Yesterday, for the first time since March of last year and since President Joe Biden took office in January, North Korea fired multiple ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, surely as a show of force to the new administration, which is currently reviewing America’s policy toward the country. This is in clear violation to the United Nations Security Council’s resolution barring the launch of such missiles by North Korea.
Just five days prior, short-range cruise missiles were also launched as the Biden administration carefully monitored the situation. Though not a violation of said resolution, this, too, is an alarming development. While former President Donald Trump may have turned a blind eye due to their inability to reach the continental United States, these cruise missiles could cause devastation in Japan or South Korea. It seems as though North Korea is ramping up the extent of its provocations to see how Biden, who has promised to uphold America’s alliances, responds.
At the 8th Congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea in January, officials dubbed America “Enemy #1,” promising to build up North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, in addition to developing nuclear submarines, hypersonic glide vehicles and other infeasible, cutting-edge weapons, all to convince the world of the power North Korea possesses.
The party also continues trying to drive a wedge in the American-Japanese-South Korean axis. When the U.S. and South Korea held joint military exercises for the first time in two years this spring, Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un, condemned the South. Avoiding direct criticism of America, Kim’s reiteration of the North’s long-standing desire to repair relations with the South was a clear attempt at shaking Moon Jae-in’s government. Japan, America and South Korea must maintain strong relations to prevent North Korea from gaining leverage.
Aiming to strengthen his power base, Kim is trying to improve the lot of North Korea’s citizens. Reality, however, is very grim. On top of sanctions over the country’s development of nuclear missiles, COVID-19 regulations have cut off international trade, furthering the country’s seclusion. In reviewing America’s policy toward North Korea, the Biden administration has tried to take a diplomatic approach and open talks. As of yet, North Korea hasn’t accepted. These talks, however, are the only way for the country to resolve its nuclear issues and emerge from international isolation. Kim Jong Un must redress the state of his country, as these repeated provocations will get him nowhere.