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Is it time to start losing sleep over North Korea?

2 Apr

North Korea pic

North Korea is making me nervous.

I know there is conflict all over the world and there’s the threat of heightened conflict all the time but in my mummy-brain it goes something like this – North Korea declares war on South Korea and Japan, the U.S. and its allies step in to defend South Korea and Japan, we are a U.S. ally so our troops who were just about home from Afghanistan are sent out again and then some, every country that has a grievance with the U.S. backs North Korea (the middle east, Russia, China) and the rest of us become targets. World War III begins and every book and movie I have every watched about war time – sitting back smugly because there’s no way leaders are stupid enough to fight like that again – starts to come true. What’s to become of my children?

I am terrified.

North Korea said on Saturday it was entering a “state of war” with South Korea after coming under international sanctions for its nuclear test. North Korea has been threatening to attack the South and U.S. military bases since the beginning of March because it’s this time every year that the North and South carry out routine military drills and have done since the end of the Korean War 60 years ago.

It’s thought that few North Koreans believe their country will risk starting a full-out war, particularly because they are so powerfully outnumbered by America’s powerful military and a successful missile strike on a U.S. target would be suicide. But somehow I don’t think leader Kim Jong Un applies much logic to his decisions.

The two Koreas have been in a technical state of war because their 1950-53 conflict ended under an armistice and not a peace treaty, although Pyongyang said earlier in March that as far as they are concerned the truce is no longer valid.

North Korea has issued two photos to media that appear to show plans for striking the U.S. mainland and rallies are being organised in support of this move. North Korean soldiers are putting on a show that they are gearing up for battle, shrouding their jeeps and vans with camouflage netting, painting signs saying “Death to the U.S. Imperialists” and urging people to fight with “arms, not words”.

Most believe it’s all for show. North Korea is trying to force Washington back to the negotiating table to pressure the new president in Seoul, Park Geun-hye to change policy on North Korea. In July it will be 60 years since the end of the Korean War and in that time South Korea has grown from a poor nation to the world’s 15th largest economy while North Korea is left struggling and has a per capital income on par with sub-Sahara Africa.

North Korea’s national airline, Air Koryo, is adding flights to its spring line up and is preparing to host scores of expected tourists to Pyongyang. I for one would be reconsidering North Korea as a holiday destination. I hear the South is lovely, but I might stay away from there too for now.


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