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They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” And at the United Nations on September 19, Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea if Pyongyang continued to threaten the US or its allies. Why are we talking about a possible war with a tiny, desperately poor country on the other side of the world?
It’s a long, complicated story that goes back decades — all the way back to the Korean War in the early 1950s.
This is why the news that China had suspended its coal imports from North Korea back in February was such a big deal, even though China’s overall trade with North Korea has increased. As Human Rights Watch notes in gruesome detail: North Korea remains one of the most repressive authoritarian states in the world.
…Kim Jong-un continued to generate fearful obedience by using public executions, arbitrary detention, and forced labor; tightening travel restrictions to prevent North Koreans from escaping and seeking refuge overseas; and systematically persecuting those with religious contacts inside and outside the country…
Here are answers to some of the most basic questions about North Korea that will help you get up to speed on where we are in the conflict, how we got here, and where we’re likely headed.
North Korea, known officially as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a small country sandwiched between China and South Korea in Northeast Asia.
Kim Jong Un even goes out of his way to look as much like his grandfather as he possibly can.When the Soviet Union finally collapsed in the early 1990s, the North Korean economy went into a dramatic downward spiral, culminating in a horrendous famine that killed between 600,000 and 1 million people.Yet through all of this, Kim Il Sung cultivated a powerful cult of personality.[G]ross human rights violations committed by the government included murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortion, and other sexual violence, and constituted crimes against humanity.Nothing exemplifies these violations like the gulags, or forced labor camps, run by the state.
It’s a story of diplomatic failures, madcap dictators, and tricky geopolitical maneuvering.