There are two Koreas, and they are as different as water and fire. Once a unified country, it was torn down the middle by the political and ideological warfare of Cold War era Asia. To the south of the parallel, there is the Korea supported by America and the capitalist countries, and to the north, the Korea chosen by China and Soviet Russia. It has been a classic battle of east and west, with a relatively small country in the middle. And this small country, stuck between powerful cultures, adopted the severely conflicting ideologies of their custodial keepers, which today spur international conflict and threats of nuclear war.
Ideological conflict between North and South Korea quickly led to violence. War broke out, riddled with countless deplorable breaches in Human Rights and Human Dignity. Small in comparison to the World Wars, the Korean War is one of the hallmarks of human atrocity in recorded history, and despite massive loss of life, the war did little in the way of changing the hands of power. When the line was drawn in the sand at the 38th parallel, the North and the South was again firmly separated. There are countless scars in the countryside there, the result of the innumerable land mines, artillery blasts and years of land-war.
Of course, this all occurred over half a century ago and what followed was no better.
After the dissolution of Soviet Russia, North Korea was left with China as its main ideological ally. As China began to industrialize and build up its economic base, it found North Korea to be a large and reliable source of coal, binding the countries economically. Korea too began to industrialize, jumping at the chance to isolate itself further from the west.
North Korea has made itself infamous in recent years. The list is extensive. Externally, there have been flagrant threats of holocaust to surrounding and outlying countries, coupled with continued development of nuclear arms, despite global condemnation. Internally, the populace is subject to a privacy-less life of random surveillance, a gap of enormity between the 0.5 percent of the population with any money and the majority who cannot afford food, and political prison camps where the government commits biological and chemical warfare against its own citizens, wrongfully imprisoned by a system of such bestial incompetence that it does not know or care that almost all prisoners in these camps meet a slow and terrible death. If you have a very strong stomach, try reading the testimonials of some of the few who have survived. You will be changed.
There have been global consequences for North Korea’s actions, typically in the way of sanctions, but these have largely ineffectual. In fact, all these trade restrictions have done is greatly enhance the strife on peasantry, as the country cuts rations and demands more of the slave labor it derives from its prison system. The restrictions have also served to catalyze North Koreas violent attitude towards the United Nations, speeding up a chain reaction leading to the current situation. Attempts to restrain actions of the rogue nation have spurred North Korean threats to attack the U.S. as well as escalate tension with the South. It is not uncommon that North Korea makes threats against the U.S., South Korea or Japan. The North occasionally does carry out its threats, such as the case of the 2010 artillery barrage of Yeonpyeong Island, South Korea, and a prior attack to a South Korean gunboat, but has never followed through with military action imposing upon the U.S.
Documentation of Pyongyang’s threats and motivators were published in an announcement by North Korea’s public state television channel, which in translation declared they will be exercising their right to a preemptive nuclear attack against the headquarters of the U.S., who they accuse of being on the brink of instigating a nuclear war. When in fact North Korea is abetting war, and upon following through with their threats would fuel such a barrage.
Allied nations, the U.S. and South Korea, bound together to prepare against North Korea’s potential attacks. In response to the U.S. military members training on South Korean soil, the North threatened to cut off the Red Cross hotline between them and Seoul, which was used to provide emergency service. They proceeded to do so, claiming the Korean War armistice to be “invalid.” North Korea says they will “mercilessly” shoot American aggressors into the sea, and “miserably destroy” U.S. units stations in South Korea, transforming Seoul into a “nuclear sea of fire.”
The premise that the North cannot yet launch a missile that would reach the continental U.S. does not provide alleviation to the North’s neighboring nations, who would remain in immediate harm’s way if North Korea choses to open fire.
North Korea today is composed of beyond-impoverished gulags and military minds that have been swept of all influence defying that of Kim Jong-un. If the North is as dead-set on crusading as their violent threats portray them to be, South Korea and its inhabiting U.S. military trainees will be at immediate risk. This side of the world is at a far lesser risk, and anti-missile launch sites are stationed at strategic locations, such as Fort Greely in Alaska, should North Korea gain access to capable nuclear missiles. However, there is another issue at hand, which is in immediate danger of being overlooked. North Korea is populated primarily by peasantry that has no say in their government, and the first to die are never the ones who declare war. Too many people of late have suggested solutions to the tone of pre-emptive nuclear bombardment. If this situation must be dealt with violently, then let it be done carefully, with sympathy in our minds for humans who did nothing to start this war.