Good Example Of The True Nature Of North Korean Power Essay
The double-edged sword of propaganda can often leave civilians unsure of whether a country’s claims are actually boasting their true prowess or actually hiding the paper tiger within its infrastructure. In the case of North Korea and its impending threats against South Korea and the United States, we see that though they have the power to rally the masses, their threats actually reveal deeper psychological implications of this enigmatic regime.
On October 7, 2013, North Korea threatened to launch preemptive attacks against South Korea and the United States. In response, Seoul and Washington reached a new agreement that would respond to nuclear provocations by Pyongyang. The two allies also agreed to “work to improve the inoperability of their respective militaries, particularly their missile-defense systems, in order to improve responses to North Korean threats” (NTI 1). North Korea remains staunch in the position that they will be ready to attack so long the country perceives hostility from the United States. The North Korean Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea stated that, “If our enemies try to threaten us in the slightest, the country will launch ruthless preemptive strikes of annihilation” (NTI 1). Taking a closer look into the actual foundation of North Korea’s threats, we see that they may not possess the actual stamina to carry out such statements.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry states that while North Korea possesses 820 fighter jets, what they lack is an adequate amount of fuel to actually fly them. On the other hand, South Korea owns 460 jets, but the majority is ready for combat. Likewise, North Korea owns 4,200 tanks as opposed to South Korea’s 2,400, but according to Reuters, “Seoul’s armor is more modern and better maintained” (Neuman 1). In addition, according to Jennifer Lind, an associate professor at Dartmouth College, Pyongyang’s intense pursuit of “nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles” is due to its actually fragile base and actual efficacy as an army (Neuman 1). Lind uses her and her colleagues’ analysis of North Korea’s capacity for destruction and reveals that Pyongyang was “pretty hopelessly outgunned by the U.S. and South Korean forces” (Neuman 1). The level of quality of Pyongyang’s tanks and artillery were revealed to be sorely antiquated and ineffective. It seems that North Korea is more prone to present an image of prowess because of its need to prove that it is a power within the global arena.
Victor Cha, the Korean chairman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, concurs that North Korea’s military stands as a “Cold War relic” (Neuman 1). Cha stands as the other voice of reason, reminding experts to reconsider their beliefs that North Korean threats are not worth paying serious attention to. What Pyongyang does boast is an imposing artillery force that consists of 12,000 guns. Seoul lies a mere 20 miles from the “tense demilitarized zone that separates the two countries,” and is therefore vulnerable to the load of artillery that could ensue a considerable amount of damage (Neuman 1). The implicated risks of ignoring North Korean propaganda may result in higher costs than expected. At the very least, one should examine rather than dismiss their statements. In the case, propaganda can be used to explore the inner-workings of a regime. While an inquisitive person may earnestly seek answers through the sincere evaluation of propagandistic material, another can also interpret the extreme measures as the result of “a very difficult situation, bordering on desperate” (Neuman 1). In the same way that Hitler’s regime faltered under the weight of desperation, North Korea continues to struggle with maintaining “a grip on the population amid desperation and hunger” (Neuman 1).
The extreme and pugnacious nature with which North Korea expresses its threat of a pre-emptive strike on the United States “tends to induce alarm or amusement in those who pay only sporadic attention to the country” (Branigan 1). Those who regularly witness Pyongyang, however, lend themselves to reservation. Even if North Korea was in possession of a deliverable weapon, however, they lack the practical means with which to actually reach an intended target. George Lopez, a professor at the University of Notre Dame, states that though it is possible that North Korea could build a device, load it onto an airplane, and drop it over South Korea, it would ultimately be “pretty difficult, probably impossible” (Neuman 1). Experts believe that North Korea is essentially “incapable of mounting a nuclear warhead on a missile that could reach the US. More pertinently, to do so would be suicidal” (Branigan 1). In addition, Pyongyang’s statements are often lends more subtleties to their meaning than the ostentatious language initially suggests. In the same way that state-sponsored propaganda was standby of Cold War endeavors that attempted to rally the masses into their specific way of thinking, North Korea’s present propaganda attempts to send a message to its listeners. Today, however, because there is no widespread access to the Internet in North Korea as well as hindered access to North Korean websites for South Koreans, “the message seems to be aimed elsewhere” (Neuman 1). Experts believe that its threat is addressed to invaders, and that actual reasoning behind the move. For them, the determination to show that it will not cower down in the face of UN resolutions or global denouncement is actually something that must be merited on their part. The desperately impoverished country has but one tool to announce its equal right to be known as a power—and that is exerting a sense of influence and importance no matter how belligerently it must do so. For a “desperately impoverished country with few natural resources,” for them it may be the only way to exert any influence over its peers.
Ultimately, it seems that though it would be erroneous to drive oneself into a panicked frenzy at the sound of North Korean threats, it would also be ill advised to completely dismiss their statements. Upon closer examination, one can see that there is a deeper motive behind their threats that serves to show them in a more sympathetic light. Every entity, including a large entity, seeks its own survival. Just as a child decides how to secure this survival in one way or another, depending upon the circumstances in which he or she was raised in, North Korea is simply perpetuating a system that has been engrained for generations. In the fractal nature of reality, one must not simply separate one self from the condition of the world, but actually delve deeper and see the poignant revelations that are laid bare in the midst of brazen battles of bravado.
Scott, Neuman. “How Credible Are North Korea's Threats?” NPR. NPR, 9 Mar. 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2015. <http://www.npr.org/2013/03/09/173839660/how-credible-are-north-koreas- threats>.
Scott, Neuman. “Despite Young Leader, N. Korea Still Cranks Out Old-Style Propaganda.” NPR. NPR, 11 Feb. 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2015. <http://www.npr.org/2013/02/11/171732718/despite-young-leader-n-korea-still-cranks- out-old-style-propaganda>.
Branigan, Tania. “North Korea's Flamboyant Threats Are Not as Wild as They Seem.” The Guardian. 8 Mar. 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2015. <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/mar/08/north-korea-flamboyant-threats-wild>.
“North Korea Threatens Preemptive Attack on U.S., South Korea | GSN | NTI.” NTI: Nuclear Threat Initiative. National Journal, 7 Oct. 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2015. <http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/n-korea-threatens-carry-out-preemptive-attack-us-s- korea/>.
Post, Washington. “In China, Playing North Korea for Laughs (Commentary).” 17 Feb. 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2015. <http://www.silive.com/opinion/columns/index.ssf/2013/02/in_china_playing_north_kor ea_f.html>.
“For Peace, U.S. Must Pledge Not to Topple Pyongyang Regime (Huanqiu, People’s Republic of China).” For Peace, U.S. Must Pledge Not to Topple Pyongyang Regime (Huanqiu, People's Republic of China). 15 Apr. 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2015. <http://www.worldmeets.us/globaltimes000110.shtml#.VNpchrCUcjw>.
“Ferocious, Weak and Crazy: The North Korean Strategy.” Eurasian Hub. 11 Apr. 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2015. <http://eurasianhub.com/2013/04/11/ferocious-weak-and-crazy-the-north- korean-strategy/>.
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