North Korea and its stance towards America, Japan and South Korea
North Korea and its stance towards America, Japan and South Korea
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The shadow of North Korea hangs over northeast Asia and it is easy for America, Japan, and South Korea, to blame this nation for countless ills. However, just like a battered child which is abused and humiliated; then one day the child may become hostile in adult life and turn inward in order to protect itself. This may not fit the pattern of North Korea completely. Yet history is woven into many societies and it can unleash powerful internal mechanisms when outside nations enforce brute force against the indigenous people.
This article is not about exonerating North Korea or justifying the political system of this nation. Nor is it about anti-Americanism or seeing reality through a different prism in order to rebuke one side. Instead the purpose of this article is to show some balance and to focus on internal factors within the body politic of North Korea.
It is abundantly clear that the President of South Korea, Lee Myung-Bak, is more hostile towards North Korea than other recent leaders of this nation. At the same time, North Korea is the perennial whipping boy when Japan seeks a scapegoat. Therefore, the “quietist” nature of Japan’s foreign policy is thrown out of the window when it comes to North Korea. America also raises the nuclear issue and totalitarianism in order to lambast North Korea. However, the same America is the only nation to use nuclear weapons and allies like France, Israel, and the United Kingdom, are all nuclear powers.
Also, given the military dynamics of China and India then why isn’t the nuclear issue pointed at these nations? The stark reality is that America and the Russian Federation have enormous nuclear stockpiles. Despite this, North Korea is rebuked for trying to join the nuclear club but surely Pakistan is more unstable? This notably applies to radical Sunni Islamic forces which are potent and growing in parts of Pakistan.
The human rights issue also does not wash because whatever North Korea is; then Saudi Arabia is the same but with even more draconian laws which govern women. Therefore, while President Obama was seen bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia, the same leader uses political language against North Korea and ignores the reality of both nations. Obviously, Saudi Arabia is deemed to be an important oil and energy ally; while the other nation, North Korea, is seen to be a rogue state but in many ways Saudi Arabia is more of a threat than isolationist North Korea.
After all, September 11 was made in Saudi Arabia but terrorists from North Korea are not to be found and the same applies to exporting terrorism by various means and ratlines. Also, the nation of Saudi Arabia and countless organizations within this country are exporting their version of totalitarianism via radical Salafi Islam to many corners of the world.
Another important thing to focus on – is why did North Korea turn to nuclear weapons? After all, nuclear weapons will not protect central forces in this nation from an internal uprising.
The simple truth is that American led invasions in Vietnam and Iraq, alongside interventionist policies against Serbia, Libya, Syria and countless other nations; all happened because these nations did not have a nuclear arsenal. This fact is abundantly clear because you have never had a war between two nuclear powers and given the limited resources of North Korea; then the nuclear factor is a defensive mechanism. After all, look what happened to Libya and the nuclear policies of this nation and what the end result was when this area was abandoned.
Again, this article is not about vindicating North Korea but it is factual that the United States military is based in Japan and South Korea and in countless other nations. Therefore, North Korea feels suffocated, isolated, and under constant siege from nations which seek the demise of central forces in this nation.
Obviously, America will justify all military bases throughout the region and claim that it is needed in order to prevent a future war on the Korean peninsula. However, America would feel uncomfortable if North Korea had military bases in Canada and Mexico. Therefore, irrespective of the rights and wrongs of this reality; in the eyes of North Korea it is seen to be hostile and unwarranted.
North Korean leaders will also point out that their nation is independent because you have no foreign based military forces in this nation. However, Japan and South Korea rely heavily on America. This reality means that the independence of both nations is weak because their respective foreign policies need to consider America and the whims of Washington.
North Korea appears to view foreign policy within the reality of history and when did Agent Orange become democratic? After all, the war in Vietnam witnessed the reality of a democratic nation using chemicals in order to impose its global view on an independent nation.
Democracy is also turned on and off within government circles in America, France, the United Kingdom and within all major economic powers. After all, they all trade and support the government of Saudi Arabia. Given this reality, the pick and mix nature of “Western morals” is not very complex because it is based on self interests.
Since the creation of North Korea which happened because of the reality of what Japan did during the early twentieth century and until the endof World War Two; then did North Korea invade anyone? Also, turning to history, then why is South Korea so proud and passionate about its nationalistic fervor?
In an earlier article about this topic I comment that “The first President of South Korea, President Syngman-Rhee, 1948-1960, was pro-America, despotic, and used pro-Japanese collaborators in order to control South Korea via an “iron fist.” He and the American government abided by the same ex-leaders who had sided with Japan against their own people. Therefore, the new leaders of South Korea had helped the Japanese in their anti-Korean policies.”
“The next strong leader of South Korea to emerge, after the short leadership of Yun Bo-seon, was that of Park Chung-hee (President 1963-1979). Park had a Japanese name (Takaki Masao) and he clearly did well under the Japanese colonial system. For he went to the Japanese Manchurian military academy and Park once more adopted another Japanese name, this time he was called Okamoto Minoru. Park continued to prosper during the invasion of China by Japan.”
“After all, he became a lieutenant and fought for the Imperial Japanese Army, however, it is not fully known if he led imperial troops against native Koreans. However, he was involved in the fighting in Manchuria and many Korean communists had supported China in its struggle against Japan.”
“However, Kim Il-sung, the first leader of North Korea, who was Prime Minister between 1948-1972 and President from 1972-1994, had fought against Japanese imperialism. Therefore, unlike South Korean leaders or high officials, Korean nationalism and independence had been kept alive by North Korean leaders.”
The founding father of North Korea, Kim Il-Sung, who was known as the “Great Leader,” had risked everything in order to defeat Japanese imperialism. This is in stark contrast to the future leaders of South Korea which were mainly lackeys of Japanese imperialism but who somehow survived this brutal reality after World War Two.
Kim Il-Sung had been raised in a Protestant Christian family and his maternal grandfather was a Christian pastor. Many Christians were more anti-Japanese rather than the Buddhist leadership which was seen to be overtly compliant towards imperial Japan. However, the future leader of North Korea would view religion to be an “imperialist tool.”
It was Kim who fought alongside other various anti-Japanese guerrilla groups in northern China therefore this nation would look on him with fondness because of this reality. This fact means that the founding father of North Korea had fought against Japanese imperialism. Yet the political history of South Korea is tainted by compliant Koreans who supported policies against their own culture and nation during the Japanese colonial period.
Also, if we look at the political dynamics in Asia then is North Korea so unique? After all, the nations of China, Iran, Laos, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and others; are all governed by either the same one party state, long term ruler, imposition of an Islamic state or by the same monarch.
Focusing on the reality of past history, then it could be argued that North Korea is a victim of outside forces which intruded on the Korean peninsula. The Hermit Kingdom was based on feudalism prior to Japanese imperialism. This reality means that the future North Korea was built on the ashes of Japanese imperialism and the power mechanisms of the Cold War. Millions of people have died on the Korean peninsula because of the shortcomings of outside forces. Therefore, from the North Korean point of view it was their leaders which fought against external powers and not the leaders of South Korea. Currently this view is still held today in North Korea because of the armed forces of America being stationed in South Korea. Given this reality, it means that the leaders of North Korea find it difficult to trust South Korea because it is difficult to forgive “your brother” when the brother colluded with outside forces.
Therefore, irrespective if you are opposed to North Korea and hate the political system of this nation; it is important to see the world “through their eyes.” The political system in North Korea can be lambasted for not allowing freedom and other factors but the history of this nation is very complex and it is based on outside nations meddling.
This article may seem to be “apologist” but this is not the purpose. On the contrary, it is meant to add a different dimension to the daily anti-North Korea mass media in Japan and in other nations which have vested interests. It should be remembered that Koreans have suffered at the hands of others throughout the twentieth century. Therefore, the current stalemate will never move forward and this reality means that a new way needs to be found.
The people of North Korea are being held to ransom by their own national government but much of this is based on past history and because of policy mistakes by hostile forces. Therefore, the wall which was built will not break unless “a real sunshine policy is implemented.”