Following the recent death of his father, Kim Jong Il, in December of 2011, Kim Jong Un became the leader of the people of North Korea. Until that time, North Korea had maintained a militant course which kept the world in a state of unease; ignoring the hunger of the North Korean people and devoting available resources to the development of nuclear missile capacity. North Korea has never accepted the 38th parallel, the line dividing North Korea from South Korea, set following the bloody Korean war of the early 1950s, and which the rest of the world respects. As Kim Jong Un took charge, not yet having reached his thirtieth birthday, the world wondered how his ascension would change the belligerent status of North Korea. Today, we may have an answer.
This week, as we write, President Obama and world leaders are meeting in South Korea to discuss a world safe from nuclear terror. It may be irony or by intent that North Korea at this time has announced a renewal of hostility toward the free world.
South Korea, the setting for these meetings for nuclear limitation, is a close ally of the US, and viewed as an enemy by the North Korean dictatorship. North Korea harbors an ongoing hatred for America and most of the free world. Many may have briefly thought that the new leader of the northern half of the Korean Peninsula might have a vision that the free world could work with. Two short weeks ago, North Korea signed an agreement to halt weapon programs in exchange for food aid; hopes rose. Then, as plans were put in place to deliver beef and many other foods to the hungry people, Pyongyang announced on March 16 that they were preparing to launch a satellite to mark the birth of the first of the leading family, seen as a deity, Kim Il Sung. This was consideredan extreme provocation by the American administration, although in truth the food plan was to have gone through without regard to the nuclear freeze.
Now North Korea has boldly announced it will conduct long range missile testing. It tested a nuclear weapon in 2009; that and all other missile firings have been in the direction of Japan. But the new testing, just announced, will be directed to impact an area between Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines. This course may be blatant hostility, or it may be a response to the Japanese admonition that any missile aimed toward Japan will be shot from the sky.
Kurt M. Campbell, head of The Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs said, “We have never seen this trajectory before. We have weighed into each of these countries and asked them to make clear that such a test is provocative and this plan should be discontinued.” Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Bob Carr, stated that “The North Korean nuclear and long-range missile plans represent a real and credible threat to the security of the region and to Australia” and that the launch would be “in clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions.”
Pyongyang indicates that the summit and the various statements about the proposed launch are a “childish farce;” any denunciation of North Korea, they continue, will be a “declaration of war.”