Saturday, February 22, 2014

Українець (The Ukrainian)

Українець
The Ukrainian

An Exclusive E-Mail Interview with Andriy, a student and patriot caught in the middle of the Євромайдан (EuroMaidan) Uprising

“Events have taken off in Ukraine. Our oblast [Lviv] has seceded from the central government. Utilities may be cut. It is a state of emergency.”

Andriy is 20. He’s lived in Ukraine all his life. 

He was born in Радехів (Radekhiv), a district in the northeast corner of Lviv Oblast, in western Ukraine. His family also lives in Ukraine, save for his sister, who’s currently in Belgium. His father Ivan is from nearby Броди (Brody), in the valley of the Styr River, and his mother hails from the city of Львів (Lviv).  

Andriy is a student of civil engineering at Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, often known simply as Lviv University. 


“I am personally not inclined to call myself [a] political activist. However, during the Orange Revolution I was a supporter [of the] Наша Україна (Our Ukraine) party led by [Former President Viktor] Yuschenko. Today, I am a supporter of Батківщина [Batkivschyna: The All-Ukrainian Union "Fatherland" party] which is led by Yulia Tymoschenko."

Andriy expressed skepticism and pessimism when I asked about President Yanukovych. "I knew that Yanokovych would not sign the EU trade arrangement. It seemed unlikely from the start and I knew almost immediately when the issue was brought up late last year [that Yanukovych wouldn't sign the deal.] He is too pro-Putin and we as a country knew of this when he was elected. It seemed our revolution began then."


How did you initially react to the news that Yanukovych didn’t sign the agreement? Describe the thoughts going through your head. 

"I was upset but was not surprised. To be perfectly honest, I did not even believe until recently that Ukraine [would] ever leave from the shadow of Russia and [the] former Soviet Union. There was significant political and social unrest back from the after effects of the Orange Revolution. We were both still young but I remember then thinking the country would become truly democratic, yet nothing. Then Tymoschenko became Premier and was working powerfully with Yuschenko...yet nothing. Her rise then arrest, then again, nothing. Politics in Ukraine is such that there is much chatter and movement yet no success nor actualization of plans, hopes, and dreams. I do not think that anyone of us thought there would be such big protests. We have had the desire to be part of the EU for a long time. We had tasted it with the Orange Revolution but since this day we have been left craving it. This is why the protests finally happened. People have had enough."

What do the protestors want from the government? Would accepting the trade agreement calm tempers or is it too late for Yanukovych to regain the support of the people?

"With regards to protests, the goals have changed. First Maidan wanted Yanokovych to resign the trade agreement, but now it is too late. He is [a] great traitor [to the] Ukrainian people, not to say he already was not regarded as such. The only way now to quiet the people is to enter the EU, Yanokovych to leave, and Tymoschenko to take over."


Do you believe any of the other three political parties in Ukraine possess a clear alternative to him, or is more change needed? 

"There is [the] Batkivschyna party that is very pro-European. I think people want Tymoschenko to be back into power and government. She is our best hope. However, the political system of Ukraine is severely fractured. With a multiple party government after a period of totalitarian government of the Soviets, it is almost impossible Ukraine is still standing! Imagine having to govern oneself after 80 years of dictations. Self-rule was prompt and Ukraine never had opportunities to recover from so much time under Soviet influence. Social factors do not help either-high rates of drug trafficking and sex trade still cause much crime in populous cities. I think it’s also hard to say how Ukraine will do in the EU since no one alive has ever seen Ukraine without communism and corruption. We are left wondering but hoping.

As for the political parties, they are broken and unproductive. I am hardly a politician or economist and cannot say for sure. I think we will have to wait to see which party rises. For now, I am sure Ukraine in the state it is in now will revisit a period of anarchy. People now hold democracy in their hands. If the leader is bad, they will be kicked out. It will take a populist figure like Tymoschenko to reestablish some bit of order. Only then will we see Ukraine's true potential."

When did the protests spread to Lviv? Do they enjoy wide support in that city?

Protests in Lviv started almost immediately after the first few people sat in Maidan (square) in Kyiv. Commerce is very rich between Lviv and Kyiv as Lviv is a large business district in Ukraine. It is somewhat similar to the anti-war protests that occurred in America in the 1960s and 1970s. Because Lviv is so close to the whole of Europe, we are much more pro-Europe than Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, and even in Kyiv. If one can imagine how pro-Europe the people of Kyiv are, we are ten times more than that.



How have the protests affect Yanukovych’s support in eastern regions? Are cities like Kharkiv, Odessa, and Dnipropetrovsk, and Donetsk) losing their faith in Yanukovych?

I see it can be answered in a simple way. There are those countries who are in support of Russia, and they’re against the Maidan protests. Countries who understand the struggle of Ukraine, like Poland and the Czech Republic, support us. As countries who were once in our place (to be under the compulsion of Russia) and have since become a part of Europe. We seem them as our future and we are their past. As you can see by this stage most of the oblasti have lost faith in Yanokovych. We want him gone, even in more pro-Russian oblasti like Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk!


What similarities between this uprising and the Orange Revolution exist? How is this different?

6) I see these events as continuation of the Orange Revolution. It was a large step to, as I said before, have the taste of democracy, even if Yuschenko's terms did not do so much to change the country. This time we have reached the point of breaking after the imprisonment of Tymoschenko, Russia's constant threats of ending gas and utilities and putting political-economic sanctions on us, these have all catalysed the changing state you see today. We are exercising democracy even if it means death and chaos. You are seeing a clash between old Soviet and New Capitalist. 


How have the protests impacted your daily life in Lviv? 

Life in Lviv has changed dramatically. Many people are staying home. Our mayor has told us to stay at home and to prepare our families to live without utilities and electrics for weeks even months. I am staying here with 3 of my friends and we have filled our bath with water, bought many boxes of matches, chopping trees for firewood, stocking for food and water. We are told to buy lot of milk products because they help the pain from burns of tear gas. We are no longer going to classes because of the protests. Some have left the country and others have gone to Kyiv to be in the action. 

But we are celebrating! Though this [Lviv’s recent secession from the Yanukovych government] is a decision that will only last us for a few months as we cannot survive without the rest of Ukraine, we are hoping that they will all follow us. It is a symbolic movement to say to the central government that we are no longer with them and no longer willing to abide by their dictations. 

Traditionally, Lviv has been a city that is very European. She has French architecture, Italian cars, German business people, and many Polish speaking people. The city has also always been a business centre for the country. It is one of the most important of our cities. Above all, the people have Lviv have always spoken Ukrainian. Not many of us here speak Russian unlike parts of the country like Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Donetsk, and Odessa where this is all you hear. Today, because Lviv has broken from the central government, and provided what she symbolizes culturally, Lviv markets a new era for the country. The rest of the country will follow her because she is the heart of Ukraine.




What do you think about the European Union’s reaction to these protests? Should they do more, do less, or stay on their present course? 


I think that in the EU has taken too much of a passive approach to our situation. Either they did not want to upset Russia, administrative failures, or they simply did not know what the reality of the chaos was, they took too long to act. Even so they cannot disturb the sovereignty of our country. I know that a week ago Chancellor Merkel called to Yanukovych as well as your Vice President Biden. He ignored both of their calls. Yesterday the EU finally heard our cries and put sanctions on the country until the conflict is resolved. I finally think that they are on our side. Social media has helped very much with this.



The government here in Washington has sent representatives to Kyiv to offer words of encouragement, but not much else. What more, if anything, should the United States do?  


The American government seems to not want to anger Putin. Obama did not do anything for us. It was rather the American people. We are so fortunate to have [a large population of emigrants] in America that have actively communicated our message to their friends who are non Ukrainian. For example, Aria shares my emails with her friends and they post on their Facebook who then share with others. Yesterday I received a call from my friend at university in Kyiv telling to me that she has seen a message I sent to Aria, who she does not even know. This is part of the reason why I believe the Maidan was so successful over the Orange Revolution.




What do you see happening in the immediate future? 

For now, we will have an intermediate government. Tymoschenko will be released from prison and I think Verkhovna Rada [the Ukrainian Parliament] wants her to take over the government. The positive news we have been receiving in the middle of all the violence and killings does not negate that Yanukovych is crazy. He is under pressure from Putin and Russia will not let him to give power up. He will fight for his presidency but for now I think he wants the conflict to end because it is making him to look bad in front of Putin. He has shown to us before that he flakes on decisions and agreements so I will not be surprised if he does again. We have to wait to see...

The only way now for the conflict to be resolved is for Yanukovych to leave. The Maidan leaders have said today that they will not leave until he goes away. As Lviv follows Kyiv so Kyiv follows Lviv. If they do not leave their Maidan then we will not leave our streets. We will continue to stand in cold weather and rain and snow until this man is removed and we are accepted to the EU. This is the next goal for us.



What do you want this uprising to accomplish in the short term? In the long term?

In the short term, we will remove Yanokovych. In the long term we hope to remove the deep root Sovietism of the country, the communist mentality, etc. in an effort to revitalize our Ukrainian identity which recently has been shadowed by economic, political, and administrative failures. 

Our final goal is the same it is for Kyiv. Maybe more than Kyiv we want to be part of the EU. Kyiv I think is more concerned with central government power because it is the capitol. We here in Lviv already feel we are part of Europe and want to be a part of the EU. It is the best for our commerce and it is most similar to what we culturally are. Our lifes here in Lviv are more similar to people in Germany or Italy than in Moscow.


Is there a nearby country in Europe you would like Ukraine to emulate?

I do not ever think that the protests were really only about the EU Trade Agreement. In reality the Ukrainian people have not had the same liberties that other European neighbors have. We look to Poland as an example of a former block country that has become a progressive, western European country. We want to be this. This trade agreement was many things. Economically, it is the first step to removing Ukraine from the total economic and financial dependence on Russia. Basically, we cannot be Putin's subject if we do not need his oil or loans. Next, politically, the country is ready for change. We have lived with the memory of Soviet Union for too long and our generation looks to friends in America, Canada, Australia, England and we see what they have that we lack. This is our freedom. Democracy will give this to us. The whole Maidan is a radical change from the old Soviet era to the new European/American idea of lifestyles that we want to have. We see it and we have to have it.

I think Ukraine has already become examples to the world of what an oppressed people will do after a certain point. This EU Trade Agreement was the final drop of water that flooded the river. Belarus may not happen for several more years but all of these countries will eventually follow us I hope.

It depends where the person you ask in Ukraine. In Lviv, we say we are most like Paris or Berlin. I think though that the easy choice is Poland because of similarities in culture, language, religion, politics, economies, and strife.


What if Yanukovych does not leave? 

If Yanukovych will not leave, I think that he will be taken from his apartment and beaten to death. The scene we all describe is like Benito Mussolini pulled through the streets of Italy and destroyed his body. This or the protests will be more violent. Maybe more people will die. It is good now that we have world attention so if he amplifies his violence against us he will be taken down by international watch people [such as the UN] and charged with human rights abuses.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Olympic Men's Hockey Tournament: The Semifinal Predictions

First, a few thoughts about last round's game concerning the Red Machine.

First off, that was not the way I intended to start my morning. I woke up around 7:40 and immediately found the RUS-FIN game, and the score stood at 1-0, Russia in the lead. Little did I know the rest of the game would be a continuous wave of miscues and close chances for Team Russia as Finland eliminated them. 


I expected so much more from the Red Machine this year. Riddled with talent and promise as they were, they labored through much of the game, unable to break through Finland's stout defense. It was a slow, drawn-out game, where the threat of losing nagged and nagged until it became possible, probable, and then inevitable. 


I trust that the talent will continue to be at a high level looking forward for Russia. I'm not worried about that.  What needs to change is the style of hockey this team plays, and dramatically. Look at how teams like Switzerland and Latvia fought and persevered against teams far superior in skill level! I don't think anyone (except a few fired up Latvian fans, possibly) expected a small Baltic nation to install a brick wall in net and take Canada to the limit like they did.

I will admit, it's hard to get mad at the Finns, especially when the face of your country's hockey team is Teemu "The Flying Finn" Selanne. The man is all a hockey player should be: modest, dominant, ageless, respectful, and consistent. When the teams lined up for handshakes, Selanne clearly showed empathy as he consoled a visibly shaken Aleksandr Ovechkin. That is one of hockey's great traditions...players will eat each other alive during play, but when all is said and done they will shake hands and give credit where credit is due, man to man. 

(This photo is not mine and I deserve no credit for it, I found it posted to Twitter from @JaspersRink.) 


Okay, okay, enough emotional speech-making. Time for predictions.








Finland vs. Sweden
Game 1






Ah, yes. The great Scandinavian hockey rivalry. 


Why Finland could win: 

They represent a challenge. Finland is probably the most difficult team to date that Sweden will face in this tournament. Finland has the best resume of teams that Sweden has so far faced: they took Canada to overtime and ended the Russians' run in a convincing 3-1 win.
Excellent Goaltending. Tuukka Rask speaks for himself. He went up against an offense that may have been the best on paper, and with the exception of Ilya Kovalchuk's early tally, shut down the Russian offense. 
Veteran Presence. This is Teemu Selanne's sixth Olympics. Yep, this old superstar was around in Vancouver, Torino, Salt Lake City, Nagano, and Lillehammer. Him and Sami Salo have been around the block enough times that they'll be able to use their experience and to give the Finns an advantage. 
Ability to do small things right. In the game against Russia, Finland played some excellent defense. They passed the puck well. They didn't try to show off. They blocked shots. It's 
not particularly pretty, but it works. 


Why Sweden could win: 

Balance. The Swedes have one of the best defensive corps in the Olympics. Their offense has the potential to be explosive, as we saw against the Slovenes. King Henrik Lundqvist, who's already won one gold medal, is between the pipes. 

Depth. Injuries are obviously a setback, but the Swedes' roster is so deep that it hasn't hurt them so far. 

Experience: Finland, despite veteran presence, has relied heavily on a couple young guns in Olli Maatta and Mikael Granlund to help them win games these Olympics. They've played admirably so far, but are still a liability, especially against a bitter rival. Sweden will not have to worry about this, as almost their entire roster has considerable experience. 

Prediction: Sweden 3, Finland 2 (OT)




United States vs. Canada
Game 2






This is it, boys. Time for revenge. In Vancouver, the United States played Canada in the Gold Medal game. Canada went up 2-0, but the Americans clawed back in the last seconds to tie the game at 2. In overtime, Sidney Crosby scored the "Golden Goal" to give Canada the 3-2 victory.
That was tough to stomach. Of course, many of us (although they won't admit it) were happy for our northern neighbors, despite the frustration that came with the loss. 

And now it's time for the rematch. 

Why the USA will win: 

Momentum. The United States has been on fire all through these Olympics. They stuck with the Russians and beat them in a shootout thanks to TJ Oshie of the St. Louis Blues. They steamrollered over Slovakia, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic. Canada, meanwhile, just barely squeaked by Latvia and their overheated goalie. They've been winning, yes, but not in the convincing ways that the US has. The defense has been fast and aggressive. The offense has scored more than enough. 

A Goalie who knows the big stage.  With all due respect to Ryan Miller, Jonathan Quick has been to the Stanley Cup and performed magically, shutting down the New Jersey Devils and leading the Kings to the Promised Land. By contrast, both Canada's goalies have had trouble in the NHL playoffs. Carey Price has trouble against Leafs' forward Phil Kessel.  (Yes, Luongo won gold in Vancouver, but in general he has been inconsistent in the games he's needed most. He is still an outstandingly talented goalie, however.)

Why Canada will win: 

Latent threat. Canada hasn't been exactly amazing so far, but the United States must realize that this team is still loaded with talent and could break out. In women's hockey, the United States was up 2-0 going into the 3rd period. Canada cut the lead in half, and all the momentum changed. Canada tied it up and won in overtime. The United States needs to remember this. 

Emotion. The biggest complaint against the Canadian team is that they haven't played with gusto. They've been playing well, no question, but there hasn't been much emotion on the Canucks' side these Olympics. That is sure to change tomorrow at noon. (Eastern Standard Time) The United States is probably the Canadians' biggest rival next to the Russians, and everyone remembers the 2010 Gold Medal Game. 

These teams are pretty equal in skill level this year, but at the end of the day, I must side with my country. 

Prediction: USA 4, Canada 3

GO USA GO! RED WHITE BLUE AND GOLD! 









Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Olympic Men's Hockey Tournament: The Quarterfinals


Game 1
Slovenija vs. Sverige







Slovenia polished off the Austrians decisively 4-0 at 3 AM here in Washington. It's a big day for the Slovenes, who are in their first men's tournament, and did not come in with very high expectations.

Unfortunately, their run is probably going to end against the Swedes. Slovenia has performed admirably, but the Swedes are an enormous step in skill up from the Austrians. They boast a balanced defense with players like Eric Karlsson, Johnny Oduya, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Alex Edler, a premier goalie in King Henrik Lundqvist, and a strong offense. When Slovenia faced similarly skilled teams like the United States and Russia, they lost 5-1 and 5-2 respectively.

I don't think Sweden will lose this game, but I am curious as to their relatively lackluster performance these Olympics. While it's true they're the no.1 seed, they don't have any particularly dazzling wins. They won 4-2 against the Czechs, 5-3 against the Latvians, and 1-0 against the Swiss. These are all teams they very well could have dominated with their skill set. Henrik Lundqvist's skill speaks for itself, but he's been a mess with the New York Rangers this season.

Sweden is also bothered by some nagging injuries. Proven veterans from the Red Wings Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg and Vancouver Canucks' superstar Henrik Sedin both are not playing for the blue and gold. This is a considerable blow to the Swedes' offense.

This is a team that's been beaten up and arguably hasn't played to their full potential. If they manage to get past the Slovenes, it will be a challenge to fend off the Finns or the Russians. But the Slovenes won't represent the same threat.


Prediction: Sweden 4, Slovenia 1.




Россия vs. Suomi

Game 2







Aleksandr Radulov, who took two stupid penalties against the Americans that led to two different goals, seems to have smartened up. He scored two goals against the Norwegians earlier today and looks like the player he's supposed to be. 

This will be the most difficult game for Russia since the shootout loss to the United States. Finland was able to capture a higher seed than Russia and will likely be playing their hardest in hopes that they'll be able to face their old Swedish rivals in the semifinals. Finland is a defensively-minded team, with some of the best goaltending in the tournament with Tuukka Rask and Antti Niemi. 

 Finland's problem is that they're not very strong on offense. Injuries have benched Alexander Barkov and the Koivu brothers (Mikko and Saku). The Finnish Flash (or Flying Finn) Teemu Selanne has been shaky as well. By contrast, the Russians boast perhaps the best offense in the tournament. While it hasn't exactly exploded of late, this is a team that could still overwhelm any team in the tournament. Russia's defense has still shown some weaknesses, but they've been so far bailed out by excellent play on the part of the goaltending tandem of Semyon Varlamov and Sergei Bobrovski.

This is not likely going to be a high-scoring affair. Finland's defense is aging, but they were able to take the Canadians to overtime in an eventual 2-1 loss. However, with the strength of Russia's offense and the solid play of Varlamov and Bobrovski, I believe Russia will eliminate Finland in a narrow win. 


(This is what the analyst in me says. The fan in me says "Sorry, Finland, but there ain't room in these Olympics for two countries where hockey and alcoholism are the national pastimes. Вперёд, Россия!") 



Prediction: Russia 3, Finland 2. If one of these games goes to overtime, it'll probably be this one. 





Latvija vs. Canada
Game 3





The small Baltic Republic of Latvia must be pretty happy right now. After three losses in group play, the Latvian team woke up, broke through the Swiss goaltending wall, and tagged Jonas Hiller for two early tallies, courtesy of Oskars Bārtulis and Lauris Dārziņš. They would go on to win 3-1.

This is the first time Latvia has won an Olympic hockey game since 2002, and the first time they've ever reached the quarterfinals in the Olympics. Yes, all signs point to a loss at the hands of a hugely favored Canadian team since they have next to no NHL presence, but this is a big deal for a tiny nation (about the size of Wisconsin) that is crazy about hockey. Goaltender Edgars Marsalskis was brilliant for the Latvians against a Swiss team that was able to shut down nearly every offense it faced. It should be interesting to see where this team will be in 2018. 

Unfortunately for the Latvians, Canada, despite a slow start, will likely dominate them in every aspect of the game. 


Prediction: Canada 5, Latvia 1.






Česká Republika vs. United States of America

Game 4




In today's game against the Slovaks, the Czechs jumped out to an early 3-0 lead, something I did not expect against a goalie with the talent level of Jaroslav Halak. Slovakia clawed back to make a game of it, but it was too little and too late and the Czechs went on to win by a final score of 5-3.

For their reward, the Czechs will face the hottest team in the Olympics so far, Team USA.

When these Olympics began with a game against the Slovaks, I told a friend that the United States should be able to beat Slovakia as long as they don't go in arrogantly and they avoid making mistakes. I believed the final score would be around 5-3, the Americans on top.

Boy, was I wrong. The United States has come into these Olympics a well-oiled machine. They obliterated the Slovaks 7-1. T.J. Oshie of the St. Louis Blues was the hero in the Cold War game against the Russians, ending a lengthy shootout and beating the home team 3-2. They then went on to stomp Slovenia 5-1.

The only aspect of the Americans' play so far I'd be worried about is the way they scored against the Russians-on the power play. Aleksandr Radulov took two stupid penalties and both ended in American goals. Russia seems to have at least temporarily cleaned up its act, so the question as to whether the American offense will be as productive in the future still remains.

The United States stacks up well against the Czechs. The Czechs are an older and more seasoned team, but were only able to muster one win in group play (against the Latvians). They don't possess the same depth as the Americans, especially not in goal. Ondrej Pavelec is a very "middle-of-the-road"starting goaltender, and he'll be facing off against the Los Angeles Kings' heavyweight in Jonathan Quick. Zidlicky, Kaberle, and Krajicek are going to find it difficult to stack up equally against Ryan Suter, Kev Shattenkirk, and Brooks Orpik.

GO TEAM USA! Red, White, Blue, and GOLD!

Prediction: United States 5, Czech Republic 3






Monday, February 17, 2014

China and North Korea: No Easy Way Out


This is a slightly edited version of a lengthy research paper I wrote for a class last spring called "Politics and Foreign Policy of China".  A word of warning, this is a LONG post-the assignment called for 20 pages.  

Coming up next are Sochi Hockey Quarterfinal Predictions-probably Wednesday-and a review of the toughest stretch of the season for GW basketball-expect it early next week. Cheers! -KM



Many nations are characterized as animals in political literature. The bald eagle represents the United States, the bulldog stands for Great Britain, the Great Bear symbolizes Russia, and so on. The western world has long associated China with the dragon. Today, the Chinese dragon roars with vigor as China rides its soaring economy into unprecedented global influence and wealth. 
Near the dragon stands a wolf in the shadows. It angrily gnashes its teeth, loudly barking and howling, ready to pounce on its enemies. A proud animal, it stands tall, fearless, and formidable.  However, upon closer look, the wolf is not the powerful beast it thinks it is. Its teeth are decaying, chipped, and falling out. Its fur is mangy. It looks frail and sickly, like it hasn’t eaten a proper meal in days. Many basic tasks it must do to stay alive and healthy it cannot do on its own, or at all. But despite all that, it angrily snarls on. This wolf represents the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Colloquially known as North Korea, the DPRK has been scowling venomously at most of its neighbors from across the 38th parallel and beyond since it emerged from the Korean War. The “Fatherland Liberation War”
, as it is called in the North, never really ended from a rhetorical standpoint, despite combat yielding to an armistice in the summer of 1953. 
China is the exception to the rule. The DPRK has, for the most part, maintained cordial and polite relations with their ideological counterpart China. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army was an ally to North Korea in the Korean War. China Radio International and other state run media outlets officially refer to this conflict as the “War to Resist U. S. Aggression and Aid Korea”. 
 After the Korean War ended, the DPRK successfully walked the diplomatic tightrope between Moscow and Beijing in what is known as the Sino-Soviet Split. 
Recently, however, North Korea has been in both the Chinese and international spotlight for the wrong reasons. “North Korea’s history of regional military provocations; proliferation of military-related items; long range missile development; WMD programs including tests of nuclear devices in 2006, 2009, and 2013, and massive conventional armed forces are of major concern to the international community.” 
 Judging by state-run media outlets’ publications such as Xinhua, the Chinese government finds the North Koreans’ chest-thumping irritating, and the Chinese people are not always keen to take their totalitarian neighbor completely seriously.
China’s social media sites have unleashed waves of satirical jokes, images and names aimed at Mr. Kim [Kim Jong Un], who is often described in disparaging terms by ordinary Chinese. A common description of Mr. Kim on social media sites is “The Kid.” Another favorite: “Fatty, the Third.” (NYT) 


Unless Kim Jong Un decides to tone down his aggressive policy (or lose weight, apparently), that sentiment does not look likely to change and the Chinese will likely continue to criticize and mock the Korean leader’s policy and appearance.
This is not the first time North Korea has caught the attention of the international community with aggressive nuclear ambition. A left-leaning newspaper in South Korea known as The Hankoryeh (“One Nation”), claims that “The belligerent conditions date back to March 12, 1993, when North Korea responded to International Atomic Energy Agency demands for special inspections by pulling out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).” 



The North Koreans didn’t stop there. Five years later, in August 1998, North Korea announced the launch of "light star No. 1" satellite, “...but the U.S. and South Korea and other countries [contested] that North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile "Taepodong". Recently, the US [and] South Korean media have been reporting that North Korea test-fired the Taepodong-2 intercontinental ballistic missile. U.S. officials have repeatedly warned North Korea not [to conduct a] ballistic missile test.”

These tests strain relations with both China and Japan, especially as “China was being asked to play an active role as diplomatic liaison for messages from Seoul and Washington related to North Korea’s nuclear program.” 
 Beijing has denied responsibility for North Korea’s actions, but they were praised for their actions as effective behind-the-scenes negotiators. The Clinton Administration even lauded them as the “key to solving the North Korean crisis”.
 Unfortunately, progress has not yet yielded a solution. 
North Korea is perhaps the most repressive and isolated country in the world. With China’s increasing global influence and North Korea’s erratic threats of nuclear war, this diplomatic relationship has been thrust into the global spotlight, and the relationship’s strength is being called into question. This conflict does not have an easy resolution, but China’s alliance with North Korea does not necessarily mean agreement. China has spoken of the DPRK recently in a very critical manner. “The DPRK will only create more insecurity for itself by insisting on forcing the international community to accept its nuclear weapons through  nuclear confrontation.”

But at the same time, China seems to be in its own way. If the Chinese take a stronger, more tangible stance against the DPRK’s nuclear threats, they could provoke instability at home or provoke the already volatile DPRK government into mutiny. 
While risky, it may be in China’s best interest to take a more assertive and critical stance in its relationship with the DPRK. The Chinese press has recently spoken frankly and decisively against the North Korean nuclear program, even venturing to tout the possible benefits of North Korea reversing their policy.  “The other possibility is that the DPRK, in the process of negotiating for denuclearization will improve the international environment, speed up institutional reform and opening-up and bring about security and development.”
  For too long have the North Koreans have been threatening the United States, South Korea, and Japan with nuclear destruction. If the Chinese continue down their seemingly reluctant path of speaking out without decisively acting against the DPRK, the cycle of threatening rhetoric will continue to repeat itself and the North Korean government will continue to pursue their useless and absurd policy of  militarization while its people starve. As of 2011, North Korea, according to the International Institute of Strategic Studies' annual global "Military Balance" report, 2011, spent around 22-24 percent of its GDP on defense.

History reminds us that nuclear aggression rarely yields positive results for the aggressor. The Soviet Union realized they’d gone too far in 1962 by installing missiles in Cuba and they prudently backed down from a potential war with the United States. The Islamic Republic of Iran has drawn considerable ire both domestically and internationally for pursuing their nuclear ambitions while the economy continues to suffer. It’s true that China has various problems and scores to settle with its neighbors and close trade partners. Anti-imperialist rhetoric, which continues to impede relations with the United States, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, still pervades Chinese society. It is much more important for China, however, to maintain trade and diplomatic relations with these countries than to keep the North Koreans as their ideological allies. There’s ample reason to believe that North Korea’s not aggressive enough to actively stand up to China in a militaristic setting because China is a large and much more tangible military threat. 
North Korea is casting a negative shadow on China. It’s true that China is plenty repressive on its own, as the 2013 Freedom House “Freedom in the World” report graded China’s civil liberties a 6 (very repressive) and political freedoms a 7 (extremely repressive).
 Being allied with a country like the DPRK only amplifies their own injustices. If China really wants to continue on its path of improving its image abroad, vanquishing the North Korean nuclear nuisance would likely be counted as a major step forward. Neither the United States or South Korea have come forth with a solution to this problem.  It is unlikely that the DPRK’s government could be replaced with a fluid democracy in the short term, but if China is able to help the DPRK reform its government a la Deng Xiaoping, abandon its nuclear ambitions, and become more economically independent, it would represent an enormous diplomatic victory for the PRC. 
Would China be willing to do something like this? It may help to examine the history of the two countries’ relations. The Chinese and Korean civilizations have coexisted for thousands of years, but the modern relationship between China and North Korea is still relatively young. The Korean peninsula was freed from Japanese annexation at the end of World War II. North Korea, under close supervision by the USSR, was formally established as a sovereign nation on 9 September 1948 when the United Nations supervised an election to establish two separate governments for North and South. The 9th of September has been celebrated as the DPRK’s national holiday ever since.
 A year later, the People’s Republic of China was proclaimed, ending a lengthy Civil War against Chiang Kai-Shek and the Kuomintang Nationalists. The two young nations had barely enough time to breathe when “On June 25, 1950, less than 5 months after the signing of the Sino-Soviet Treaty, war shattered the uneasy peace in Korea.”
  As stated before, this conflict is still referred to as the “War to Resist U. S. Aggression and Aid Korea”, and “...senior leaders in both Moscow and Beijing knew at least as early as the end of 1949 that the North Korean leader, Kim Il Sung was aiming to attack the South.”

Why did China decide to deploy its forces to defend the DPRK? Mao and the Communists had long believed that the United States and other western powers, were intruding into the Chinese sphere of influence. The United States was (and still is, to a certain extent) an ideological adversary of the People’s Republic. If the North was allowed to remain communist, the young People’s Republic would have an ally to rely on as they consolidated their power. But the war did not have unanimous support.  “Even as the Kremlin and North Korea kept pushing Mao toward war, the CCP Politburo kept tugging him back...That there was considerable opposition to entering the war became evident as the PRC leaders huddled together in conclave.” 
China finally decided to march to war on October 13, because “The conquest of Korea would release US troops for action against China from two directions-Taiwan to the east and Vietnam to the south. Because the situation then would still be more precarious, the Chinese should accept the US challenge on a field of battle chosen by themselves. Korea would be the best place to make a stand.” 
 The Korean War lasted slightly longer than three years, and more than a million Chinese troops lay dead before the armistice. The war was a stalemate, but China made an important statement to the United States: “The officers took considerable pride in the fact that for all the army’s terrible losses, China had nevertheless been able to fight the American army to a standstill.”

China and the DPRK, for the most part, have been close allies since both Communist governments consolidated their power. Since North Korea was able to push the South Koreans back to the 38th parallel in the Korean War, “North Korea emerged a proud and militantly nationalistic country.”
 In the 1950s and 1960s, the fluid relationship came from perceived necessity. With American help, Japan had started to emerge as an influential, albeit pacifist country with a rapidly growing economy. To the north, cracks were appearing in the relationship between the PRC and USSR. As the relationship with the Soviets soured, China looked to the DPRK “...for her support in Sino-Soviet disputes [and] as an ally against an emerging Japan. Japan had annexed North Korea before World War II broke out, and while post-war Japan did not pose a direct military threat to either the Chinese or North Koreans, bad blood prevented the countries from becoming allies. In July of 1961, China and the DPRK signed the “Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance between China and Korea”.
 In this treaty, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and North Korean Presidium Kim Il Sung had “examined each other’s full powers and found them in good and due form” and pledged to “make every effort to safeguard the peace of Asia and the world and the security of all peoples.” Both parties pledged to stand up for the other in times of military conflict, keep up dialogue on “important international questions of common interests”
, and acknowledged the eventual unification of the Korean peninsula as a goal to be recognized on behalf of lasting peace in the Far East. North Korea, seen by China as an ally against the “phony communism”
 of the USSR, was nevertheless able to keep relations with both the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China during the Sino-Soviet Split. 
While the treaty of friendship remained intact, a roadblock appeared in the late 1960s when Chairman Mao implemented the chaotic, whirlwind purges known as the Cultural Revolution. Many of China’s relations with its allies became strained in the 1960s as the Chinese government started supporting communist insurgencies against the governments in  neighboring countries. Surprisingly, Kim Il Sung , in a private conversation with Soviet Premier Leonid Brezhnev, called the Cultural Revolution a “massive idiocy.” 
 Why, though? As a dictatorial communist state similar to China, what business did the North Koreans have condemning their neighbor when they were surely guilty of the same sins? Was this a move of extreme hypocrisy on the part of the North Korean government or do they have a valid criticism of this horrid event? Whatever the motive for Kim’s words (It may have been a ploy to appease the Soviets), it did not sit well with the Chinese, and Kim decided soon after that the DPRK had to lay low until after the Cultural Revolution ended. North Korea was able to maintain her shrewd diplomacy through the late 1960s by playing the role of moderate. In order to prevent damaging the relationship with China, the DPRK government stated that the Soviets had gone too far right after they realized Mao had not taken kindly to their denouncing of the Cultural Revolution. While no party satisfactorily from this, the North Koreans were able to appease the Chinese by promoting Juche, a policy of self-reliance and improvement. And speaking of Juche...
If you look at a satellite picture of Asia at night, you’ll notice something peculiar. The cities of eastern and central China are brightly lit up, as is most of Japan, and nearly all of South Korea. The DPRK, however, is almost pitch black save for the small blip that is Pyongyang. A sharp contrast between the two countries-but like the two countries’ political relationship, economic relations between China and the DPRK got off to a positive start. “When Kim Il Sung led an eight member delegation to Beijing in November 1953, the two governments signed an agreement on economic and cultural cooperation.” The agreement called on both countries to aid each other economically and technologically in order to carry out and promote cultural exchange.  China granted the DPRK 800 million yuan after the Korean War to help the war-torn nation recover. Kim Il Sung praised the People’s Republic, calling the Great Leap Forward “the creative power of the 650 million Chinese people”, claiming the people’s communes were an important step in China’s transition into a communist society. “Some suggested that North Korea was emulating China’s Great Leap Forward...when it launched the Chollima Undong and agricultural cooperatives in 1958.”  

The Sino-Soviet Split represented a new chapter in Sino-North Korean economic relations. Both the Soviets and Chinese wanted to get North Korea to-in Mao’s words-lean to one side. “The Chinese used financial assistance and trade to try to woo Kim Il Sung away from the Soviet camp but often found it difficult to compete with the Soviet Union’s superior financial and technological capabilities.” 
Money flowed into North Korea from both of their fellow communist allies, as Kim Il Sung was able to “capitalize” on the Sino-Soviet rivalry. “By 1976, he [Kim] had received an estimated $967 million in grants and loans from China and $1,534 million from the Soviet Union.”  As China opened relations with its neighbors and eventually the world economy, North Korea’s trade became a progressively smaller component of foreign trade. From 1970 to 1989, trade with North Korea dropped from 2.5 percent of total foreign trade to 0.6 percent. North Korea relied heavily on China, especially for raw materials such as crude oil, as shown by the building of the China-Korea Friendship pipeline in 1976. “China shared about 20 percent of North Korea’s total foreign trade throughout the 1970s and 1980s.” 
 In other words, China reformed on a much grander scale than North Korea. Nevertheless, relations stayed sound between the PRC and DPRK, with China sending engineers and technicians over to their neighbors. The geographic proximity of the two nations also  contributed to border trade, “especially between Dandong and Sinuiju, and between Tumen City and Namyang and Onsong. Along the Yalu River both sides have long benefited from hydroelectric power stations at Shuifeng, Unbong, Weiyuan, and Taepyongman.”
North Korea continued to sign trade agreements with the Chinese in the 1980s and planed out extensive and ambitious goals for the future through policy such as the Third Seven-Year Economic Plan. 
In the late 1980s, however, problems began to arise. China had opened its doors to the world and made enormous strides economically under paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. North Korea, on the other hand, was starting to stick out like a sore thumb. Their rival to the south, the newly democratic Republic of Korea, was trading and making exponentially larger sums of money from trade with China and the world, and the two countries were only growing farther apart. In 1985, South Korea’s total trade with China totaled $1.161 billion, while North Korea stood at $488 million. Nine years later, in 1994, North Korea had slowly grown to $623 million, while South Korea’s trade with China had ballooned to $11.7 billion.
  Unfortunately for the North Koreans and the Chinese, the problem was institutionalized in Kim Il Sung’s Juche ideology.Despite the inclusion of some worthy moral and political ideals in Kim Il Sung’s Juche ideology, it nonetheless stifled North Korea’s ability to promote technological innovation and managerial adaptation. Heavy defense expenditures and counterproductive political campaigns exhausted North Korea’s financial resources.” 

Even the Soviet Union had given up on the North Koreans. Of course, it’s important to note that at this time, Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms of glasnost and perestroika had started to spiral out of control, and the Soviet economy was not faring much better than North Korea’s, but this, of course, does not take away the fact that it is a very bad sign when an economic powerhouse superpower that has supported you for the last thirty-five years has given up on your economic model and has withdrawn the piles of dough it used to pump into your treasury. Vasily Mikheev, a scholar at the Institute for International Economic and Political Studies, referred to the situation in the DPRK as “profound stagnation...deprives us of any hopes for large scale achievements through cooperation with the DPRK.” (136). 

Things continued to accelerate downhill in the 1990s for North Korea. The Soviet Union fell in on itself, meaning a significant drop in money flowing into the country. The economy, already falling behind its neighbors at an alarmingly high rate, would suffer even more, and what was a bad economic situation in the late 1980s turned into a full-blown disaster in the mid-1990s. Famine struck, and stuck around. Floods ravaged the country in 1995. The government was unsympathetic. “Since the floods of 1995, the quantity of cereals that farmers are permitted to retain for consumption (set by official quotas) has declined. This is, of course...a familiar warning signal from earlier famines in communist nations...During the famines, the populations of key urban areas were deliberately decreased to maintain a strong and loyal base of support...Lastly, in order to ensure social order and national security, military units were least affected by the famines.” 
 Sound familiar? It is. This is eerily similar to the  atrocious policy known as the “Holodomor”, or “extermination by hunger” that was implemented by Josef Stalin against Ukrainian peasants and farmers in the 1930s. It is also reminiscent of  Mao’s Great Leap Forward and the massive famine that followed. It became such a severe problem that whispers of cannibalism in some parts of the country surfaced. To this day the CIA World Factbook reports that famine is still a huge problem-one that causes tens of thousands to leave the country every year for China. 
 North Korea, who has clearly grown desperate, recently asked Mongolia for food aid.
 (This may not seem strange, until one considers that Mongolia has around an eighth of the DPRK’s population, is grappling with hunger and poverty within their own borders, and a largely nomadic population. In other words, Mongolia’s demographics make it one of the last countries to logically ask for aid from.) North Korea has tumbled into oblivion since the Soviet Union started to sputter in the 1980s, and Chinese aid is evidently not extensive enough to fix their problems at the present figures.
There are two glaring obstacles in the Chinese-North Korean relationship today: North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, and North Korea’s woeful inability to modernize its economy. China isn’t shy about its desire for the North Koreans to abandon their nuclear program, and for good reason. China continues to see their aid money flow into  the DPRK, and finds the North Korean nuclear program entirely unproductive. The April 2013 issue of the magazine “China Today” published an article called “Nuclear Test Fallout” by Zhu Feng, a professor of International Studies at Peking (Beijing) University. Zhu clearly outlines the position of the PRC, bluntly stating “In addition to putting the DPRK at risk, nor will these aims and actions bring any real benefit to the country. As a northeast Asian country, China steadfastly opposes the DPRK’s nuclear weapons programs.” 
 The article does not cast a positive light on the current situation, as Zhu criticizes the UN Security Council’s sanctions “It is nevertheless doubtful that sanctions or pressure will effectively or rapidly resolve the North Korea nuclear issue.” 

Another problem was called into the international spotlight when Kim Jong Il died in 2012. When his young successor Kim Jong Un took up the  new position of “First Secretary”
  the speculators of the world went into a frenzy. Little was known about this new leader, and the question on everyone’s mind was: Will the status quo stick around or will he start to reform the DPRK? While few expected full-fledged democracy to come from Jong-Un, many Western publications, including the UK’s “Guardian” wondered, a hint of optimism in their writing, if Jong Un would follow in the footsteps of Chinese reformer Deng Xiaoping. With a million-man army and nuclear weapons program, North Korea remains a source of uncertainty and instability, with many questions about whether Kim Jong Un can bring the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea peaceably into the 21st century. But the example of Deng Xiaoping’s early efforts to modernize and moderate a deeply ideological China suggests promising parallels.” 
 The optimism was not without reason. After Deng successfully ousted Hua Guofeng, he instituted extremely important reforms in China. Mao Zedong’s massive cult of personality was done away with, and the CCP admitted the horrid excesses of both the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. The Chinese economy and trade relations saw unprecedented global opening. The tough repression of the Mao days was relaxed somewhat. Chinese state-run media speaks glowingly of Deng.“...rendered outstanding service to the Chinese people...especially in recent years when, after the disastrous Cultural Revolution, he succeeded in setting the country on the road to socialist modernization.” 
 (Xinhua #2) 
A leader emulating Deng Xiaoping in North Korea would have a plethora of possible consequences for China and North Korea, many of them positive. It is important to remember, however, that Deng was not without guilt. He commended the military on a job well done after PLA tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square and killed thousands. “I express my profound condolences to the commanders and fighters of the People's Liberation Army, commanders and fighters of the armed police force, and public security officers and men who died a heroic death.” 
 Reform would represent a massive shift in lifestyle for the people of North Korea. While the people of the DPRK and PRC are both governed repressively, China has shown some degree of change over the years, notably the greater mobility of her citizens and substantially easier and wider access to albeit censored information. 
North Korea, unfortunately, has not done the same. All three leaders of the DPRK-Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, and Kim Jong Un are worshiped as superhuman. During the 1960s, while China and Russia bickered and Mao initiated the Cultural Revolution, Kim Il Sung pushed his own ideology of Juche (self-reliance) in an effort to emphasize North Korea’s independence from both the Soviets and the Chinese. Juche, as stated by the North Korean government itself, is “...based on the philosophical principle that man is the master of everything and decides everything. The Government of the DPRK steadfastly maintains Juche in all realms of the revolution and construction.” 
 Kim Il Sung ruled Korea for over 40 years, a reign he inaugurated with a massive purge of his enemies. His birthday is a national holiday in North Korea and he is still considered the “Eternal President”. of North Korea, a by-product of his personality cult. When he died in 1994, North Korean television looked (even more) like something out of Orwell’s 1984: A plainly dressed female news anchor, visibly trying to restrain herself from bursting into tears, touted Kim’s accomplishments before cutting to an on-scene reporter in central Pyongyang. The reporter, a man in a nondescript black suit, was in tears, and everyone he interviewed proceeded to bawl hysterically as they grieved the death of Kim. 
 History nearly repeated itself in late 2011 when Kim Jong Il died-the only visible differences in that report being the name of the deceased and the fact that the quality of North Korean video recording equipment had improved. This massive brainwashing has carried over to Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un without question. Added together, North Korea has gone through sixty years of brainwashing. In contrast, Mao’s massive personality cult started in the 1960s, was called into question in the late 1970s, and was admitted to be a mistake by the 1980s. Chinese society has been allowed to evolve for nearly 30 years without dealing with a personality cult, whereas North Korean politics have not. Since North Korea has dealt with this problem for much longer than China has, it could be much harder for the Koreans north of the 38th parallel to adapt to what would inevitably be a hugely significant shock to North Korean culture. 
This culture shock could cause confusion, hysteria, and stability problems. Under Deng Xiaoping, some Chinese students took advantage of the newly relaxed political culture and started to dream of democracy. When Hu Yaobang died in 1989, mourners poured into Tiananmen Square. Before long, the mourners became protestors, hoisted their Goddess of Democracy statue and demanded extensive reform to the regime. Some even asked Deng to step down. They were brutally repressed, and the Chinese government maintains to this day that they did the right thing to keep the communist regime in power. China remains a land of censorship and political imprisonment, but the government admits to  some of the atrocities of the past, notably the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. 
Would this happen in North Korea? It’s possible, but certainly not guaranteed. Deng Xiaoping’s reforms were well-coordinated and seemed to follow a “step-by-step” format.  It took the death of an important Communist Party figure for the people of China to be inspired to protest against the government. If protests broke out against the newly reforming DPRK government there is certainly the possibility that the North Korean government would not have the ability to stop a mass uprising. 
Not so fast, however. When the June 4th Incident happened in China, the People’s Republic was still much more open to foreigners than the DPRK is today. Relations with the United States had been made with Mao and had grown considerably under Deng. The North Koreans today, while part of the United Nations, do not have any relations with two of their important neighbors: the ROK and Japan. The country has always been isolationist, while China has made an effort to open itself to the world. Very few Westerners get to see the inside of Pyongyang, and the ones that do are placed under very strict control so the government can keep an eye on them. What does this mean? Well, it means that the culture shock, and possible uprising and rebellion, may lack direction and focus if it does happen. The North Korean people are so isolated that it may not happen at all, if for no other reason that the people wouldn’t know what to do even if they wanted to rise up. By contrast, the Chinese people have had much more mobility and have been able, even encouraged, by their government to travel to other countries, and therefore have a more extensive world view. 
On the positive side, a North Korean Deng could do a lot of good for his country outside of politics. The country could gradually become more worldly, and if this speculated leader paid the same attention to economics as Deng did (presumably staying with the old communist rhetoric, like Deng wisely chose to do) could establish some economic independence for the country. Famine could be reduced considerably. Infrastructure could become more functional, possibly even innovative in the future. Relations with the Chinese would most certainly improve and widen in scope, and much-needed money would flow into the country. 
This may pose a problem to the Chinese government, however. If the Chinese try to promote reform and change in North Korea, they will likely attract the attention of countries they have historically wanted to stay out of their own affairs, including the Republic of Korea, Japan, possibly even the United States. Promoting openness and economic restructuring in North Korea could lead to protests or domestic uprising at home as well as in the DPRK. It already happened once in Tiananmen as a result of Deng’s reforms in the 1980s, and while the Chinese government retains that they did nothing wrong on June 4, 1989, they do not want the negative press to come back and throw a wrench into their plan to become a global power. It’s also possible that with Taiwan  still in sovereignty limbo, the Taiwanese could see this as their opportunity to finally break free of the mainland and declare full independence. Of course, the last thing the Taiwanese people want is a PLA invasion, but the possibility of that happening is probably not a risk that the Mainland government is willing to deal with. While it would represent a considerable victory for diplomacy if the Chinese, South Koreans, and Japanese were able to put their differences aside to fix the North Korean problem, it may be too much to ask those three countries to put aside their differences in such an important situation. If the North Koreans open up, the South Koreans may jump into their goal of reunification too quickly and cause a violent and chaotic war against Kim loyalists, and they’d run the risk of repeating the same perceived imperialism that contributed to the first Korean War. The Chinese have had problematic experiences with foreign intrusion into their own affairs in the past, and they went into the Korean War to resist imperialism, something they still accuse the US and her allies of doing.

    The Chinese are stuck between a rock and a hard place, and it’s not hard to see why they have not acted very decisively in their relations with North Korea. If the Chinese back down, Kim Jong Un and his armies are given a pass to ramp up their nuclear rhetoric against their enemies in Asia and beyond whenever they feel like it. This doesn’t mean North Korea will fly off the handle completely, hit the big red button, and start World War III, but it’s hard to further global influence and promote modernity while allied with a neighbor and ideological ally who threatens nuclear winter on a regular basis. This is also the same country whose infrastructure is so dysfunctional that they left the Ryugyong hotel, a 100-story gargantuan steel pyramid in the middle of their capital, unfinished and without windows for almost 20 years.  

If China extinguishes the nuclear threat of North Korea, they will almost immediately gain the adoration of the international community and the influence that comes with it. An opening of North Korean society could help address the problems of vastly underdeveloped infrastructure, famine, and a severe lack of economic development, even if the state was to remain repressive and authoritarian. Of course, this reform could also result in a confused nation with no focus or direction, and North Korea could become anarchical or revert back to the government it has today. 
Despite all that, however, there is a potentially enormous return for China if they are able to keep their own people from rebelling, both on the mainland and in Taiwan. A reformed DPRK would mean an outpouring of thanks from the Western world, especially the South Koreans, Japanese, and Americans. It would most certainly improve relations with those countries both politically and economically, a goal China has had since the 1980s. It’s a risky decision, but China has been able to keep their own government in power while instituting reform, and they are one of very few countries able to exercise influence over the DPRK. This would be a difficult task, but it is achievable. There are risks involved with a more aggressive policy, but the reward is far higher if the Chinese go about fixing the North Korean problem peacefully than if they leave their ally alone.




Works Cited

Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Founding of the DPRK http://www.korea-dpr.com/founding_dprk.html (2011)

China Radio International. War to Resist U. S. Aggression and Aid Korea Commemorated in Henan. http://www.korea-dpr.com/founding_dprk.html (2008)

Central Intelligence Agency. North Korea: Overview. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/kn.html (2013)

Jane Perlez. North Korean Leader, Young and Defiant, Strains Ties With Chinese. New York Times.

Kang Tae-ho. Korean peninsula bracing for war amid tension. The Hankyoreh. March 11, 2013.

Gao Hao Yang Rong Zhangbin. North Korea will launch "light star 2" experimental communications Satellite. Xinhua News Agency. 24 February 2009. http://news.xinhuanet.com/world/2009-02/24/content_10883499.htm* (Edited slightly for fluency when translated from Chinese to English)

Scott Snyder. “China’s Rise and the Two Koreas.” Boulder, Colorado. Lynne Rienner Publishers Inc. 2009 p.140

Scott Snyder. “China’s Rise and the Two Koreas.” Boulder, Colorado. Lynne Rienner Publishers Inc. 2009, p. 142

Zhu Feng, “Nuclear Test Fallout”. China Today. April 2013, p.18-19

Military Balance Report. International Institute of Strategic Studies, 2011. http://www.iiss.org/publications/military-balance/the-military-balance-2011/press-statement/
Freedom House. Freedom in the World 2013: China. http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2013/china(2013) 

 Central Intelligence Agency. North Korea: History. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/kn.html (2013)

 Sergei Goncharov, John W. Lewis, Xue Litai. Uncertain Powers: Stalin, Mao, and the Korean War. (Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press, 1993), pg. 130-202. 

18 Winberg Chai, ed., The Foreign Relations of the People’s Republic of China. (New York, Capricorn Books, 1972). pg. 178-179.

20 China Today., Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance between China and Korea. July 1961. Volume 6, No. 29, pg. 3.

21 On Khrushchev’s Phony Communism. The Polemic on the General Line of the International Movement. (Peking, Foreign Language Press, 1965). pg. 459-63. 

22 Andrei Larkov. The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia. (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013) p.140

23 Chae Jin-Lee. China and Korea: Dynamic Partners. (Stanford, Stanford University Press, 1996.) p. 134-137. (Statistics on pg 137 cited from National Unification Board and Bank of Korea in Seoul.)

Sue Lautze. The Famine in North Korea: Humanitarian Responses in Communist Nations. (Boston, MA, Tufts University Press, June 1997) pg. 17. 

Central Intelligence Agency. North Korea: Overview. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/kn.html (2013) 

 Jeyup S. Kwaak. “North Korea Asks Mongolia for Food Aid.” Wall Street Journal22 April 2013.

John Delury. Reform Sprouts in North Korea? 26 July 2012. Yale University, Yale University Press. http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/sprouts-reform-north-korea

37 Xinhua News Agency. Chinaview Special Report: In Memory of Deng Xiaoping. 2003. http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2003-08/21/content_1037924.htm

38 Deng Xiaoping. Chronology: June 9 Speech to Martial Law Units. Long Bow Group, Incorporated.http://www.tsquare.tv/chronology/Deng.html 1989.

39 Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Juche. http://www.korea-dpr.com/juche.html (2011)

40 “North Koreans mourn death of Kim Il Sung”. July 1994 broadcast on DPRK State Television.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7P8mP5uuPw 

41"Foreign Friends: North Korea," Chinese Posters, (accessed 21 April. 2013).


42 “North Korea's pyramid hotel may finally open in 2013”. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. (accessed 23 April 2013) http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/11/02/north-korea-hotel-ryugyong-opening.html

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Olympic Men's Hockey Tournament: Qualification Round Predictions

The first stage of the Sochi men’s hockey tournament is over, and all twelve teams have now moved into position. 


The rest of the tournament is structured like the above picture. As shown by the diagram (from Wikipedia) Sweden, Finland, Canada, and the United States played well enough in the initial games to receive a first-round bye. Each of them will be paired up with the winners of each Qualification game, that is, Sweden will play either Slovenia or Austria, Finland will play the winner of the Russia-Norway game, and so on. 


Game 1: Slovenia (Slovenija) vs. Austria (Österreich)





Slovenia comes into this game with two losses (to Russia 5-2, and the United States 5-1) and one win (vs. Slovakia, 3-1). Austria beat Norway 3-1, but was soundly drubbed by Canada 6-0 and lost to Finland by a final of 8-4. Both teams earned the same number of points (3) for their wins, but were unable to manage any more points since their losses came in regulation.

These are two relatively weak teams in comparison to the rest of the tournament, both with little NHL presence. Slovenia boasts Los Angeles Kings superstar Anže Kopitar, while Austria has two members of the New York Islanders in Michael Grabner and Thomas Vanek.

In all honesty, I do not know much in detail about the rosters of these two teams since I do not follow European hockey leagues, but Austria has given up more goals to an arguably less difficult group. Finland, a defensively-minded team heavily reliant on their goaltending, scored eight goals against the Austrians. Austria also got the benefit of being able to play, and triumph over, another weak team in Norway. Slovenia was able to keep pace with Russia and upset the reeling Slovaks, two teams with multiple superstars on their rosters.

I don't expect either of these teams to make it past the Swedes, but Slovenia has a definite edge over the Austrians since they've shown more fight in a formidable group.

Prediction: Slovenia 3, Austria 1


Game 2: Russia (Россия) vs. Norway (Norge)






With apologies to any Norwegians who may read this, this game is probably the most lopsided on paper of the four qualification games.

Russia hasn't been a particularly dominant team so far in these Olympics, requiring a shootout to put away the Slovaks (1-0) and losing in a (3-2) shootout to the Americans. Even the Slovenes kept their heads up and gave the Красная Машина (Red Machine) a fight.

On the other hand, Russia hasn't won Olympic hockey gold since the 1992 Unified team did it in Albertville, France. To be eliminated by the lowly Norwegians on home ice would be an embarrassment of unheralded proportion for the Russian team. While it's true Russia has shown inconsistency in the round-robin, Norway is arguably a less formidable team than even Slovenia.

The Russians' skill level is exponentially higher than that of the Norwegians, but the Norwegians play a defensive game, so don't expect Norway to just let the Russians steamroll over them. Canada, widely considered a favorite in this tournament, only beat Norway 3-1.

All Russia's faults aside, Norway does not have the team to match up against the likes of Ovechkin, Voynov, Malkin, Bobrovski, and Datsyuk.

Prediction: Russia 5, Norway 1


Game 3: Switzerland (Suisse, Schweiz, Svizzera, Svizra) vs. Latvia (Latvija)






Switzerland, similar to Slovenia, has one big name in the NHL, Anaheim Ducks' goalie Jonas Hiller. Hiller has stood on his head these Olympics, and is far and away the biggest reason Switzerland is 2-1 coming into this game. The Swiss were able to beat the Czech Republic and Latvia, and held the mighty Swedes to only one goal in their only loss.

All three games that Switzerland has played have ended with the same score: 1-0. This is a team that rarely scores and gives up goals even less frequently.

Latvia has not fared as well.  Latvia's lone NHLer is Zemgus Girgensons, a forward for the lowly Buffalo Sabres. (Kaspars Daugavins, he of the odd trick shot, had a stint with Ottawa and Boston last year but now plays in Switzerland). They have yet to win a game in these Olympics, losing to Sweden (5-3), the Czechs (4-2) and Switzerland (1-0). While it's true Latvia has at least held their ground against these teams, they're still outmatched in a difficult group.

Switzerland relies heavily on Jonas Hiller. If he slips, it could be the team's undoing. But that's not likely to happen against the Latvians.

Prediction: Switzerland 2, Latvia 1












Game 4: Czech Republic (Česká Republika) vs. Slovakia (Slovensko)


This is most likely the most evenly-matched game in the Qualification round.

Slovakia has had enormous difficulty in Group A, losing to every team they've played. The USA stomped them 7-1, Slovenia was able to win over them 5-3, and Russia outlasted them in a shootout 1-0.

The Czechs were able to muster a win against the Latvians, but lost to both the Swedes and the Swiss. Both of these teams possess some NHL talent, but Czech goalie Ondrej Pavelec is quite mediocre compared to Jaroslav Halak. The Czechs are also an aging team, still marching legends like Jaromir Jagr and Petr Nedved out on the ice. David Krejčí,Vladimir Sobotka, Tomáš Plekanec, Martin Hanzal, and Jakub Voráček will be valuable against Slovakia, but whether they can match up with the likes of Zdeno Chara, Andrej Meszároš and Marian Hossa remains to be seen. Slovakia is due for a breakout game, but it's difficult to tell whether will happen against a team that's stronger than the Slovenes. 


Prediction: Czech Republic 5, Slovakia 4