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has the largest military force in the world. But is it really one to be concerned about? Despite its size, it is believed that many soldiers are ill equipped and wouldn't last long in a conventional conflict with the superior, combined forces of South Korea and the United States.

Despite Kim Jong-un's apparent lunacy, he, or at least someone of influence in the nation, knows that this is the case and so the country is not looking for a conventional war. With just one nuclear warhead, North Korea could effectively hold the world hostage and it appears this is exactly what Kim is attempting to do. As the North Korean economy continues to crumble and the possibility of political insurrection mounts, the government needs to prove to its people, and the world, that it's a force to be reckoned with. While its threats are menacing, I strongly believe that higher-ups in the government and military are aware that they would be annihilated should they attempt any act of agression against the U.S., South Korea or Japan. However, one can never be quite sure with The Hermit Kingdom.

As North Korean threats rise in both severity and frequency, the United States may have had enough. The one major barrier preventing any extreme U.S. action against the country was America's fear of jeopardizing its relationship with China. But as the PRC distances itself from its belligerent neighbor and calls Kim's threats "regrettable", North Korea's vital buffer against an attack may be collapsing, albeit slowly. Should China cut economic and political ties with North Korea, the country would be in danger of collapsing financially, for China supplies a majority of the nation's food and fuel. Without their support, North Korea would be put in peril both domestically and internationally.

It's almost impossible to say what might happen over the next few weeks, but with U.S. forces on alert, China distancing itself from its ally and Kim Jong-un's threats escalating - North Korea is most certainly a region to watch closely in the coming days.

If you're interested in North Korea, especially the lives of everyday people there, I would highly recommend the book 'Nothing to Envyby Barbara Demick! Also check out 'dguttenfelder' on Instagram for a foreign journalist's inside view on everything North Korea!

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