In 1948, a political disagreement in Korea caused a split between North and South. When the communist regime of the North attempted to conquer the right-wing South, the United Nations, led by the US, stepped in to stop the spread of communism.
With hostility, North Korea has resented the intervention ever since. Just as permeable Western culture poses a threat to the conservative values of Islamists in the Middle East, the ever-domineering mores of Western politics have continuously backed North Korea into a corner.
In recent years, South Korean leadership has been more stern in its relations with North Korea. For the past few weeks, North Korea has escalated its threats. Japanese and South Korean governments are on high alert. A reckless missile attack against South Korea, Japan or the US could be disastrous for all involved.
But does North Korea even have the potential to make good on its threats?
Dr. Mark Cullum, associate professor of history, said the biggest danger from North Korea is short-range missiles.
“They’re not likely to launch a nuke out of the blue,” he said.
However, Cullum said North Korea’s potential to do something devastating is not beyond imaginable.
“They could do something provocative, meet a stern response, and then escalate their provocations until something like all-out war begins,” he said. “Another no less disturbing possibility is North Korea could help other rogue nations or terrorists get nuclear devices. So they’re a dangerous lot, no doubt.”
Over the past week, North Korean volatility has decreased. The North Korean government may be inching toward peace talks.
Monica Bae, youth and family ministry and sports and recreation management major from Suwon, South Korea, said her family back home has continued life as usual.
“My family does not take the whole situation seriously,” Bae said. “They just make fun of it.”
Bae said many of her Korean friends have expressed a similar attitude on Facebook. However, even if North Korea may not pose an actual threat, the tension between North and South is noticeable.
“I just want hope and peace,” Bae said.
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