Good ‘ol North Korea. Just when things are getting a little too intense what with the worldwide economic crisis and terrorism and whatnot, there’s North Korea to test some nuclear weapons. It keeps us on an even keel – thanks to them, we know that in a world of uncertainty, there will always be one country that is even more openly dickish than the United States.
In case you hadn’t heard, North Korea recently tested a nuclear weapon, much to the consternation of pretty much everyone on Earth who doesn’t live in North Korea. What I love about their most recent act of defiance against the international community is that while most stereotypically evil countries would go about developing their nuclear weapons secretly, behind closed doors, North Korea just doesn’t give a fuck. They conducted their most recent test underground (which has always been a little confusing to me – do they just dig a hole and then kick the nuke in, or…?), and as a result, most people outside of North Korea didn’t know anything had happened. Indeed, the only way we found out was when North Korea announced to the world that they’d done it, much with the same sense of misguided yet quaint pride that a six year old displays when he announces to a room full of people that he knows how babies are made. “Hey, everybody! Aren’t I clever?”
A lot of people in the international community have called out for something to be done about North Korea, how they’ve gotten away with this sort of thing for far too long and how this aggression will not stand, man. To give you my perspective on the matter, I’d like to share two stories that I remember every time I start to feel worried about North Korea.
North Korea has a long and illustrious history of doing the kind of shit that would be immature even for the comments section on a YouTube video; namely, they start off strong with something completely brazen, then seemingly realize that it’s them versus the rest of the world, and back right the hell down. A perfect example occurred in 1976, in what came to be known as The Axe Murder Incident. No, the name is not a metaphor – an axe murder became an international incident between North Korea and the United States; take a guess as to who started it.
On August 18th, 1976, a group of American and South Korean soldiers set out to trim up a tree in the Demilitarized Zone which was blocking the South Korean side’s view of North Korea – South Korea likes to keep an eye on the North, y’know, lest they try to start any shit. Although the Americans and South Koreans had permission from North Korea to trim the tree, soon after they arrived a group of North Korean soldiers showed up, argued with the delegation’s commanding officer, and then proceeded to attack the group, killing two officers with a well placed karate chop and, yes, an axe. The United States responded two days later by dispatching a convoy of 23 trucks, attack helicopters, fighter jets, and a crack squad of flaming nuclear alligators  to stand guard and be menacing while a large group of soldiers cut the tree down with chainsaws. A few hundred heavily armed North Korean soldiers showed up and watched, evidently lacking their earlier bravado now that they were facing down a bunch of guys with chainsaws. Shortly thereafter, North Korea issued a vague apology in which they accepted no responsibility, and everything went back to the way it was.
When I was in high school, I knew a guy named Dan, who was easily one of the most widely hated and mocked people at the school due to his unquenchable thirst for attention coupled with little to no maturity. One day, he came to school wearing a suit of “armor” made out of old CDs that was intended to resemble armor made of metal scales. Walking down the hall in this flimsy, shining testament to his own indefatigable stupidity, he drew the attention of one of our football players.
“Nice armor, fag.” The football player said.
In response, Dan punched the football player in the shoulder (some report that Dan, who was presumably wearing gloves, took one off and slapped the player in the face with it as a challenge, but this is unconfirmed). The football player then had no choice but to sock Dan square in the face, sending him running down the hall, clutching his bloody nose and screaming for help from our school’s security guard.
See, here’s the point: North Korea is the world’s Dan. Nobody likes him, everybody laughs at him, and while I did sometimes worry that the only screw holding Dan together would eventually come loose and he’d show up at school with a pipe bomb or something, I always knew that he’d never have the sack to go through with anything big.
Yes, North Korea has access to fissionable materials, and within the next few years could be able to mount those fissionable materials onto a long range missile. But despite all their bravado, I feel like whoever’s running North Korea at this point (Kim Jong Il hasn’t been seen in public much recently, due either to a stroke or an extended Everybody Loves Raymond marathon) knows that their country is, as bad guys go, obsolete. We should be so lucky to be able to go to war with a small country with a large, somewhat competent military force – these days it’s all about small groups of impossible to find terrorists hiding out in the mountains, disguised as civilians. A war where the bad guys wear uniforms identifying them as such is America’s bread and butter. For North Korea to slap us with its glove would result in the greatest of return punches, and I get the idea that unlike Dan, they understand this.
Underneath that flimsy, CD armored exterior, there’s a country that eventually is going to ditch all this nationalistic bullshit and try to forget it ever happened. However, Dan is reportedly still a prick, so don’t expect it to be anytime soon.
Truman Capps fully expects most of the replies to this update to be from alumni of his high school swapping funny Dan stories.