[Letters] Unmasking the North
I believe the main purpose behind the recent belligerent action of North Korea is not to intimidate the world, but to send two messages to its own impoverished people.
First, by showing North Korean military power, the North wants to suppress a potential riot. Even though there are no confirmed cases of riots in North Korea, a lot of defectors from the North have reported that a majority of North Koreans know the reality of the circumstances they live in, which points to the possibility of riot in the North. Thus the regime needed to take action - such as flaunting its nukes - to eradicate that possibility.
Secondly, considering Kim Jong-il’s poor health, the North is trying to reinforce its solidarity once again, which is a necessary element for his successor. The rumor I heard a couple of days ago, that entourage of Kim Jong-un - the third son and alleged successor of Jong-il - tried to assassinate another possible successor, Kim Jong-nam, supports this view.
Though the news about the assassination attempt has not been proven true, something definitely seems to be going on in the North. That North Korea’s second nuclear test was conducted the very day that Kim Jong-il expressed his condolences for the death of former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun has upset a lot of South Korean citizens. However, I think this coincidence is just evidence that North Korea is so desperate that it had to conduct the test on the same day - regardless of Roh’s death.
It might be true that current situation for North Korea is more serious and that we should be more alert. However, understanding the real goal of this isolated regime in contemporary history should be the first step.
Son Dae-kwon, Korea University student