Archive for June, 2009

This assignment was turned in as a printed copy. 

-Kevin Park


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This journal is a response to articles from The Economist and Newsweek.

North Korea’s Rocket: Making a Splash” (The Economist)

Toppling Kim Jong-Il” (Newsweek)

1. How has the international media responded to North Korea’s missile launch?

The Economist viewed the North’s launch as provocative like South Korean, American, and Japanese governments. While the North praised the launch as a success, other governments called it a failure. However, a failure is more useful for future developments. Therefore, we must be careful of further developments. For now, the launch was not much of a threat, but more of a symbol or message. The North wanted to show their technological capabilities so that it could receive more unconditional aids from surrounding nations. On the other hand, Newsweek offered a clear solution to the problem. Lankov states that the Kim Jung-Il administration will never cooperate with the rest of the world. Therefore, the six-party talks and the huge amount of aids will not change how the North behaves, since the only thing that Kim wants is total control and isolation. The only solution to the problem is creating a revolution or changing the regime in North Korea. Lankov states that this has already begun as Northerners have increasing access to illegal South Korean DVDs and brochures. Therefore, if the international community joins the effort in educating the North Koreans about the outside world, the North Korean regime under Kim will quickly disintegrate.

2. In what ways might international perceptions of North Korea impact how the world views South Korea?

In a negative way, the international community might view South Korea as a very dangerous place to be even though that is not the case. For people who do not know the conditions very well, South Korea might look like a perfect target for the North. The media always mentions how the two nations have been at war and is still at war. This might bring fear to other people who do not realize that neither nations exchanged fire for more than fifty years. Even if I was an outsider, I would think that South Korea is a dangerous place, because it is so close to a nation that is described as crazy. Seoul is only few hours away from the DMZ. 

However, if the world views positively, then South Korea might seem like a defender of democracy. Since the South is much more prosperous than the North, people from other countries might view it as success of capitalism and democracy. 

3. Has anyone ever asked you “which Korea are you from, North or South?” What does that question reveal on the part of the speaker?

When I first went to the States in 2000, many students asked me if I came from the North or the South. Very rarely, some teachers would even ask me which side I was from. I was clearly awestruck, because people from the North can not even leave their own country. I felt embarrassed and angry at the fact that someone would even dare compare me to a North Korean. At first, I thought it showed ignorance and stupidity. How could someone not know this obvious fact that the North is ruled under a strict policy of isolationism? Then, I began to realize that it was natural for them to ask, because both Koreas back then were not highly publicized. Unless one had keen interest in global issues, it would be very hard for someone to know about the situation in the Korean peninsula. However, I never receive those type of questions anymore, because the North has been on the media almost everyday. We never pass a day without hearing North’s new “threatening” and “provocative” actions. Therefore, I realized how significant the media is in educating people. 



Taepodong 2 ICBM Missile

Taepodong 2 ICBM Missile

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This journal is a response to PBS documentary “Field Trip to the DMZ”

I never knew there was a school in South Korea specially made for North Korean refugees. However, when I saw what the school (Hangyeore High School) was teaching, I knew the importance of having one. I always knew that North Korean students were poor and that they didn’t receive a proper education, but it never came to me that they had no computers, credit cars, nor cell phones (which are almost necessities here in the South). It would certainly be very hard for these students to join South Korean schools if they did not know how to open a Word document. It would also be difficult for South and North Korean students to adapt with each other, since there is so much gap. The North uses a different dialect. They dress, eat, and look different. While Korean students carry Western brand handbags and backpacks, North Korean students carry ones provided by the government. While S. Korean students eat McDonald’s and drink Pepsi, North Korean students have lived their whole lives eating rice and kimchi. Most importantly, there is a major economic gap. While an average South Korean parent makes around 30,000 dollars each year, North Korean parents make only few hundred dollars. These type of differences could bring shock to both North Korean defects and South Korean students. Therefore, I support the idea of separating North and South Korean students. I think the government and Hangyerae is doing a good job of educating North Korean students so they can adapt to our society of IPods, McDonald’s, Macbooks, and much more. 

Also from the video, we saw the students going to the DMZ, the line they crossed and the line that signifies separation and war. One of the more shocking images was how most of the students faces had to be covered, in fear that the North Korean government might recognize them and punish their family members back in the North. It is a sad reality which must be solved. However, I disagree with the students’ view that unification is the only way they can reunite with their family. Although I support unification, I believe it is unlikely to happen. The two nations have been separated for more than fifty years. Although we share a common name, we are totally different. I think a better/faster way of getting the two Koreas united is by formally separating and creating an alliance. The two nations don’t have to be in a war. We can be two separate countries and still be allies. I want the two Koreas to be like U.S. and Canada. Although Canadians and Americans share a common background and language, they are separate countries under different governments. Yet, the two countries are strong allies both militarily and economically. Most importantly, millions of Americans and Canadians cross each other’s borders every year. If South and North Korea can create an alliance, I think it would be better than a unification. 


DMZ-Most heavily militarized zone in the world

DMZ-Most heavily militarized zone in the world


Flags of South and North Korea

Flags of South and North Korea

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Journal 24

This journal is a two-part response to the articles on New York Times.

Article 1- “The Hard Part: Hitting a Target” by Rand Simberg

North Korean missile launch has definitely caught the world’s attention. From February and March, news agencies such as CNN and BBC have tried to gather information and guessed numerous times when the North will launch its Taepodong missiles. Simberg states that the launch does not signify an imminent danger, because missile technology is currently so developed that even a private company could shoot a better missile than the North. It is true that North Korea’s technology is very much outdated. While the North failed to launch a satellite, Soviets launched their first satellite almost 60 years ago. Simberg also adds that firing a missile is not a big problem. Any nation or company could do that. However, the real challenge is accuracy, which the North currently does not have. The North always states that it can fire a missile 3,000 km away, but it never has a clear target, signifying the lack of technology. Lastly, Simberg proposes more spending on missiles (or at least not cutting spending), because America’s advanced weapons can clearly dominate North Korea’s crude nuclear weapons. Although I like the idea of scare tactic and overpowering North Korean weapons, I believe now is not the right time. The American economy is badly hurt, and it must spend less on defense. As we’ve seen in the Cold War, massive retaliation and star wars resulted in long period of stagflation. 

Article 2-“Primitive, but Dangerous Skills” by John Pike

Pike gives  a more cautious view of North’s missile launch than Simberg. While Simberg states that there is no need for such overblown worry about North’s missile launch, Pike states that no one is sure how advanced or primitive the North’s technology is. He also states that with more practice, these primitive weapons could one day develop into potentially harmful long-range/highly accurate missiles. Therefore, Pike is going against the idea of apathy, which was one of the major causes of World War II. However, Pike’s biggest concern is not in the missile launch. His biggest concern is that North Korea might use their technology and weapons to trade with other nations. Selling weapons bring much profit to a country, which is what Kim Jung-Il wants. If these weapons get into the hands of rebels and warring factions around the world, we could see a dramatic increase in “provocative” actions around the world.

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