North Korea’s recent actions suggest that their nuclear aspirations supersede the immediate needs of its citizens. While its people go without the most basic day-to-day needs, the North Korean government continues to invest 25 percent of its GDP on military spending and it’s the only country to engage in nuclear detonations in the 21st century, despite mounting international pressure.
Although North Korea’s observed policy to choose its military over food might seem illogical, the rationale for this stance lies in their history. A look at North Korea’s struggle for sovereignty provides context as to why it is Nuclear weapons are a core pillar of the reclusive country’s culture and protection against foreign interests.
For a country with a long history of suffering under imperialism, nuclear weapons are seen as the deterrent that ensures its independence. Kim Il Sung, the first president of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, pursued the prestige of nuclear power and its potential to preserve the country’s independence. Even during the widespread starvation of the 1990s, North Korea refused to give up its nuclear program. Kim Jong Il (Il Sung’s son and successor) turned these nuclear dreams into a reality, with the first successful detonation in 2006. Under Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s current supreme leader, the desire for nuclear weapons continues to take priority over the people’s well-being.
Even though North Korea’s nuclear dreams create a humanitarian nightmare for its citizens, nuclear aspirations are rooted deep within the North Korean psyche. One North Korean told NK News, “Our nation may still be poor. But we can be one of the most powerful and influential nations in the sense of national defense.”
[Hearst Seattle Media]