The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of North Korea is USD 0.0028 trillion, which is fairly miniscule compared with the United States of America (USD 18.57 trillion). It is also nowhere near the big economic powers in the West such as Germany (USD 3.467 trillion), France (USD 2.465 trillion) and United Kingdom (USD 2.619 trillion).
Closer to home, the figure makes for a forlorn comparison with the Iikes of 11.2 China (USD 11.2 trillion), Russia (USD1.283 trillion), Japan (USD 4.939 trillion) or even India (USD 2.264 trillion) well ahead.
In fact, North Korea’s GDP is some way off compared with their next-door – and some say, aggrieved – neighbour, South Korea, whose GDP is around the USD 1.411 trillion mark.
This is perhaps not surprising – expected even – given that the country is being handicapped by decades of sanctions by various countries and international bodies.
North Koreas leadership under Mr Kim Jong-un, Esq has ratcheted up fears of World War 3 breaking with a series of missile launches and nuclear tests in recent months. Pyongyang seems particularly eager to display their nuclear capability by launching a missile over Japan in late August 2017.
Indeed, things are a little testy on the region’s geopolitical front at the moment.
My investors and I are obviously watching the developments closely, as we do have some investments in the region. A thorough analysis is necessary to allow us to validate our strategy and to decide on our next move.
No one can be certain about what is going to happen next, but some quarters posit that Mr Kim would do well to learn the lessons from Saddam Hussein’s audacious – but ultimately ill-fated – invasion of Kuwait.
Saddam grossly miscalculated the whole thing. He had originally expected the war to be short, but as it turned out, he woefully underestimated the resources required to see through the war effort, as well as the backlash from other allied nations.
The Kuwait invasion fiasco is a cautionary tale, and Pyongyang will ignore this at their own peril.
North Korea’s Supreme Leader must also have the undivided and unqualified support of his people. The nuclear tests held recently seem to be his act of defiance against President Trump’s repeated threats, and they were probably designed to convey a simple message to North Koreans: Mr Kim has balls of steel and is worthy of their limitless, undying loyalty.
If the U.S. continue to work alongside South Korea to put pressure on Pyongyang, it will only serve to buttress the resolve of the North Koreans despite the GDP numbers and the hardships that they may have to endure.
It should be noted that the circumstances today are not the same as they were during the Korean War, when Mr Kim’s grandfather was at the helm. North Korea no longer enjoys full support from China, and can’t simply do what it well pleases.
China is said to be increasingly irritated by Mr Kim’s antics and posturing. Beijing and Washington may be strange bedfellows, but apparently the Chinese is sufficiently irked to actually side with the U.S. and impose economic sanctions. China’s imports from North Korea are said to have stuttered to almost a halt since as early as February 2017.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is reported to have held top-level talks in China, in an effort to persuade them to tighten the noose and further squeeze the hermit kingdom. Beijing appears to be increasingly willing to adopt UN sanctions and cut ties to North Korea’s economy. This is desperate news for Pyongyang, as China is said to account for some 90 percent of their foreign trade.
It’s also perfectly possible that Japan will get utterly fed up with the whole thing. The last missile fired from North Korea forced the Japan government to issue a warning to its citizens.
In the end, the missile crashed into the Pacific Ocean 575 miles east of Japan, but it was much too close for comfort. At some point, the Japanese will be forced to decide whether or not they will endure all the shenanigans and allow themselves to bullied from pillar to post by their neighbours.
Mr Kim’s mischief could be the final straw, and Japan could well respond by ramping up their own nuclear capabilities. This is, of course, subject to the approval of their Parliament, but it is not something insurmountable.
Probably one of the mitigating factors at the moment is the increased U.S. military presence in China Sea. Common enemies notwithstanding, Beijing will exercise prudence and can be expected to be circumspect in their approach, in order to protect itself from military and intelligence risks.
Despite all the posturing, everyone will be wary of a military confrontation involving the U.S., China, Japan and Korea. The biggest risk is an accidental war triggered by one or more parties’ miscalculation or misreading the actions of others. Should the unlikely happen, the death toll could be horrendous, and it could profoundly and adversely impact the world economy.
Everyone is painfully aware of this, so the best bet – and the most likely scenario – is still to keep all diplomatic channels open among the affected nations.
Mr Kim’s recent actions appear to be an audacious piece of sabre-rattling, although the truth could be less dramatic than that.
It’s possible that everything is just him playing to the gallery, with the aim of retaining absolute power at home. Perhaps the U.S. is a convenient bogeyman in an elaborate propaganda designed to consolidate his power, rather that a full-on desire to go to the mattresses.
The U.S. doesn’t really have anything to gain from an extended scuffle with North Korea, other than protecting the economic interests of its allies. Perhaps just like Mr Kim, Donald Trump also needed a villain that he can go against so that he can portray himself as a saviour and a true American Hero.
Odds are, we are going to witness a protracted cold war reminiscent of the U.S.-Soviet geopolitical tango many years ago.
If the harsh sanctions are put in place long enough, it could all end in tears for Mr Kim.
Elias Abllah. Personal Finance
Diterjemah daripada artikel asal ‘Perang Korea Utara’ oleh MSK