North Korea in a Regional and Global Context

North Korea in a Regional and Global Context

North Korea in a Regional and Global Context

North Korea in a Regional and Global Context

Excerpt

The essays that follow come at a time of considerable fluidity in international relations, East and West. The broad trend is from alliance to alignment -- from the type of tight, all-encompassing relationships that followed World War II when the major partner made absolute commitments and the minor partner pledged complete adherence, to a looser, more flexible relation in which neither absolute commitments nor total obedience is required. At the same time, the widespread proclamation of nonalignment is part myth, and conceals an important reality of these times. Few if any nations are or can be purely nonaligned. It will be recalled that Burma, one of the nations closest to such a status, withdrew from the Nonaligned Conference because it regarded most members as aligned. China is a good example. While proclaiming nonalignment, and notwithstanding its current efforts to improve relations with the USSR, the PRC today pursues tilted nonalignment, and the tilt is toward Japan and the West, especially the United States.

Is North Korea nonaligned? Certainly the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), to use its official name, is not nonaligned with respect to the United States. It is actively hostile; this is also its stance toward a number of other states. The more complex issue, as explored in some of the essays here, is whether North Korea has maintained an equidistant position between Russia and China. It is my view that the term "equidistance" does not capture the essence of North Korea's relations with its two Communist neighbors. Rather, DPRK policies have been characterized by thrusts first in one direction, then in the other, being careful in recent years not to go beyond a point of no return. Whatever view one takes on this matter, there can be little doubt that the changing relations among the major nations surrounding the DPRK as well as changes on the domestic front have pro-

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