North Koreans have formally ended their three-year mourning period for Kim Jong-il. By custom his son, Kim Jong-un, and the country now are free to move forward without hindrance from the past.
A small, poor nation, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea should be an international nullity, irrelevant to global affairs. Yet it again dominated headlines in the U.S. with the hacking of Sony.
Although the FBI is pointing its finger at Pyongyang, a number of online experts strongly doubt the charge. Whatever the case, this otherwise two-bit international player is at the top of the news.
For the last seven decades Washington has made North Korea America’s problem. The U.S. initially had little choice since its joint division of the Korean peninsula with the Soviet Union led to creation of two antagonistic states.
But eventually the Republic of Korea took off economically and adopted democratic rule. Today the ROK surpasses the North on every measure of national power save military, and the latter is a matter of choice.
As I point out on Forbes online: “By taking on responsibility for South Korea’s defense, Washington has thrust itself into the middle of the Korean conflict. The risk and cost made sense during the Cold War when the ROK was vulnerable and the region a hegemonic battleground. But no longer.”