Thursday (March 24th): Kim’s cry for attention

Name? Kim Jong-un

Westphalian identity? North Korea

Age? 38

Why is he in the news? This morning, Kim Jong-un’s North Korea launched what is thought to be its largest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) to date and its first since 2017. Estimates are that this new type of missile can carry nuclear warheads and reach targets up to 10,000 kilometres away. The North Korean missile landed in the Japanese exclusive economic zone, 106 miles away from the Japanese border. 

Why do we care? Kim restarted his nuclear and ICBM program in 2020 after negotiations with the Trump administration broke down. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, North Korea has increased its testing, benefitting from the lack of global attention. This morning’s test, however, was a clear call for attention. With sudden Western rapprochement to Iran and Venezuela, it appears that Kim hopes to regain relevance and leverage from this earthquake in international relations as well. 

Why should you care? For the past month, we have shown you every day how different leaders respond or benefit from Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine. It has heated up many frozen fronts in conflicts all over the world and reshuffled the cards for many. Kim’s actions are no exception to this. You should care 7/10. 

Who else cares? Incumbent South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol. The conservative candidate won the South Korean presidential elections this month and has announced a fresh start to negotiations with Chairman Kim. However, due to increased missile testing from the North, he plans to boost South Korea’s deterrent capabilities, brought from the US. This puts China at unease over even more US weapons in Korea. 

Any further comments? Unsurprisingly, Chairman Kim blames the Ukraine crisis on the “hegemonic policy” and “high-handedness” of the United States and the West. Convincingly, Russian diplomats met with the North Korean ambassador to Russia last week and discussed developing bilateral relations “in the context of changes happening on the international arena”.

Joshua Dario Hasenstab

General Coordinator