Relationships Amongst North, South Korea and U.S. - What Do Postechians Think?
Relationships Amongst North, South Korea and U.S. - What Do Postechians Think?
  • Lee, Park, Lee
  • 승인 2017.11.01 13:38
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▲ President Donald Trump (left), President Moon Jae-in (middle), and Kim Jung-eun

Overall Relationship Among Three Nations

Since Kim Jung-eun, North Korea leader has seized power, the N. Korea regime has engaged in offensive provocation in the hopes of securing a position of being a nuclear power. They went through with a sixth nuclear test on Sep. 3 and launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Hwasong-12. After this, on Sep. 21, they launched a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) and declared combat arrangement. N. Korea is coming closer to the position of being a nuclear power by combining both the production of a nuclear warhead and the completion of ICBM. Since the inauguration of the new government, N. Korea has launched ballistic missiles nine times and has carried out the largest nuclear test ever which tested the power of an ICBM-mounted hydrogen bomb. They continually commit military provocations and are constantly in confrontation with the international community.
As Moon Jae-in, the president of South Korea has declared solemn pledge to take the initiative in issues of the Korean Peninsula, the government focuses on establishing peace management on the Korean Peninsula to prevent accidental clashes. Our government is committed to maintain the principle that the N. Korean nuclear issue should be resolved peacefully.
While S. Korea government tries to keep a policy of combining sanctions and conversation basis, Donald Trump, the president of U.S. announced an expansion of sanctions on N. Korea and praised China for taking action to limit financial transactions with the isolated communist nation. He challenged N. Korea or its leader, Kim Jung-eun, whom Trump has nicknamed ‘rocket man’ over Pyongyang’s continued development of nuclear power weapons and ballistic missiles. Kim Jung-eun responded directly to Trump, firing off his own verbal barrage calling him a ‘mentally deranged US dotard’, adding that “a frightened dog barks louder.” On Oct. 8, Trump tweeted that 25 years of agreements with N. Korea have failed, ’making’ fools of US negotiators. He added cryptically that “only one thing will work.” United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has not made peacemaking but instead escalated the prospect of a misstep. Both are locked in a cycle of threat and counter threat. Kim Jung-eun announced that he would test a hydrogen-tipped ICBM over the Pacific. Amid the instability of the N. Korea’s provocation, there are also growing concerns for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Although the statements indicating boycott on Pyeongchang Winter Olympics from Germany, France, and Austria were made from the sport officials, the dispute was settled by the confirmation that France and Austria had no change in their decision to participate. Until Oct. 2, there was no official announcement of countries that declared absence of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. However, if N. Korea does a serious provocation, it could not rule out the possibility of a domino effect of notice absence.
Tensions have been heightened after Donald Trump’s fierce warning to rain “fire and fury” on N. Korea if it kept up threats against U.S. and its allies, while Kim Jung-eun has sent two ballistic missiles over Japan, demonstrating increased range, and set off his sixth nuclear test on Sep. 3. Much concern in the international community is being voiced about the security crisis.
During this turbulent time, to know how foreigners think about the situation, The Postech Times interviewed exchange students who could indirectly influence the situation in the security crisis. Also, to check what perceptions S. Koreans have about inter-Korean relationship, our paper carried out a survey.

What Do Foreigners Think of the Crisis?
In spite of continuous nuclear provocation of N. Korea, our interviewees showed quite calm attitude toward this issue. When they decided to study abroad here in S. Korea, they were a little worried about these developing conflicts because of the press which broadcast nuclear issues frequently. Also, as people of their countries had little interest in Korea, some of them did not distinguish N. Korea from S. Korea. However, interviewees were well informed about the situation and knew that atmosphere here is not that severe.
When interviewees spoke of the overall image of N. Korea, we could find out that international students regard Kim Jung-eun obstinate. One of them referred him as big baby who not only does not listen to others, but he is also playing games with America, not S. Korea using nuclear bomb to make his ends meet. Both of the interviewees predicted that no war would break out. However, they said they were a little worried about it, warning safety frigidity. One of them suggested preparing where to evacuate just in case the N. Korea regime provokes war or participate in highly dangerous nuclear experiments.
Interviewees had two things in common. First, people in their countries have been terrified about this issue, that their families sometimes ask if they are okay with the nuclear tests occurring in N. Korea. Almost all people in Germany and Russia think this is crazy and really hate the political methods and provocations of N. Korea. Second, they all agreed that a peaceful resolution is needed. They thought that S. Korea should keep in contact with the N. Korea people through events such as the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and that we should open our minds and help them to make a connection point.

Postechians' perception on N. Korea
To check our students’ perception about the inter-Korean relationship, The Postech Times surveyed POSTECH undergraduate students. The survey was conducted from Oct. 14  to 19, and 115 students answered. First of all, to the question “How often do you realize the fact that N. Korea and S. Korea are divided?”, 32 students (27.8%) answered they always think about it, and 72 (62.6%) answered they occasionally realize it. 6 of them (5.2%) answered they never think about it, and five students (4.4%) answered they do not know how often they think about it. It was shown that about 90% of students were aware of the division of the two Koreas, but 10% of students did not have much awareness about it.
To the question “Do you know that N. Korea has committed military provocations numerous times?” 113 students (98.2%) answered yes, and two students (1.8%) answered no. About the military provocations, 20 students (17.4%) said it is very frightening, and 74 (64.3%) said it is somewhat frightening. 22 students (19%) answered they are not anxious at all or did not think about it. Our paper also asked “Did you know about N. Korea developing ICBM along with conducting nuclear experiments?” 100 students (87%) answered yes, and the rest answered no. About the development of an ICBM and nuclear weapons, 31 students (27%) said it is very frightening, and 62 (54%) said it is somewhat frightening. 19% answered they are not anxious at all or did not think about it. It turned out that four fifths of students are anxious about N. Korea’s military provocation and diplomatic performance.
Recently, Ri Yong-ho, Minister of Foreign Affairs of N. Korea, mentioned that Trump’s speech at the UN General Assembly meant a declaration of war, and N. Korea had the right of self-defense. In addition, to Trump saying “North Korea won’t last long”, Ri answered “We’ll see who lasts longer at the end.” Our paper wanted to know how students felt about this strong confrontation between N. Korea and U.S. 14 students (12.2%) took it very unpleasant and frightening, and 56 (48.7%) said it is somewhat bothering. 11 students (9.6%) said they never thought about it, 18 students (15.7%) said they do not care about Ri’s comment, and 14% did not know about this incident. About three fifths of students took Ri’s confrontation disturbing, and rest did not really care about it.
Next year, on Feb. 9th, the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic begin, and there are some hopes that it will be a turning point for both S. and N. Korea. However, POSTECH students did not think so. To the question “What effects do you expect in diplomatic relations with N. Korea due to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics?” Seven students (6.1%) said it would have positive effects, 83 subjects (72.2%) expected no effect at all, and 25 of them (16.1%) thought it would have negative effects. Another opinion was that it would have no effects with N. Korea, but worried that it might have negative effects with other countries. Even though the Olympics is a worldwide celebration, not many students are expecting an improvement in the inter-Korea relationship.
Lastly, students gave us personal opinions about how S. Korea and other countries should act against N. Korea. Many students thought strong pressure and sanctions against N. Korea are necessary, while support and aid to N. Korea are not. Many students also suggested that N. Korea’s provocation should not be ignored, and military prevention is needed. There were only a few opinions about peaceful actions. Throughout the survey, many students showed anxiety against N. Korea’s action and sought strong sanctions as necessary.
Throughout interviews with exchange students and surveys with POSTECH students, the following is known. Exchange students have been informed that S. Korea is facing a security crisis through the news before studying abroad and they quietly observe the current situation. They had negative perception on the N. Korean dictator and predicted that war would not happen easily, but the situation is somewhat dangerous. Finally, they agreed that nations should create the opportunity to communicate with the North, not just an aggressive response, and solve it peacefully. Our students also have anxiety about the situation that our country is facing right now, but showed different opinions regarding the government’s stance. Few of those who were questioned thought peaceful communication is needed, and the rest thought strong sanctions and pressure is necessary.
As the anxiety level rises and the international situation becomes critical, people need to be concerned about N. Korea’s nuclear issue and the international community has to come up with a decent solution. Hopefully, Pyeongchang Winter Olympics could be a possible diplomatic turning point as mentioned. Moon Jae-in, the president of S. Korea says he’s hoping that the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics will ease the tension with N. Korea. “I hope North Korea to also participate and that will provide a very good opportunity for inter-Korean peace and reconciliation”, he stated. Even though our students do not agree, anticipating positive outcomes from the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics is needed since sports has the power to open diplomatic doors.