OPINION

[Park Sang-seek] War of words between US and NK heads of state

By Park Sang-seek
  • Published : Oct 12, 2017 - 17:29
  • Updated : Oct 12, 2017 - 17:29
US President Trump declared in his UN General Assembly speech on Sept. 19 that Kim Jong-un was a “Rocket Man on a suicidal mission for himself” and the US would totally destroy North Korea if the North attacked. Kim Jong-un personally responded by declaring that “I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire.” 

Trump also made a famous statement that “they will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” on Aug. 8 in connection with the report that North Korea had succeeded in miniaturizing nuclear warheads to be placed on its intercontinental ballistic missile.

Regardless of what Trump says, North Korea has not hesitated to achieve its goal: becoming a nuclear power having mutual deterrence capabilities against the US. As far as the US-NK verbal war is concerned, the US has been playing a losing game. 

The North Korean political leadership has adopted two doctrines to preserve itself. One is that the ends justify the means, and the other is that North Korea is plagued by two eternal enemies: the US and South Korea. Based on these doctrines it has developed one of the most sophisticated and effective propaganda techniques in the world which surpass Nazi-Germany’s. It relies on three tactics: the partisan guerrilla mentality, the one step backward for two steps forward tactic, and brinkmanship. Partisan guerrillas should have the following traits: absolute loyalty and solidarity; refusal to play by the opponent’s rules; and the use of ultra abusive -- vulgar and venomous language to insult and provoke their opponents.

True communists believe that the proletarians should behave exactly the opposite to the bourgeois.

Following this partisan guerrilla style of abusive argument and expression, North Korean communists, including the entire political leadership as well as governmental, mass media and social and cultural organizations, fired verbal attacks against Trump immediately after their supreme leader’s counter-attack. 

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho in his speech at the UN General Assembly on Sept. 23 called Trump “a mentally deranged person full of megalomania” and said that “by insulting the supreme dignity of my country, he made a mistake of making our rocket visit the US mainland.”

Over the following days, the North Korean Central News Agency called Trump’s remark “as an insult to humankind working toward justice and world peace.” The North Korean Committee for the Peaceful Unification of the Motherland called for throwing “the reckless gang of Trump war-mongers into the inferno of justice.” 

The North Korean Social Democratic Party declared that Trump should be “punished a hundred thousand times for his absolutely heinous and destructive remarks on our nation.” The North Korean Cheondogyo Youth Party stated that “old madman Trump cannot but be punished by heaven.” The Asia-Pacific Committee of North Korea demanded that “those American fanatics who challenge the Great Baekdu Mountain Korea will be ruthlessly dealt with by fire.” Other numerous public organs made almost identical tirades.

What this review reveals is that, first, North Koreans are much better than Americans in oral propaganda tactics and second, North Korea can beat America in any kind of war of words. More importantly, North Korea benefits from this kind of war of words immensely because Kim’s victory will unify its people more strongly and strengthen their loyalty to the supreme leadership, while Trump’s defeat will weaken his leadership and divide Americans more than before.

The North Korean leadership might have found that Trump lives like a typical bourgeois but talks and behaves like a typical proletarian. It wonders if he purposely behaves like a proletarian to satisfy lower class Americans. Kim Jong-un may hope that Trump continues to talk like a typical Communist for two reasons: One is that he will be more and more alienated by the American intellectuals and the bourgeois. The other is that his abusive remarks on and insult to the “divine leader” of North Korea would unite the North Korean people rather than divide them.

There is no question that North Korea’s strategy to deal with its encirclement by the US is to maintain the mutual deterrence capability against the US Therefore, it will never abandon its nuclear program. Now the Korean question has become the North Korea-US confrontation. Under the circumstances, it is natural that South Korea is becoming an object of a deal between the US and North Korea. 

In other words, by maintaining the mutual deterrence capability North Korea can become a little giant in dealing with the US and other big powers. Consequently, the US will become the only enemy of the encirclement of North Korea and South Korea a secondary threat. On the other hand, reunification will become an issue between North Korea and the US rather than between the two Koreas because as long as North Korea maintains its mutual deterrence capability against the US, the US is not likely to support Korean reunification and South Korea will become more vulnerable to North Korea’s traditional strategy of penetration and infiltration. Under the circumstances, self-sufficient military forces will become more urgently needed for South Korea.

What is the solution to the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula? Trump’s maximum pressure has reached its limit. North Korea’s nuclear capability has reached the point where it does not have to succumb to any kind of pressure. Under the circumstances, the most realistic solution is engagement. In negotiations the give and take is the key principle. 

The negotiating parties should give something(s) to each other. South and North Korea and the US, or the US and North Korea, should participate in the negotiations. They should be reminded of Cicero’s maxim: “I prefer the most unjust peace to the most just war.”


By Park Sang-seek

Park Sang-seek is a former rector, the Graduate Institute of Peace Studies, Kyung Hee University and the author, Globalized Korea and Localized Globe. -- Ed.