Why We Should Pay Attention to North Korea

05/16/2013 01:20 pm ET | Updated Jul 16, 2013
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North Korea has a lot to learn about foreign diplomacy. For instance, according to a recent Washington Post exposé, the North Korean government ordered many of their ambassadors around the world to sell $300,000 worth of high-quality, state-manufactured meth on the streets! Because Breaking Bad is a great model for foreign diplomacy. Obviously, North Korea has been getting more and more outlandish with its actions, however, many around the world still fear North Korea. The country recently broke its armistice with South Korea, performed yet another nuclear test, and threatened to attack Japan, South Korea, and the United States. Many members of the international community are worried that these threats may turn into serious military action in the near future. And because our close allies are being threatened, we must closely analyze exactly how likely North Korea is to turn these threats into action.

If we look at North Korea's history, then it becomes clear that its threats, more often than not, lead to no action. These are certainly not North Korea's first threats against the United States. North Korea has always been like the racist uncle at Thanksgiving; we just ignore it and continue eating our mashed potatoes. Historically, threats such as the ones that North Korea has recently been making don't usually turn into action. One can remember how the country made a huge fuss when Kim Jong-Un took power, yet this uproar resulted in no actual military action. Usually, these threats are to mask North Korean instability, such as a power shift, a special holiday, such as Kim Il-sung's birthday, or foreign aggression, such as South Korean military drills. Once the change in power or military drills end, North Korea just goes back to its regular routine. When we should really be worried is when North Korea is silent. In the past, any time North Korea has a nuclear test, they do not make a large announcement beforehand. The only reason we know that North Korea did anything was that we read it on a seismic monitor and thought to ourselves, "Hmm... Why was there a giant earthquake-like event in the mountains of North Korea?" When North Korea is actually about to do something, it doesn't tell everyone. Thus, if we look at past actions by the North Korean government, we can clearly see that recent threats are not consistent with military action taken in the past by the country.

If North Korea were to take any action, it would find its military woefully ill-equipped to deal with a war with Japan, South Korea, or the United States. The country is severely behind in terms of technology. North Korea's computers look like they are from WWII. It's radar is so technologically outdated, our cell phones probably are more powerful. It's military has virtually no experience. Their commander-in-chief is a 29-year-old with no military background. North Korea's greatest asset, their nuclear arsenal, cannot reach far-range targets. Some doubt that its nuclear missiles can even make it to Japan. The country's missile targeting system is known to be inaccurate, at best. Recent reports have stated that if North Korea attempted to shoot a missile at Washington D.C., the missile would land somewhere in Iowa. And let's not forget North Korea would be fighting not only South Korea or Japan, whose militaries have recently been built up in response to North Korea's threats, but the United States as well. Kim Jong-Un may seem a bit outlandish, but he's not stupid. North Korea would be strategically outmatched by the United States, Japan, and South Korea, and thus we should not be too concerned about North Korea's threats.

Lastly, China will not allow North Korea to take any military action. China is North Korea's largest trading partner, and is widely known to be propping up the regime there with a constant inflow of cash. China simply has an immense amount of pull over the North Korean government. And believe me, China does not want a war in the Korean peninsula. First of all, North Korea's behavior has made China look weak in the international community. As an emerging superpower, China cannot afford to have its authority undermined by North Korea. China also is extremely against American presence in the region, and a war would mean large amounts of American troops on the Korean Peninsula. Additionally, a war would most likely mean North Korean refugees, escaping the war in their home country, would enter Northern China in huge numbers, destabilizing the region. China is already beginning to turn against North Korea, as it recently approved U.N. sanctions on North Korea. China is certainly not going to allow North Korea to go to take any serious military action in the near future.

Thankfully, it appears that North Korea won't be bombing the United States anytime soon. However, that doesn't mean we shouldn't pay attention to this key foreign policy dilemma. If North Korea attacks South Korea or Japan, then the United States will be forced to aid them in the war effort, dragging us into yet another overseas conflict. And if, by some miraculous chance, North Korea is able to bomb the United States, then that puts you, your friends, and your family at serious risk. Perhaps someday North Korea will not be so hostile toward the U.S. and its allies.