The never-ending mistrust
North Korea fears and mistrusts the United States. Yet it also desperately wants to normalize relations with the United States. Pyongyang thinks that establishing ties with the United States would benefit North Korea due to the geopolitical nature of the Korean Peninsula. Here, the obstacle is the nuclear issue. North Korea won’t give up its nuclear weapons development until relations with the United States are normalized. There are many reasons, but North Korean weekly Unification News listed three reasons in the March 28 issue.
Firstly, it is one of the greatest legacies left by Kim Jong-il. The journal explained that Kim made North Korea a nuclear power in today’s world, where a country cannot defend itself without power. Secondly, developing nuclear weapons has already been legislated and become a national strategy. In April 2013, North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly adopted an ordinance legalizing nuclear power for self-defense. Thirdly, the journal argues that the nuclear threat from the United States was rising. It mentioned the B-52 nuclear strategic bomber and B-2 stealth strategic bomber that participated in the joint Korea-U.S. military exercise Key Resolve.
In summary, North Korea wants to become a nuclear power because of fear and distrust of the United States. The psychology is similar to the madman in Lu Xun’s 1918 novel “A Madman’s Diary.” The madman is obsessed with the idea that everyone around him has cannibalistic thoughts toward him. North Korea also believes that the United States is trying to destroy it. So Pyongyang overreacts and uses excessive rhetoric over even the most trivial issues.
On Oct. 16, the leaders of Korea and the United States issued a joint statement on North Korea at the White House. It is worth noting that President Obama, who had nearly given up on the North Korean nuclear issue, is again focusing on it. Also, the statement mentions that the United States and Korea “maintain no hostile policy toward North Korea.” When Kim Jong-il was still alive, he said that North Korea truly hoped the United States would abandon its hostile policy and coexist peacefully. What this statement is lacking are new solutions other than urging the resumption of denuclearization talks.
President Nixon denounced China as a war criminal but visited the country to induce changes for opening and reform. President Reagan called the Soviet Union an “evil empire” but pursued detente through talks and ended the Cold War. History is remembered not by statements but by actions. Instead of emphasizing North Korean threats, the United States should work toward reducing mutual threats .
The author is a researcher at the Unification Research Institute, JoongAng Ilbo.
JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 19, Page 34
by KO SOO-SUK