While the world’s leaders agonize over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, its maniacal leader is impervious to the various pleas, diplomatic tactics or threats of sanctions for him to cease from further tests and developments. Kim Jong-un, third-generation supreme leader of the totalitarian dictatorship state, has an uncontainable and passionate love for warheads and ballistic missiles, and delights in the global panic he causes by launching them.
Why Kim Jong-un is obsessed with his nuclear program
In the nonstop word war between Kim Jong-un and President Trump, the former isn’t backing down. He’s facing the White House occupant head-on in rhetoric, giving back insult for insult, threat for threat. And making it clear that they will go on with their nuclear weapons program, no matter what. But before judging Kim as a madman, one should see where he’s coming from.
The conflict over Pyongyang’s ongoing nuclear weapons development isn’t new and is quite complicated. The main protagonists are North Korea and the United States, with China and Russia apparently siding with their fellow communist leader and Japan and South Korea allying themselves with the US. These six nations make up the six party talks, created in 2003 when North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT.)
But before the six party talks began, North Korea already had a deep-seated hatred of the United States, stemming from the Korean War that lasted from 1950-1953. Kim Il-sung, the leader of North Korea upon the state’s inception in 1948 until his death in 1994, is the grandfather of Kim Jong-un. It was he (Il-sung) who invaded the South with the intent of reuniting the two Koreas under a communist regime and becoming its leader. The United States, backed by the United Nations, intervened to prevent the spread of communism. It allied itself with South Korea and the war ended in a truce in 1953. This is the popular version promoted by the western world.
But according to American historian Bruce Cumings, who has been reviled by his peers as a revisionist and pro-DPRK, the North invaded the South because, while the Russians had granted the North its independence in 1948 and left, the Americans also gave South Korea their independence but did not leave. Thus, there was always the threat of the US attacking again in hopes of reuniting the two Koreas under a democratic regime. To preempt such an attack, Kim decided to invade first. The Korean War that ensued killed an estimated 12-15 percent of North Korea’s population. The mass bombing of the US air forces also destroyed its farms and infrastructure. While the US helped rebuild South Korea, which was also in ruins, it was Russia, China and East
Germany that helped the North to rise again.
Another reason for North Korea to hate the US is its influence on the United Nations on recognizing South Korea as the sole legitimate Korean government. Its first president was Syngman Rhee, widely known as a puppet of the Americans.
Charles K. Armstrong, history professor at Columbia University, in his article at The Asia-Pacific Journal, writes in detail about the destruction wrought by the United States on North Korea, including dropping 635,000 tons of bombs and 32,557 tons of napalm, and the merciless aerial bombing of its population centers targeting “everything that moved,” as President Kennedy’s Secretary of State Dean Rusk puts it. By war’s end, only two buildings in North Korea remained standing. Pyongyang cannot forget the devastation and utter destruction that befell their nation and these events will forever stay in their minds. It is with the realization that they would be helpless against the Americans in a future battle that North Koreans became determined to protect themselves and their country by developing a more powerful weapon, the nuclear bomb.
As early as 1956, the Soviet Union began basic training of North Korean scientists in the development of a nuclear program. By the 1980s, it had built its major nuclear facility, the Yongbyon Research Center. During Kim Il-sung’s 46-year reign, he had inculcated in his son, Kim Jong-il, the paranoid mindset that the plan of the United States to attack their country is always present. The second-generation Kim, in turn, passed this mentality on to his son Kim Jong-un, the present leader.
Their fears were not totally unfounded. US presidents, from Truman with his atomic bomb threat to end the Korean War, to Johnson and Nixon who seriously contemplated using nuclear weapons on North Korea for its seizure of the USS Pueblo in 1968 and its shooting down of a US Navy reconnaissance plane in 1969, to Trump with his “fire and fury” and “bigger button” remarks, North Korea may not be unreasonable in its suspicions of an American attack.
Political and military analysts had feared that the verbal hostilities between Trump and Kim might start a nuclear war that neither really planned on. But recent developments look positive. North Korea and South Korea have agreed to meet and talk over the next few days on the forthcoming Winter Olympics and possibly inter-Korean ties. President Trump says he is “absolutely” open to talking with Kim. But already there’s a fly in the political ointment. Trump cannot resist taking credit for the upcoming Seoul and Pyongyang meet. Presumably, Kim got his message through the pressure and tough stance he took. If Kim’s ego reacts, it will be back to square one.
As to North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile development and tests, no amount of cajoling or threatening, or even a promise from the US that it will not attack them again can convince Kim to stop. It is a legacy handed down from his grandfather and father, and one that he will indoctrinate into his own progeny when the time comes for the next supreme leader to rule.