The Weiner Component V.2 #25 – North Korea and the United States
Geographically, North Korea is a mountainous country located in East Asia on the northern half of the Korean peninsula. Its borders face three countries: China, Russia, and South Korea. Both China and Russia are separated by rivers, South Korea is separated at the 38th parallel where 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed.
Most of North Korea is a series of medium-sized mountain ranges and large hills, separated by deep narrow valleys. There are some coastal plains. Its population is in the area of 25.2 million and it has a problem feeding its population. In the mid-1990s the country went through intense shortages of food and people there faced starvation. Several times emergency food was shipped into the country, even from the United States.
Historically Korea was a separate kingdom with its own language and culture. After the 1905 war between Russia and Japan, which the Japanese won, Korea was made into a protectorate of Japan. Within a relatively short time Japan imposed her own culture upon it, attempting to force it to become an adjunct of Japan. Korean culture and language were forbidden. This process continued until 1945 when Japan surrendered to the United States and World War II ended.
Korea had been liberated by the United States in the South and the Soviet Union in the North. For occupation purposes it was divided at the 38th Parallel. In the North the Russians set up a Communist Government called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, with its capital at Pyongyang. In the South the United Nations (UN) established the Republic of Korea with its capital at Seoul
While North Korea or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has no law of succession the head of the Kim family has ruled since 1946. Kim il-Sung ruled until his death on July 8, 1994. His son, Kim Jong-il was the nation’s leader until his death on December 12, 2011 and Kim Jong-Un, Jong-iI’s; younger son became ruler then. He was born in 1984 and is currently 33 years old.
Kim Jong-Un’s older half-brother was murdered within the last year. He had been a critic of the North Korean government. What was used was a strong chemical which kills within minutes after being applied to the skin.
On June 25th 1950, the North Korean army invaded South Korea crossing the 38th Parallel. The Russians had built a North Korean army while the U.S. had built a South Korean police force strong enough to control the South but not strong enough to invade the North. The North Korean army practically pushed the American GI’s off the peninsula. Reinforcements were immediately sent from Japan. The War lasted until 1953 when a truce was signed stopping the fighting at the 38th Parallel. The reason it was signed was that President Eisenhower was threatening to use atomic weapons against the Northern Korean army.
By that time Communist China, under the rule of Mao Tse-tung, had sent into Korea most, if not all, of its army that had originally been loyal to Generalissimo Chang Kai-shek, as volunteers, but who had switched sides when the Communists won. Chairman Mao Tse-tung was not unhappy to lose them.
A peace treaty was never signed with the United States after the 1953 Truce. Technically North Korea is still at war with the United States and South Korea. Consequently it has built a series of concrete bunkers in the region north of the 38th parallel and throughout North Korea. In addition the country has engaged over the years in atomic weapon and missile development.
To the Democratic Republic of Korea they are still at war with the United States. They see this country as their unyielding, corrupt enemy, who they would love to destroy. But, so far, they have done nothing because they would be attacking a mass area containing 350 million people that is considered the strongest nation on earth.
Today North Korea has atomic bombs and recently shot off an intercontinental rocket which was capable of reaching the United States. Verbally, Kim Jong-un, has threatened to blow-up the U.S. but outside of talk has taken no actions. The country claims to have developed an H-bomb. The probability of that is low but it is a possibility.
The presumed atomic bomb test on Thursday, July 12, 2017 may have caused a 5.8 magnitude earthquake in the Sea of Japan. North Korea tests its atomic weapons in old mines or deep caves. Exploding a bomb above ground adds to the radio-activity in the atmosphere. Enough explosions could make the surface of the earth toxic to humans.
The probability is that an H-bomb may be too powerful to even sanely test underground but that North Korea recently did test one. The United States did so on November 1, 1952. The thermonuclear weapon is 1,000 times more powerful than an atomic bomb. It was exploded over Eniwetok atoll in the Pacific. The island was melted down well below the water level. It disappeared. The Soviet Union detonated theirs the following year in deserted parts of Siberia. I do not believe any have been tested since, at least not above ground.
Briefly an atomic bomb is a nuclear device that splits innumerable atoms giving of massive amounts of energy. It is exploded about 2,000 feet above ground. The H-bomb is an implosive device that would be exploded well above the level for the atomic weapon. It creates complex elements from simpler ones giving off far more heat/energy than the atomic bomb. These are the explosions on the surface of the sun that generate the heat that fuels the galaxy and allows life to exist on this planet.
Kim Jong Un gained control of North Korea late in 2011. His rule has seen the economy improve. He has not compromised or opened talks with any country unlike his father who occasionally held talks with Washington in order to gain concessions. Kim Jong Un seems uninterested in any negotiations until he perfects a nuclear missile that is capable of striking anywhere in the United States. He is not quite there yet.
He has had three of the five atomic test explosions. On July 4th of 2017 he had a successful ICBM missile launch which told the world that North Korea could launch intercontinental missiles which could reach parts of the U.S.
Kim Jong Un’s propaganda has argued that nuclear deterrence is a “treasured sword” that can cope with U.S. aggression. Seemingly he doesn’t want to resolve issues with diplomacy. Instead he wants to protect North Korea by continually strengthening the country’s military ability. He has continually promised to achieve Korean unification. Presumably after achieving a maximum buildup he could win big outside concessions in return for imposing a moratorium on nuclear and missile development such as large aid packages and the suspension of United States and South Korean military drills. North Korea sees these as a rehearsal for an invasion. They also want a formal peace treaty officially ending the 1950 to 1953 Korean War. This will allow for, among other things, the withdrawal of 28,500 American troops that have been stationed at the 38th Parallel since 1953.
It should be remembered here that the truce for the original Korean War came about because President Eisenhower threatened to use atomic weapons against North Korea. Apparently that inspired the North Koreans to develop its own atomic weapons and to use them as a threat against the United States.
President Donald J. Trump has continually been attempting to get other nations to get North Korea to back off its missile and nuclear testing. According to Xi Jinping, the current head of China, when speaking to Trump during a United States visit, he explained that North Korea has historically gone its own way and it is impossible to force them to do anything.
This may be historically true but today China is its main trading partner with whom it does 90% of its foreign trading. Among other things North Korea gets most of its oil from China almost for free. If China were to significantly decrease the amount it sold/gave to North Korea that country would have trouble keeping its military going. Airplanes and motor vehicles, both military and civilian, among other things, are dependent upon oil.
North Korea has and supports a large military but it is a very poor nation. The probability is that China, although friendly with America does not want to face the possibility of a North Korea collapse which would take place if the oil imports were cut. It would then have South Korea and its ally, the United States on its border.
For the last 2,000 years, whenever China was in a position to do so, China has not allowed strong nations on its borders. The probability is that Kim Jong Un is relying on this fact. Obviously China’s goals here are not those of the United States.
Kim Jong Un’s position is that he can threaten the United States or anyone else and make them very uncomfortable but he cannot really use his weapons. Once he uses a missile and atomic bomb he leaves his country venerable. The United States is 3,000 miles from East to West and over 1,000 miles from the North to the South end. He can kill a lot of people but there is no way he can totally destroy the nation. Besides that in one of his European trips President Trump inadvertently announced that there were two atomic submarines in the Sea of Japan. They carry atomic weapons and can fire them from under water. One H-bomb could destroy his capital, Pyongyang, and the coastal areas around it. For Kim Jong Un to fire a missile with a nuclear warhead would be an act of national suicide.
The problem here could be the erratic behavior of President Donald J. Trump. He has been reaching around for some way to force Kim Jong Un and North Korea to stop both missile and nuclear tests. To date, he hasn’t had much success and is getting more and more frustrated. Hopefully he will not begin a military action.
Can the problem with North Korea be resolved? There are actually several possibilities for this goal to be achieved. North Korea does about 90% of its trading with China and probably most of the other 10% with Russia. It would like to be accepted a modern nation by the United States and other countries. Both the United States and most of the nations belonging to the United Nations have applied economic sanctions. These are increased every time North Korea tests a new missile or tests a new atomic bomb.
The American National Basketball Association (NBA) star, Dennis Rodman, has visited North Korea several times over the last few years. Kim Jong Un has told him more than once to have the President call him, while holding his hand up to his face, with his thumb over his ear and his pinky over his mouth. The last time this occurred Barack Obama was President. The phone call was never made. Is President Trump capable of making the phone call? Would it start the process of a suspension of nuclear and missile activity? It’s very possible.
Another possibility is to let China broker a deal with the U.S calling off its yearly dress rehearsal of an invasion of North Korea. Is the U.S. capable of that or is it waiting for North Korea to act first?
The question is moot. Currently each leader is waiting for the other to act first. Currently the U.S. expects China or Russia to begin the process. While North Korea feels that nuclear and missile development protect it. Meanwhile Kim Jong Un and Donald J. Trump are getting more and more frustrated.