North Korea: the pariah state's missing peace

April 27, 2014

Two weeks ago, the Prime Minister Tony Abbott on a visit to South Korea, looked out just metres from the border of North Korea. He observed: ''On the South Korean side we have freedom, we have justice, we have democracy. On the North Korean side, we have an outlaw state which is a threat to world peace and a deadly danger to the people of South Korea.''

On Friday, the US President Barack Obama arrived in Seoul for talks with South Korea's President Park Geun-hye over how to deal with the rogue nation to the north. The President flew in as North Korea was celebrating Military Foundation Day, with a public holiday in honour of its 1.2 million-strong army. Mr Obama was scheduled on his visit to lay a wreath at the national war memorial in Seoul.

Although the Korean War ended in 1953, antagonism between North Korea and the south and the rest of the world has continued. While for many years, it has been marked by low-level skirmishing and high-level hectoring, in recent decades a resolution of North Korea's relationship with the world has taken on greater urgency. The motive in doing so is the North's nuclear weapons ambitions. Making it more a compelling occupation of the West is the ascension of Kim Jong-un as leader, whose only constancy is his unpredictable nature. There is one exception to this, which is in the ruling of his country with a cold-blooded ruthlessness that smashes his perceived enemies and reduces his countrymen and women to poverty and a level of state control that would make George Orwell shudder and Josef Stalin smile.

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