Tuesday, June 9, 2009

North Korea Nuclear Offensive a Merciless Offensive: Businesses Leave North Korea

North Korea today said it's nuclear arsenal will be used as an offense, remarking that when that offensive comes, it will be a "merciless offensive." Experts say this is the first time North Korea has referred to their nuclear power as anything but defensive in nature. See details about this intriguing map of the Koreas below.

North and South Korea Map
The U.N. Security Council is debating how to properly punish North Korea, through sanctions, for recent nuclear tests. Do we have any doubts that North Korea is quaking with fear? President Obama has said for diplomacy to work with North Korea, it has to "involve the other side," and "we have not seen that reaction from North Korea."
I don't think there should be an assumption that we will simply continue down a path in which North Korea is constantly destabilizing the region and we continue to act in the same ways.
South Korea has attempted some friendly business relations with the North, with South Korean businesses operating out of the North. A South Korean business, Skinnet (a fur maker) has announced they are pulling out of the country, quitting their business which is located in the the North's border town of Kaesong. The company operates out of an industrial complex, and is one of 106 South Korean companies operating in the park. Within the South's businesses, some 40,000 North Koreans hold jobs, making a wide variety of products from "electronics and watches to shoes and utensils." Talks between the two countries to plan additional joint projects have been suspended:
A Skinnet company official said the decision was primarily over "security concerns" for its employees, and also because of a decline in orders from clients concerned over possible disruptions to operations amid the soaring tensions. The industrial park's fate has been in doubt since last month when North Korea threatened to scrap all contracts on running the joint complex and said it would write new rules of its own and the South must accept them or pull out of the zone.
It will be interesting to see if Skinnet leaves everything to the North or is actually able to dismantle their company and move it back to the South. To ramp-up concerns, a South Korean man working in the industrial complex has been held by North Korea, since March, for speaking against the North's political regime. The sentencing of two American women this week (Laura Ling and Euna Lee) to twelve years hard labor, has intensified worries. Reports are that South Korea has "doubled the number of naval ships around the disputed sea border with the North..." About the map above: This photo taken from space clearly shows the lack of electricity available to the people of North Korea.

North and South Korea have been separated at the 38th parallel ever since the Korean War (1950-1953), which has never officially ended. In the ensuing ‘ceasefire’, North Korea developed into a communist dictatorship with a centrally planned economy, while South Korea became a capitalist democracy with a free market economy.

Economic hardship in the officially ‘self-reliant’ North has led to mass starvation, while the South has a vibrant economy able to compete with the best of the world. In 1996, the per capita GNP in the North was $920, while it was $11.270 in the South. A 1999 estimate of per capita GNPs put the South’s at 13 times that of the North. More recent figures will probably show an even wider gap.

Due to the different economic results on either side of the Demilitarized Zone, the ethnically quite homogenous Koreans have even begun to diversify physically, with the average North Korean male almost 7 cm shorter than his Southern counterpart (165,6 cm vs. 172,5 cm). North Korean females are on average 4 cm shorter than Southern women (154,9 cm vs. 159,1 cm). By 2025, the height difference is projected to increase to 11 cm for men, 6 cm for women. Unless the North’s economic situation changes drastically, that is.

So the South dwarfs the North, not just numerically (50 vs. 27 million), but also economically and even size-wise. Another stark reminder of the different worlds both Koreas now inhabit, is this map, a picture of the night-time illumination on the Korean peninsula.

The metropolitan area of Seoul, the South’s capital, holds 23 million people and is the second-largest conurbation on the planet (after Tokyo). Its huge lit-up area, close to the border with the North, is clearly visible from space. Other Southern cities, while quite a lot smaller than Seoul, are also clearly distinguishable on this satellite map, for example Gunsan on the western coast, directly below it the inland city of Gwangju, the cities of Masan and Busan on the southern coast, and several other cities, much smaller still.

By contrast (quite literally, even), the only speck of light north of the DMZ is the North’s capital of Pyonyang, a single, neat pinprick of white punched through an otherwise completely black canvas. The minimal lighting belies the fact that Pyongyang is home to an estimated 3 million people. Gunsan, in the South, has under 300.000 inhabitants.

There is only one bright side to this darkness that I can think of: North Korea must be a fantastic place for stargazing…

Map's origins found here at Imageshack. Read how ChicagoRay thinks we should "take Jung Il Out of the World Equation"

©2007-2012copyrightMaggie M. Thornton