North Korea Threats and Tests
Although Park Geun-hye is South Korea’s first female president, which is an incredible feat, she already faces an enormous challenge from her neighbors to the north. North Korea rarely treats South Korea with anything other than hostility, but in the past few weeks, many eyes around the globe have focused on the North Korean dictatorship as they continue to test missiles and push for nuclear capabilities.
According to Reuters, one attendant of Park Geun-hye’s inauguration said they placed “trust in her as their first female president,” but that she needed to be “more aggressive towards North Korea,” a sentimentality that seems to be shared by many worldwide.
Park’s father, Park Chung-hee, was the military ruler of South Korea from 1961 to 1979, but his daughter’s inauguration speech didn’t imply any military actions. Instead, Park Geun-hye urged “North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions without delay and embark on the path to peace and shared development” (Reuters). These well-wishing words seem unlikely to come true, though, as on Tuesday, Feb. 19, the North Korean representative to the UN responded to South Korea’s criticisms of North Korea’s nuclear tests by saying that “South Korea’s erratic behavior would only herald its final destruction” (Fox News). Those comments did nothing to ease the building international worry over North Korea’s nuclear plans after their infamous missile test mere weeks ago.
South Korea isn’t the only nation receiving threatening words from North Korea. A United States military commander in South Korea was promised “miserable destruction” if our military, in a joint effort with South Korea, moves ahead as planned with routine drills that are set for next month. These drills have been a regular part of U.S. and South Korean relations for a long time, but amidst all of the recent tension, North Korea sees the drills as an act of aggression.
There are around 28,500 United States troops in South Korea at all times in order to protect the nation from its bully-like neighbor, the same neighbor who passed off their nuclear test on Feb. 12 as a defensive, not offensive, act (Fox News). The rest of the international community, of course, saw the North Korean test for what it was: another step towards nuclear weapons capabilities and a threat to the safety of South Korea, the United States, and other enemies of Kim Jong-un’s dictatorship. The day after North Korea’s test, President Barack Obama said that the missile launch “isolated North Korea further.”