Today in my Asian Perspectives class, the prof talked for a while about "The Two Koreas." In light of the past few days it seemed fitting, and it was pretty interesting. I don't know much about either Korea, other than knowing some people who managed to escape from North Korea, and loving Korean food.
The Republic of Korea [South] has a population of roughly 50 million, whereas the Democratic People's Republic of Korea [North] has about half that, at around 23 million. Up until the Soviet era, North Korea was an industrial powerhouse and South Korea was mostly agricultural. Today, however, South Korea is one of Asia's "economic tigers," heavy in ICT and service-based industries. The people of North Korea, at least those who aren't high government officials, are for the most part starving.
Kim Jong Il puts somewhere in the area of 90% of the national budget into the military. Hence the nuclear test of the other day, and missile testing of a few years ago. We know that North Korea could hit Japan, parts of China, Russia, or other surrounding countries with missiles, and they could probably reach North America as well. North and South Korea never actually declared "non-war" and we have around 37,000 troops stationed near the border between the two Koreas, so this military posturing even more significant.
Kim Jong Il sounds like a bit of a man-child to me. I mean, honestly. FIRE ZE MISSILES! He actually had the Steven Spielberg of South Korea kidnapped along with his wife, and held them for a few years, because one of his hobbies is film and filmmaking. So he figured, hell, why not just kidnap a director so he can make movies for me? Childish.
So what we have now is a diplomatic nightmare... do we use military force? Sanctions? Should we cut aid? Personally, I think he leans a little bit crazy, and why can't someone just take him out? Don't pretend to be shocked, it's not as if that doesn't happen in and among governments. If any crazy leader deserves to be blown out of the water, it's probably Kim Jong Il.
In related news, I think my college years will disqualify me from the hope of ever being in politics. Things like the above are probably career-breakers. Oh well, these days politics isn't much of an aspiration.
Maybe President Shrub and Kim Jong Il should fight to the death in a cage battle.