I Grew Up 35 Miles From The North Korea Border. Are They Really A Threat?

I Grew Up 35 Miles From The North Korea Border. Are They Really A Threat?

North Korea has taken Russia’s spotlight by becoming the subject of talk shows and opinion pieces since the deplorable dictator has increased his threats towards the United States and its allies. But these threats have been constant for decades.

My childhood consisted of Korean television, Dongdaemun, and running around the fish market near our condominium. Seoul, South Korea was my home. Being the only American in my international school meant I struggled through all of my Korean language classes.

In addition to the excitement of being a young diplomat was the knowledge of a nuclear threat just 35 miles away. The border between North Korea and South Korea is only a 30-minute drive from where I was living. In my closet was a suitcase always packed and a government issued gas mask ready to go.

This was 2007.



Japan recently warned that the threat from North Korea and their development of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the U.S. is a reality. As reported by The Guardian, Itsunori Onodera, Japan’s defense minister, said, “North Korea’s missiles represent a deepening threat. That, along with China’s continued threatening behavior in the East China Sea and South China Sea, is a major concern for Japan.”

The Japanese understand that if the United States is hit, it will be the end of Japan. The South Koreans have always faced this same reality.

Most Americans do not understand that the Korean War never ended. In 1953, North and South Korea signed a cease-fire, but the nations remain in a tense state of armed truce. The United States has since set up reinforcements in South Korea and has assisted the Korean Government in rebuilding and patrolling security.

On July 28th, North Korea test launched the Hwasoong-14 ballistic missile. Experts estimated that if the missile was at a horizontal trajectory, it could reach as far as Los Angeles. It is also noted that with only a few updates and performance boosts, New York City and Washington D.C. could be within range.

Moreover, North Korea has been working since 2006 to conduct successful nuclear tests. It is estimated that the unstable nation has eight to ten nuclear bombs.

Tuesday, President Trump warned North Korea with a statement issued: “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

This followed an earlier North Korean statement that said: “Packs of wolves are coming in attack to strangle a nation. They should be mindful that the D.P.R.K.’s strategic steps accompanied by physical action will be taken mercilessly with the mobilization of all its national strength,” as a response to sanctions.

Since this has been the highlight of the media for the past couple of days, I am reminded of how the United States has not felt the stress that is placed on the nations neighboring North Korea until now. I understood the reality of North Korea as a kid as much as every other individual living in South Korea.

Kim Jong-Un has been a threat for longer than the past 72 hours. What has always held him back is the fear of losing resources from China and repercussions of attacking an U.S. ally.

However, as we have watched, Jong-un has now thrown out his resistance by threatening Guam’s U.S. military base and is pushing the U.S. government closer to war.

The question has always been ‘will he follow through?’

I had to ask this question 10 years ago. Today, the answer is I don’t know. But if he does, it will surely be the last thing Kim Jong-un ever follows through with.

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About The Author

Rachel Klaus

Growing up, Rachel attended international schools in both Germany and South Korea. Now she studies International Relations and Political Philosophy at Patrick Henry College in Washington D.C. Her political career began as an intern in John McCain’s D.C. Senate Office. Since then she has worked as a Campus Coordinator during the 2017 Virginia Gubernatorial Primary, a Communications Assistant at INMED Partnership for Children, and an intern for the State Department. She now works as Editor-In-Chief for Think Right Politics.

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