Written in December 2016 – published 12th March 2017
Is North Korea a redeemable pariah state?
North Korea apparently is acting outside the Western influenced geopolitical categories of the International Relations, but this doesn’t mean that “they are mad”. The North-Korean leaders don’t reply to the large majority of what Western diplomacy and the mass media system say about them, thus we are used to say everything we want without a real debate. I suggest that ” they” are rational, and predictable, from their point of view and not only.
They believe to be besieged and under attack from the outside, so the choice of getting the nuclear weapon is coherent (and rational) to this perspective and also to the internal dynamic of power. The inner political leadership, like any one, is always in a process of (re)positioning within the power and in each rigid system the political fight is hard and he transition phases are always perceived as dangerous. The monarchic-imperial-like top level system applied in North Korea eliminates one of the incertitude factor.
Kim Jong-un has his predictable geopolitical regularity; the familial dynasty in a communist background is an ostensible contradiction for our iconographies, but not within an imperial-Confucian tradition.
The so-called World Order and the assumed International Community have rigid ideological iconographies (territorial sovereignty, fixed borders, territorial integrity, etc.) and they seem to be blind in relation to what happened and it is happening in the several geopolitical crisis after the end of the Cold War. This mental conceptual frame has as a consequence on one side ineffective rhetoric declarations and on the other side the inability to intervene (always too late) and to solve the geopolitical crisis, using officially a range of means but often, eventually, the military intervention with conventional weapons.
North Korea is a free rider in the world hierarchical “Order” and it is irrational to expect that they do the first move, begging for being accepted.
Donald Trump as US president could be a dynamic factor if he will confirm with actions his “irrational” foreign policy declarations during the presidential campaign. He could be able to call directly Kim Jong-un or even to meet him. Theoretically on a basis of a flexible, democratic relation between “equal” UN members. A recognition of status for North Korea and his leadership that could have, perhaps, positive consequences; at least shaking the current “caged” geopolitical dynamics.
In any case the political reunification of the Korean peninsula should be abandoned as an iconographic point of reference; no more cited, no more analyzed in academic articles, no more spread in the “popular geopolitics” of the mass media.
“Reunification” could be, giving (long) time, the practical result of a flexible relation between two equal parts: couldn’t it be an acceptable situation the existence of two separated states, but peacefully collaborating without danger for the surrounding countries? The internal lack of political democracy (along the Western parliamentary way), like in North Korea, seems to be a marginal issue for many countries “accepted” in the World Order. The human rights issue must be managed in the field of culture and iconographies; Anthropology and Geography could be more useful than Political Science and I.R. theories.
South Korea should have a more effective and independent geopolitical role; in producing new or at least more dynamic iconographies based on the shared cultural and local iconographies. The more than 60 years of physical separation of the Korean peninsula already provoked a minor linguistic drift and a major social behavioral division within the two countries. The Korea issue is a cultural/iconographic one, not a “simply” unbalanced power relation or a threat to the so-called International Community.