Kim Jong Un, the dictator of North Korea has given us quite the, let’s say, surprise. During the first year of his regime, Dear Leader was relatively quiet. Now, the man in charge of North Korea and its arsenal of nuclear weapons seems to be going a bit mad.
There has been much chest-thumping and frightening actions emanating from the new leader in recent weeks. It started earlier in March, when the United Nations announced a new round of sanctions on North Korea in response to a nuclear test they had conducted. In response, Kim Jong-Un announced that he had decided to unilaterally end the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War 60 years ago. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, a South Korean, was quick to remind everyone that North Korea couldn’t do this unilaterally, but those are words and papers against North Korea’s tanks and instability. North Korea then posted a video on its propaganda Youtube channel showing a North Korean man dreaming of a nuclear missile attack on New York City. All while a piano rendition of “We are the World” played in the background. Kim Jong-Un rounded out the week with a threat to launch a preemptive nuclear strike on the United States. More comments have come out after that, North Korea has moved mobile missile launchers to the coast– a move that makes a surprise attack possible– and the United States has sent more ships into the region to intercept any potential launches.
Many in the mainstream media have been going against their usual MO and actually been trying to calm us down by saying that this is all for show so Kim Jong-Un looks strong to his people and the military establishment, and that he wouldn’t dare do anything because he’d know that that’d lead to the downfall of his regime. But this author would like to propose the existence of a variable that most of the media has neglected: Kim Jong-Un may be personally insane, unstable, and delusional. This is a young man who has been raised his entire life on propaganda stating that his country is the best, most unbeatable, strongest nation in the world, and that he is descended from the greatest man ever, Kim Il-Sung. His comments have only gotten more extreme, and they speak of a man who is drunk on confidence and delusional about his pitifully weak nation’s strength.
One wonders what someone closer to the situation might think about the recent developments. Jennifer Jung, a senior, declared that the current problems are “not a common topic” amongst her family, “but [her] parents see this as a real threat and source of anxiety.” Her mom commented, “Basically…Kim Jong-Un is a spoiled brat who has no judgement skills– so he’s very unpredictable…” Mrs. Jung compared it to this expression: when you corner a mouse, it’s going to bite you. Mrs. Jung went on to state that, “The pressures are rising and the leadership is awfully corrupt with no regard for other countries, and the worst part would be that the people are mindless… It’s hard to decide whether a submissive or strong retaliation would be the best way to approach the situation.” Essentially, the situation is tense to say the least, and that fact is not lost on students from South Korea.
An interesting sideshow to all of this is the recent trip to North Korea by former NBA superstar Dennis Rodman. Rodman is currently making a documentary called Basketball Diplomacy, which features in it a basketball game between the Harlem Globetrotters and North Korea’s state basketball team. Kim Jong-Un loves basketball, much like his father, who was obsessed with basketball and its most famous player, Michael Jordan. Kim Jong-Il received a basketball signed by Jordan as a gift from a diplomat and built a museum exhibit dedicated to it. Rodman stated that Kim Jong-Un is “just a kid” who “doesn’t want to kill anybody.” He also said that Kim Jong-Un had a daughter, that he got a tour of Kim Jong-Un’s palace, and indulged in a feast and dance party with the 30 year old leader.
Are these threats from North Korea serious, or are they simply bravado coming from an unproven leader who wants to consolidate power? One hopes that it is the latter. One thing’s for sure though: these comments have got the rest of the world on edge. Should we be worried? Well, those in New York should be safe from any nuclear strike, as most experts say that any North Korean missile could not reach us. Those in South Korea, Japan, and the West Coast have more reason to be worried. The best outcome is one in which North Korea comes to its senses and backs down from the big red button. If Kim Jong-Un is smart and sane, that’s just what he’ll do.