Sample Essay On The True Nature Of North Korean Power
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 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. Horner while discussing rhetoric and credibility says that “the strength of the argument rests to a great degree in the credibility that the author establishes (Horner 50).” He goes on to add that credibility also depends on a large extent to the belief that the audience place on the speaker and that in order to be credible the speaker ought to establish good character, give proof for arguments and adequate support for the statements made. When the North Korean regime makes threats against the US and South Korea, it does not give enough proof that their country and interests are under severe threat that would warrant a preemptive strike. Neither are there adequate supporting evidence or documents for the statements issued by North Korea. There is also a lack of support by other countries which would back up North Korea’s claims. Horner also states that in order to maintain credibility a speaker must not make outrageous exaggerations, leave no doubt in the minds of the audience and show some signs of constructive behavior (Horner 54-55).
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. North Korea’s threat lacks credibility on two levels. In International relations, the threat of violence is used by a country to make another country or countries to toe the line. In most cases the country issuing the threat has a long history of having put into action their threats. In the case of North Korea, it is known that the country is capable of launching a nuclear attack, but it has so far not launched an attack and neither have outsiders seen the capability or the readiness of the country to launch an attack. The preventive mechanisms to protect itself from a strike are also not available to the public. Public opinion matters a lot in international relations and although North Korea has managed to convince its population of its powers, the world at large remains largely skeptical about its claims on taking US and South Korea. 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”. 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 said, “If our enemies try to threaten us in the slightest, the country will launch ruthless preemptive strikes of annihilation”. The North Korean regime has not been able to substantiate the threat levels with actual evidence and this affects their credibility to a large extent. Owing to the lack of credibility in their claims, North Korea instead of being seen as a victim state, is viewed as a belligerent state. Also taking a closer look into the actual foundation of North Korea’s threats, it remains doubtful if North Korea possess the actual stamina to carry out such statements. The prowess of North Korea and its military are largely known to the outside world through its propaganda machinery and not through independent assessments. Credibility in such a case takes a beating as there is no way to verify the claims of superiority or strength.
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”. 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. 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”. 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. The threat thus lacks credibility and sounds more like an empty threat by an insecure country wanting to be seen and heard.
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”. 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. 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”. 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”.
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”. Those who regularly witness Pyongyang, however, lend themselves to reservation. Even if North Korea has a deliverable weapon, however, they are not likely be able to use it a war. George Lopez, a professor at the University of Notre Dame, said 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”. 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”. 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”.
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. North Korea’s threat to the US and South Korea lacks credibility as it does not have sufficient proof that its security and national interest have been threatened. Since there have been no visible threats against the country by the US and South Korea, the alleged threat remains something that is being solely used for propaganda to enlist the support of its citizens primarily. There is also no proof that North Korea is willing to go to the tale for talks or stop talking about nuclear attacks in case of no threat. Thus North Korea fails in every aspect in maintain its credibility according to Horner’s theory. North Korea’s claims of an imminent attack by US and South Korea are doubtful, it does not have the resources to carry out an actual attack and neither is there evidence or proof to substantiate this belligerent position of North Korea.
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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>.
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“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/>.
Horner, Winifred Bryan. “Establishing Credibility and Appealing to your Audience.” Rhetoric in the Classical Tradition. New York: St. Martin’s Press. 1988.
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