The press, for whatever reason, has been strangely Panglossian on North Korea ever since Kim Jong-un took over as supreme leader back in December 2011. No Stalinist tyrant is he, we’ve been told time and again. In fact, he may just be a bona fide reformer!
Even after a year of North Korean nuclear and missile tests, this year's State Department “Country Reports on Terrorism” makes the risible claim that North Korea is "not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts since the bombing of a Korean Airlines flight in 1987."
Roh (pronounced “No”) Moo-hyun, the startlingly left-wing president of South Korea from 2003 to 2008, offered a remarkable concession to the late North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il at a summit in Pyongyang in 2007.
The small Southeast Asian country of Laos outraged civilized people everywhere last month by repatriating nine escaped North Koreans orphans. The escapees, who had travelled through China and into Laos, are now likely to suffer harsh punishment. Repatriated North Koreans are known to face internment in brutal labor camps upon their return. They're occasionally even executed.
It's become an all too familiar tale: A naïve, amoral Westerner travels to Stalinist North Korea and returns with breathless tales of what a wacky, weird, and wild time he had there! (Somehow, the country’s extensive gulag never makes it onto the visitor’s itinerary.)
Over the past fifteen years, Pakistan has demonstrated how nuclear weapons can allow a country to engage in limited hostilities without triggering all out war. It has also shown that once a nuclear-armed state initiates hostilities, the international response will focus on restoring stability, with denuclearization reduced to a secondary goal.
Disappointing Western hopes that he would put North Korea on a more rational and humane path, Kim Jong-un relishes showing his regime as one of the most odious and dangerous on the planet. Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, the young new leader is acting the part of a real-life Dr. Evil, recklessly threatening atomic attacks on South Korea, Japan, and the United States. His conventional weapons alone could wreak nuclear-like mass destruction on Seoul.
In February, North Korea conducted its third nuclear weapons test since 2006. The test, performed in defiance of scores of United Nations sanctions, outraged the international community. Within weeks, the U.N. had leveled more sanctions on the rogue regime, beefing up inspections of North Korean cargo, banning luxury exports to the impoverished nation’s appallingly self-indulgent ruling coterie, requiring countries to freeze all financial transactions that might somehow aid the North Korean nuclear program, and barring the transport of bulk cash into the country.
Tokyo John Kerry’s first visit as secretary of state to Asia this week will be rightly dominated by the heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula, where Kim Jong-un’s regime continues to generate headlines around the world with its bluster and brinksmanship.
Tulsi Gabbard, a congresswoman representing Hawaii's Second Congressional District, responds to President Obama's proposed budget by expressing concern over missile defense cuts. "It would also cut our missile defense budget, even as Hawai‘i and the rest of the country face direct and heightened threats from North Korea," she says in a statement.
Gabbard is a Democrat, who otherwise praises Obama's budget, except for president's proposed Social Security "cuts."