Congratulations, North Korea! On Saturday, Oct. 11, the Bush administration announced that Asia’s most mysterious communist nation is no longer on the list of states that sponsor terrorism. I, for one, am glad.
I don’t know much about Korea, or Korean culture, other than Jin and Sun from Lost are pretty sweet. I’ve also eaten at a Korean barbecue joint once and was really impressed. The table was just full of raw meats and spicy pickled things; and in the center of the table was a grill and fire pit so you could grill your meat to your liking. I got drunk on soju and didn’t even have a hangover the next day. Overall, I was pleased. However, I’m sure North Korea isn’t as bad as they’ve been made out to be—just a bit misunderstood.
Relations between the U.S. and North Korea have never been all that good. There was that war in the ’50s that never really got resolved. Back in 1994, things seemed to be lightening up in the two countries’ tumultuous relationship, as President Clinton signed a similar agreement with the North Koreans. That all went to hell in 2002, though, when the Bush administration pegged the mysterious communist Asian nation as part of the “Axis of Evil,” an announcement that ruffled the well-coiffed feathers of North Korea’s enigmatic and creepy leader Kim Jong-Il. The situation really got interesting in 2006 when North Korea detonated a nuclear device, changing the Bush administration’s “Fuck you!” attitude toward Pyongyang to “Hey, guy. How’s it going?”
An uneasy accord was met. In 2007, “six-party” talks (including Russia, Japan and South Korea) were held. Thanks to those meetings, North Korea kind of sort of agreed to halt their nuclear activities”¦probably. But in 2008, those shaky ties looked about ready to break. According to an article in the New York Times, just days before the Oct. 11 announcement, North Korea had barred international inspectors from a plutonium plant in Yongbyon. In a last ditch attempt to make it look like they have done something positive in its eight years in office, the historically stubborn Bush administration made a compromise. Imagine that.
The deal doesn’t really change the situation all that much. U.S. inspectors will now have access to the Yongbyon plant; however, whether or not inspectors will have access to sites international experts suspect may be used to make weapons grade nuclear material remains to be seen. Inspectors will now be able to gain access to such sites “based on mutual consent”—good luck with that. For its part, North Korea gains a modicum of international acceptance. They’re no longer that disturbed little child picking the wings off flies at the kiddie table; now they’re breaking bread with the big boys”¦just as long as they mind their manners and don’t ask for seconds.
The Oct. 11 announcement raised the ire of Republicans. Presidential nominee Sen. John McCain complained “that North Korea had yet to demonstrate that it was serious about adhering to its commitment to denuclearize.” Meanwhile, Democratic nominee Barack Obama was like, “Whatever, I’m going to be president soon anyway.” (I’m paraphrasing.)
Maybe we’re just making a big deal over nothing. For all his eccentricities, maybe Kim Jong-Il isn’t as insane as people think. Maybe the only way to get noticed as a player in international politics is to wave a loaded gun around. If it’s truly going to be a global community, doesn’t that mean everyone should have a voice? Perhaps it’s the only way he could ensure the safety of his government and his people—to create a sort of stalemate. Maybe if everyone had The Bomb, everyone would go forth in peace. I’d like to give the world a nuke? I suppose it has a ring to it.