Thursday, April 4, 2013

North Korea - Aggressive or Misunderstood?

There's disconcerting sounds coming out of North Korea right now. It's hopefully all bravado but Kim Jong-un, like his farther before him, strikes me as a megalomaniac. A megalomaniac who is now bored and wants to play armies. Of course any attack of sizeable proportion against the South, and any attack whatsoever against the US, would be suicide and I'm sure that he and his cohorts realise this. Still, it's worrying times for the region.

However, we must be careful when judging Kim Jong-un and North Korea, as our Western-centric perspective, often formed from biased media reporting, can sometimes hamper our ability to see the world as they do. Clearly there is a repressive regime in place and for the average citizen life is hard due to a lack of some of life's more basic necessities such as food and water, as well as healthcare, eduction and jobs. But, they are also faced with some external worries: they live next door to their well armed enemy neighbour; and they also live close to some state of the art army and naval bases that happen to belong to the US, probably the most aggressive country in the world, with a track record of militarily intervening in countries both overtly and covertly. When you start looking at it from this perspective, you start to see that North Korea probably feels insecure and vulnerable, singled out for sanctions and bullied by the international community, with very few friends in the world. It's quite common for someone who perceives injustice in the way they are treated by others to lash out, and this might well help to explain North Korea's behaviour, at least in part. That's not to excuse their behaviour, but it would be helpful going forward if this was taken into account when dealing with this rouge state.