NORTH Korea’s successful test of a hydrogen bomb on Sunday has all but confirmed that Kim Jong-un has won his battle with the West. His abhorrent regime is now a nuclear threat to South Korea, Japan, Australia and the US. How has this been allowed to occur?
Firstly, Kim has absolute political power and control of his nation’s finances. He has demanded all necessary resources be diverted to his deadly ambition. Secondly, he has complete control over his population. The repressed masses of North Korea are among the most dehumanised people on Earth. While many tyrants have ruled around the globe during the past century, most come and go after a short time in power. Hitler’s 1000 Year Reich lasted 12 years, Pol Pot’s murderous utopia only four years. Kim Jong-un, his father Kim Jong-il (The Dear Leader) and his grandfather, Kim Il-sung (The Great Leader) have ruled North Korea since 1948.
The Kims are portrayed within a religious framework that includes a fable which claims that a new star and a double rainbow appeared in the sky when Kim Jong-il was born.
A carefully created cult of personality portrays the Kims as a God-like figures. The three leaders are glorified not only as national saviours, but as brilliant mathematicians, engineers and creative geniuses.
In this bizarre Marxist monarchy, there is no freedom of political or artistic expression, religion, creative thought, assembly or media. A paranoia about threats to his domination has led the current Kim to carry out many murderous purges. He ordered a former girlfriend and 11 other members of a state orchestra to be murdered by firing squad for allegedly engaging in pornography. He then ordered his uncle executed for crimes that included “dreaming alternative dreams”.
A special United Nations investigation led by former Australian High Court justice Michael Kirby described crimes including starvation, torture, forced disappearances and brutality in political prison camps.
Among the most bizarre crimes were the kidnappings of Japanese and South Koreans from the 1970s through to the early 2000s. They included teenagers kidnapped from beaches and a South Korean actor and her film director/former husband who were forced to make propaganda films for the regime until they escaped in 1989.
The three Kims have made fools of the US and the West for decades over the nuclear issue. “Talks” have been held which aimed to ensure the regime did not develop nuclear weapons. In the 1990s, the North’s economy collapsed and masses of North Koreans starved to death. The US, South Korea and Japan provided food aid and other support in exchange for promises that the North would move to end its nuclear program. But the Kims’ atomic program continued in secret while up to 500,000 people died of hunger-related illness.
Successive US presidents insisted the North would never “be allowed” to produce nuclear weapons but the rhetoric was not matched by any action.
Economic sanctions were undermined by China’s trade with Kim and its political protection of the dynasty. Recently, in reaction to news that the North may indeed be close to developing a workable nuclear-armed missile, US President Donald Trump stated: “It won’t happen.” As if.
North Korea has the required nuclear and missile technology. Fitting a nuclear warhead on to a working rocket that can survive atmospheric re-entry is all that is left. They must be very close. In short, Kim has already accomplished his atomic ambition.
Kim is not irrational and he is not about to launch anything at Guam. He makes his ridiculous comments and laughs while the world talks about it for days and takes his statements seriously.
A nuclear-armed North Korea is almost a reality and will provide what Kim yearns for most: a nuclear deterrent against a possible US pre-emptive strike. And that will provide Kim with the power to continue his tyranny and his family’s domination of his impoverished and repressed population for decades to come.
Dr Phil West is a Melbourne freelance writer whose doctoral dissertation examined US foreign policy during the Cold War