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All posts copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le.
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The views and opinions expressed on this site and blog posts (excluding comments on blog posts left by others) are entirely my own and do not represent those of any employer or organization with whom I am currently or previously have been associated.

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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

July 11, 2006

Written by C.N.

North Korea’s Latest Threats

Earlier this month, North Korea once again got the world’s attention by test-firing several long distance missiles into the Sea of Japan. Naturally, this act resulted in near-unanimous condemnation. I don’t want to review the history of North Korea’s threatening behavior in recent years, nor try to analyze Kim Il Jong’s state of mind.

Instead, I would like to focus on how North Korea’s belligerence relates to its Asian neighbors. Specifically, many (most of them liberals) have basically said that the U.S. is in no moral position to condemn North Korea, that North Korea has the right to assert its military and political independence, and/or that criticizing North Korea is tantamount to contemporary imperialism and racism against Asians.

I will first state that yes, North Korea has the right to assert its independence and yes, others need to be careful in how they phrase their criticism of North Korea’s actions. In other words, it is one thing to criticize them for their unprovoked threats against their neighboring countries, but it is another matter to say that they represent the latest version of the racist “yellow peril” image of evil, diabolical Asians scheming to conquer the entire world.

At the same time, I would like to point out that North Korea is directly threatening not western nations like Europe or even the U.S., but rather, their fellow Asian neighbors such as South Korea and Japan. In other words, it’s Asians threatening Asians here. That means that when South Koreans and Japanese condemn the North Koreans, it’s not some western imperialistic superpower trying to tell North Korea to stop, it’s other Asians.

My point is that we should not shy away from condemning North Korea and its government just because they’re an Asian country. Merely being Asian is not a license to bully your neighbors and to threaten them with nuclear annihilation. To the same extent that we criticize dictatorships and government repression in Burma, China, Viet Nam, and other Asian (and western) countries, so too should North Korea be held to the same standards of international conduct as everyone else.

In the end, it’s not a matter of being racist — it’s a matter of ensuring millions of people do not die an agonizing and unnecessary death.

Author Citation

Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "North Korea’s Latest Threats" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <> ().

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