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2017-09-21 17:00
By Robin Rhee



Analysts and self-appointed experts work overtime to tell us what is going on in North Korea.

Some describe Kim Jong-un as smart, sly as a fox and cruel. Others add he is egocentric, crazy and fearful of his own assassination which has led him to kill those he has deemed serious threats and to fill labor camps with those he fears less.

Two Ohio men ran amok of North Korean laws, with very different outcomes. The first was arrested for leaving a Bible in a public place. He was returned a few months later, in apparent good health. The second was arrested for allegedly trying to steal a propaganda poster from his hotel. He was returned a year later in a coma and died a few days later. Doctors say he was in a coma for the entire time he was held captive.

During the Kim Dae-jung presidency there was a thaw in North-South relations, due to his introduction of The Sunshine Policy. Separated families met. Tour groups visited Mt. Geumgang. The joint Gaeseong Industrial Complex showed promise. The South donated fertilizer and rice to address crop failure and ease starvation. NGOs sent medicine and medical supplies. And Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il met in Pyongyang.

All of the above is now history as the North has embarked on an ominous course. Nuclear tests and ICBM launches have grabbed the attention of the world. The North maintains its missiles can be armed with nuclear warheads and reach Guam, Hawaii and even Chicago.

Despite sanctions imposed by the United Nations, the North earns much needed cash by the export of drugs and weapons. And it is feared that it will sell nuclear secrets to other rogue nations.

We are told that the only viable solutions to the current problems are through dialogue and diplomacy, but the North is not on board. Neither are China and Russia, though both pay lip service to such an approach.

Both nations continue to supply the North with oil and have recently donated shipments of grain. It is estimated that approximately 100 Chinese companies do business with North Korea and that Chinese banks launder money for the North.

Russia's Putin says the North would rather eat grass than give up its nuclear weapons.

China fears a massive influx of North Korean refugees if the North's regime were to collapse.

A recent TV segment stated that residents of the U.S., Japan and South Korea are showing keen interest in purchasing family bomb shelters.

Meanwhile the North and the U.S. continue to exchange fiery threats.

So what is it that North Korea wants to achieve?

a) A treaty to end the Korean War.
b) An end to the joint U.S. joint military exercises and eventual U.S. military departure from the peninsula.
c) Recognition and acceptance as a nuclear nation.


This question remains. Is Kim Jong-un ready to risk annihilation or is he like the little boy who prodded and poked at the proverbial hornets' nest but backed off when he was stung?

 

The writer is a former weekly columnist for the Korea Times and currently resides in Centerville, Ohio.Write to rrkoram@aol.com.

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