Dimitris Rapidis

Far away from Europe and its interests, but so close in terms of geopolitical stabilities, North Korea has been steadily presented by the global media as one of the rogue states of the modern world. One of the last shelters of “offensive communism”, North Korea triggers the interest of the political analyst for this special international attention it acquires since the end of WWII and the rise in power of the communist leader and proclaimed father of the North Koreans, Kim Il-Sung. But is this state trully belligerent acting on its own, is it just another victim of political absolutism or finally the best actor in the geopolitical landscape of the China Sea?

The “Kim Dynasty” reigns in North Korea since 1948. Kim Il-Sung was the first leader of the Worker’s Party of Korea, proclaimed himself President and ruling the country under complete political absolutism between 1972-1994, after having first established its hegemony as General Secretary and PM of North Korea between 1948-1972. After his death, his son Kim Jong-Il took power ruling his country from 1994 until his death in 2011. Finally, after him, his son Kim Jong-Un came into power, continuing this eternal dynasty which ressembles more to the old Chinese Dynasties of Ming and Qing, than to a communist successive story. The hereditary right of the old times still dominates in North Korea, and this is the first observation somebody can make about the country.

The second observation is more related to the way power is exerted. All three leaders of the Kim Dynasty had at least one incident of military and diplomatic escalation during their tenures in office. Kim Il-Sung’s rule is synonym with the Korean War of 1950-3, when his country invaded South Korea, triggering the military intervention of the UN and American-led forces to stop the overruning of the Peninsula and to finally achieve the armistice. During Kim Yong-Il’s ruling was attributed the establishment of the term “rogue state” and the inclusion of his state in the so-called “axis of terror”, a definition invented by the G.W. Bush Administration between 2001-09, after numerous belligerent threats of North Korea took place in the Peninsula and targeted South Korea’s sovereingty. Now, Kim Yong-Un, the third Kim in a row, is in the center of international attention after launcing consecutive nuclear threats against South Korea. After all, it comes to question ourselves what is this obsession against South Korea and why nuclear capacity is so extrovertedly propagated by North Korea.

The fundamental assumption we can make is that South Korea is the place were American imperialism was so openly exerted since the end of WWII. The permanent presence of the American navy in the region and the sea is something North Korea cannot withstand. US security umbrella aims to safeguard South Korea’s sovereingnty, and therefore the stability of the entire region. A region of great geopolitical singificance which involves China, Japan, and Russia as well, three of the major geopolitical powers globally. American presence is annoying for North Korea in many terms, and this from a certain perspective is comprehensable.

Nonetheless, I firmly believe that behind North Korea’s belligerent status it is China which infiltrates this artificial escalation. And why is that? Because both politically, militarily and economically China supports North Korea as the last fortress against American hegemony in the region, an hegemony which is meticulously planned and developped since the Chinese Dynasties and the first efforts of the American leadership just after the American War of Independence to establish ties with the region by invading commercially and exploiting the resources of China, which was at that period of time (i.e. 18th-19th cenruty) a week kingdom with many internal conflicts. US presence was since then linked with the effort to exert partial control over the Chinese commerce in land and sea, and verify the global hegemony of the US, regardless of geographic regions and territories.

This long-lasting “experience” still prevails in the strategic doctrine of Beijing, and it is something that explains why North Korea is used to behave in such a belligerent way, being definitely the most extrovert political and strategic satellite of Beijing against any American presence in the region. In other words, North Korea is the preventive shield of China against USA, as China does not want to open direct disputes with the USA for the moment due to various and intermingled reasons in terms of geopolitics, stability, economy, and energy. And this is a fact we have to definitely ackowledge before endeavoring to characterize North Korea with this or the other way.

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