The Kim Dynasty has been in place in North Korea for over a hundred years and its power and reputation has slowly deteriorated, changing dramatically in the last fifty years. Originally a socialist regime that has now turned into a dictatorship, as typically happens with all socialist societies.
The Supreme Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) is Kim Jong-Un. His father was Kim Jong-IL. Kim Jong-Un inherited the empire in December 2011 at the young age of 27, and now is 33 in 2017. To put the age into perspective, his father Kim Jong-IL did not gain power of North Korea until he was 52, in 1994. Kim Jong-IL was not the best father figure for his son Kim Jong-Un. While growing up Kim Jong-Un experienced his father’s severe treatment of the North Korean people, including famines, political uprisings, government repression, and assassinations. Perhaps Kim Jong-Un can’t be directly to blame since his family upbringing and environment instilled the prior mentioned ideals upon him.
During the Korean War (1950 – 1953) North Korea had the support of China, the Eastern Bloc, and the Soviet Union. Money, arms, and military were supplied to North Korea for the war and for the reconstruction after the war. A few months after the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961 the Sino-North Korean Mutual Aid and Cooperation Friendship Treaty (July 1961) was signed by the Soviet Union, China, and North Korea. This treaty supported economic advancement as well as direct military support to any opposition.
The Soviet portion of the treaty has expired since the Soviet Union was disbanded in the 1990s but is still in effect on consultative basis. China’s portion of the treaty is still in place and expires in 2021. This means if there is any military action against North Korea; China must help defend North Korea from anyone including the United States. If they choose not to honor the treaty, then it will be a different story. I do believe that China will have to honor the treaty because if they do not they will lose face. Losing face on a governmental level will send a shockwave throughout the Chinese population potentially causing a civil uprising.
That being said, China has not turned a blind eye to North Korea’s current nuclear development and testing. China has enacted severe economic sanctions. They have closed the main foreign exchange bank, restricted all coal imports, and stopped investments into some of North Korea’s processing plants.
North Korea’s future looks dire to say the least. The best case scenario is that Kim Jong-Un will be able to work with all the world leaders leading to peace. I doubt that will be possible considering his past. The worst case scenario, which will probably become reality, is that an all-out war ensues between North Korea and the rest of the world. I use the term, world, loosely. I mean it signify support from the world but only involving the United States, Japan, and South Korea in the actual conflict. The latter scenario will cause a large loss of civilian life, probably not seen since Vietnam, which was about 600,000 lives. I do believe the loss of life will eclipse a million, especially if nuclear and chemical weapons are used. Kim Jong-Un has specifically stated that he is not afraid to go into a nuclear war with the United States or any other country.
To the West of North Korea is the Syrian issue. On April 7, 2017 Syria was bombed by the United States, albeit for good reason it violated International Law. Russia has adamantly stated that the attack should not have happened and will defend Syria against any further military action by the United States.
Russia’s argument may be valid if Bashar al-Assad is proven to not have purposefully launched a chemical attack against his people. There is speculation that al-Assad bombed an ISIL depot to stop further advancement of the terror group and that he had no knowledge of the hidden chemical weapons at the depot. If the prior statement is true, then the United States will be viewed as the violent aggressor. The same type of violent aggressor that invaded Iraq and the non-existent weapons of mass destruction were found.
In summary, China will need to defend North Korea militarily and Russia will defend Syria in the same manner. The two largest superpowers of the East have now been poised against the West. The Eastern Powers are now much wealthier and heavily armed than they have been in decades and do pose a legitimate threat. They all have full scale nuclear and chemical capabilities given to them by the United States and Europe. The possibility of a world war occurring has just increased to 70%. The United States and Europe (NATO) vs China, Russia, Iran, Syria, and North Korea. Chess can be a dangerous game.