Written by Putera Muhammad
North Korea and the United States have been at odds ever since the US backed South Korea in the Korean War. Today, the US has 23,500 US troops stationed in South Korea. That country is also America’s sixth-largest trading, underscored by the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement that went into effect on March 15, 2012.
For these reasons, North Korea is not a fan of the United States. North Korean propaganda portrays America as an evil imperialist aggressor hell-bent on subjugating the Korean people. There is an entire museum dedicated to alleged American atrocities during the Korean War.
There have been a number of North Korean missile tests. North Korea has also fired a number of short-range missiles into the Sea of Japan (East Sea of Korea), in what have been interpreted as political gestures. As of 30 November 2017, North Korea has carried out some 117 tests of strategic missiles since its first such test in 1984. 15 were carried out under the rule of Kim Il-sung and 16 under Kim Jong-Il. Under Kim Jong-un, more than 80 tests have been undertaken.
The US and North Korea are in the middle of a war of words. President Donald Trump tweeted on January 2 that he has a “Nuclear Button” on his desk that is “much bigger & more powerful” than North Korea’s — even though that button does not exist. Trump’s tweet was in response to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s Day speech in which he said the US should know “a nuclear button is always on the desk of my office, and this is just a reality, not a threat.”
Relationship between Malaysia and North Korea goes back and forth. It started on 30 June 1973. This was part of a broader campaign by North Korea to enhance its ties with the developing world. The North Korean embassy was opened in Kuala Lumpur in 2003 along with the Malaysian embassy in Pyongyang.
Relations between both countries improved and in 2009, Malaysia became the first country whose citizens were able to travel to North Korea without a visa. In 2013, the supreme leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un received an honorary doctorate from HELP University, a Malaysian university. Relations between the two countries started to deteriorate in 2017, in the aftermath of the assassination of Kim Jong-nam in Malaysia.
In the US and North Korea “Nuclear” issue, western and Malaysian media have the same perspective which are against the feud. North Korea has always been criticized for Kim Jong Un decision to continue with nuclear development and missile testing. News reports and journalists on social media also criticized President Trump for his response on Twitter to a nuclear war threat from North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, and held it up as evidence that Trump is unfit to lead the nation. A report in the New York Times called Trump’s comment was a boast in “strikingly playground terms.”
On a personal view, journalists should stop writing and broadcasting about the North Korea situation as if everything had changed and war is very near. North Korea has been seeking a usable nuclear resource for years. Its latest underground nuclear test had a higher yield than earlier detonations, about four to five times the size of the bomb dropped on Nagasaki. The larger yield could have come from a fission bomb ‘boosted’ with hydrogen isotopes or a true fusion weapon, commonly known as a hydrogen bomb; experts cannot be sure which, based on the information currently available.