North Korea’s own March Madness

By John J. Metzler

UNITED NATIONS — When the Security Council passed a package of uncharacteristically tough sanctions on North Korea over the communist regime’s nuclear weapons tests and missile proliferation, the Pyongyang leadership went rhetorically ballistic. Pyongyang’s pro forma rants and raves toward South Korea and the United States were notched up to include scrapping the 1953 armistice which ended the Korean War. For good measure, North Korea threatened to nuke the U.S. with its newfound but happily not-yet-deliverable nuclear bombs. Significantly the latest Security Council resolution was unanimously passed and thus included support from the People’s Republic of China, the longtime but increasingly wary political mentor of the quaintly titled “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” The resolution stated the obvious; “reaffirming that proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as their means of delivery, constitute a threat to international peace and security.” The lengthy 10-page document equally “reaffirms its decision that the DPRK shall abandon all other existing weapons of mass destruction and ballistic programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.” Specifically the resolution calls for tougher financial sanctions to the point of barring suitcases of bulk cash for various weapons deals.

On a lighter note, part of the resolution’s Annex includes barring the import of jewelry, yachts and racing cars. This is seen as a method to stifle favors for the small clique around the dictator Kim Jong Un. Even if the sanctions are selectively enforced by regional states such as mainland China, the fact remains that the latest Security Council resolution underscores the unmistakable trend that the world community, even neighboring China and Russia, are weary and especially wary of North Korea upsetting East Asia’s equilibrium. Japan is genuinely frightened, while prosperous South Korea has kept a stoic calm.

South Korea’s new President Park Geun-hye has stated clearly, “We must deal strongly with a North Korean provocation.” Interestingly before the latest sanctions squeeze, in a strange bid of sports diplomacy, former American basketball star Dennis Rodman visited Pyongyang to meet with Kim Jong Un, an improbable basketball fan. Rodman’s ill-timed trip while bringing a whiff of levity to the DPRK’s dour atmosphere, was ultimately aimed at opening a dialogue between the self-isolated Kim and President Barack Obama, also a basketball fan.