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N. Korean leader is a laughing stock in U.S.

Posted April. 29, 2013 03:00,   


A beautiful U.S. news anchorwoman enters North Korea for reporting but is soon detained and used for an anti-U.S. propaganda campaign. The North Korean leadership goes helter-skelter while trying to dress her in a red Korean traditional attire and chant anti-American slogans in a North Korean accent. North Korea looks funny, rather than scary. It was a scene from a recent episode of “30 Rock,” a popular U.S. television sitcom.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, which is popular among young Americans, dealt with North Korea recently when a war crisis was escalating on the Korean Peninsula. The show also lampooned the young North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who was looking into an old-fashioned computer, and his country that included Austin, Texas into a list of its strike targets.

For most Americans, North Korea is silly, ridiculous or pathetic, rather than menacing. They regard Pyongyang’s threats as nothing but a joke. They even find the Kim Jong Un regime “hilarious” as its leader meets with "has-been" basketball star Dennis Rodman and put on YouTube a crude video depicting the North attacking the U.S.

One of the most frequently used words when Americans talk about North Korea is “bizarre.” The Atlantic, a famous U.S. magazine, recently criticized the U.S. for having a “bizarre” view of North Korea, pointing out that Americans should reflect on their attitude of laughing away North Korea, which making a practice of posing nuclear threats and violating human rights.

It is not only ordinary Americans with limited information who have no regard of North Korea’s threats. Politicians do the same. The U.S. often compares North Korea with Iran. Although North Korea is more advanced than Iran in nuclear development, it does not get as much attention as Islamic country does. During his Congressional confirmation hearings, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel mentioned Iran for a total of 170 times. However, North Korea was mentioned only 10 times. During the three rounds of TV debates between U.S. President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the Republican Party’s presidential candidate, they talked about Iran 50 times and North Korea only once. Although the U.S. is paying more attention to North Korea due to Pyongyang’s provocations, it still does not compare to Iran.

Of course, the Middle East is very important in U.S. foreign policy. Iran and other neighboring Islamic countries possessing their own nuclear weapons is one of the worst nightmares for Washington. In a sense, North Korea is more predictable than Iran to the U.S. It is possible to predict that a cycle of threats and dialogue will continue in the U.S.-North Korea relations. However, the same is not true with Iran, which is ruled by Islamic radicals. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, warned, “Iran has this patina, at least, of this super-religious extreme folks that might actually not care if they were wiped out in response to one of their attacks. There are some folks in Iran who ... might actually care less ... than the North Koreans do, because the North Koreans care only about regime-serving.”

In that sense, the U.S. considers threats from Iran existing and urgent. However, North Korean threats are not a subject for serious considerations. Kim Jong Un has become a laughing stock in the U.S. numerous times but Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has rarely been mocked.

Even though the U.S. underestimates threats from the North, South Korea should not stand idly by. Whenever there are threats from Iran, Israel and Jewish groups in the U.S. lobby Congress, the administration and the media in all directions.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who is visiting Washington next week, has a heavy burden on her shoulders. She has to deliver persuasive messages to Americans about the realities of the North, Seoul’s North Korea policy and her “Korean Peninsula trust-building process” initiative. On her first official visit to Washington as the president, Park has a rare opportunity to make an address a joint meeting of U.S. Congress. She has to deliver a clear message to U.S. politicians and citizens that Kim Jong Un is not someone to laugh at but a “serious threat.”