After hostilities between North and South Korea have begun to escalate in the past few weeks, North Korea has admitted to taking actions to the next level by blowing up an inter-Korean liaison office the two sides shared. This office was a center of communication and a figure of harmony between the sister nations, until radical pamphlets promoting anti-North ideas managed to cross the border. This is not the first time such propaganda materials from activists opposed to the North’s dictator-led lifestyle have floated over the boundary, leading the Northern government to threaten breaking all ties with their counterpart. Leader Kim Jong Un found these acts to be unforgiveable, saying the South lacks control of their people. With the support of his influential sister and aide Kim Yo Jong, who has been rampantly gaining power, they warned that they would take extreme measures against the South should this destructive campaign not be derailed.
The South Korean leader Moon Jae-in was quick to address the issue, rolling out new punishments for these Northern defectors and attempting to curb the rebellious operations. He has urged his citizens not to test the temper of his opposite ruler, but has still defended the rights of his people to free expression. Finding this to be an unacceptable excuse, Kim Yo Jong was quoted from the NY Times and Reuters as shaming Mr. Moon’s response to the dissent, claiming “It was sickening to listen to his speech…” and issuing a statement to those involved that she would be “exercising [her] power” and had decided to “carry out the next action,” without clarifying what she meant. Now, the cinders of the interstate office speak clearly the words she did not include in her briefing. USA Today reports Foreign Minister Ri Son Gwon as laying bare the nation’s current feelings, saying any chance of harmony or amity on the peninsula has “…faded away into a dark nightmare.”
This news is even more upsetting when considering that 20 years ago on this very same week of June, the first summit that finally fostered progressive peaceful communication and cooperation between the North and the South was held. Since then, the rulers of the two sides have been working to better unify Korea while still respecting their different cultures and attempting to live tranquilly side-by-side. Naturally, some tensions have remained amongst the population of the two communities, as it is difficult to live in an empire with two different identities. This agreement between the two sides now seems to be from another lifetime, as a spokesperson from North Korea’s United Front Department was cited by NBC news as declaring, “The latest events have strengthened our conclusion that an enemy is just an enemy… it is our determination to go as far as we can in a vicious cycle of confrontation.”
The division between the two countries dates all the way back to World War 2 in 1945, when the U.S. and the Soviet Union each took hold of opposing sides of the peninsula after seizing them from Japanese control under which they had been one, united Korea. Thus, two forever opposing political agendas spawned in their respective zones; the north embodying more communist ideas and the South turning to democracy and private ownership. As such, Moon Jae-in is currently under fire from parts of his nation for trying to stop the anti-North groupings from expressing their objections, bending to the objections of the North. It appears that he cannot win either way.
Thankfully, the demolished liaison office was empty at the time of the attack, leaving no fatalities. Nevertheless, this strike has made clear that Mr. Kim means to break the “denuclearization” accord reached with President Trump at their historic meetup two years ago in Singapore. He defends this break from the compromise by saying that Trump has not reciprocated the goodwill and terms they discussed, opening a large wedge between our two countries. This devastation of our two states’ diplomatic armistice is enough to invoke worry of retaliation from North Korea’s vast army, as intel has learned that those missiles Kim Jong Un is always testing are powerful enough to reach the United States. This small blow to the other side of Korea was intended to have larger implications and could very well signify his descent into a bombing frenzy, a threat needing to be faced head-on.
However, that does not mean the skill of diplomacy has been defeated. Instead of giving the rash North Korean leader the headlines he’s looking for, Trump should turn his attention now to his surroundings, like the victim of this attack, the, democratic, South Korean nation. Linking with Mr. Moon could provide priceless intel and an ally on the inside. Better still, once these two countries join hands, they should build a stronger forefront by making a bridge with our distinguished and powerful, American-embracing partner of Japan. They could offer even more support and assistance, especially since they were the ruler of the Korean land for decades.
When Japan first conquered Korea, the people resisted well, but the Japanese reign was held firm by a single treaty which claimed Korea as a Japanese protectorate. This signed agreement kept Korea squarely under Japan’s thumb. While surely no one is suggesting one nation should go abduct another, the fact remains that this political agreement was law, it was upheld and went unbroken. It was an unfortunate abuse of a political decree, as the Koreans were not treated fairly, but as the saying goes, “With great power comes great responsibility,” meaning a treaty can do great things when used for good.
Together, our three great nations can collaborate to plan this kind of intellectual and nonviolent diplomatic tactic towards change. Without war or grandstanding displays of power, surely a calm solution to this missile-loving menace can be found. It’s true, this means that the Japanese, American, North Korean, and any other governments willing to help would have to first absolve any current tensions that lie between themselves, but it would mean choosing a lesser evil. Surely, any objections they are having with each other now are easier to repair than the relationship with North Korea. The people of America and other prime target territories deserve some hope of stopping a possible war that we had no part in causing. We need some serious mediation performed on our international relations to ensure a peaceful future.
While it may not seem most gentile to be plotting a coalition behind Kim Jong Un’s back, he has thrown common decency and logical, civil resolutions down the drain. He has shown himself to be overtly radical, literally burning his bridges by bombing this center for inter-Korean affairs. No act of war can be taken lightly, which includes acts of war to mankind. With the missile assault aside, the Human Rights Council has been flooded with testimonies from exiles and victims of other crimes against humanity that are taking place in this region. Death by starvation and imprisonment camps to name a few, the people of North Korea appear to be inexplicably suffering behind closed doors. With these details in hand, the U.N. is demanding to finally have justice and send North Korea’s officials to face charges in the international court. They seek to make Mr. Kim and his cohorts pay for their outrageous behaviors; a reminder that they are not the untouchable regime they try so hard to be.
Naturally, the North’s ally, China, is against this proposition, saying putting the country to trial will not stop the wrongdoings. They are clearly hoping to save their fellow communists from elimination, but they have escaped for far too long with this unjust treatment of their own people and the sanctions need to start rolling out. Hopefully, the United Nations will have the courage to press forward with their investigations and involvement, revealing that this bombing is just the tip of the iceberg of issues brewing in North Korea.
In truth, Kim Jong Un is not entirely to blame, as it has been three generations of the same family’s regime leading the country into deeper and more murky socialism. Perhaps the best approach would be for the nation to move in a bold direction and put a new bloodline on the throne, if the Kim dynasty cannot come back from this brink of brutality. North Korea, though currently being drowned in these transgressions, has much to offer the world in terms of culture and civilization. We should not let this country’s name go down in flames because of a warped leader, as there are innocent people here crying for help, so we will not give up on finding them the freedom they need. The only way through is together, and as America prepares for an upcoming presidential election, we can count on new energy and new ideas to stop this cruelty for good.