By Jason Hois
Last week the United States and South Korea announced a joint military drill of record breaking scale. North Korea responded by threatening a, “Pre-emptive nuclear strike of justice,” making the rhetoric between the three countries much worse. This is not the first time North Korea has reacted to joint military drills between South Korea and the USA. The resumption of military drills in the 90s led to a freezing of rapprochement between the North and South. North Korea continues to use its trump card, threatening to develop nuclear weapons, as an attempt to scale down the security threat on its border. However, as North Korea continues to threaten the nuclear button, the global community, in the form of the UN, increases sanctions. Also, the more a US military presence is seen as essential for maintaining South Korean security.
North Korea still resides outside the global economic market, a byproduct of poor relations with the US. As it continues its path toward nuclear armament, the international community increases economic pressure. Nevertheless, threatening to develop nuclear weapons, which is North Korea’s favorite and best bargaining chip, allows the DPRK to gain large concessions out of the global community. As America and its allies are primarily concerned with a nuclearized DPRK, they are willing to focus less on human rights abuses and illegal activity conducted by the North.
South Korean President Park responded to the North’s threats with rhetoric that emphasized the use of sticks rather than carrots. Nevertheless, South Korea has yet to play its biggest card, insisting that North Korea abandon its nuclear ambitions.