In a recent series of tweets, US president Donald Trump made it clear to the North Korean leader Kim Jon Un that he possess ‘bigger weapons’ than North Korea and that his nuclear button ‘will definitely work’. The threat from Trump came after a short phase of peace in the Korean peninsula as North Korea was abstaining from launching any new missiles — or at least releasing those ‘fancy’ news bulletins – and thus reducing the global backlash against its nuclear programme. Interestingly, while Trump was busy criticizing North Korea (and even issuing threats on social media), Kim on the other hand was busy playing the cards of diplomacy.
He extended peace talks to his counterparts in Seoul by offering a contingent for the Winter Olympics, which is going to take place in Pyeongchang City in South Korea in the coming month of February. Though most of the analysts believed that the North Korean dictator would test his missiles during Winter Olympics, Kim acted otherwise; he surprised the political analysts as well as the diplomatic community by offering peace to South Korea. These recent developments are quite interesting, considering how American bullying is growing, and how the South East Asian region is responding to both USA and the North Korea.
A Happy New Year for South Korea
South Korea was relieved when it received the message of peace from its northern neighbor. Seoul accepted Kim’s offer for a ‘peaceful resolution in the new year with its southern boarder’. Soon, the hotline between two countries was reopened after a two year gap. They also decided to hold talks on February 9th, where they may discuss various matters of friction including the nuclear test, separated families on both sides of boarders etc. South Korea can now peacefully host the Winter Olympics, without any provocation or threat from North Korea. North Korea even expressed its willingness to send a contingent for the Olympic game, thus easing the tense relations between the two nations.
Kim Playing a Game?
On December 22, the United Nations passed a fresh set of sanctions upon the country which essentially prevents the supply of goods and services across the Korean border. This means that the country, which is already derived of the sanctions on oil and other essential imports, will now have to face a fresh set of struggles. Though the Korean economy has been under the oppression of the sanctions for the past several decades, they were able to sustain a decent growth rate of 4-5% per annum.
Often, this was made possible with the help of the imports that they gathered from China, who didn’t want to experience a huge refugee inflow in case of a crisis. Now with the fresh set of sanctions, the Korean economy might fail and may even experience a severe crisis in the near future. Thus, it won’t be wrong to say that Kim is extending the olive branches to find a way out of this crisis. After all, the world knows how the economic blockades destroyed the economies of countries like Libya, Iran in the past, and Korea won’t be willing to take that path.
Will this bring an End to Nuclear Crisis?
Since the United Nations imposed a fresh set of sanctions recently, blocking almost all economic activities, Korea might be trying to buy some time so that it can fly low below the radars for time being and then return all powerful. For North Korea, Nuclear Power is the only guarantee that it has against any foreign repercussions or an internal uprising against the regime. The North Korean regime themselves often cite the examples how Muhammad Gaddafi, former dictator of Libya, was thrown out of power and brutally killed by the protesters. Had he not given up his country’s nuclear capabilities fearing UN sanctions, this wouldn’t have been his fate.
North Korea, under no circumstances, would be willing to give up its nuclear ambitions. North Korea is well aware of history, and so is its supremo Kim Jon Un. By extending peace and re conciliatory talks to its Southern neighbor, Kim is aiming at two objectives: One, to buy more time from the international community to pursue his nuclear ambitions and thus to become stronger, and two, to drive a wedge between US and South Korea as the newly elected South Korean Moon Jae-in is known to be a vocal critic of the way Trump handles the North Korean issue.
The Days to Come
Though the recent developments came unexpectedly, they give a lot of hope for the peace process in the Korean peninsula. However, it is unclear as to whether the progress achieved in the past few days will nurture a solution to the decades-long crisis. We must wait to see whether Kim wants peace.
-Contributed by Jiss Palelil
Picture Credits: Blue News