North Korea Locks Horns With The U.S.

Yesterday, the South Korean media widely reported that the U.S. and North Korea have begun a political war of words over the latter’s nuclear tests and missiles. Attending the ASEAN regional forum, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton again strongly criticized North Korea. Unwilling to back down, North Korea immediately returned the favor. Will their war of words cause North Korea to do something foolish down the line, leading to war with the U.S.? It is worth consideration.

Since Hillary Clinton’s appointment this January, it can be said that her position and rhetoric toward North Korea remain unchanged, especially in light of the U.N. Security Council’s recent announcement to adopt a variety of sanctions toward North Korea. The country has not only responded unfavorably, but has exacerbated the situation, publicly announcing its refusal to accept international sanctions or resume the six-party talks. As a result, at a press conference on July 22, Clinton had harsh words for North Korea, describing its actions as immature and only done to gain international attention.

North Korea did not compromise, instead locking horns with the U.S. A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson immediately responded, calling Clinton a schoolgirl and taking a step further to emphasize that that North Korea will never accept the so-called “packaged” proposal: only if North Korea completely demolishes its nuclear weapons will the U.S. be willing to resume friendly U.S.-North Korea relations, guarantee the continuation the North Korean political regime, provide economic aid, etc.

For example, at a press conference, North Korean Foreign Ministry Disarmament Bureau head Li Xing-Zhi responded that for over 50 years North Korea has received international sanctions, and thus are unfazed in the face of a new wave of sanctions. Actually, it should be said that North Korea has become thick-skinned, its belly accustomed to hunger, and so it no longer cares about international sanctions and accusations.

Although North Korea is thick-skinned, it has prepared a way to back down gracefully. According to reports, host country Thailand put great effort into inviting North Korean Foreign Ministry head Pu Yi-Chun to personally lead the North Korean team and attend the meeting, but instead North Korea sent envoy Pu Gen-Guang, who holds no position as team leader, thus decreasing the rank of its dispatched envoy. Their intention is to evade international accusations while making room for a graceful exit from the ASEAN regional forum.

North Korea is quite familiar with the vicious cycle of exchanging nuclear tests and missiles for sanctions. This time, running up against Lee Myung-Bak and Obama, it can no longer use its old ways to deal with the international community. At this juncture, North Korea really has no capital to fight a war with the U.S. Hopefully, it will give up its wild ambitions as soon as possible.

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