As the New Year has officially begun I’d like to take this time to reflect on two years of Kim Jong-Un being in control of North Korea. Never in my lifetime has there been a more perilous moment in my estimation, in North Korea, than during these two years. We have seen a nuclear detonation, the murder of Kim Jong-Un’s uncle… by him, failed basketball diplomacy on the U.S.’s behalf, and saber rattling to begin 2014 that seems bound to promote more disorder on the Korean Peninsula. Kim Jong-Un has been basking in the spotlight of his new found fame while others have plotted behind his back. When his father’s administration was threatened early on in its outset this led to a vicious purge by him and a society even more isolated from the world, let alone the United States.
This cycle seems to be playing itself out once more as Kim Jong-Un finds himself with a family in tatters after his uncle’s shootout with forces loyal to the young Kim, and the replacement afterwards of anyone he deemed not properly educated in his family’s leadership style. He also seems to be isolating himself even more by building private ski runs for the elite, recalling ambassadors who were deemed loyal to his uncle, and warning the united states and its allies on New Year’s Day that he would start a nuclear war with the U.S. should hostilities commence on the Korean peninsula. Coincidentally it seems to me that if he hopes to preserve his own rule that he should open up more to the U.S. instead of threatening it with nuclear war. This is evidenced by the true story of his uncle’s treachery being revealed to the world. It was only when the U.S. and its public was told about the gunfight before his execution that a modicum of pressure was released around the young Kim. By further opening up he can look to gain more stability and assurance in his reign.
This route is contrary to his predecessors who were stalwarts against any sign of perceived weakness leaking outside of the country; that is to say they insisted upon a unified front. With Kim Jong-Un however he does not have the luxury of being able to lie and suppress the news an order to keep his reign secure, he simply does not have the reservoir of trust in his leadership qualities, or the fiat of the old guard under his belt, yet. Simply put he does not have the suzerain his father once had, let alone his grandfather. This means that an order for survival he will have to allow for his country to be inserted into the new world order taking their place no matter the consequences. Nuclear disarmament is the natural course of action that comes to mind when you think of the world order and North Korea. But let’s also remember the lingering possibility of the reunification of the peninsula is on everybody’s mind. It seems like only a matter of time until it happens, however distant that time may be.
One conciliatory step the U.S. can do to make this happen is to do away with basketball diplomacy altogether and to replace it with a high level back channel between the two countries. This will allow for further pressure to be relieved for the young Kim by making it seem as though he has won concessions on bread and butter issues for the North Koreans like recognition, and survival. This may seem like a stretch now considering the saber rattling of yesterday(literally) but let’s not forget that a new regime is in effect in Korea, that is to say, this is not Kim Jong-Un’s stilted and unwavering father that were talking about. Also the reverse situation seems catastrophic. Imagine: a failed North Korean state that convulses on a daily basis with hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing over its borders and factional infighting being engaged upon all while a small but weighty nest egg of nuclear tipped ICBM’s hangs in the balance on the once proud Korean Peninsula.
This cannot be allowed to happen and the current administration should do everything in its power to prevent it from happening. Nuclear war has never been an option on the Korean Peninsula and a failed state even more so. The idea of a failed state on the Korean peninsula should scare even the most hard-boiled North Korean Analyst. The Current administration should secure a relationship with the North If not for themselves, than for their children.