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    Question of North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Legacy

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    North Korea, previously known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was founded after World War II has ceased in 1948 whereby United States (US) and the Soviet Union separated the control of Korea peninsula. North Korea was cultivated with the nationalist ideology of ‘Juche’ which translates to self-reliance by the first leader of the country, Kim II-sung after the Korean War ended in 1953. Backed by the Soviet and investment in mining and other heavy production industries, Kim managed to generate one of the strongest military armed forces to fend potential threats that it may face. Additionally, due to it culture build up, North Korea has isolated itself globally and as such, it developed nuclear weapons that are capable of destroying a country with detrimental effects as the only form of deterrence against the world.

    The Rangoon bombing took placed in the morning on 9 Oct 1983 whereby it was an assassination attempt against the fifth President of South Korea, Chun Doo-hwan in the present day known as Yangon, Myanmar. The incident occurred at Martyrs’ Mausoleum when the President’s staff proceed to assemble a the mausoleum, it was reported that one of the three planted bombs which were hidden in the rooftop went off and killed 21 people and seriously wounded at least 46 others.

    President Chun was not in the crowd due to his vehicle had been delayed in heavy traffic and was reported to be only minutes away from arriving. Through investigations, the Burmese police managed to identify three suspects from the Korean People’s Army, one who held the ranks of Major, Major Zin Mo, and two others was a Captain, Capt. Kang Min-cheol and Capt. Kim Jin-su. All three military personnel identified was under the instruction of Gen. Kim Chan Su who ordered the hit. In view of the bombing, Burma decided to suspend diplomatic relations with North Korea.

    The second incident of bombing occurred on 29 Nov 1987 was on a Korean Air Flight 858 whereby the plane exploded in mid-air via the detonation of a planted bomb (a modified Panasonic radio with a timer switch) together with liquid explosives hidden in a whiskey bottle was discovered to be hidden inside an overhead storage bin of a passenger cabin. The attackers, disguised as a father-daughter relationship with falsified Japanese passports whom later was identified by the true identity named Kim Seung-il and Kim Hyon-hui respectively.

    Before both accomplices could be taken in custody, the accomplices took ampules of cyanide which was hidden inside a cigarette packet as a form of suicide whereas the male successfully committed the suicide while the female survived the saga and later confessed to the plot. After the trail on the attack, Kim Hyon-hui was given the death penalty but was pardoned by the President of South Korea, Roh Tae-woo which the President deemed that Kim was indoctrinated by North Korea or more directly at the future leader of the Communist country, Kim Jong-il.

    Through this plot and the previous bombing incident of Rangoon in 1983, after investigations by the South Korea that surfaced the same government, North Korea was the main sponsor for the committed acts, the United State Department of State had also concurrently conferred this incident, KAL 858 and Rangoon Bombing, both as an act of terrorism and hence included North Korea in the list has one of the State Sponsors of Terrorism.

    In the most recent event of series, the first-ever summit between the serving US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was held in Capella Resort, Sentosa, Singapore on 12 Jun 18. The main discussion includes working towards denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and the US issued guarantees of security to North Korea. There were some conflicts or rather misunderstood between the US and North Korea, whereby North Korea is seeking to have a formal ending of the Korea War, however, the US shared that North Korea must give up its nuclear weapon first before proceeding further.

    The outcome of the meeting resulted in (1) signing of a joint statement which guarantees the security of North Korea, (2) denuclearisation of the Korea Peninsula, (3) the returning of soldier’s remains and (4) additional in progress negotiations between high government officials. The actionable items did not take long, North Korea removed and canceled its annual anti-American propaganda which was scheduled to be held at Kim II-sung Square, following the successful meeting with the US in Singapore. North Korea also searched and returned the remains of US POWs and MIAs that was captured/killed from the Korean War.

    The second series of meeting between the US and North Korea was announced on 8 Feb 19, that the Trump-Kim Summit will be held in Hanoi, Vietnam on 27-28 Feb 19. It was reported that Vietnam has been a long-standing partnership with North Korea and that Vietnam has strong foreign relations between the US.

    Based on the above findings, in my opinion, I do see North Korea will most likely give up on its nuclear weapons legacy. In the past, it was ruled by the notorious founding father of North Korea that constructed and cultivated the culture of North Korea which the people of North Korea perceived as self-survival and a world against them. Ever since the tension between North Korea and South Korea has gradually turned positive, it is suggested that both Korea looks forward to a better integration within the Korea peninsula itself. Also, based on my own reflections, I felt that it was a great step forward for these efforts and also the Trump-Kim Summit to be taken place, I hope the ties relationship between North Korea with South Korea and the US can mitigate their issues with harmony and peace, and perhaps end the saga of the conflicts that have been written in the history book to be rewritten as positive outcome in time to come.


    1. BBC News. (2019). North Korea country profile. [online] Available at:
    2. North Korea crisis in 300 words. (2018, June 12). Retrieved from
    3. Aviation Security International Magazine. (2019). The Bombing of Korean Air Flight KAL 858: Its Legacy on the 30th Anniversary – Aviation Security International Magazine. [online] Available at:
    4. (2019). AROUND THE WORLD; North Korean Reported To Confess in Burma. [online] Available at:
    5. BBC News. (2019). Trump and Kim make history with a handshake. [online] Available at:
    6. Time. (2019). [online] Available at:
    7. BBC News. (2019). What were the results of the Trump-Kim summit?. [online] Available at:
    8. Borger, J. and McCurry, J. (2019). Second Trump and Kim summit to be held in Vietnam within weeks. [online] the Guardian. Available at:
    9. (2019). A Guide to Trump and Kim Jong-un’s Meeting in Vietnam. [online] Available at:
    10. (2019). Trump to Meet With Kim Jong-un in Vietnam. [online] Available at:®ion=Footer

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