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North Korean Peninsula

Timothy Israel

27 July 2018

When comparing the two countries: The United States and China, some things become apparent. While both countries are major players in world affairs and politics; sometimes the countries have differing opinions on political topics. One major political article that China and America have differing opinions on is the North Korean Peninsula. The United States of America sees the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and his country as a villain. The United States is against most actions of the Korean dictator due to past interactions between the two countries. While America is opposed to North Korea; China views them as an ally. These differing views on North Korea are due to the cultural, economic, and political affiliations of each country.

For starters, American citizens culturally differ from the ideals of the North Korean citizens. Most North Koreans feel a sense of obligation to the government and its leaders. They hold its leaders with the utmost respect and honor. To speak out against the government and its leaders is unheard of and is illegal in North Korea. However, in America, the president is one of the most ridiculed people within our country. People in America have always ridiculed our most important leader and they criticize the government as well.

Another cultural difference between America and North Korea is the difference in lifestyle. Majority of Americans have access to the internet and its usage is unrestricted. This is different in North Korea. In North Korea, most people rarely have access to the internet and the access that they do have is severely restricted. The food lifestyle is mainly agriculturally based and unlike America, most meals have copious amounts of fruits and vegetables. Most Americans are taught to learn and study to further their own lifestyle and better themselves. North Koreans are different because they are taught to better themselves so that they can improve their country and give back to their country.

Finally, the last cultural difference is how North Koreans and Americans learn about each other. Americans are taught about the history of our interactions with North and South Korea and they are also taught about the conditions of North Korea. This style of learning makes us feel sympathetic for the North Koreans while making us against its government. North Koreans are taught from a young age that Americans are the enemy of their country. They learn that Americans wish to destroy their country and their way of life. This makes North Koreans resent Americans.

All these cultural differences between America and North Korea divide the two countries and contribute to their opposition. This is one of the reasons that America is so opposed to North Korea. The difference in lifestyles makes the two countries distant. This is also a reason that China is in better relations with North Korea. China is much more similar to North Korea in terms of cultural ideals.

China’s ideas about political leaders are more similar to North Koreas. They hold their leader in a high regard and believe them to be a symbol of respect and honor. China also treats their meals similarly. While China has much more access to widely available food than North Korea, they still adorn most meals with fruits and vegetables. China also is not treated as an enemy of North Korea as the United States is. These similarities in culture make North Koreans much more relatable to the Chinese lifestyle and thus make the two sets of people friendlier and accepting towards each other.

Even without considering cultural differences, China is more favorable to North Korea due to economic standings. Over the past 200 years, America has imposed numerous trade laws and regulations to trade with North Korea. These trade laws were made in an attempt to manipulate North Korea into doing what Americans wanted. For example, de-arm their nuclear weapons or else America would impose embargos that would hurt the North Korean economy. This stand-off between countries led to China becoming North Korea’s number one supporter of their economy.

China is without a doubt the number one trade partner with North Korea. From 2000 to 2016 China’s trade with North Korea has increased from an estimated .49 billion to 6.06 billion (“Understanding the China-North Korea Relationship”). This trade that North Korea has with China has been its primary reason for maintaining a stable regime. Without China, North Korea would be unstable due to its lack of foreign trade. Most foreign countries defer trading with North Korea due to the state of its citizens and its recent nuclear projects.

China and the United States also have very different histories when it comes to Korea. The United States has had a rough and violent history with Korea. After World War II the peninsula of Korea was released of control by Japan. The peninsula was divided amongst the 38 parallel and thus North and South Korea were formed. America would later intervene in the Korean war in an effort to push North Korea out of the South Korean territory. This action against North Korea was the first in a long list of hostile actions between the two countries. This conflict was also some of China’s first support of North Korea as well. While the United Nations had sent troops to help South Korea, China had sent troops to help maintain North Korea and thus a long-lasting friendship would be formed.

Since the Korean war, America has had numerous altercations with North Korea, such as the USS Pueblo being captured by North Korean troops. These altercations have piled up since the beginning of the North Korean regime and have only worsened American relations since its origin. But with Korea’s friendship with China, America has been hard-pressed to intervene with direct force, strengthening the relationship between China and North Korea along the way.

However, the political reasons for the relationships between America, China, and North Korea are the most important. America’s original reason for waging war against North Korea was for containment and to stop the spread of communism. Since America believed North Korea would lead to the spread of communism the American government started to ally itself with South Korea. This alliance made any chance of good relations with North Korea unlikely. Presently, South Korea has been a long-term ally of the United States and with that America tries to ensure the security of South Korea. South Korea gives America a military presence in the South Pacific and allows America to try and hold strategic military bases close to potential conflicts with North Korea.

America also worries about the issues of humanity that North Korea imposes. North Korea poses threats of inhumane treatment of its citizens due to the actions of the regime’s government. The North Korean government is extremely strict and poses threats that could potentially violate basic human rights. While America believes that it needs to be a global presence, it must ensure that basic human rights are not violated and in return believes it must take action against the North Korean government.

China also has very important reasons to support North Korea. For starters, China has a bad history with Japan. This stressful relationship has worsened in recent years with China claiming many new territories and disputing claims within the Pacific Ocean. These disputes could lead to an altercation between the two countries. Japan is not likely to attempt an attack on China but with North Korea, as an ally of China, it is just another deterrent to Japan. Having an ally in between Japan and China is very beneficial for China as a whole. Keeping North Korea as an ally also makes sure Japan cannot press claims closer to China’s claimed space within the Pacific Ocean.

North Korea is also a good deterrent for American interactions on the Korean peninsula. If South Korea and North Korea waged war on each other without China’s intervention the South would win with America support. This would allow America military access to the entire Korean peninsula and in return allow America to put troops and military bases on the Chinese border. So, China supports North Korea as a major military strategy and deterrent to other nations. Finally, with China being connected via border to North Korea there is the possibility of massive amounts of refugees coming into China if the North Korean regime falls. This influx of people would cause economic strife to China. This gives China an incentive to trade and keep the regime from collapsing or falling to South Korea.

These conflicting interests of America and China in relation to the Korean peninsula cause massively different interactions between the North Korean government and major world powers. North Korea sees America as a threat to its very way of life and its citizens are far too different and hostile for them to coexist with. These reasons combined with a harsh history and different political agendas make North Korea the enemy of the United States. Meanwhile, China has very similar goals and ideals. Mix this in with North Korea needing China for money and protection, while China finds North Korea useful. This makes for a great relationship between China and North Korea. Although America and China are both major world political powers with similar ideals, the differences between the two countries cause completely different views on North Korea.


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