There is no doubt that the tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have exponentially risen over the past few days. And with North Korea’s reported plans for a response becoming more and more plausible, President Trump’s rhetoric has made the concept of a Nuclear Winter become ever so slightly more realistic, and put television shows like The CW’s The 100 on the verge of becoming true. And while it still seems unlikely that a nuclear war is imminent, nuclear tensions between the two countries are not new developments. The mass media’s narrative of this situation has continuously documented North Korea’s nuclear tests. But by doing so, they miss a massive part of all of this: the oppressive regime of Kim Jong-Un and those who led before him, and how it all is connected to America’s problems with North Korea.
The American public was first exposed to life in North Korea when Vice traveled to the country. What Vice captured about Pyongyang, the capital, was undeniably concerning. They proved, through a dictated and scripted tour, that the country is taught to hate America. The USS Pueblo, the navy ship North Korea captured in 1968, is used as a museum. The documentary showed the extent of North Koreas propaganda and the regime’s control over its citizens, and nothing seems to have changed. When Vice went back to North Korea for a game with the Harlem Globetrotters, the documentary seemed nearly identical to the previous two Vice trips.
Time and time again, Pyongyang has proven to be a heavily militarized area, where if you disobey the strict laws, you die. The mournful story of college student Otto Warmbier proves that. This is only the capital, where approximately 10% of the population lives. The other 90% live in the massive farm lands that make up most of the country. These North Koreans struggle with starvation and poverty on top of the propaganda and fear. But no matter where North Koreans live, it is abundantly clear that they face an unbearable amount of oppression that has existed for decades.
But maybe there’s a reason why the Western media can’t show the people of North Korea. Maybe we aren’t supposed to know that they are continuously lied to and oppressed in a propaganda fueled lifestyle that makes them hate America. Maybe that makes it easy. Maybe when the time comes, and someone follows an oversimplified strategy to just bomb Pyongyang instead of urging diplomacy, it makes us hate them less. But I hope that’s not the truth. We already made a mistake with Hiroshima, let’s not do it again.
North Koreans hate America because it’s all they know. George Orwell’s “Big Brother,” is a reality for them each because it’s what they are taught. But that isn’t an excuse for us to just forget about them.
So while nuclear danger may be the biggest concern for this country regarding North Korea as of now, it is certainly not the only concern. There are 25 million North Koreans in need. If the U.S. and the United Nations truly care about doing what is right, they’ll remember that. This is bigger than democracy, this is bigger than politics, this is about embracing humanity and using power for good.