North Korea: History of Lies and Unprovoked Aggression


“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, shame on both of us.” – Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

  • In 1994, President Bill Clinton’s administration and North Korea signed a deal known as the Agreed Framework. Under the terms, Pyongyang committed to freezing its illicit plutonium weapons program in exchange for US construction of light-water nuclear reactors, heavy fuel, normalized relations and formal assurances against the threat or use of nuclear weapons
    • In May 1995, North Korean forces fire on a South Korean fishing boat, killing three
    • In april 1996, several hundred armed North Korean troops enter the DMZ and the JSA on three occasions, in violation of Korean armistice agreement
  • In 1998, South Korean President Kim Dae-jung announced a Sunshine Policy towards North Korea, which led to the first Inter-Korean summit in 2000, between Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il; Kim Dae-jung was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
    • Summit was followed in August by a family reunion; in September, the North and South Korean teams marched together at the Sydney Olympics
    • Trade increased to the point where South Korea became North Korea’s largest trading partner
    • In June 1999, six North Korean patrol boats and five fishing boats crossed the NLL; subsequently, North Korean Navy deployed 3 torpedo boats, prompting a deployment of two corvettes by the South Koreans; on June 15, 1999, North Korean patrol boat PT-381 fired machine guns and 25mm cannon at the two South Korean fast craft
    • In 2002, North Korea once again began operating its nuclear facilities
    • In June 2002, a North Korean patrol boats crossed the NLL; North Korean vessels attached South Korean patrol boats that had been monitoring them; 13 North Koreans were killed and 6 South Koreans were killed from the action
  • In 2005, multilateral discussions among China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea, and US (Six-Party Talks) seemed to take a step forward when North Korea pledged to abandon its existing nuclear programs
    • Deal appeared to be a diplomatic win for the US administration of George Bush; then in 2006, Pyongyang launched its first nuclear test
  • South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun walked across the Korean DMZ in October 2007 and traveled on to Pyongyang for talks with Kim Jong-il; on October 4, 2007, President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il signed the peace declaration (document called for international talks to replace the Armistice with a permanent peace treaty)
  • The Six-Party Talks continued and in 2007, the pariah nation began disabling its Yongbyon nuclear plant
    • By the end of 2008, the regime restarted its nuclear program and barred nuclear inspectors, resulting in the country walking out of negotiations in 2009
  • President Moon Jae-in was elected in May 2017 with a promise to return to the Sunshine Policy
    • In 2017 alone, North Korea has conducted more than 15 missile tests (3 of which were satellite and missile launches that have flown over the Japanese archipelago)
  • In 2018, North and South Korea marched together in the Olympics opening ceremony (Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games in South Korea); on April 27, 2018, inter-Korean summit took place between President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un of North Korea (first time since Korean War that a North Korean leader had entered South Korean territory); as part of the Declaration, both sides called for the end of longstanding military activities in the region of the Korean border and a reunification of both Koreas

Recent History of Unprovoked Aggression Towards South Korea

  • November 10, 2009: North Korean navy patrol boat crosses into South Korean territorial waters, ignores radio warnings and warning shots from South Korean naval units, and opens fire on a South Korean patrol boat
  • March 26, 2010: A North Korean “midget submarine” fired a torpedo and sunk the South Korean Naval corvette Cheonan, killing 46 sailors and wounding 56 more
  • November 23, 2010: North Korean forces fired around 170 artillery shells and rockets at Yeonpyeong Island in South Korea, hitting both military and civilian targets. The attack left four South Koreans dead and 19 injured
  • October 19, 2014: North and South Korean soldiers exchanged gunfire when the North’s soldiers approached the military border and did not retreat after the South fired warning shots
  • August 10, 2015: North Korean soldiers sneaked across the heavily guarded border with South Korea and planted land mines near one of the South’s military guard posts, and two southern soldiers were maimed after stepping on them

Korean War ended on July 27, 1953, with an armistice which inaugurated an official ceasefire and established the Korean DMZ. North Korea has announced that it will no longer abide by the armistice at least six times, in the years 1994, 1996, 2003, 2006, 2009, and 2013.

CIA estimates the population of North Korea to be 25 million, of which between 80,000 and 120,000 people are detained in one of the country’s prison camps for political prisoners. UN estimates roughly 18 million people are not getting enough food while 25% of GDP is spent on its army, navy, and air force (worldwide average military spending is 2% of GDP). Kim Jong-un’s net worth is estimated to be $5-10 billion.

Image Source: AP