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Security Dilemma or Normative Dilemma?

Conflicts among the Countries Involved with the North Korean Nuclear Crisis

[alaya_dropcap]W[/alaya_dropcap]ith North Korea, South Korea, and the Trump administration making headlines recently about North Korea’s conciliatory efforts to establish better relations between itself and the rest of the world, it was with great honor that NCCU was able to have Dr. Ray Dongryul Kim speak about past and current events involving North Korea. Dr. Kim is an associate professor from the Department of Political Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. The timing of his presentation was apropos, and it explained how North Korea’s system operates and how Kim Jong Un can keep power in his country, while also maintaining support from his people.

Dr. Kim brought up the concept of Juche, which is one that means the people are the masters of their own destiny; They are the ones that control where the country goes, and the ideas of how to get there is derived from the people, not so much the heads of the government. He says that the national population went from being brainwashed to internalizing the ideas the state created thinking that they were their own, all the while losing their identity in the process.

The North Korean crisis is one fraught with flashpoints and complex negotiations. Dr. Kim lucidly explained why the country is so hard to deal with. Using normative theory, he explains that the US cannot just fight or go to war with a weak state like North Korea, nor can China just apply pressure to ease tensions in the situation. Each country plays by its own normative values, therefore making the situation more difficult to deal with. Countries involved in negotiations with North Korea have to decide on whether they want to use absolute justice (potential war) or relative justice, which has created the scenario we see today.

After the cold war, North Korea was left with no allies, so as a means to protect itself, it created its nuclear program as a deterrence against other countries. The United states (under President Clinton) understood North Korea’s defensive posturing, and saw it as ok for North Korea to have nuclear capabilities. China was also ok with North Korea’s position as both countries had common interest, and they could use them as a buffer from enemies (normative values). Also, during this time, South Korea was more focused on economic development than creating an identity with the North Korean people. The normative ideologies of each country created the conflict among shareholder countries that we see today.

This brings us to a who new round of movement among players and talks between countries with the current events unfolding between North and South Korea. While we do not know what the future holds, nor the unpredictability of the Trump administration, all eyes are focused on the upcoming talks between participating countries and their respective leaders.

The NCCU College of Social Science would like to thank Dr. Ray Dongryul Kim for coming to NCCU and bringing lucidity to what many would consider a dense interplay of nations and complex web of events happening on the Korean Peninsula.