The world is no stranger to great modern-day rivalries. It is interesting to note the fact that some of these great rivalries are between nations that were once one. Take India and Pakistan, for example. Or North and South Korea.
The once harmonious – or so it is claimed by some – subcontinent has been in a constant state of malice and aggression towards one another. Even after 75 years of gaining independence, border conflicts continue to be an everyday thing.
The Korean peninsula is no different. Before the Korean War of the 1950s, modern-day North and South Korea were one. However, the rivalries between the communist USSR and the capitalist USA propagated hostility. The arch-enemies used this small region to further their rivalry against one another – sealing animosity between the two halves.
In the present day, the blossoming democratic Republic of South Korea is backed by the USA for its military campaigns. Whereas the North has been doomed to dictatorship under the infamous Kim Jong-il’s (Kim Jong-un’s father) family lineage.
The Latest Shenanigans
News often goes around about North Korea’s latest military experiments – a feat that keeps the South and USA on edge. But it is important to steer clear of polarization. One must recognize that viewing the world from a black-and-white lens is a grave mistake.
Recently, the USA and South Korea held the largest joint military exercises in years. It is a feat that sparked an immediate and aggressive reaction from the dictator’s regime.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) – the state-operated news channel across North Korea, claimed that the country’s “heinous enemies” are plotting to invade their land. Hence, the country must stay on its toes. As a result, the state rolled out mass military registration points to enrol new entrants to join the army. The new recruits include all – farmers, factory workers, and even students.
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The KCNA made a bizarre claim. It claimed that 1.4 million youngsters signed up for the totalitarian regime’s military force. Out of which, as many as 800,000 joined in a single day. According to KCNA, these signees “pledged to mete out a merciless punishment to the enemies bringing the dark clouds of a nuclear war to hang over the land.”
A Pledge to “wipe out the group of heinous enemies.”
That is not all. In addition to these 1.4 million, thousands of Young Red Guards – a paramilitary unit made up of 14- to 16-year-old teenagers – pledged to “wipe out the group of heinous enemies.” It is important to reiterate here that the people being asked to join the military are civilians with no prior experience with arms and ammunition.
These mass sign-ups succeed the two-week-long missile testing and launching into the seas near Japan and South Korea, both of whom are considered to be North Korea’s enemies. These include both short- and long-range missiles. Pyongyang said the fifth ballistic missile launch this month was considered a simulated nuclear attack on South Korea.
The North Korean state media is trying to justify these exercises as Kim Jong-un’s response to the hostile “attacks” of the country’s enemies. The USA and South Korea, on the other hand, deny this by stating that the nature of the exercises was defensive rather than offensive.
The waters on the eastern coast of the North launched short-range missiles on Sunday, 19 March. The attack occurred less than an hour before the arrival of the USA’s long-range B-1B bombers in South Korea.
Japan detected the threat as well.
The Offense-Defence Debate
Some experts have it that these exercises by the North are just an excuse to advance its weapons program. What the North masks as a show of military power and defence against its “hostile enemies” are just a pretext for experimenting with their weaponry progress.
KCNA has reported that the missile that flew 800 km was tipped with a mock nuclear warhead. This exercise was deemed a success by the North as the missile detonated 800 m above water – as was intended – at a spot that simulated an unspecified “major enemy target.” This supposedly verifies the reliability of the control of these weapons and their detonators.