Twitter memes about nuclear war aside, the United States’ conflict with North Korea has escalated recently. With the threats our countries’ governments keep throwing at one another, it’s important to understand where this tension stems from and how it is only growing worse (even though a nuclear war is unlikely to occur anytime soon).
According to the DepartmentofState,theUnited States first established diplomatic relations with Korea when it signed a treaty in 1882. Relations continued until 1905 when Japan’s colonial rule of Korea meant it controlled the country’s foreign affairs.
Upon Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II, Korea was split by a demilitarized zone as the United States occupied the South and the Soviet Union inhabited the North. In 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea, leading to the Korean War; the United States and Soviet Union aided the country they occupied, which can really make someone wonder why President Trump is so friendly with Vladimir Putin but I digress. After three years an armistice was signed. However, a formal peace treaty remains nonexistent.
It was this war that sparked North Korea’s resentment towards the United States. According to the Asia-Pacific
Journal, the United States’ “original sin” was dropping nearly 635,000 tons of explosives on the country during the Korean War; the North Korean government uses this as well as other propaganda to portray the United States as an enemy.
Despite a 1994 agreement to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, North Korea has conducted nuclear tests and missile launches. The State Department reported that in 2016 alone, the North Korean government has conducted two nuclear tests and 20 ballistic missile launches.
CNN reported that on Sept. 3, North Korea detonated what they claimed to be a hydrogen bomb that could reach the United States if attached to a missile, which means I’m definitely not going to the West Coast for college. This was their first nuclear test since President Donald Trump was inaugurated, as well as their largest test in general.
The political climate in the United States has been full of tension since Trump was elected. Anti-Trump protests seem to occur every other weekend,due to the lack of meaningful legislation passed or even introduced by the current administration as well as the bounty of un-American attempts to ban certain groups of people from the military and from entering the country; Trump supporters show up to try and deter these individuals, while Republicans attempt to lessen the blow of Trump's unfiltered comments, push for legislation to be created and then fail miserably. This division only allows North Korea's threats to create more stress.
The lack of certainty with the North Korea situation is troubling, as his toddler-like temperament. When speaking to the press at his golf club in August, Trump said that if North Korea made any more threats, they would “be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” according to the New York Times. His frequent presence on Twitter has also led to this divide.
Trump’s use of childish rhetoric and quickness to threaten North Korea back isn’t something to be proud of; he has stepped back from the precedent of past presidents in terms of refraining from using nuclear weapons and instead is implying that the United States is willing to go to war as soon as Un makes a wrong move. Frankly, none of us know what this “wrong move” could be: Forgetting to compliment Trump on the latest shade of orange that he’s tanned himself with?
It’s important that a united front to stop North Korea is maintained, but at the end of the day, Trump is the one responsible for acting in a way that is representative of all view points. Then again, for all we know his decision could simply be to build a wall in the Pacific Ocean that’ll shield us from their nuclear weapons and make North Korea pay for it.