The United States is considering whether to reclassify North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism after the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment. This means that the U.S. views North Korea’s recent hacking as a serious security threat on the level of cyberterrorism. Last weekend, the FBI publically announced that North Korea was behind the hacking of Sony’s production company, which was due to release “The Interview,” a film depicting the assassination of Kim Jong Un. President Barack Obama clarified the U.S. position by stating, “We’ll respond proportionally, and we’ll respond in a place and time and manner that we choose.”
Since July, North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has threatened that his country “would not tolerate any harm intended on its leadership” and stated that “if the U.S. administration condones or protects the release of the film ‘The Interview,’ North Korea would take ruthless response measures.” Although North Korea has backed away from these threats and called for a joint investigation into the matter, it is highly unlikely that anyone will agree to this deceptive proposal. A hacker group called the GOP (Guardians of Peace) released a statement calling on people to “Remember the 11th of September 2001,” which disrupted the intended premiere of the movie by Sony Pictures on Christmas day. If North Korea can so easily threaten and intimidate, striking at the core values of a liberal democracy, the U.S. has already suffered a defeat in a cyberwar. In response, Sony has said that it is looking for alternate ways to distribute this film.
We must consider America’s punitive responses, including economic and financial sanctions, and cyber retaliation. During the first phase of the 2008 nuclear negotiations with North Korea, as North Korea was removed from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list through closed door discussions with the United States. However, the discussions came to a standstill, and concessions became more difficult for South Korea President Park Geun-hye’s administration to make. The country that said, “Defend to the death” is now reaping what it sowed.
Next May, Russia will host the 70th anniversary celebration of the end of World War II and has sent out invitations to all the major leaders in the world. Kim Jong Un was included in these invitations. If North Korea is reclassified as a state sponsor of terrorism, it will be difficult for Kim Jong Un to receive any positive reception on this stage of summit diplomacy. Kim Jong Un should seriously reflect on why he is the subject of mockery in such a cheesy film being distributed to the international community.