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Coming to a Kim Jong-understanding

Coming to a Kim Jong-understanding

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Published by Max Blacktooth
An essay justifying the actions of the North Korean regime and creating sympathy for a struggling nation.
An essay justifying the actions of the North Korean regime and creating sympathy for a struggling nation.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Max Blacktooth on May 07, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Max FishmanProfessor RobertsENGL 145-186 May 2013Coming to a Kim Jong-understandingFor years tensions have escalated in East Asia as a result of threats from North Korea.Most recently the communist regime has intensified the standoff with a series of nuclear scarestriggered by the launch of their Kwangmyongsong-3 Unit 2 satellite in December of 2012. Astate of panic ensued as officials in South Korea and Japan speculated North Korea’s nuclear arms capability. Pushing matters further, North Korea ended its armistice from the Korean War and threatened its neighboring nations with land invasions, prompting South Korea and Japan todeploy missile defense systems on standby. With the closure of the joint industrial town of Kaesong, analysts speculate that the last straw has been pulled and a conflict in Korea isimminent. This fierce sabre-rattling involves the most drastic measures North Korea has taken todate and, as a result, the west perceives them as a nation united in belligerence under the rule of amadman. Western media propagandizes North Korea by painting a picture of insanity throughsensationalist news reports and movies such as
Team America
 Red Dawn
, which doesnothing for North Korea’s reputation but heighten a mix of fear and ridicule in its Western perception. However, if we look beyond the propaganda to get a more objective look at NorthKorea, we’ll see a nation acting out of desperation and taking drastic measures because that’s theonly option it has. All of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s actions, as crazy as theyFishman 1
seem to an outsider, serve logical goals and actually promote the well being of the nation as awhole.To build an understanding of North Korea’s situation, it is essential to look at the nation’shistory. From their beginning in 1945, North Korea has faced geopolitical and resourcedisadvantages, as 38th parallel cut the North off from nearly two thirds of the peninsula’sindustrial and agricultural complements (Central Intelligence Agency). Additionally, most of Korea’s political structure was centered in Seoul after thousands of Japanese officials, includingadministrators, policemen, teachers, and industrial technicians fled the north as the Red Armyadvanced into Korea (Paige). Communist Party officials from the USSR stepped in to overseethe development of the new nation by placing many Soviet-Korean administrators in politicaloffices and initiating a program that would force the North Koreans to depend on the Sovietsystem for survival. Some of the features of this program were a loan of 212 million rubles and atrade network with the USSR and its satellite states (Paige). The result of this dependence on theSoviets was an opportunity for the new leader Kim Il-sung to rise to power by unifying the manycommunist factions of North Korea during the transitional era from Red Army occupation toself-governance.The early Il-sung regime led the DPRK to a promising period of industrial progress untilit abruptly ended with the Korean War. Even though the war was counted as a loss for the UN,the coalition had at least completed their objective of crippling the North Korean economy. UNforces succeeded in the destruction of several heavy industrial centers, steel plants, and the North’s only oil refinery in Wonsan, resulting in a disproportional amount of imports to exportsin North Korean trade (Paige). In addition to the necessity of large volume imports of industrialFishman 2
capital from the Soviet Union, the DPRK at this point on had to import nearly fifteen times itsown crude oil production capabilities in order to maintain operation of its industries (CentralIntelligence Agency). Though North Korea was able to overcome many of these issues under the bold leadership and planning of the Kim Il-sung era, all of these deficiencies from the beginningare still felt today and even led to its stagnation and near collapse in the early 90’s.Though the Kim Il-sung era brought apparent progress to North Korea and the nationseemed to be on the trajectory to become a world power, North Korea’s dependence on theSoviet system once again became obvious with the fall of the USSR. The fall of the Soviet Unionin 1991 immediately triggered two massive issues for the DPRK: the new Russian Federation cut back 90% of trade with North Korea and required that the nation repay all debts from the Sovietera (Suh and Lee). What was once a growing economy stagnated nearly overnight and Kim Il-sung did everything he could to recover his nation until his death in 1994. The former leader’sson, Kim Jong-il assumed power and tried to continue his father’s legacy of growth and progress but soon had to change his focus when such an agenda was nearly impossible to promote in acountry torn by famine, a weak economy, and food shortages (Suh and Lee). The Kim Jong-il eramarked the beginning of the DPRK’s frantic struggle. With the absence of the USSR, it becameobvious that North Korea was not as self-sufficient as it boasted. The same spread of famine andfloods in the mid-nineties hit China and South Korea as well, but they were able to purchasewhat they needed from trade partners unlike North Korea (Chanlett-Avery and Rinehart).Unwilling to open the North Korean markets to the world, Kim Jong-il pushed a series of economic reforms known as
that involved the nationalization of most of North Korea’sindustries under military control (Chosun, “Songun”). Despite marginal crisis recovery as aFishman 3

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