The World Today for March 05, 2024


A Place in the World


North Korea’s tourism industry shut down during the coronavirus pandemic. Around 100 Russian tourists who recently visited the so-called Hermit Kingdom might help revive it, though.

“When you look at North Korea you realize that your grandma and grandpa were living like they do here,” travel blogger Ilya Voskresensky told CNN. “It’s a teleport into the past. There are absolutely no advertisements in the city. The only thing on display are party slogans, flags, and so on.”

Voskresensky and his fellow travelers were one among many signs of the closeness between Russia and leaders in the capital of Pyongyang.

Another sign of that is how North Korea has shipped millions of artillery shells in 6,700 containers to Russia since July to assist Russian President Vladimir Putin in his war with Ukraine, reported Al Jazeera. In exchange, Russia shipped food and other essential goods to North Korea, where preventable famines have decimated the population in the past.

Many of these artillery shells are duds, Newsweek wrote, citing Ukrainian sources. Still, these close ties auger North Korea’s participation in the Russia-Iran-China axis that has signaled close cooperation through a variety of channels, especially as the West has lined up in support of Ukraine and, arguably, Israel. “As the war grinds on, the world is left to grapple with ever-deepening ties between Pyongyang and Moscow,” wrote 38 North, a publication that covers North Korea.

Writing in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Seth Jones of the Center for Strategic and International Studies described how these two sides are now in tension on a global scale. Other experts further worried that this collaboration might embolden Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un to become more aggressive and potentially reckless on the Korean Peninsula and in northeast Asia.

World Politics Review, for example, warned that North Korea has continued to develop its nuclear capabilities – despite Kim meeting with President Donald Trump in 2018. Now North Korean missiles can reach any part of the continental US, for example. Such capabilities would be a serious deterrent to American forces who might attempt to respond to North Korean aggression.

Kim has every incentive to spark international discord to divert his people’s attention from their country’s serious domestic problems, too. Infrastructure, for example, is crumbling in the country amid power shortages, noted University of Baltimore global affairs professor Nusta Carranza Ko in the Conversation. A train wreck in December, for instance, thought to have possibly killed hundreds of Koreans, occurred when power outages caused the train to overturn as it climbed a hill. The regime’s oppressive control of information can suppress this news, but it still spreads.

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