North Korea back in the News, Barely

“Though the wicked bind me with ropes, I will not forget Your law” – Psalm 119:61

I was just thinking to myself a few days ago that it had been a while since I wrote anything on North Korea and the plight of the people living under a brutal, oppressive regime. It appears that it’s been since May with Mr. Kim, Could I Buy a Korean Please? and New Stations on the Underground Railroad.

It turns out that North Korea is back in the news today, but just barely. President Obama visited Myanmar (a.k.a. Burma) in his Asia tour, and had some words for the oppressive military junta there and in North Korea (story here):

To the leadership of North Korea, I have offered a choice: let go of your nuclear weapons and choose the path of peace and progress. If you do, you will find an extended hand from the United States of America.

The article goes on to describe the shift in foreign policy represented by this statement. While I think it’s usually a mistake to soften tone with brutal and oppressive regimes, I actually don’t have any brief for the Obama administration here. It’s not like Kim Jong Un can really become more oppressive if he senses an opening to press for more concessions.

I will note however that my goals and the administration’s goals are slightly different – or at least we rank-order them differently. Mr. Obama’s focus here is on national and international security – nuclear weapons in the hands of the North Korean regime are not a good thing. And this is probably the right ordering of goals for Mr. Obama, who, as president should be focused on national security and perhaps even international security. (Again, we probably disagree on the best way to go about dealing with North Korea’s nuclear weapons, but it’s down my list. Kim Jong Un understands that nuclear conflict, or any escalated military conflict represents the end of his regime. And there’s no telling just how bad, how decrepit, how inept the North Korean forces are – that’s what tends to happen in a “no feedback” system that can never grow or improve.)

My goals for North Korea are more humanitarian. I want freedom for the people. This too is not unrelated to the military situation – it’s just a distinction between a “top-down” and a “bottom-up” solution. If the people were free, even just a little bit, then I think we’d find the regime coming unraveled in very short order. Oppressive ideas and orthodoxies only survive when they cannot be challenged. As soon as opposition is allowed, and as soon as people are allowed to choose for themselves, these types of ideologies fall apart in a hurry.

It’s more than just political regimes though, as we noted a while back – Good Ideas Survive Scrutiny (but bad ones do not).

So we’ll keep our eyes open for developments behind the lines in North Korea, and we’ll continue to pray for deliverance for the oppressed people, remembering the Lord’s response to the helpless masses – “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” – Matt 9:36.

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