Tensions are currently rising on the Korean Peninsula due to North Korea’s launching of four ballistic missiles.
According to the New York Times, the concern could be felt in the South Korean response, where they immediately requested that the United States launch its missile defense system in order to defend South Korea. This missile system has served as an agitation to China, who believe it could undermine their security.
The belief that North Korea could end up developing successful nuclear weapons threatens the relative stability that currently exists, at least militarily, between many of the Asian powers. As of right now, South Korea and Japan have entrusted a large part of their security on to the United States as they are of the belief that the United States would protect them. But, with an increase in North Korean capabilities, it is becoming doubtful that the United States would be willing to protect them at the risk of a nuclear attack on the United States. However, this could lead to further nuclear proliferation, with South Korea and Japan seeking their own nuclear weapons.
At the current time, any pre-emptive strikes against North Korea would be ill-advised. This is because it would lead to the likely destruction of some of South Korea and Japan, along with exposing the United States’ forces, which are stationed in the area. Therefore, what is there to do instead?
John Delury wrote a piece on North Korea citing that making North Korea feel more secure would temper their desire for nuclear capabilities. The starvation of the people in North Korea has been well documented, and if there was no longer a constant threat hovering over its head, North Korea may turn to domestic improvements. To do this, it would require, at least some, economic sanctions to be removed.
While there is no denying the sins and atrocities that have taken place under the Kim regime, at least communicating with him, rather than having him seemingly under the threat of an American attack could help to improve the lives of North Koreans. Kim Jong-un has shown more interest in economic development within North Korea than his father did. Delury writes that the North Korean economy has been able to grow, while only at modest rates, despite the sanctions that have been imposed upon the country. What this means is that the sanctions are not working for the United Nations or the United States. Instead, the only result is North Korea’s progress is being slowed. The people under Kim Jong-un continue to struggle because of him, there is no doubt about that. But, the outside pressures that are being put on him only serve to make his people’s lives worse, not his.
As recently as 2013, at least 84 percent of households in North Korea were suffering from poor levels of food consumption, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. This all happened while the United Nations Commission of Inquiry stated that Kim had spent approximately $645,800,000 on luxury goods for himself. There are no words for what he has done. But, in order to help, not Kim, but his people, a way of negotiating with Pyongyang could be to offer food aid to much of the population. This, packaged with a promise of no future attack could help calm tensions and contribute to making Kim willing to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear programs.
It is important to remember, even throughout conflicts such as these, that what is important is helping to save the lives of millions of people in North Korea, who just as anyone else recognizes the error of Kim’s ways.