North Korea Foreign Policy

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Assess the impact of foreign involvement on North Korea’s foreign policy and isolation:

North Korea is, as stated by Bruce Cummings in North Korea – Another Country, “The Author of most of its own troubles”. The country is close to entirely isolated from the rest of the world maintaining only small contact with certain nations. Since the ceasefire of the Korean War, North Korea has become increasingly detached from the majority of the world; however what factors have led to this increased isolation? The heavy bombing of the North during the war, the continued existence of missiles aimed at the North, the fall of the Soviet Union, the Carter and Clinton governments steps on reconciliation with North Korea and the Bush Governments seemingly polaric policy re-opening tension with the nation, have all played a role in North Korea’s isolation but to what extent?

The Korean War was, as the Cold War of the same era, an ideological clash between the two main systems, Communism and Democracy. The North, as a communist country, was an enemy of the United States in this Ideological Clash however the Korean War was, as stated by Bruce Cummings in his 2004 novel, North Korea – Another Country, “A War fought by Koreans for Korean goals”. Bruce Cummings is the most prominent western historian to write about North Korea and several of his books are on required reading lists for subjects at the Korean University in Seoul. Cummings presents a sympathetic view to North Korea’s scenario as a “hermit kingdom” and with a large exposure to the country and despite his obvious bias towards the left, his works are extensively researched and heavily fact based. Therefore Cummings presents himself as an extremely reliable source on North Korea in general, as well as this Cummings presents works that are also useful sources in terms of analyzing an opinion on North Korea from the left wing of the political spectrum.

By the end of the Korean War, more napalm had been dropped on the North than what had been dispersed on Vietnam and with cities of greater population and industrialization in North Korea; the effects were far more devastating in comparison to Vietnam. On August the 12th, 1950, 625 tons of bombs were dropped on the North, and by late August, American fleets were dropping up to 800 tons per day. British Prime Minister during much of the conflict, Winston Churchill, was critical in the American’s heavy use of these aforementioned bombs stating “When napalm was invented in the latter stages of World War II, no one contemplated that it would be ‘splashed’ over a civilian population.”

Although North Korea was the responsible party for the outbreak of the war, America and the Soviet Union heavily influenced both the North and South’s ideologies. With estimates of North Korean deaths ranging from 1.6 to 3 million by the ceasefire of the war combined with the immense amount of bombs dropped upon the North throughout the war, one could make an assumption that the event played a large part in shaping and sustaining North Korea’s reclusive and isolated foreign policy. In North Korea – Another Country, Cummings, whilst making clear that the North were largely responsible for their own losses concludes “All Americans share a significant responsibility for the garrison state that emerged from the destruction of the North half a century ago.

The North has often stated that its primary objective after the ceasefire of the war was to re-unite with the South and since has often touted “unification” as what seems like the country’s main goal, however after the ceasefire of the war, this did not occur. Although a ceasefire had been pronounced, heavy tensions were still present. A graph published by Hans M. Kristensen of nukestrat.com, shows that US Nuclear Weapons based in the South increased from around 250 in the late 1950’s peaking at close to 1,000 in 1963. Adding to the pre-existing tensions left behind in the shadow of a war, still not...
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