Professor Sung-Yoon Lee of Tufts University gave an erudite talk today on a rather gruesome subject: the true nature of the North Korean regime that we so often mock but rarely take seriously. I was especially moved by his account of the country’s 1990s famine, which could have been eradicated for $100 million, if only the North Korean regime had thought millions of lives were worth cutting a slice off its $7 billion military budget.
I was left reconsidering my own attitude towards the “Hermit Kingdom.” Do we patronize North Korea when we laugh at its leader’s haircut? If we reward the North Koreans — again — for pausing their nuclear tests, are we giving them the tools to continue oppressing their population? Do we lose sight of the true nature of the North Korea problem if we get so caught up in negotiations that we overlook the sheer viciousness of the regime?
But no doubt you have your own responses to Professor Lee’s talk. What did you hear that changed the way you think about the problem of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program?