The relations between China and North Korea could previously be described as courteous and friendly. However, disputes began to arise due to China’s decisions to support the actions of the United States to level sanctions against North Korea. China and North Korea are two major parties in maintaining the international relations in North-East Asia where China is recognized as a global superpower. While, North Koreas became a serious threat to South Korea, China, and the USA as a result of its illegal development of nuclear weapons against international restrictions. In this paper, the Tri-International Relations between the U.S, North Korea, and China will be examined from the Realism, Liberalism, and Juche perspectives.
The media has been reporting about the rising tensions between the three countries and other key players for many years. These conflicts date back to many years, however, in 1910, there was an unofficial truce called with the end of the Russo-Japanese War. Due to imperial interests, Russia lost the war to Japan. The entire Korean peninsula was under the control of Japan in accordance with the Treaty of Portsmouth which was mediated by the U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt (Connaughton, 1988). The Japanese government however faced resistance from Korean troops when they attempted colonization. The grandfather of the current North Korean leader Kin Jong-un led the resistance against Japan. His name was Kim Il-sung. North Korea eventually gained its liberation; however, the effects of the conflicts had transformed the country into a Hermit Nation. In this paper, the current political status of North Korea will be examined from the realism, Marxism and liberalism theories.
1. North Korea and the theory of realism
The scholars Hans Morgenthau, John Herz, and Hennery Kissenge are popularly recognized as the foremost proponents of the realist theory. From their perspective, the international settings are made up of sovereign states which were developed by Thucydides after he was empowered by the signing of the Westphalia treaty. From the realists’ perspective, every country should exercise its rights to defend its borders, interests, and citizens (Ahmed, 2007). The conflicts in which North Korea is currently involved can be related to the realism theory noting that North Koreas decision to develop nuclear weapons is in view of protecting its interests and to discourage the invasion of its international borders. Concerns have however been raised regarding the influence of possessing nuclear weapons on a supposed uncontrollable Kim Jong-un the current North Korea leader. The realists assume that interrelations among countries are formed based on their military power and economic advantages. The realism theory can, therefore, be identified as propagating the need for a country to possess superior military power such as the nuclear weapons to gain respect among other nations while discouraging any plans to invade its territories. However, it can also be pointed out that the series of sanctions that have restricted the development in North Korea is due to its adoption of a realists approach towards international issues (Ashley, 1981). North Koreas resistance to the international laws that aim to prevent its development of nuclear weapons can be perceived as its commitment to protect its international borders and to ensure its survival. While this approach has been successful to some extent due to the ability of the country to sustain its resources over the years, there are concerns regarding the welfare of the general public in the country. From the Neoclassical Realism perspective, in the international setting, the distribution of power is regarded as an independent variable, the perception of the local players in the system is an intervening variable while the subsequent foreign policy decision-making structure is identified as a dependent variable. This could reveal why North Koreas decided to develop nuclear weapons as well as the current change in the American foreign policy towards North Koreas and their preference to sit and discuss the issue around the table.
2. North Korea and the theory of liberalism
From the liberalism theory, the relations among nations should be managed and ordered based on cooperation, morality, open dialogue, and negotiation to ensure fairness and respect (Ahmed, 2007). However, North Korea perceives this approach as a hindrance to achieving its aims due to the apparent alliance of the western countries with its ‘enemy’ South Korea which enjoys protection from stronger states that have more advanced nuclear weapons. The feud between North and South Korea dates back to many years ago. The countries were split following the end of the World War II. The relations between the two countries have been strained since this event. The United States has assumed a protective role over South Korea which has no known nuclear weapons but has faced threats from North Korea in moves assumed to be oppressive against South Korea. The current President of the U.S. Donald Trump has taken a stronger stand against North Korea, and it is predicted that if the ongoing tensions are not properly managed, the disputes could lead to a Third World war which will be fought with nuclear weapons. There have been reports of a planned meeting between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un later this year. This is an unexpected but welcome development which could lead to the development of a mechanism to establish lasting peace between North Korea and South Korea from the liberalism perspective which proposes an open dialogue between disputing parties.
On the other hand. liberalism ideology, however, propagates the use of a democratic, open dialogue, cooperation approach towards the resolution of conflicts. There is, therefore, a conflict of opinion being propagated by the realists and the liberalists. Accordingly, there have been some allegations by some countries like India, Pakistan and North Korea of bias leveled at the international institutions that are seemingly under the influence of the five powerful nuclear states that include the USA and China, which have been granted the authority to develop and own nuclear weapons. For this reason, the liberalists have however criticized such decisions that caused some countries like North Korea announced its withdrawal from the NPT in 2003, (Mishra, 2008). Accordingly, North Korea has started to develop its own nuclear weapons since there is lack of credibility and justice in the international law.
3. Marxism and Juche
The concept of Marxism-Leninism ideology played a major role in the Soviet Union government. The ideology proposes the need for casualty as a factor which promotes interconnections. It propagates that everything in the world revolves around necessity (Kubalkova, and Cruickshank, 2015). In North Korea, the Marxism ideology was previously adopted until its modification into the new ideology referred to as ‘Juche,’ this means self-reliance from all perspectives. The Juche ideology was subsequently adopted in place of the Marxism-Leninism theory to become the officially recognized ideology in North Korea (Trifoi, B2017). In line with the new Juche ideology and from military perspective, North Korea has concentrated its efforts at developing its military weapons while propagating the survival of North Korea as its primary objective. North Korea has consistently asserted its ability to be self-sufficient even with the numerous sanctions that have been leveled against the country (Trifoi, B2017).
North Korea’s actions at an international level are predominantly determined by the Juche ideology. It relies on concentrating the Nations resources to developing its nuclear weapons under the leadership of a Kim Jong-un. It relies on intimidation to inform its enemies about the achievements made in its nuclear weapons development which is aimed at preventing any planned invasion. China and the U.S. have expressed worry because of the volatile nature of such power.
It should be pointed out that the United States and its allies have expressed their concern about the emergence of North Korea as a military power. There have been speculations that the South-Korean President Moon Jae-in may participate in the planned meeting between President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un later this year. It will be a historic meeting between these notable leaders. The first meeting will be between Moon and Kim in April as reported by CNN (2018); Trump is expected to meet with Kim probably in May. This will be the first time a sitting president is meeting with any member of the Kim family, and this raises an important question; has the nuclear weapon development in North Korea caused so much tension that the United States feels compelled to embrace dialogue rather than the use of threats against its most significant enemy?
From the perspective of realism, liberalism, and Marxism(with a particular focus on Marxism-Leninism), North Koreas emergence as a nuclear state due to its possession of nuclear weapons attracts world-renowned respect and recognition after so many years of struggles and sacrifices. While there have been moves to accord North Korea a global recognition similar to the United States and its allies, there are reservations about Kim Jong-un’s willingness to abort his nuclear weapons development due to the countries strong adoption of the Juche (self-reliant) ideology. However, all efforts will be made to achieve this goal by employing the best political solutions.
The liberal approach assumed by President Donald Trump and Moon to dialogue with Kim Jong-un is aimed at encouraging Kim to abandon all forms of nuclear weapon projects and their widely propagated Juche ideology. North Korea is being offered a place at the international table to join other world leaders to forge a path towards lasting international peace. However, from history, the past North Korean Presidents have been known to be impulsive and unpredictable. It cannot be ascertained the decisions that North Korea will make regarding these global issues due to the nations seclusion from international interactions with other nations for many years.