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20 August, 2018 00:00 00 AM

Dealing with North Korea

Muhammad Ali Baig
Dealing with North Korea

North Korea or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is the most unique country among the international community that is maintaining the status of a sovereign statehood while having a single party ie Workers Party of Korea (KWP) which acts as the vanguard, ostensibly, negligible or no diplomatic relations with the rest of the world. North and South Korea are separated at the 38th parallel since the end of the Korean War in 1953 known as the demilitarized zone (DMZ). No formal peace treaty has ever been signed between the two that makes them to be at war with each other in the eyes of the international law. DPRK can be characterized as among the least developed countries having minimal economic base and malnutrition-ridden demographic wealth. However, its conventional military forces, nuclear weapons, ballistic and cruise missiles of various sorts and ranges along with its unmatched cyber warfare capabilities and the possession of all these in the wake of its animosity towards the West and particularly the United States — make it a dangerous entity on the planet earth.

Jina Kim in their book “The North Korean Nuclear Weapons Crisis: The Nuclear Taboo Revisited?” (2014) argued that North Korea pursues Songunor the military first priority system and pays massive attention in enhancing the capabilities of its military forces. DPRK gives enormous priority to its National Defence Commission in terms of finances and logistics even at the cost of working class and other political actors. The author also argued about the Juche ideology which professes self-reliance. The demonstration of self-reliance is visible in North Korean Military Forces.

It maintains more than a million active troops and almost five times as reserve units. It has numerical superiority over its adversaries, however; the superiority in terms of quality is highly moot-able. It has various kinds of equipment for its military forces. In conventional terms, DPRK retains anti-material, anti-personnel, anti-air and anti-armour capabilities while its unmatched towed, self-propelled and fixed artillery can wreak havoc on the adversary. DPRK’s deadly rocket artillery has the capability to launch several thousand unguided rockets in a couple of hours had the war been started. It can conduct un-conventional warfare using its highly trained airborne forces for sabotage, assassinations and destruction of targets with strategic value.

In non-conventional military strength, North Korea possesses nuclear as well as hydrogen bomb warheads which can be delivered using a wide range of launching platforms. It has battlefield range ballistic missiles (BRBM), short range ballistic missiles (SRBM), intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBM) and now it also has inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBM). According to Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), DPRK’s Hwasong-15 ICBM has the capability to reach American Eastern as well as Western seaboards having the range of almost 13,000+ kilometres. Some analysts fear that DPRK has the capability to manufacture multiple independent targetable re-entry launch vehicles (MIRV) which can carry multiple warheads to hit more than one target fired from a single missile. It also has various kinds of cruise missiles and anti-ship cruise missiles primarily to deter U.S. Navy. North Korean Navy submarines have KN-11 submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) at their disposal that makes them a mobile ballistic missile launcher and can operate independently in the high seas.

Apart from the conventional, un-conventional and non-conventional weapons, the most dangerous weapon in possession of the DPRK is its cyber warfare capabilities.

The concept of cyber warfare was given by John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt in their article “Cyberwar is coming!” in 1993. DPRK has a contingent of a dedicated and ideology driven warriors specialized in employing various tactics of cyber operations. Cyber operations are apparently untraceable and can be executed free from geographical and physical proximity to the target area. It is conducted for various purposes ranging from theft of intellectual property to simply stealing money from online accounts. Hacking into the computer systems and architecture, putting malware and spyware in targets’ systems and using viruses and bugs to manipulate or corrupt data — are among the common tactics of cyber warfare. It is one’s argument that due to cyber warfare’s non-kinetic nature, it belongs to 5th generation warfare and comes under conventional means of war.

Besides the criticism and analysis on North Korea, it is evident that the isolated nation is resisting to the pressure coming from the international system. It is an open secret that China is behind North Korea and is backing it up — primarily due to ideological reasons. Moreover, it might sound radical for the readers but DPRK is a strategic asset for China. John Mearsheimer in his book ‘The Tragedy of Great Power Politics’ (2001) and its school of thought ‘Offensive Realism’ dictated an aspiring great power to have a buck passer whom it can pass the buck in situation of an armed conflict — fundamentally to gain time and to avoid immediate military clash. North Korea is a buck passer for China and history proves it. The Korean War (1950-1953) was somehow not a war between Koreans instead it was fought between America and the Communist China. The manifestation of this assertion can be observed when the U.S.-led Forces reached the banks of Yalu River in November 1950 and how China fought back while arming North Koreans and pushed back the invaders away even from the starting point of the war. The U.S.-led Forces lost Seoul; nonetheless, they counter attacked and regained it. It would be a surprise for the readers to know that China’s Founding Father and Supreme Leader Mao Zedong sacrificed his son Mao Anying while fighting the U.S.-led Forces during the Korean War.  The Korean War laid down the seeds of loath and hatred between the North Koreans and the West particularly the U.S. that is still observable today and will continue in the foreseeable future.



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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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