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North Korea Showdown

- May 19, 2017
Can a military confrontation be averted?
Featured Report

Tension is running high between the United States and North Korea, a family-run communist dictatorship with a record of horrific human rights abuses. One of the world's most militaristic nations, the “Hermit Kingdom” is testing increasingly powerful nuclear bombs, seeking to develop ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States and threatening U.S. ally South Korea with a massive arsenal of artillery and other weapons. After years of attempts by U.S. presidents to rein in North Korea's nuclear ambitions through negotiations and ever-more-stringent economic sanctions, the Trump administration is vowing to eliminate the North Korean military threat. President Trump warns of the possibility of a “major, major conflict” with North Korea, and administration officials say they are considering all options. Neighboring China and Japan fear a full-scale regional war, and South Korea's new government — fearing that tens of thousands of its citizens could die in a war with the North — wants a more conciliatory approach in dealing with Pyongyang.

Trump Policies

The administration has signaled a tough approach to North Korea.


The murder of Kim Jong Un’s half-brother sparked questions and worries.

1940s–1950sKorean Peninsula is divided into North and South, followed by war and a tense standoff.
1960s–1980sAided by China and Russia, North undergoes industrial growth and escalates provocations against the South.
1990sNorth faces famine and a transfer of political leadership from Kim Il Sung to his son but continues military buildup.
2000s–PresentNorth develops increasingly powerful nuclear arsenal.

Should the U.S. tighten penalties on companies dealing with North Korea?


Sue Mi Terry
Managing Director, Korea, Bower Group Asia.


Doug Bandow
Senior Fellow, Cato Institute; Author, Tripwire: Korea and U.S. Foreign Policy in a Changed World .
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