The North Korean Conflict

Ellie Bradley, News Writer

    Both the nation and the world watches fearfully as Trump and North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, trade insults. As the most powerful nation in the world rubs against the most unstable, it leaves people hoping that tensions will not escalate to the point of war. As of now, nothing has come of these violent threats, but the future is uncertain due to the unpredictability of both leaders.  

    While there have been tensions between North Korea and the United States for many years, recent events have only soured them further. The imprisonment and tragic death of university student Otto Warmbier has increased national disgust and distrust of North Korea. Kim Jong Un and Trump’s battle of insults began in early September of this year when North Korea decided to “test” missile bombs. Although they defended  that it was only practice and nothing would come of it, it is illogical to assume that the testing of that magnitude of weaponry really is “nothing.” Many believe that North Korea is training for a real situation, and that these are the first signs of an oncoming war. These missiles were long distance, and because of that factor, the US and Canada immediately felt threatened. In response to the threat, the United Nations took action by imposing very strong sanctions on the country, although Trump had wanted further measures to be taken. As part of the precautions against North Korean aggression,  the UN put a cap on crude oil imports and textile imports, as well as inspecting ships that are entering or leaving North Korean ports.

    President Trump has also taken action, although the complexity of this international crisis limits his available options.  Despite sanctions against North Korea, attempts to apply diplomatic and economic pressure have failed to prevent the development of weapons of mass destruction within North Korea. Recently the US used a virus called Stuxnet to shut down some North Korean computers and were able to destroy some centrifuges that were connected to masses of uranium; however, this is hardly a long term solution. Previous administrations have forestalled threats, but soon  the North Korean question will come to a head, and it might be up to Trump to work with the international community to deal with the oncoming crisis.

    The US is not alone in this fight; other countries such as Russia and China are threatened by North Korean aggression. Sanctions and sabotage have been the US’s weapons to prevent war from breaking out, however the testing of these missile bombs indicates that escalation is sure to come, and it is true that now, more than ever, the world needs a strong United States that is united behind this issue. While this threat may seem pressing, many don’t believe that it is the number one danger to US public safety, and a frightening amount of people know very little about the particulars of the crisis.

    Upon asking students in the sophomore and junior classes what they know about the conflict, their responses were varied.  Kiera Patterson ’20 remarked that she knew  “that there’s a dictator, Kim Jong-Un, who is ruthless to citizens and has threatened to bomb the US. He probably has nuclear weapons. No one is brave enough or has tried to stand up to him, because everyone he doesn’t agree with, he kills.” By contrast others added, “Nothing. Literally nothing. Wait, Kim whatever his name is. Jong-Un,” or  “that they are both angry at each other and are going to nuke each other,” or “I know that Trump was undermining Secretary of State Tillerson’s trip over Twitter, but it’s hard to sift through Twitter noise.”

    The students were then asked whether they believed North Korea was an immediate threat to our country and answered: “I think it’s a threat but I don’t think t’s the number one threat” or “Yes. No. Is it? I don’t know.” However an anonymous student did express concern when remarking, “Yes, because I guess Kim Jong-Un is pretty crazy and you can’t really trust him.” Others still expressed confidence in our nation’s ability to handle the threat and commented, “Not really. If they attack us, they’re done.”

    Finally, they were asked if they feel the conflict personally affects them and the WFS community directly. Their answers were consistently “no.”

    The danger of Kim Jong Un should not be underestimated: his actions have clearly indicated that his goal is to harm the United States and his treatment of his country demonstrates his cruelty.  It has been decades since the US was attacked on US soil, and students and even adults these days have trouble conceiving what that would be like. To US citizens, war and destruction are dangers of far away places. In a situation like this, perhaps we won’t really feel in danger until that danger is immediately upon us. It is more important than ever to have a strong, united White House that has a plan for how to defend the country. However, right now there is only a president who made false promises to his supporters and a turbulent White House that has failed to be the leader that the world needs.  As a result of this, we may not fully understand the danger the US is in until it hits us, literally.