It’s 2018 and there is no doubt that the political climate that surrounds the United States of America is constantly rising with each new issue coming to the surface. Whether or not you find politics interesting, there is no doubt that you have heard of the increasing tension between the United States and North Korea. The hostility towards America, which initially began long ago in response to Korea being divided after World War II, has grown immensely since Trump’s victory in the 2016 United States presidential election. To understand more about the rising tension between North Korea and the United States it is important to look into the many differences and few similarities between the two countries including the following: their type and structure of government, voting and elections, the power of the citizens and the role that the leaders take on.
In 1948, Korea was divided into the South, which was backed by America, and the North, which was backed by the Soviet Union. Put in place as the premier of the North was Kim II Sung, which therefore would begin the Kim Dynasty. North Korea, otherwise known as the Democratic Republic of Korea or DPRK, is an exceedingly secretive and isolated country that defines themselves, in their constitution, as a “dictatorship of people’s democracy.” Despite its claim in its constitution, North Korea is far from a democracy.
The current dictator, Kim Jong-un, relies heavily on the power of the military as well as the brutality, suppression, fear, and carefully scripted propaganda towards their own people. Since its creation in 1948, North Korea has been ruled by a single-party called the Workers’ Party of Korea. Although this single party rules, there are two other minor parties that exist, however, they have very little power and are ‘legally bound to accepting the ruling role of the Worker’s Party of Korea’. Despite what many may think, North Korea has elections every four-to-five years. Nonetheless, they are purely for show and contain races with only a single candidate. At the age of seventeen, North Korean citizens are given suffrage, or the right to vote.
Voter turnout is increasingly high at one hundred percent because it is mandatory (CIA). According to many North Korean defectors, those who wish to vote against this single candidate may, however, do not even contemplate the thought because it is far too risky since the government is known for its public executions towards anyone who expresses anti-state actions. North Korea has three branches of government known as the executive, legislative, and judicial. The executive branch is controlled by the premier and Kim Jong-un, who has control over the military. The legislative branch is primarily a congress called the Supreme People’s Assembly or the SPA. The Congress is occupied entirely by the members from the Worker’s Party of Korea.
The judicial branch, or the Supreme Court, is known for their secretive trials and disregard for human rights. In addition, all of the judges are selected by the Supreme People’s Assembly. This system and the methods used by the North Korean leader and government leaves citizens with no political sovereignty, equality, and liberty of its people. North Korean elections are extremely unfair and uncompetitive, and citizens are given no choice over the people that rule and govern over them. To understand more about this issue between the United States of America and North Korea, it is important to not only look inside of North Korea but also the United States.
Unlike the dictatorship of North Korea, the United States is known as a Representative Democracy. Representative Democracy is an indirect democracy that allows American citizens to vote for representatives that will represent them in the government. In regard to how these elected officials obtain office, elections in the United States are highly competitive with fair and numerous candidates for people to pick from. Compared to North Korea, this style of government helps show a more accurate picture of society and better allows the citizen’s wishes and wants to be expressed.
Rather than being ruled by a single party, the United States has become closer to a pure two-party system. The two parties consist of the Republicans and Democrats. Like North Korea, the United States has three branches of government, the executive, legislative and the judicial. Although this is a similarity, the two are quite different. The executive branch consists of the President and Vice President of the United States, as well as the cabinet. The legislative branch is bicameral and consists of two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The judicial branch is made of many federal courts and the Supreme Court. In each branch, elected officials go through numerous amounts of steps, many of which are under the influence of the citizens.
Although the strained relationship between the United States and North Korea began long ago after World War II and grew substantially during the Cold War, there was and still is an increasing amount of hostility due to the recent presidential election winner, Republican Donald J. Trump. A presidential candidate’s campaign is crucial because it informs the many voters which stance they will be taking on certain issues and actions they wish to take. Since the beginning of campaigning, Trump stated his views and plans, if elected, that he would take towards North Korea.
Trump stated that he would, in fact, pursue face-to-face talks with the hopes of negotiating its nuclear program with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. He also took another stance and stated that he would ‘put pressure on [North Korea’s] neighbor, China, to use its influence with Mr. Kim to curb his nuclear provocations’ (New York Times, 1). His opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, took a similar stance in which she stated that the international community needs to also strengthen their sanctions on North Korea and hoped that it would eventually open up the way for a new deal about its nuclear program (The New York Times, 1). However, she was not considering a face-to-face talk with the North Korea leader.
Fast forward to now, we see clearly that Trump has taken control of his many roles as the President in regard to this issue. President Trump has acted as the commander in chief, a military strategist, legislative leader, and most importantly as a chief diplomat. Firstly, as Commander in Chief, one of the United States Presidents’ most important duties is the regulation of the military. This includes where the troops will be stationed or how weapons will be used. From what we see, President Trump has talked about the removal of American troops from South Korea, which was placed initially there for protection against a North Korean attack. The next role Trump has taken on in regard to the conflict with North Korea is as a military strategist. As he has taken on this role, Trump has given his input in many ideas for foreign policy and national security.
Lastly and most importantly, the most profound role President Trump has taken regarding this issue of North Korea is as a chief diplomat. As the chief diplomat, the president is responsible for representing the United States of America abroad. When it comes to foreign policy, negotiating treaties, and other sorts of agreements with foreign leaders, the president is the main face and voice of America. On the twelfth of June this year, President Trump flew to Sentosa, Singapore for the historic summit between himself and North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-un. The two leaders agreed to new peaceful U.S-DPRK relations, the denuclearization of the Korea Peninsula, the recovery of soldiers remains, and future negations with high-level officials (The Washington Post 1).
As we take a look further into detail about these two very diverse countries, we can see why so much division has occurred. From their governments to the citizens to voting and elections, each are profoundly different from one another and go about running their country differently.