Opinion: A dangerous game in the north peninsula



Haoran Li

Haorn Li

Haoran Li is a sophomore communications studies major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. He can be reached at [email protected]

The North Korean government has detained American citizens several times: two journalists, Euna Lee and Laura Ling, who were held from March to August 2009, and Kenneth Bae, who was imprisoned in November 2012 and continues to be detained in North Korea.

An 85-year-old American tourist was detained in North Korea on the way back to America on Wednesday, according to an announcement from the son of the detainee. It is interesting to note that the tourist was a veteran of the Korean War.

It seems that North Korean government held the tourist because of his background. However, it was not a real excuse when we connect the earlier imprisonments of Americans. Anything can serve as an excuse as long as the North Korean government wants to arrest Americans. Actually, there is a significant reason why the North Korean government has detained Americans: The North Korean government wants to garner attention around the world.

Looking back at early April of this year, the North Korean government warned that it was on the brink of nuclear war. It was possible that the White House and China’s government forced the North Korean government to give up using violence. Besides that, it was more possible that North Korea used psychological warfare to force concessions from the American government.

Actually, North Korea can do nothing except garner attention from the world when one analyzes its actions from the beginning of this year to the arrest of the 85-year-old American tourist. However, the White House and the Chinese government should not ignore the North Korean government’s provocations.

North Korea plays two roles. The first role is a semi-ally with China and the other is the underlying war-maker. Although the Soviet Union has collapsed and China is no longer a Communist country, the North Korean government still listens to the Chinese government commands in some cases. However, China and North Korea have their inside conflicts just like the previous relations between China and the Soviet Union. If North Korea crafts its foreign policies carelessly, it could cause not only the skirmish in the North Peninsula but also war between China and America.

With the growth of China’s political and economic clout, the White House should not only portray itself as a world policeman but also a conciliator. Not only is America involved in this issue but also Japan and South Korea, who are tied to America. If the White House made a negative decision, Japan would be embroiled in this issue as well.

China’s government has announced that it will not compete with America to be the world leader. However, that does not mean China’s government does not want to be a leader in Asia. China’s government must deal with those tough issues flexibly. If not, there will be a tragedy in the Korean Peninsula again.

America and China have similar foreign policies on this issue. The North Korean government, however, always adapts dangerous foreign policies, such as announcing plans to launch a war and holding American tourists. It is a dangerous game that should be solved wisely between the White House and China’s government. If not, this game will evolve to a skirmish.