A curious bystander: Keeping an eye on Kim Jong-Un

Megan Chrisler

A well-travelled picture in the news depicts Kim Jong-Un at a table surrounded by his generals. Behind him is a map of the United States. It is labeled: “Plan for the strategic forces to target mainland U.S.”

When I first heard of Kim Jong-Un’s racket, I didn’t take it too seriously. I didn’t think tensions in Asia would rise as quickly as they did. But out of nowhere comes daily threats against America, from a guy I only learned about in the past year – a politically isolated, disgruntled dictator quickly preparing for war.

Wait…didn’t the guy with the mustache do this before?

Perhaps World War III is too huge a conclusion to come to. I certainly don’t want to jinx the United States; the last thing we need is a war, especially one that includes nuclear weapons. There isn’t solid agreement that North Korea will inevitably start a war anyway. Some critics say that it’s one thing to threaten, but a whole other thing to go through with it. America is a world super power, after all.

But that map says differently. And, as I said a couple weeks ago, Hitler taught us all a valuable lesson.

Which brings us back to the underlying question: is Kim a force to be reckoned with or is he just throwing a tantrum? (Perhaps both?) There is evidence for both sides. At the time of this writing, Kim has blocked South Korean workers from getting to a jointly-run industrial complex, moved missiles for better range and announced a determined effort to revamp a destroyed nuclear reactor. Conversely, he has not fired on anyone, will have to spend years obtaining the resources to get nuclear weapons and is dictator of a country who has made provoking threats for a while, without result. In an article from the New York Time, Didi Tatlow reports on North Korea through a conversation she had with James Church, a pseudonym for an ex-intelligence officer who has been in the country dozens of times. According to Church, the North Koreans are merely using a simple fact to their advantage: “People who are irritated pay attention.” They have wanted the U.S.’s attention since the Korean War, and perhaps now is the time to give it. The U.S. refuses, however, and believes that no conflict is necessary to release tensions. There is also a refusal to discuss nuclear weapon agreements with South Korea in the event of full scale conflict.

It seems that America is indeed continuing its job as global peace-maker, and perhaps that is a good thing for now. One factor that allowed Hitler to start World War II was that Britain, the leading Allied force, did not have the resources to stop him in the beginning, while Kim does not have such a luxury regarding the U.S. But, thankfully, it does not seem that North Korea is going to start World War III. Nuclear weapons are out of the question for now and recent history suggests that Kim only wants attention. Nonetheless, keep watching, Millikin – you never know what those crazy dictators are going to do.