North Korea under the leadership of Kim Jong Un has become a hot topic to discuss lately because all the provocations and threats it has made make the international world feel threatened. Not only internationally, the threats of North Korea make the issue of security important in the east Asia region, especially in countries that are within the range of North Korea’s missiles (it will, p. 2). The consolidation of power he has done in the last six years has begun to show major changes. His ignorance shows off the progress of North Korea’s nuclear weapons, despite being strongly criticized by the international community (long live p. 11), plus the murder plot of his uncle and stepbrother, shows Kim is a young despot who is far more cruel and intelligent than his own father, Kim Jong Il (keep up w (p. 23) Not long after his inauguration, North Korea under the leadership of Kim Jong Un succeeded in testing his nuclear weapons which had an explosion 17 times stronger than the atomic bomb which exploded in Hiroshima. (keep up-23)
However, Kim Jong Un attitude suddenly changed course from being totally totalitarian and closed to being more open and willing to cooperate. This was proven when for the first time in more than ten years, the North Korean leader moved from his military city to the south, attending an intra-Korean summit on Friday April 27 2018. Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will meet in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). The two long-running brothers will meet, opening up opportunities for talks to reduce conflict tensions due to the nuclear program, discuss issues to improve inter-Korean relations, achieve peace, prosperity and reunification on the Korean Peninsula. (keeping Up with the kim p. 2). Not long after, Kim Jong Un also made a breakthrough by holding a meeting with the President of the United States (US) Donald Trump, on June 12, 2018 in Singapore. This meeting was mainly to discuss about North Korea’s denuclearization program. (Long live p. 13 This meeting can be said to be special and quite surprising because a few months earlier, Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump had a dispute, not only by showing off each other but also throwing personal insults in social media. (will trump 453)
The phenomenon of North Korean foreign policy which changed drastically and unpredictably caused a big question mark. Quoting from the views of the neoliberalists who say that although in an anarchic international system, the state will continue to cooperate in order to achieve maximum profits. Kenneth Oye, p. 81 based on this view, I argue that North Korea’s unpredictable foreign policy during Kim Jong Un leadership aims to gain international attention and make an agreement that benefits North Korea that can be used to overcome their downturn. Some of the reasons that encouraged Kim Jong Un to carry out the policy were: sudden regime changes, North Korea’s domestic conditions were less conducive, and its foresight in managing conflict.
Sudden Regime Change
Kim Jong-Il died in December 2011, the successor of his leadership was none other than the youngest son of his third wife, Kim Jong-Un. Unstabel-18) When he was appointed as a new leader to replace his father, Kim Jong Un inherited various problems that made him in a weak position. At that time, Jong Un was 27 years old. At that young age, he must lead a country with poor economic conditions, with three million people starving, and international isolation due to the nuclear program inherited from his father. Not only from the international community, but also from the concerns of its own people. They are not sure whether Kim Jong Un is able to continue the leadership baton from his father Kim Jong Il. (long live page 3)
As a young man who is a successor to state power, there are still many who doubt the leadership ability of this successor (long live p. 6). The election of Kim Jong-Un as the top leader is also still a mystery, even though there are brothers who look more ready and mature. Like Kim Jong-nam who served as a strategic military position in North Korea, or Kim Jong-chol who used to accompany his father when he led (comparing 558). But some people’s doubts about their assertiveness in leading North Korea disappeared at the first public speech by Kim Jong-un who immediately declared war on the West while insulting them and giving a spirit of support to the North Korean military. (Siege 236). Shortly after Kim Jong Un was appointed leader of North Korea, Kim immediately devised a plan to strengthen his political position both internationally and domestically. Kim put forward the concept of a byungjin policy of consolidating military and nuclear power, and developing the country’s economy. (psific hal3)
A few months after Kim Jong-un’s succession, the world was shocked by the missile launch that was initially claimed by North Korea as a sending of space satellites, which eventually failed and exploded in the air. The US said that this was a nuclear missile test by North Korea. The UN intervenes and gives punishment and sanctions for the country (Keeping Up Kim 23) That’s when North Korea was seen as creepy and dangerous in the hands of Kim Jong-un. He immediately refused and did not comply with the UN’s punishment. In fact, the rejection was carried out by Jong-un by continuing to fire missiles which are claimed to be long-range missile tests (long live p. 197). Jong-un’s leadership fierceness continues to be seen with the threat of continuous attacks being disseminated massively as well as the threat of war against South Korea which is kept in mind by the North Korean government. Kim Jong Un attitude seems to legitimize the view of the realists that humans or the state tend to be evil, they are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their national goals (Hans Morgenthau, “Six Principles of Political Realism,” in Art / Jervis, eds., Pp. 29 -35.
The old adage “The Fruit Doesn’t Fall Away from the Tree” is similar to the leadership model carried out by Kim Jong-un. Kim Jong-il is very famous for his tough attitude from all threats and attacks. The back threat became a habit at that time, although it was done in a conservative way with the form of bluffing (siege 237). Kim Jong-un developed his father’s system in modern and more militant ways. Reffering from the views of neorealist scholar Stephen Walt on balance of threat where other countries will react more to threats from other countries. Stephen Walt, “Alliances: Balancing and Bandwagoning,” in Art / Jervis, eds., Pp. 124-131 The threat of North Korea was indeed very effective and succeeded in frightening their enemy countries, especially South Korea (North Koreaeast 246). The country’s internal campaign is carried out thoroughly without Jong-un being overlooked in any way. A sweet and calm face, changed drastically when Jong-un gave directions or orders. Like Father Like Son, Kim Jong-un with just a few months of lead has made various countries that initially underestimated him feel threatened and form various strategic policies that are very influential on his country. Opposing countries have even exerted all means so that North Korean threats can be minimized. (north korea neast 247. Exactly at the beginning of Kim Jong-Il’s leadership, the world was immediately uproar and shocked by the foreign and domestic policies it implemented. And until the end of his life Kim Jong-il still left behind various demands and threats that were very feared, and now continued by his beloved son Kim Jong-un. (keeping up 26)
Political Policies Influenced by Domestic Conditions of North Korea
Another factor that might cause North Korea under Kim Jong Un leadership to make unpredictable political policies is a domestic factor. The existence of ideologies and values ??in North Koreans known as Juche. Juche Ideology was officially introduced by Kim Il-Sung on December 16, 1967 through his speech entitled “Let Us Defend The Revolutionary Spirit of Independence, Self-Reliance and Self-Defense More Throughly In All Fields of State Activities”. (North orea siege p. 7).
Juche is a view of life for North Korea, which says that one must be able to control the world and because of its destiny that has chajusong (creativity and awareness). This juche ideology provides a conception in North Korean thinking that one must dominate and reshape the world. Juche-oriented understanding that a person must be a leader in the revolution and reconstruct his own country. This means that North Korea must immediately hold or obtain an independent position, refuse to depend on others, use its own brain, believe in its own strength, show the spirit of revolution through self-confidence, and correcting problems is the responsibility of everyone in every situation. pyongyang -9) These values ??then encouraged North Korea to believe that the policy that must be taken when threatening its neighbours even threatens the United States with its nuclear weapons is to prove to the world that they are forces that cannot be underestimated.
In addition, the anti-imperialist doctrine brought by previous leaders that had the potential to direct their citizens to war, the bitter memories of the past due to the Japanese occupation of World War II and the interference of the United States in the Korean War caused a high anti-imperialism in among the North Korean people. This anti-imperialism spirit is used as a generator of nationalism. (Siege 230) This sense of nationalism can lead to legitimacy in all forms of government policy based on national interests. North Korea has the ability to mobilize the masses because of the socialist character of the community and mutual responsibility so that the community will be easily provoked and have similar thoughts. (siege 224)
Then there is a government system that defines North Korea’s political order as a “family state”. The relationship between the community and the highest leader feels more like a family relationship. The role of a leader like the role of a father in a family head, which is to regulate home affairs, has absolute power and is the source of all wisdom. (siege thing 232) `. Given this basic concept, the decision-making process runs easily without much protest. Because North Koreans believe that their leader is a father who will direct them to goodness and victory. Unlike a democratic country where the decision to issue a policy will be difficult because many opinions must be heard. For Korean citizens, leaders and socialism are equally valuable and important as national independence.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wants to show off his strength against political opponents in North Korea and raise his image in front of his people. Because he knows that charisma and high political image can legitimize his power while suppressing his political opponents. (pyongyang p. 7) North Korea’s threats and provocative actions are only part of the rhetoric of the leader of Kim Jong Un. Like this way will build the reputation of Kim Jong-un figure. This tension is only Kim Jong-un’s way to build propaganda on the reputation of his brave figure against the US. As a young person who has no military experience, Kim must build this reputation through “conflict” with the US and South Korea. (siege 233 (
The military for North Korea not only acts as a defender or guard, but is also seen as a strategic sector (comparing 554). Great strength must be placed as development in the security industry as required by economic construction in the songun period and everything needed to support it in special treatment. The existence of a military-first political concept elicited by North Korean leaders fosters a spirit of nationalism and patriotism for North Korean citizens. Through the military-first political slogan that is the goal of North Korea is a strong and prosperous nation. (Siege 235) So that through military-first political propaganda, North Korea’s offensive actions will be interpreted as military actions that will bring North Korea into a strong nation and prosper by the people. Furthermore, the domestic problems faced by North Korea at this time are the ongoing food crisis. The social conditions faced by North Korea today are hunger, food crisis, high food prices due to high financial inflation. Economic changes can cause a stir in North Korea’s social system. As a series of collapse of the Soviet Union, North Korea’s economy declined sharply, and was the culmination of the food crisis in the 20th century. (compering 554). In addition, sanctions imposed by the United States have exacerbated the suffering of the North Korean people. (coercive p. 4) Economic difficulties can be a fertile ground for protests and resistance, not only from ordinary people but the North Korean political elite also feel dissatisfied (pacific p. 3). This will potentially lead to rebellions and protests from the public to the government. This situation was greatly avoided by Kim because he realized that Authoritarian regimes were threatened by popular revolution (whether peaceful or violent) or by a coup led by the military or other elites (Pyongyang sur stra p3). For this reason the North Korean declaration of war on the Korean peninsula is a form of transfer of issues so that the community is not focused on domestic problems that might lead to revolution. But the government has led North Korean people to understand common enemies outside, namely the United States and South Korea. The nuclear threat carried out by North Korea aims to create fear from other countries. Fear in a political context, if misinterpreted by other countries, will lead to a rise in North Korea’s political “bargaining value”. (North Korea N East Asia Sec 246) Kim Jong Un is fully understood, after spreading threats Jong Un will try to open negotiations with other countries. In the end, North Korea can get economic assistance from countries such as Russia, the US, Japan. So the threat of nuclear weapons might be an economic tactic from North Korea. So that the threat is not realized, other countries, especially Russia, the US, and Japan must help the economy of North Korea. This economic assistance will be used by Kim Jong Un to overcome the crisis in his country while increasing the country’s economy.
Kim Jong-Un Foresight in Managing Conflict.
Kim’s foresight in managing conflict can be seen from changes in strategic policies. From hard diplomacy by spreading threats then suddenly it turns into soft diplomacy by negotiating. Kim’s way of playing political rhythm and tension in the region has always stolen international attention. Like when North Korea successfully tested the Hwasong 15 intercontinental ballistic missile in November 2017. The missile was the most advanced technology missile that could reach all of America’s mainland. Post-trial, the world seemed to be in turmoil, President Trump immediately contacted Chinese President Xi Jinping, and said the United States would add sanctions to North Korea. (coercive 7) (will trump thing 2)
When Jong Un father, Kim Jong Il, was still in power, the politics of nuclear disarmament became a bargaining tool for the North Korean regime to obtain international economic assistance. The strategy is at least still used when Jong Un came to power in early 2012. In fact, in February 2012, Jong Un promised to freeze the nuclear program in his country if America was willing to send food aid to North Korea. (How stable 21)
But because the nature of his character is unpredictable. A week later Jong Un suddenly changed his view. He said North Korea would continue to develop long-range ballistic missile programs. Since then, Jong Un abandoned the policy of political strategy for the disarmament of his late father. In fact, in April 2012, Jong Un changed the country’s constitution by declaring that North Korea is a nuclear weapons possessor. (Siege 237)
The declaration is not just boasting. Throughout 2017, North Korea has recorded more than 20 ballistic missile tests (corcive. While since Jong Un came to power, he has tested more ballistic missiles than his father, Jong Il, or his grandfather, Kim Il Sung has done .The change in the policy line is not without reason, Kim believes that nuclear weapons are very important to be maintained and developed to counter nuclear attacks from other countries, especially the United States. (Pacific pp. 3-246) History proves that the power of nuclear weapons functions as the strongest sword that can ward off outside aggression. ” (pyongyang p. 20) Aside from being a weapon for war, nuclear weapons for Kim Jong Un are political tools he can use to achieve his national interests. (Pacific-N p. 246) iThe aggressive expansion of North Korea’s nuclear is actually high-risk gambling that could provoke a negative response from the United States Military. Even so, Kim looks confident that having missiles capable of reaching the US mainland will give him extra time to assert dominance and carry out his domestic policies while increasing his power.
In addition to carrying out nuclear weapons experiments that spread threats, the steps taken by Kim Jong Un to attract international attention is to hold a historic summit with his rival, South Korean President Moon Jae-In and US President Donald Trump. Both meetings drew the world’s attention because it was never imagined before. (coercive p. 4) This can be categorized as an unthinkable act from a totalitarian Kim Jong Un.
The first surprise meeting of Kim Jong-un was when Kim Jong Un made a historic trip across the military demarcation line. The trip follows a high-level meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at Panmunjom Village on Friday April 27 2018. Kim Jong-un became the North Korean leader who first crossed into South Korea since the Korean War ended in 1953. Both countries are technically remain in a state of war, because the peace agreement was never successfully signed at the end of the 1950-1953 Korean War. And this meeting is expected to produce an official ceasefire between South Korea and North Korea (keeping Up with the kim p. 2).
For South Korea or the United States and other countries this meeting is expected to result in a ceasefire and a peace agreement. In addition, the main thing is for North Korea to approve denuclearization. Meanwhile for North Korea in this case Kim Jong-un, this meeting could increase choice and at the same time pressure the requirements for the United States. It also assured the world that North Korea was acting in good faith so that mistakes in a joint agreement in the future would be borne by the United States, not North Korea.
The next surprise meeting was when Kim Jong Un met with US President Donald on June 12, 2018, in Singapore at the first summit between the leaders of the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). Kim considers America as a key factor, like two sides of a coin where one side of the US is a threat, but on the other hand the US can be regarded as a savior of economic difficulties in North Korea. (Long live p. 13) This meeting was actually also a big victory for Kim Jong Un, because a US President was willing to fly a distance of half a circle of Earth to meet a leader from a poor and small country, this would provide a great legitimacy for Kim Jong-un, in the eyes of his people and the world public. Besides that Kim Jong Un also benefited from the points on the agenda of the summit which did not discuss the violations of the North Korean nuclear project. This means that it legitimizes that its nuclear development is legal and does not violate the rules. The biggest victory was when Kim Jong Un managed to trap Trump about a joint statement about denuclearization. Indeed, the US desire to get the DPRK to dismantle nuclear weapons and industrial infrastructure for them through the “CVID” formulation: “complete verifiable irreversible denuclearization. However, Kim did not agree and formulated his own alternative, namely” Complete Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. ” and Trump agreed with that statement. Actually with the statement, South Korea must also “denuclearize” – but because South Korea does not have nuclear weapons, the meaning contained in South Korea must be “cut off” with its allies who possess nuclear weapons, in this case the US .(kim win in sg 29-30)
Although many scholars believe that changes in North Korea’s current policy direction will have an impact on regional stability. In fact it is far from wishful thinking. So far, the only reason why Kim wants to soften with her archenemies is economic reasons. North Korea’s economy has been helped by China. (China Enggament 77) The North Korean government can no longer hide the economic difficulties that have been gained because it received many sanctions from the international community. As a consequence, denuclearization is the main key to North Korea to obtain international sanctions including economic support and cooperation. The worst scenario is denuclearization of North Korea which cannot be maintained as expected by the international community. There are few opportunities for concrete agreements resulting from high-level conferences. Starting negotiations is always risky. They might complete this meeting with good intentions but not always policies can arise sustainably.
The conclusion that can be drawn is that Kim Jong Un’s political policies which are more unpredictable than his predecessors are motivated by several factors. The first is a sudden change of regime. The appointment of Kim Jong Un to replace Kim Jong Il who died suddenly, was doubtful by many considering his age as a young and poor experience. To dismiss these doubts, Kim immediately devised a plan to strengthen his political position both internationally and domestically. Kim put forward the concept of a byungjin policy of consolidating military and nuclear power, and developing the country’s economy. The next next factor is the unfavorable situation in North Korea, where there is political instability and economic downturn, political instability itself will affect the power (level of legitimacy of the people against the ruling regime) in a country, so Kim feels the need for internal mobilization by road especially doctrination through the Juche ideology, and the use of military force to suppress the people.
Then the last is Kim’s foresight in managing conflict. The economic downturn that occurred in North Korea cannot be overcome alone by relying on limited domestic resources, so the only way to overcome the downturn is to seek outside help. By carrying out offensive actions such as nuclear tests, it is hoped that there will be peace talks through the negotiating table. With the holding of these negotiations, North Korea will get compensation for the peace agreement with the international community, this compensation can be in the form of economic assistance that can be used by North Korea to overcome the economic downturn that occurred in his country.
So it is clear that “Kim Jong Un” Unpredictable “actions are expected to lead to peace talks and negotiations to ask for returns in the form of economic assistance” in order to prevent the turmoil in the country that will affect the continuity of the Kim Jong Un regime. North Korea’s unpredictable policy must be examined more wisely, especially for countries in the Northeast Asia region. Because if it is wrong to analyze it, it can result in political, economic and security instability in the region.