Remember North Korea, that horrible, tyrannical, family-owned dictatorship that enslaves its citizens, devotes a considerable amount of its national capital towards improving its weapons of mass destruction programs and uses its nuclear capability to extort economic and political benefits from the international community? Of course you do. Ever since Kim Jong-un went ahead on January 6 with Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test in nine years, North Korea has once again catapulted to the top of America’s national security conversation.
It usually takes a horrific report from United Nations human rights monitors or an underground nuclear explosion for most Americans to even think about the reclusive, isolated country on the Korean Peninsula that is run by a cult-like family enterprise. In between the well-documented studies describing in intricate detail the “unspeakable atrocities” that have been perpetrated by the Kim regime and the late-night “breaking news” headlines on CNN about yet another unusual seismic event near Punggye-ri, North Korea barely registers as a concern among U.S. policymakers, at least when compared to other line-items on the agenda. Indeed, the Obama administration has treated the North Korean problem as if it doesn’t really exist; the White House calls its policy “strategic patience,” but in layman’s terms this approach amounts to ignoring Pyongyang’s behavior until it does something so ghastly that it requires a tough U.S. response.