The increased tensions on the Korean Peninsula—with the Trump administration threatening to get tough with the North Korean regime of Kim Jong-un (sometimes via Twitter) and the North Korean nuclear program progressing apace—has engendered fear from Seoul to Washington. President Obama told his successor that North Korea was likely to be the most serious foreign policy threat of the next several years; Trump himself even admitted to listening to the Chinese leader discourse on the subject and has spoken of offering China more favorable trade terms in exchange for cooperation in limiting North Korean action.
To discuss the Korean situation, I spoke by phone with Barbara Demick, currently the New York bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times and the author of Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, a harrowing account of six North Korean defectors. During the course of our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, we discussed the reasons for China’s large influence over North Korea, whether the current North Korean regime is rational, and why Trump’s bluster—“the crazy card”—might be beneficial.
Isaac Chotiner: Is North Korea getting more aggressive, or is it just acting the same way and the weapons programs is just coming to fruition?
Barbara Demick: Well, obviously the…
click here to read more