North Korea (From Summer to Winter)

By Arya Bayu Anggara*

Sitting in another hemosphere of the world, it feels awkward for us to watch the escalating tension between these two opposing countries. To be fair, there are many other conflicts in another part of the world. However, the most intriguing one is how this small, isolated, and autocratic country, efforting every way to emulate one of the world superpower. Yess we are talking about North Korea.

North Korea, a sovereign country that located north to the Korean peninsula. This country has been catched many international attentions, concerns, and condemnations for years. What is North Korea, and how could this country has been progressing so far? Well, there are many readable resources that we can look into. Nevertheless, this short article will not be discussing this country’s history. For this moment, we will try to look at the escalating tension between North Korea and The United States.

After the death of Kim Jong-Il in 2011, the international concerns were at the focus on, “Who will succeed Kim Jong-Il as the General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea?” However, this was a such of rhetoric question to be asked for. Kim Jong-Un, the only “known” Il’s son, was on the favour to be the next supreme leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and all of the assumptions were came to the end when Kim Jong-Un is officially appointed as the Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army since 28 December 2011. Since then, there were several ‘troubles’ which provoked by North Korea under Kim Jong-Un’s regime.

The most condemned of all troubles made by North Korea administration is its nuclear ambition. Despite the sanctions that have been called to succumb its nuclear ambition, but the reality is still coming through. North Korea still continues its nuclear test which initially has been postponed during Kim Jong Il’s administration. North Korea has many nuclear research facilities that located across the country and the most noted one which is the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site.

The first test be held under Kim Jong-Un’s administration was on 6 January 2016. It has been conducted in Punggye-ru Nuclear Test Site, which approximately 50 kilometre northwest of Kilju City. This nuclear test was reported as the underground nuclear test by some international actors. As the sequence, many negative content reports have been reported from all around the world. One of them was from the United States Geological Survey, that reported an earthquake as the impact of the nuclear test, which is measured as 5.1 magnitude according the Richter Scale Meaurement. This time, once again, after some time period of stalemate peace, the tension would be rising up once again.

Therefore, after their first success nuclear test, North Korean became more eager to conduct more nuclear test in order to match up with the United States military forces. As matter of fact, that many economical embargo which imposed to North Korea have driven the country out from vast international trade. This means that they can not conduct an international trade legally, and this also means that they can not purchase many weapons as their self-defense mechanism. Thus, many North Korean elites see this disadvantage as the reasonable premise to re-activate their nuclear test program. This thought was supported and approved by the Supreme Leader, which has the ambition to conquest the United States. Well, in deduction, we may conclude that North Korean facilitate the nuclear test just only to prepare themselves from the military threats which potentially will be carried out by the United States.

However, it is not as easy as that to deduce the complex problem as we see in the Korean peninsula. As we may look back in history, that the states that ever divided the one Korea, as the proxy war effect between Soviet Union and United Stated, into what we can see today is the former Soviet Union, and the United Stated itself. At this point, we may make an assumption that the United States themselves are responsible for the escalating tension within the Korea Peninsula. Thus, that sentiment had has been planted deeply inside North Korean people for many generations post war. If the case has been like this, what could we do to change the million people’s mindsets?

Kin Jong Un himself, in my humble opinion, he does really wants to seek the war. Although the International has imposed many and many rough sanction to curb their economy and to succumb their military projects, but it seems those international reactions are ineffective at all. We should not forget to mention Russia and Republic of China, that are the closest and the worthy ally for North Korea. Many news articles reported that the main power, including coal, petroleum, and electricity, is imported from China. Despite the Beijing has been denying this allegation, but it seems to be true that they are trying to help North Korea to keep alive. Strong support from China, that it may be the primal moral for North Korea, is enough to keep their motivation to advance their nuclear technology.

On 14 April 2017, once again, North Korea made a big tremble on earth. After several nuclear tests which they claimed, “successful” They went into another show to show up what they have achieved in many years. On Friday morning in Pyongyang, about million pair of eyes were witnessing a big parade, which showing up North Korea myriad in military and its solid people. Many journalists from all around the world were invited and they got the access to cover this event, which is something rare to be got. Through this military parade, North Korea is considered trying to exhibit many of their “key” weapons to conquer the Wests. There were K-11 the submarine-launched ballistic missile, KN-15 the intermediate-range ballistic missile, and two big canisters.

Those stuffs are savage.

The situation is worsened by the presence of Donald Trump. His won in the 2016 United States Election might be surprising for many sides. Everyone has known his rhetoric during the campaigning period. Which many of them were anti-Islam tones, pledging to build a wall along the Mexico border, imposing more tax on Chinese products, pledging to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city, and prosecuting Hillary Clinton. Well, it is not our big theme to crackdown on this article. To the next, we will try to figure out some clashes between Trump and Kim Jong Un.

A year past, many clashes has been done between these two eccentric leaders. The most famous one was when Kim Jong Un denounced Trump with, “dotard” which means “an old senile man.” This taunt is responded by Trump and then tweeting, “ Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me “old,” when I would NEVER call him “short and fat?” Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend and maybe someday that will happen!” Hmm, it is hard to define the exact condition between these two political figures. When one of them insulted the other, and then the other responded to insult the other too. Well, it’s barely to be seen what the future would be look like after this, at the moment.

Actually, far before the reign of the two, the former leaders have been trying to solve the problem in the Korea peninsula. Many mediation and many meeting had been arranged, for only to breakdown the deadlock which would be considered as the best way to retain the stability around the peninsula. One of which is the Six-Party Talks.

The Six-Party Talk is a meeting arranged by 6 countries North Korea, South Korea, Japan, The United States of America, Russia, and Russia, which took place in Beijing from 2003 to 2007. These consequent these aim to find a peaceful the best resolution to solve the security concerns as the result of North Korea Nuclear Program. The 7 round talks were kind of tough mediation just only to shut down the Nuclear Program of proliferation outside Non-Proliferation Nuclear Treaty. There were many contentions upon this talks. Those are security guarantee, the construction of light water reactors, peaceful use of nuclear energy, diplomatic relations, financial restriction/trade normalization, verifiable and irreversible disarmament. However, the North Korean government agreed to close its nuclear program as the exchange to fuel aid and to reforge the relationship with the United States and Japan.

After about four years of “peace” and nuclear disarmament, another security concerns came out from North Korea. A resolution, code number 2094, has been indicted as the respond to the third nuclear test conducted by North Korea. The content of this resolution is to halt the financial transfer and to strip Pyongyang from International Financial System.

Respectively, the years ongoing are filled with the sanctions that indicted by the Security Council. Many of them are the resolution number 2270 which approved by 15 members. The sanction contains weapon embargo that limit North Korea accessibility to export, or to import the weaponry. Also, the members of the council may also impose initial inspection to every cargo that come from, or will be sent to North Korea, which it will deliver either via water or by land transportation.

Then we got the resolution number 2320. This resolution came out on 30 November 2016 after several ballistic tests that were conducted by North Korean government. This time, the Security Council halts North Korea export in coal, nickel, zinc, and silver. Regardless, North Korea is still not be distraught by this sanction. The upcoming ballistic test were still on the place. It seems that the resolution still not affect the economy of North Korea.

Yet, the Security Council is still struggling to impose the tougher resolution in order to trim its national income. The latest one, the resolution has come out on 6 August 2017. This time, the resolution were aimed to reduce North Korea national income more. When the resolution number 2320 has curtailed coal, nickel, zinc and silver export from North Korea. For this moment, the Security Council also curtail lead, seafood, and the foreign workers that are coming from North Korea. In another side, the resolution also forbids another country to set up any investment with North Korea. As the result, a report said that this resolution successfully suffers North Korea, as the nation lost a third of its initial national income.

However, despite the political tension between the two countries is on the rise. But as many wise men ever said, that sport might change everything. The summer has been past by, and also the autumn when all of the problems were falling down onto the earth. Then the time has come for winter to unveil itself. The heat of summer, which has burned some hectares of the “forest” deep inside human’s heart, and the dry wind of autumn have gone. Today, we see the snowflakes falling down to cover the earth in white. White as purity of how our heart should be look like. Cooling down the heat of the head that ever be turning back each other while they met. And, for the first time, the world see the thing that might not be happened, again?

Put aside the politics, for a moment, the Winter Olympics 2018 which has been held in Pyeongchang, it has made many history. The history of the game itself, and the history for the humanity in general. After long negotiation, enfin, we can see the delegates draped with North Korea flag walking inside the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium. And in the spectator’s tribune, we can see the cheers that are coming from North Korea itself. However, there are still many protests and concerns around this “controversy,” primary for its security ensurance.

Regardless, we should consider this occasion as the momentum to end the long dispute with North Korea. Their participating in Winter Olympics is the signal that they have been ready for the “peace.” They need to get involved in vast international relations too. The people need to see the world by themselves. Nevertheless, the politics once again stands as the barrier to make these hopes be true. Or at least, today we didn’t see any military threat from the disputed countries.

Would we see this rare occurrence in the next 4 years? Or, perhaps another North Korea delegates might be in the next Summer Olympics which will be held in Tokyo, Japan. When the previous “summer” might bring much heat to fire up the tension to WAR. The future “summer” should bring the spirit of summer to compete each other under one slogan sportivity.

 Let There Be Peace

           Let there be peace

           So frowns fly away like albatross

           And skeletons foxtrot from cupboards

           So war coresspondants become travel show presenters


           Let there be peace

           So storms can go out to sea to be angry and return to me calm,

           So the broken can rise up and dance in the hospitals


           Let the age Ethiopian man in the grey block of  flats

           Peer through his window and see addis before him

           So his thrilled outstretched arms become frames

           For his dreams


           Let harsh memories burst into

           Fireworks that melt in the dark pupils of a child’s eyes

           And disappear like shoals of silver darting fish,

           And let the waves reach the shore with ash.

-Lemn Sissay


*Arya Bayu Anggara is junior researcher at FAIR Riau and also a student of International Relations 2017 in University of Riau.

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