What To Do About North Korea?

Over the last week, the United States has experienced increasing tensions with North Korea and Kim Jong-Un. This tension arose after Un attempted another missile launch, which luckily ended in an explosion right after take-off. Nonetheless, this blatant act of aggression caught the eye of the global community, and the US responded, along with Japan, by sending warships to seas near North Korea. Inevitably, this military strategy caught the eye of the Chinese, who have maintained an intimate and peaceful agreement with North Korea. Fear is unnecessary, and I will undertake the task of making sure that everyone is pacified.

Firstly, it is imperative that we understand what created the frantic worry that now plagues our nation. Kim il-Sung, the founding father of North Korea, was due to celebrate his birthday. On this day, Kim Jong-Un held an elaborate parade, which consisted of extravagant flaunting of his new nuclear missiles and launchers through a military procession. The next day, it was rumored that Kim Jong-Un wanted to conclude the weekend with a missile launch to emphasize North Korea’s military capabilities. However, as past precedent has shown us, Kim’s actions are extremely unreliable, and many times quite underwhelming. Upon the launch of the missile, it nearly instantaneously combusted; so quickly in fact that US satellite imagery could not even identify prominent features of this weapon or its potential capabilities. It is this failure that I believe reaffirms the belief that North Korea is of no immediate threat, and that Kim Jong-Un is simply bluffing about his nuclear program’s capabilities, in a vain attempt to portray his strength and ability. However, from recent and past failures, I think it is safe to conclude that his boisterous nature is all a ploy to shield the world from noticing his cowardice.

It is of utmost importance that we continuously support the South Koreans. South Korea functions as a military staging base that is vital to ensuring peace. By allowing US proximity to North Korea, it affords us the ability to gather important and insightful intelligence in regards to North Korean military operations. Furthermore, South Korea is being heavily equipped with missile defense systems known as“Terminal High Altitude Aerial Defense” (THAAD). These systems have the capability to neutralize any short, medium, and intermediate ballistic missiles that North Korea attempts to fire. By maintaining a constant military presence in South Korea, the United States not only reaffirms its devotion to ensuring peace for the South Koreans, but also explicitly shows North Korea that our country is not going to be intimidated by an unstable dictator and his menacing intentions.

I would also like to see the US maintaining a constant group of battleships near North Korea, possibly coordinating with Japanese battle groups in the area as well. This will, hopefully, send a message to Kim Jong-Un that his actions are unwarranted in the international community, and that the world will not tolerate his belligerent attitude and actions. Having warships in the area also allows for quicker response times in case war does break out, and permits the US to quickly assist the South Koreans if need be. Perhaps the best plausible pathway the United States can take however, would be constant and open communication with the Chinese. Despite sanctioning North Korea to the point of full isolation, China defies these statutes and trades with the Kim Jong-Un regime.

However, China does not have complete immunity from direct consequences. President Trump has spoke heavily about renegotiating trade deals with China, since our current arrangement has left the US in a $343 billion trade deficit. The threat of a new trade deal that places more emphasis on US exports and decreased imports, coupled with possible disruptions of trade or a trade war if China does not keep North Korea in check, does not bode well for their economy, which is already heavily inflated. China’s benefit from trading solely with North Korea does not outweigh the economic profit that it makes from trade within the global economy, and it is this fact that reveals that China will favor global trade over supporting North Korea’s outlandish ambitions. Finally, I don’t believe China would want an unstable dictator running a nuclear program right across their border, and therefore, it is in their national security interests to monitor and dissuade North Korea from any more explorative nuclear tests.

Jonathan Ellett is a first-year economics major. He can be reached at jellett@uci.edu.