Tuesday, February 12, 2013

North Korea's Nuclear Test

North Korea conducted its third nuclear test yesterday (the prior tests were in 2006 and 2009).  It is unclear whether the bomb was plutonium (like the earlier ones) or uranium (which, according to the Times, would be more problematic). 
 
International condemnation has been swift (including from Russia!), and the United Nations Security Council will hold an emergency meeting at 9 AM this morning.
 
568. Kim Jong-un, the new leader, is 29 years old. Is he the youngest current leader (monarch/president/prime minister) of a nation?
 
569. What is Kim Jong-un like? Initially I had the sense that he might be progressive, but with the nuclear test he appears to be following precedent. Is he making decisions himself (for instance, the decision to conduct the test), or is he being controlled/manipulated by military leaders?
 
570. North Korea's action re-raises I question that I asked in May of 2009 (here):
What is it about North Korea that is making its government increasingly belligerent (externally) and repressive (internally) as compared to other Asian nations/peoples? This question came to mind over the weekend after I read Roger Cohen's piece, in the NYT (here), in which he argued that both China and Vietnam are evolving steadily towards more and more democracy ("Twenty years after Tiananmen Square, revolt is dormant and students docile from Beijing to Hanoi. They’ve bought into development over democracy for the foreseeable future. They may want more freedom, but not to the point that they will confront the system, as the Tiananmen generation did.").

The picture is from this morning's Times and was taken by Ahn Young-Joon. It shows South Korean soldiers on patrol near the demilitarized zone.  For me, the combination of the wintry weather and the small lookout shed evoke the 1970's.

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