If unpredictability was a country’s name then it would certainly be called North Korea. And given the pace with which the new world order is shaping up, even the closed and dictatorial country like North Korea is craving for normalcy and an avenue to leave behind the Osmium-level sanctions levied upon it. Consequently, it is emerging that North Korea is leaving behind its affinity for China and its dictatorial doppelganger Xi Jinping and coming to the fold of Donald Trump, who seems to be pressing all the right keys of Kim Jong-un.
According to a report in Hindustan Times, North Korean authorities have issued ‘shoot-to-kill’ orders to prevent the coronavirus from entering the country from China. The Chinese had been banned from crossing the borders, eversince the pandemic started but the recent escalation has surprised many.
In July, the state media said that Pyongyang had raised its state of emergency to the maximum level. US Forces Korea (USFK) commander Robert Abrams said that the border shutdown had increased demand for smuggled goods, prompting authorities to intervene.
The news reports state that Korea has introduced a new “buffer zone, one or two kilometers up on the Chinese border.
“They’ve got North Korean SOF (Special Operations Forces) out there. … Strike forces, they’ve got shoot-to-kill orders in place.” said Robert Abrams, US Forces Korea (USFK) commander
North Korea decoupling from China
The hostility even in the face of a pandemic is unprecedented from North Korea which has been a lackey for China, since the time of dawn.
Amidst all the drama of Kim’s apparent death and coma speculations, another interesting sub-plot has emerged in the North Korean waters which shows that the tide is flowing against the Chinese.
It wasn’t the first time that a shipping boat had trudged in the waters of North Korea illegally but the situation on most occasions used to be defused by giving a warning or accepting some bribe. However, the killing of the fishermen was a first and that left many international political pundits in a tizzy over North Korea’s sudden provocateur.
The aggressive posturing from North Korea left Beijing befuddled and before it could react, the Koreans came up with the ‘Shoot-on-sight’ order.
A dwindling economy and the pressure of sanctions
China and North Korea have been thick as thieves in the past, sharing a 1,400-km (880-mile) frontier that is especially porous in winter, when rivers separating the countries freeze, allowing people to cross. But the dwindling economy of the country and the crumbling healthcare sector cannot handle the pressure of Coronavirus.
With China getting cornered by the world powers in the aftermath of Coronavirus–North Korea has seen it as a signal to dump its partner.
The theory that North Korea is warming up to America, and in turn to the world, can also be gauged from the fact that the US President Donald Trump himself tweeted that the Korean dictator was alive and kicking.
“Kim Jong Un is in good health. Never underestimate him!” the President tweeted, sending the conspiracy-theorists and their comatose theories into the dustbin.
Kim Jong Un is in good health. Never underestimate him!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 10, 2020
Trump handling a bail-out package to Kim Jong Un
The fact that Trump is aware of his health shows that the US is deeper inside North Korea’s internal affairs than many others, perhaps even South Korea which had been claiming that Kim Jong Un was dead.
Befriending the USA and jumping into the globalized economy is the golden bail-out package handed on a golden platter to the dictator by Trump. All he needs to do is sever ties with China. Beijing no longer holds the leverage of economics in the region as the border closure due to COVID-19 has caused an 85 percent plunge in imports from China. With such a sharp decline in trade, North Korea has no valid reason to stick to Beijing’s coat-tail.
World powers have levied severe economic and financial sanctions on North Korea for more than a dozen years to pressure it to denuclearize. These measures have exacted a heavy toll on the North Korean economy and despite Kim’s ambitious yet impossible dreams of world domination, he needs to feed his populace and the best way to move forward is to remove the shackles of sanctions.
America has miraculously managed to turn China’s biggest proxy against it. The geopolitics of the landscape can be altered by these developments and Trump has done it all in his 4 years of tenure.