The Gambler of North Korea

North Korea has become increasingly bold and impetuous ever since Kim became ill in August 2008, probably owing to the regime's newfound nuclear-armed boldness, the need for internal unity prior to a leadership succession, and severe economic malaise. The international community's policy toward the country must change accordingly.

SEOUL – After a painstaking investigation, South Korea is pointing the finger of blame at North Korea for the sinking of its warship, the Cheonan, on March 26. The debate about how to respond is complicated by the fact that the Cheonan’s sinking does not seem to be a stand-alone event, but was, instead, part of a change in North Korea’s general pattern of behavior. Indeed, North Korea has become increasingly bold and impetuous ever since Kim became ill (probably from a stroke) in August 2008.

In the past, top North Korean leaders tended to calculate carefully the costs and benefits when they acted to put pressure on the outside world. And they were inclined to play only one of their “threat” cards at a time. But in April and May 2009, they threw diplomatic caution to the wind, launching a long-range rocket (as well as various missiles) and conducting a second nuclear test – all in the space of several weeks.

As soon as the international community reacted, by adopting United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874, North Korea quickly shifted to a charm offensive aimed at the United States and South Korea. The authorities released two American journalists and a South Korean worker whom they had seized in August 2009 on charges of violating North Korean law.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

To access our archive, please log in or register now and read two articles from our archive every month for free. For unlimited access to our archive, as well as to the unrivaled analysis of PS On Point, subscribe now.

required

By proceeding, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, which describes the personal data we collect and how we use it.

Log in

http://prosyn.org/MEZ41ig;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.