My grandfather was born in a suburban city near Pyongyang in 1927. Back then, there was one nation, one Korea. My grandfather was extremely hard-working so in order receive more education, he moved to South Korea to attend a military school.
Then, the war broke out. Startled, my grandfather immediately joined the South Korean army since he was strongly against the new communistic ideals that were being implemented in his motherland. At the same time, the fact that he was fighting his homeland made him always unsettled. This unsettlement caused him to a couple of times to go against his military ideals to release his North Korean relatives and friends that have been captured in the war. Even after the war, they were still in touch, periodically thanking him for saving them. Now, this connection between the South and the North is nonexistent. We have drifted to too far apart. North Korea is now an authoritarian regime under Kim Jong-Un.
Fire and fury. Those two words said by President Trump felt like a thousand needles that pierced my body. I immediately called my dad to see if he heard the outlandish comments broadcasted by our president. We both sensed the worry in each other’s voices. As horrible as North Korea is, being South Korean gives you a soft spot for our neighboring country.
Let’s be honest - North Korea is viewed as a joke— multiple failed missile tests, ridiculous government policies, Kim Jong-Un’s bowl cut. Personally, I view North Korea as a living hell that presents severe problems, affecting millions of citizens— restricted liberty, lack of food, limited medical care, outlandish punishments, the list goes on and on. It frustrates me greatly. I think, why don’t North Koreans rebel to better their lives? Why are they passionately supporting their government?
It’s hard to think like a North Korean when you are an outsider. North Koreans, from the moment they take their first breath, are only taught the North Korean values even if they are as ridiculous as they are (i.e. Most North Koreans believe that Kim Jong Un doesn’t defecate). Thus, it’s impossible for them to have a different perspective; Kim has created a government so strict and censored to a point where all the North Korean citizens became his puppets, his servants, his source of power. Of course, there are those few enlightened citizens that risk it all in search of freedom, but they are often met with a tragic end as they are forced into concentration camps, used for endless labor, then tortured until their last breaths.
Yes, concentration camps. They still exist to this day. When hearing these horrific stories on these individual accounts, all the stress I have about GPA, college applications and friends seem so insignificant. It makes me think about how blessed I am to be living in America, attending one of top high schools in the country, and having the opportunity to pursue into whatever interests I have. Meanwhile, a North Korean kid around the same age as me is comforting their crying siblings to appease their hunger, praying for food and water. It truly breaks my heart.
It will get only worse from here. Kim is a notorious dictator that won’t stop and continue to exert his power to his state. How? Propaganda. He uses hate to rile up the North Koreans and unite the country. As more support comes in from the people, the government is more inclined to accumulate their spending on military, resulting in many advances in nuclear development such as Taepodong 2, a nuclear missile that can reach all the way to the city of Chicago.
The U.S. have a much bigger army and a much bigger nuclear program than North Korea, so it should be no problem at all right? It’s not that simple.
To effectively take care of this ordeal, it’s essential to have a composed, intelligent leader that carefully strategizes before he takes action. The problem is...we have someone completely opposite of that.
It scares me that our leader encourages supporters to exercise violence upon his critics. It scares me that our leader doesn’t know the difference between hate and fighting against hate. It scares me that our leader is orange (Okay, that’s a little too far, but you get the point). North Korea is at its height of its powers and the fact that our president is recklessly blurting out words to scare North Korea is just unacceptable.
The absolute worst thing is for me is that there is nothing for us to do but to wait. No matter how much we put our thoughts on social media or how much we protest, Trump will be Trump. He will be calling the shots and controlling the biggest military in the world. As painful as that sounds, we have to accept that and hope for the best— hope that Trump realizes that consequences of his recklessness can lead to millions upon millions of casualties, hope that Kim recognizes the suffering of his citizens in his country. All we can do is hope.