Does North Korea Matter?: An undergraduate research paper

By Christopher Wink | Nov 27, 2006 | TUJ Undergraduate Research

There are nearly 200 member-states in the United Nations; 191 since Switzerland and East Timor joined in 2002 (UN 2005). With such a robust international community, it is clear that some states might require less attention than others. Without enough adequate potable drinking water for its citizens and with an estimated gross domestic product barely in the top 100 among independent states, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, populated by just 23 million people, would seem to be an understandable candidate to slide from global political discourse (CIA 2006). Yet, as heads of state and political scientists from around the world would likely acknowledge, North Korea is anything but forgotten.

In January of 2002, during his first State of the Union address, President George W. Bush famously labeled North Korea as a member of an “axis of evil.” In September of that same year, an American National Security Strategy document released by the Bush administration referred to two “rogue states” that were considered to, “reject basic human values and hate the United States and everything for which it stands.” They were the DPRK and the since invaded and occupied Iraq (McCormack 1-2. 2004).

In recent months, there has been fervor over an alleged North Korean nuclear weapons program, causing a push to return to six-party talks about its termination. The group negotiations, led by the United States, include global powers and North Korean neighbors: China, Russia, and Japan, along with South Korea (Reuters 2006). There is no doubt that North Korea garners a great deal of consideration among politicians and pundits alike. The ready question, then, is if the attention it receives is merited. In short, does North Korea matter?

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