Ignorant of the long history of the North Korean problem, Trump at least brings fresh eyes to it. But he is going to collide with the same harsh truth that has stymied all his recent predecessors: There are no good options for dealing with North Korea.
The myth holds that Korea and the Kim dynasty are one and the same. It is built almost entirely on the promise of standing up to a powerful and menacing foreign enemy. The more looming the threat–and Trump excels at looming–the better the narrative works for Kim Jong Un.
Nukes are needed to repel this threat. They are the linchpin of North Korea’s defensive strategy, the single weapon standing between barbarian hordes and the glorious destiny of the Korean people–all of them, North and South.
Kim is the great leader, heir to divinely inspired ancestors who descended from Mount Paektu with mystical, magical powers of leadership, vision, diplomatic savvy, and military genius. Like his father, Kim Jong Il, and grandfather Kim Il Sung before him, Kim is the anointed defender of all Koreans, who are the purest of all races. Even South Korea, the Republic of Korea, should be thankful for Kim because, if not for him, the United States would have invaded long ago.
This racist mythology and belief in the supernatural status of the Mount Paektu bloodline defines North Korea.