North Korea has been busy. In the last several months, tensions have flared between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States as North Korea continues a streak of aggressive action.
In its bid to achieve the status of a nuclear power, North Korea conducted its third nuclear test in February this year despite pleas from China, its sole ally, that to do so risked open confrontation. The United States has responded by urging China to participate in economic sanctions.
With few sanctions left to enact, the United Nations and the United States have been left with little leverage.
South Korea responded immediately, carrying out army and naval exercises in a display of force showing it could strike anywhere within North Korea. Videos were released displaying South Korean cruise missiles destroying targets from long range, signifying their ability to strike its northern neighbor at any point, reflecting the tension of the dispute.
The North Korean actions may be falling on tired ears.
“South Korea should act strongly in response to the actions taken by North Korea,” sophomore Sunny Park said. “We already supported North Korea before, and they focused their efforts on building nuclear weapons with the support we gave them. If we have a war, it would be disadvantageous for both of us.”
In March, a new series of economic sanctions was imposed by the United Nations, this time with the support of China. North Korea responded by nullifying its nonaggression agreements and cutting its hotline to the South Korean government. In the case of accidental military action, there will be no easy contact between the two governments to stabilize the conflict.
Incidents of aggression have long been a part of history between the two Koreas, with the conflict never progressing or resolving. However, Kim Jong-un has yet to be tested as the leader of North Korea, and the United States is unaware of how he will respond.
North Korea remains a highly closed society, but UR Medical Center Nurse Sarah Kim is one of the few Americans who have actually entered the country, as she described in a presentation sponsored by the campus group Liberty in North Korea.
During a one-week medical mission trip with Wheat Missions Ministry, Kim visited Pyongyang Maternity Hospital, Sariwon Orphanage, and Mangyongdae Arts School. Kim, among others, brought supplies and taught breakthrough techniques to medical staff.
After witnessing a C-section, Kim was struck by just how isolated the North Korean world is.
“I was like, this is a North Korean baby boy who is born in to the generation where they don’t know any different,” she said. “This is his world.”
While North and South Korea may have a shared a history, they are now worlds apart.
“I think there is a chance [for] unification later on [since we shared] the same culture for thousands of years,” Park said. “Nowadays, people believe there is no need for unification.”
Smith is a member of the class of 2014.