Okay, so it’s been a little intense here on the Korean peninsula for the past month with all the angry rhetoric and threats North Korea has been making, but after having lived here for the past twenty-three years, this is nothing unusual.
Yes, there bellicose rhetoric has alarmed a lot of people, but here in Daejeon (about an hour south of Seoul by Korea’s high-speed express train, KTX) and for the rest of South Korea it’s been business as usual the past few weeks. This is not to say that we’ve become complacent. It’s just that we have been down this road many, many times before.
You see, there’s a method to their madness.
On one hand, Kim Jong Un needs to let folks know he’s the one in charge and is capable of controlling the military to make the folks at home know that he’s up to the challenge like his father and grandfather. At the same time, there might be some internal maneuvering by some party members who feel Kim can’t control the control his own country. So, he can’t back down from the threats he’s making. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is his way of cleaning house.
North Korea has resorted to this kind of saber rattling blackmail in the past to get the United States and South Korea to come back to the negotiating table or to give them aid. In this regard, North Korea is the school bully, grabbing a kid by their shirt and threatening to beat them up if the kid doesn’t give him money the next day.
This will all pass in the next few weeks. Sure, this high stakes game of chicken is making a lot of people nervous, but cooler, saner heads will prevail, and all this will soon pass.