by Hugo Polanco

North Korea has returned in full form after a brief hiatus following Kim Jong-il’s death, when the region collectively held its breath hoping that the new leader would bring reform and moderation. Their latest act is a plan to launch a missile over Japan under a claim that it is a satellite launch.  Japan has not taken kindly to this news and has announced that be it a missile or genuine satellite launch, it will be shot down if passes over Japan. This is erratic North Korean policy at its finest given that the new leader had reached an accommodation with the west. He had restarted talks and in return for ceasing uranium enrichment and long range ballistic missile development, North Korea would receive much needed aid. This is perfectly in line with established North Korean strategy of making deals then increasing tensions through crisis in order to move for a better deal. Towards the end of Kim Jong-il’s rule this strategy failed to pay off because both South Korea and the United States began taking a harder line against North Korean provocations while being distrustful of any overtures for deals or talks. This transfer period was an excellent opportunity for North Korea to reverse its policies for the betterment of the region and its own suffering population. So while not surprising, this missile launch is disheartening.

 

On the other side of Asia, Myanmar has passed milestone one that has been greeted with adulation and joy. The election in Myanmar have passed and Aung San Suu Kyi has won a seat in the parliament. These election were a powerful symbol and a marker of how far Myanmar has gone in the past few years. Myanmar is still not free,  Suu Kyi’s party could not have win a majority because only a small percentage of the parliamentary seats were contested and  there was also accusations of irregularities. Each step that the government takes towards democracy is a sign, it makes rolling back all the reforms less likely for one. This step will also increase the likelihood that the European Union and the United States will roll back sanctions. With that Myanmar may finally achieve its full potential, there is already speculation that its position astride India and China, and its rich mineral resources will quickly transform it into a new economic powerhouse.

 

The contrast between the two countries is shocking. One is on its way up and the other still mired in oppression. Two years ago both these countries were considered absolute basket cases and often muttered in the same breath when listing corrupt regimes. So this week I’m left with hope and praise for the successes of Aung San Suu Kyi’s decades long struggle for the freedom of her people, while lamenting the failure of the corpulent Kim Jong-un and the North Korean regime to advance beyond the failed policies of his father.

This post reflects the author’s personal opinions, not the opinions of Arizona Model United Nations.

This post reflects the author’s personal opinions, not the opinions of Arizona Model United Nations.

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