Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Is Kim Jong-Un a pacifist?

Kim Jong-Un (aka Kim), dictator of North Korea, has been threatening the South Korea, the US, and Japan with nuclear war.
The world is upset and frightened, anti-missile batteries are being installed in Tokyo, pundits are analyzing Kim's every word...
But what if he is actually trying to surrender?
It sounds absurd, but read on. Kim was educated in Switzerland, where as a teenager he witnessed what the west is really like. There is no famine in Switzerland, people well-fed and happy, and their freedoms have not led them to execute their democratically elected government. The country 'just works.'
North Korea, on the other hand, is a mess.
So now we have Kim threatening nuclear war. But what are his chances?
If North Korea were to attack South Korea with conventional weapons then most of the South's casualties would come from their soldiers laughing themselves to death at the sight of thousands of skinny North Koreans storming into their homeland, using museum-grade weapons to strike fear into local schoolchildren and the odd chicken. The North wouldn't stand a chance; not against the South's well-trained and well-equipped army. Plus, there's support from the US which maintains a permanent presence in South Korea. Oh, and then there's the fact that entire battalions would defect to the South if given the chance. Nobody wants to stay in North Korea; even Kim himself lived in Switzerland for a decade or so...
And what if he attacked using a nuke or two? Well, there'd be heavy casualties in Seoul, but in response the US would wipe North Korea off the face of the Earth. That much is certain.

So why does Kim pursue this strategy of provocation? He knows full well that he cannot win a war alone against the rest of the world -even China is calling for him to be more reasonable at this point-, and negotiations have become all but impossible in the current climate.
So once again, what could his reasoning be? And then it hit me: maybe he's trying to provoke a war he knows he will lose.

If he actually cares a bit about his country or his people, then reuniting them with the South should be at the top of his list of things to do. But he can't just tell his generals to throw in the towel. These are men who were trained to hate and distrust the South and the Western world, sworn to loyalty to North Korea. The entire population has been taught to hate the South for 60 years now -several generations of schoolchildren who have never heard anything else but their government's propaganda- and they're not going to give up just because Kim tells them to. He recently executed several high-ranking military and party members, probably in an effort to show strength and unite the military and the party behind himself. If he is so scared of then that  he has to execute them, what does he think they would do to him if he were to ask them to lay down their weapons? How would the farmers in the countryside react, would they just accept that everything they have learned in their lives was false? Or would they rise up and create militias and defend their beliefs?

Thus, starting a war that he knows to be lost from the get-go might be the only way to unite the two Koreas. Following the defeat of the North, the SOuth and the US will occupy the North, deliver food aid, and slowly show people what the world is really like. And they, the defeated, will have little choice to accept it, once they see that their ideology has proven to be the inferior one.
What will happen to Kim in this case? A trial for the crimes his short reign caused and condoned? Life in prison, or in exile?

Of course, that is all just my imagination and fantasy talking.
Maybe Kim is just plain old-fashioned nuts, and wants to mount lasers on the heads of sharks.

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