North Korea goes back to kindergarten

North Korea goes back to kindergarten

April 01
21:47 2013

It’s interesting how closely international politics can resemble those of a fourth grade playground.

The U.S., for instance, is that one kid who imagines himself the leader and tries to enforce the rules.

England is the awkward sidekick, who interjects “Yeahs” and “What he saids.”

The European Union is the plurality of kids who just want to relax and build sandcastles.

And North Korea is the loner who acts out for attention but doesn’t get any, even when he threatens to kill everyone in the school with the nuclear warheads he’s testing.

Maybe we should take him a little more seriously.

In a purely American context, the Korean War was the first outbreak of actual combat in the Cold War, with China and the U.S.S.R. wielding the North and the U.S. and NATO wielding the South.

After a few years of a stalemate, the two sides had the Koreas sign a truce and took their fight to Vietnam.

But in Korean context, that war never ended. After World War II ended Japanese rule of Korea, both the Soviets and the U.S. set up a government on either side of what is now the demilitarized zone.

Both governments claimed sovereignty over the entire peninsula, and then they were at war.

But, to extend the playground analogy, the teacher broke the fight up before a winner was decided and as such the kids’ conflict was never resolved. North Korea, at least, still claims sovereignty over all of Korea.

And since 2006, they’ve been toying with the idea of enforcing it.

Since 2006, the country has very publically conducted three nuclear weapons tests, two of them successful. In 2010, the north bombarded Yeonpyeong, a South Korean island in the Yellow Sea.

The same year, they are widely believed to be responsible for the sinking of the south’s ROKS Cheonan, which killed 46. They’ve also been testing missiles with the stated intention of bringing their nukes to America.

Last month, Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un said his country was in a state of war with South Korea, and photos of him examining a “mainland strike plan” on the U.S. were published.

Right now, President Obama needs to negotiate the nukes out of Korea. But Obama, and George W. Bush before him, said the country would abandon its nuclear plan before negotiations would begin.

The idea is, like that lonely fourth grader who acts out for attention, giving North Korea that attention reinforces the bad behavior.

The U.S. seems to think that if we ignore it, it will go away.

That’s not how we need to deal with this kid. And we need to realize that before he comes in to school one day and nukes Austin.

Joshua Knopp is a pre-journalism sophomore. He can be reached at

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