Ten years of Kim Jong Un: nuclear power to weigh on the international scene

Ten years of Kim Jong Un: nuclear power to influence the international scene

MISE & Agrave; DAY

Having arrived at the head of North Korea ten years ago at a very young age, Kim Jong Un is now one of the most experienced leaders on the planet and, according to analysts, could challenge the powers Westerners for decades to come.

Unlike many of his counterparts, he doesn't have to worry about elections, term limits or even, at 37 , of his age, and could remain in office for several decades, if his health permits.

The progress made during the last ten years suggests, according to experts, the future trajectory, between isolation and the development of nuclear technology, inviting itself onto the diplomatic scene with the most powerful leaders in the world.

< p> “He cannot feed the people, but he is able to keep his political regime alive” with his weapons, said Soo Kim, analyst at Rand Corporation. “And that's more important to Kim.”

First seen as the handyman of North Korean generals and Workers' Party bureaucrats, the son and successor of Kim Jong Il, who died on December 17, 2011, brutally installed his authority, having his uncle executed. by marriage Jang Song Thaek for treason in 2013.

He was also accused of having ordered the assassination of his half-brother Kim Jong Nam, killed at Kuala Lumpur airport using of a nerve agent in 2017.

At the same time, Kim carried out four nuclear tests and launched ballistic missiles in 2017 that could reach the entire continental United States, defying the increasingly severe sanctions of the Security Council of the United States. United Nations.

For months, he deployed harsh rhetoric against US President Donald Trump, raising fears of armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

He then declared the North Korean nuclear arsenal “complete” and knocked on the doors of other powers.

“A fortuitous alignment”

With the help of the pacifist President of South Korea Moon Jae-in, in 2018 Kim became the first North Korean leader to meet with a sitting US president at the Singapore summit.

This The encounter was possible in large part because of Pyongyang's nuclear arsenal, according to Soo Kim.

“The development by North Korea of ​​its weapons program, the credibility of the nuclear threat and the missiles, as well as the fortuitous alignment of the leaders – Trump, Moon and Kim – have helped to create the necessary conditions”, explains – she.

In just one meeting, the young leader charmed the American, a former businessman almost 40 years his senior.

Mr. Trump suddenly praised the “special bond,” sometimes speaking of “love,” with the one he previously dubbed “little rocket man.”

That same year, Mr. Kim chatted with Mr. Moon on a walk and met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, North Korea's main supporter, on several occasions.

“The effect was seductive,” said Sung-yoon Lee, professor of Korean studies at Tufts University. “The cruel, comical-looking dictator had turned into a reformer inclined to peace, a steward responsible for nuclear weapons and gulags, perhaps inclined to denuclearization.”

L friendly spirit fizzled: the second Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi stumbled over easing sanctions and what Pyongyang was prepared to give up in return.

Another meeting in the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas did not make it possible to break the deadlock.

“Common adversary”

The diplomats and experts believe that Kim Jong Un never intended to abandon nuclear weapons entirely, for which North Korea has spent a lot of money and which has largely earned him isolation, and Pyongyang would even intend to continue to develop this arsenal.

The ties between Pyongyang and Beijing – forged during the Korean War, when their forces crippled South Korea and a US-led UN coalition – are “a love-hate relationship between two” brothers enemies ”, according to Professor Lee of Tufts University.

“ Neither side adores the other, but each recognizes that the other is their closest ally in terms of strategy, d 'ideology, history, and to tame the United States, the common adversary, “he adds.

” Considerable success “

< p>The master of Pyongyang only has to look across its northern border to see that increased wealth can bolster the popularity of a one-party state.

But, if the North Korea has developed a wide array of weapons, its government economy has been poorly managed for decades, even before the sanctions, and its people suffer from chronic food shortages.

Add to these challenges total closure of borders to prevent the importation of the coronavirus which appeared for the first time in China.

“Economically, North Korea is at the bottom of the scale of the international order” said Park Won-gon, professor of North Korean studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.

“But with her nuclear arsenal, she is able to exert her influence between two world powers , the United States and China, ”he added. “I would rate this as a huge success on Pyongyang's part.”

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