On July 21, 2015, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declared “quasi-war” on South Korea following disputes over anti-Pyongyang propaganda. What preceded the event, which was the cause for the propaganda, was a land mine that resulted in the serious injuries sustained by two South Korean soldiers. South Korea blamed the North for the land mines that resulted in two South Korean soldiers being seriously injured. BBC News stated that:
“South Korea said North Korea planted the mines; North Korea said that was absurd. Both sides say the other then fired the first shot in artillery barrages.“
Since then, Kim Jong-un told his soldiers to prepare for war.
Foreign relations are often the deciding factors in whether or not war is waged. For instance, during WW2 Adolf Hitler had Benito Mussolini and Hirohito; whereas Franklin Roosevelt had Joseph Stalin, Winston Churchill, and Chiang Kai-Shek. In today’s era, the declaration of war from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would have made more sense if it weren’t for China. It’s not China’s trilateral ambiguity (China, North Korea, and South Korea) that deters a more feasible war, however, but China’s steadfastness to more peaceful bilateral relations between North and South Korea. Meaning that while North Korea trades over 50% of exports with China, their relation is no more diplomatic than China’s relation to South Korea. It has been remarked that China’s patience has steadily been decreasing since North Korea’s continuation with its nuclear program.
Moreover, the devaluation of China’s currency, the Yuan, meant to have bolstered its exports, actually brought more skepticism to its global economic perspective. The news pressured the global markets to react negatively, which also influenced our own market, leading U.S. stocks to downtrend. Since North Korea’s biggest export partner and import partner is China, does this information not also influence North Korea’s economy? The devaluation of the yuan denotes cheaper materials for global markets, and when put into the perspective that it is against the dollar, this becomes superficially more lucrative. However, the problem is that, as reported by Wall Street Journal
“…several exporters said they [China] face big challenges beyond the exchange rate- namely, weak demand globally and in China, as well as rising labor costs at home.”
With North Korea’s negligence on responsibility for the land mines and South Korea’s persistence with the anti-Pyongyang propaganda, the recent talks stemmed from bilateral concession could foster more diplomatic relations or, a heightened skepticism on whether either side actually wants to concede to an agreement.