North Korea

For decades North Korea has been one of the world's most secretive societies. It is one of the few countries still under nominally communist rule. North Korea's nuclear ambitions have exacerbated its rigidly maintained isolation from the rest of the world. The country emerged in 1948 amid the chaos following the end of the Second World War. Its history is dominated by its Great Leader, Kim Il-sung, who shaped political affairs for almost half a century. Decades of this rigid state-controlled system have led to stagnation and a leadership dependent on the cult of personality. The totalitarian state also stands accused of systematic human rights abuses. The current leader of North Korea is Kim Jong-un, the grandson of Kim Il-sung. He succeeded his father Kim Jong-il in 2011. (Source: BBC)

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Analysis

Assessments

In an opinion piece for The New York Times entitled Trump and North Korea:  A Looming Foreign Policy Crisis, Joel S. Wit (Senior Fellow at the US-Korea Institue, Johns Hopkins SAIS, and founder of 38North) writes:

The reality of the past eight years is that North Korea has methodically plotted and implemented a strategy of building missiles and warheads using the political shield of China, a country unwilling to impose crippling sanctions sought by the United States. The United States, on the other hand, was either too busy paying attention to other international problems or too misinformed to realize that China was not going to carry Washington’s water. As a result, the North Korean W.M.D. cancer was essentially left to metastasize. We have now reached another critical moment. 

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We may be on the cusp of the Trump administration’s first major foreign policy crisis, with last Sunday’s missile test only the first in a series of missile and nuclear weapons tests. Unless Washington quickly formulates a strategy for dealing with Pyongyang — that includes not only sanctions and protecting our allies but diplomatic outreach to the North — it is going to be a rough ride.

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