United States President Donald Trump’s latest twitter tirade has seen his focus turn to the isolationist state of North Korea. A few days before the North Korean government arranged a massive military parade in honor of the the father of the nation, the late Kim Il Sun, the leader of the free world tweeted “North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them!”.

North Korean soldiers during the parade commemorating Kim Il Sun.

Kim Jong Un (the grandson of Kim Il Sun and current Supreme Leader of North Korea) and the other high ranking government officials were present at the parade looking unfazed as they declared that there would be “catastrophic consequences” and a retaliatory war should  the United States carried out any aggressive manoeuvres in the region – indicating towards the current military deployments at the bases in South Korea and Japan. The military parade included ranks of extremely disciplined North Korean soldiers marching alongside their impressive arsenal at show – the most concerning of which were the Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (IBM). The big fear of the international community is the North Korean government’s development of nuclear warheads small enough to fit these IBMs. The North Korean government however claims that their investments are justified given the rising number of US troops being deployed at the bases in Japan as well as South Korea.

US Vice President Mike Pence in South Korea.

Amongst all the chaos, US Vice President Mike Pence has made a visit to South Korea and has issued his own warning, saying the North Koreans should not test President Trump’s resolve. The reality TV star turned President has been willing to flex his military muscles lately – evidenced by the dropping of the “Mother of All Bombs” on ISIS (Daesh) tunnels in Afghanistan and the use of Unilateral Cruise Missiles on Syria. The Vice President’s remarks hinted that the US are ready to turn the heat on North Korea if denuclearisation does not take place on peaceful terms.

South Korea remained the country with which the North Korea still maintain a cold diplomatic relationships. They are still technically at war with no treaties signed since the armistice of 1953. The political upheaval in the North was largely ignored by the media of the South. It is evident that the last few months has seen several top South Korean government officials being accused and arrested based on corruption scandals. Furthermore,  the country’s president herself was impeached towards the end of 2016 on similar charges and now faces the prospect of a lifelong jail sentence. Nowadays, with elections coming up on May 9th, it is hardly surprising that they have chosen to give their noisy neighbours relatively less attention for once.

Ousted South Korean President Park Geun-Hye being escorted during her trial.

Evidently, South Korea has not completely forgotten about the threat of their northern neighbours. On April 6th they announced that their project to build the THAAD anti-missile system has been completed.  This missile system, built with the help of the Americans, can hit any territory in North Korea from any point in South Korea. China has expressed their concerns with this missile system being a threat to their national security even though the South Korean and the US administration maintain that the missiles will only be used as defense against North Korean missiles.

It is China, the only major supporter of North Korea’s isolationist government, has found themselves under the spotlight from the international media after the recent events. They have been long term supporters of their neighbours, though they have been much less enthusiastic about North Korea’s plans to develop their own nuclear warheads.

US President and Chinese President during the state visit in USA.

President Trump has decided to take this chance to take a turn in his flamboyant public opinions on China as he tweeted “Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem? We will see what happens!“ The Chinese establishment has already started a ban on imports of coal from North Korea after the US President hosted his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-lago resort. It is reported that they have also agreed on repercussion measures on North Korea to keep their nuclear ambitions in check. The Korean peninsula has once again come to the forefront as the US continues their long term habit of intervening anytime a state starts challenging the hegemony of US by building a nuclear capability or military might. It is vital for a political resolve in the current situation as the build up of an arms race looks very dangerous.

References:

  1. Trump: China working with US on N.Korean problem, Available at: https://www.rt.com/usa/384968-trump-says-china-north-korea-problem/ (Accessed: 17th April 2017).
  2. South Korea tests ballistic missile that can target entire North – report , Available at: https://www.rt.com/news/383669-south-korea-missile-test/ (Accessed: 17th April 2017).
  3. ‘We have no choice’: Trump justifies US strikes, military buildup & posturing , Available at: https://www.rt.com/usa/384993-trump-military-power-no-choice/ (Accessed: 17th April 2017).
  4. A look at the missiles North Korea displayed at parade, Available at: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11839056 (Accessed: 17th April 2017).
  5. North Korea is looking for trouble., Available at: https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/851767718248361986?lang=en (Accessed: 17th April 2017).
  6. ‘We will go to war if they choose’: N. Korea warns ‘aggressive’ Trump not to provoke Pyongyang, Available at: https://www.rt.com/news/384725-north-korea-us-strike/ (Accessed: 17th April 2017).
  7. Ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye Is Formally Indicted, Available at: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/04/17/524325596/ousted-south-korean-president-park-geun-hye-is-formally-indicted (Accessed: 17th April 2017).
  8. China reiterates opposition to South Korea’s THAAD anti-missile system, Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-usa-china-idUSKBN17J0G4 (Accessed: 17th April 2017).