What should U.S. policy be toward North Korea?

  • Share
  • Read Later
North Korea has been in the news since its announcement late last year that it was restarting its nuclear program. The country has been a constant foreign-policy headache for the Bush Administration, with Kim Jong Il's government ratcheting up the tension in the region on Oct. 3 when it claimed to have finished reprocessing spent fuel rods and said that it was building a nuclear arsenal. North Koreans live in utter poverty under a Stalinist system, yet Kim's grip on power is as strong as ever. On his trip to Asia this week, President Bush will face many questions about North Korea, and the U.S. has explored the possibility of a written security guarantee for North Korea. With South Korea and Japan in easy striking distance, and China growing wary of its unpredictable communist ally, what can the U.S. do to resolve the situation with North Korea? Is there a way to lessen the tension and still prevent North Korea from destabilizing all of East Asia with its nuclear threat?

Please limit your responses to 80 words or less. The best entries reflecting the balance of views expressed will be published on TIME.com throughout the week.

Some of your responses:

As a person living under the North Korean threat, I pray everyday that there will not another Korean war. But the security guarantee or non-aggression treaty is wrong in every sense — morally and politically. Kim Jong Il is responsible for deaths of millions of North Korean people. Granting what he is asking for will prolong the agony and misery of North Korean people. Also when was the last time he held his end of the bargain? Never!
H.S. Lee
Seoul, South Korea

In the interest of not being labeled absolute hypocrites, we should have attacked North Korea before we attacked Iraq. I guess if you're a dictator, it would be in your best interests to have nuclear weapons, because then you won't be attacked. We attacked Hussein because he "had nukes" but we haven't found any. Since we know North Korea has nukes, we're not going to attack them ... they can actually fight back.
Tim Nicosia
Boston, Mass.

The U.S. can't avoid North Korea. A nuclear Korea will make all of Asia go nuclear. North Korea must be talked into verifiably giving up nuclear weapons through whatever means necessary. We must offer them something that's more attractive than carrying nukes. Military coercion should be a last resort, but shouldn't be ruled out. Ignorance right now might be fatal later on.
A. Nam
Cleveland, Ohio

The U.S., with the support of the international community, should pressure China to temporarily open its border to North Korean refugees and set up a refugee camp for them near the border. This will lead to a mass exodus of famine-stricken North Koreans and the collapse of Kim's regime.
James Rhee
Ulsan, South Korea

North Korea is one of the "Axis of Evil" spokes. Iran is another and Iraq is a third. The "stick solution" has been applied to Iraq. It stirred the fears of North Korea. Now diplomacy, facilitated by other countries in the region, must quell those fears. Our European allies and the IAEA are diplomatically working on Iran. Non-aggression, diplomacy and aid can be effective with North Korea but our allies in the region must be strong,willing participants.
J. Nolan
Chicago, Ill.

After living in Korea for some time and seeing what the North has done to the South in return for the latter's generosity, I say give them nothing. I agree with Bush. No treaty, give up the nukes if you want peace! We're looking at a dying regime trying to stay afloat. Hopefully soon it will be gone.
A. Totman
Portland, Ore.

The U.S. must remember that it is the South Korean people that will fare the worst if the U.S. attacks North Korea. Kim Jong Il and the North Korean government in my eyes is the most deplorable in the world, but millions of Koreans will die if the U.S. attacks. The only solution that I see is that the U.S. should put as much pressure as they can on China to be more involved in the crisis. It is the Chinese government that enables the North Koreans' Stalinist system to continue to exist with their military pact with them.
Heath Francis
Canberra, Australia

Since North Korea has decided to no longer reconise the treaty in which they signed over 25 years ago, they should be sactioned. Furthermore the United States should promptly cut off any and all funding and business there and reapply those funds to the programs needed here in the U.S. Put up an embargo on all imports/exports from North Korea. It's time to take care of our own instead of everybody else in the world.
V. Daniels
Gulfport, Miss.

North Korea is obviously showing off its nuclear weapons to terrorize the world into giving in to its demands. However, due to ill-treatment, the people will almost cetainly feel dicontented with the government, and rebellion will only come sooner or later. The U.S. should send in spies and agents to instigate the people to rebel. If rebellion and a invasion from the South takes place at the same time, the regime would surely fall.
Constance Lum

A war with North Korea would cost $1 trillion and 1 million lives. It is false and pointless to say that we will not negotiate with rogue states. We have no choice but to pay up.
John Field
Dorrington, Calif.

The U.S. should hug the government to death. This means opening up the frontiers to commerce and trade. By showing the North Koreans what a bounty democracy and capitalism brings, the government will lose a certain grip on its citizens. This is not as radical as delcaring war or overthrowing Kim, but on the long term, it will be beneficial for both parties.
Sigmund Dunba
Montreal, Canada

Stay out of their business! This is not Iraq or Afghanistan. Why are we allowed to produce nuclear weapons, and other countries are not? How hypocritical! We do not need to enter into a conflict with North Korea. The end result could be catastrophic to the U.S. and the entire world. We need to stay out of other nation's affairs. Here's an idea: Let's work on fixing our weak and damaged infrastucture before we start fixing the problems of the world.
B. Casey
Los Angeles, Calif.

Last Week's Question: When should the U.S. hand over control of Iraq to the Iraqis?