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[Kim Ji-hyun] Fearing for Korea in Tokyo

It’s way past time to realize North Korea will never give up its nuclear arsenal

My job takes me frequently abroad, and one destination I visit quite often is Tokyo. Now that my initial trepidation has ebbed away, I can see why so many are in love with this city.

And from this tidy yet bustling city, I watched in raw fear this week as events surrounding the two Koreas and the US unfolded. For me, it was a moment of truth. For the first time in a while, I hit me just how precarious things look from the outside.

Fellow Koreans in Tokyo now joke about which is worse: to die in an earthquake, or another Korean War, which probably would blow up into a global affair.

It feels like the only thing that’s keeping a lid on things seem to be the nagging notion Trump and Kim Jong-un have about each other: He may be crazier than I.

Yet, the Moon Jae-in government appears intent on making donations and offering good tidings to the North in the name of charity and good will.

Or rather, it seems to harbor unrealistic hopes. Just today, President Moon requested Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.

Or else what? With the government sounding as wishy washy as it does right now, if I were Kim Jong-un, I would either laugh my head off or not acknowledge it at all.

It’s way past time to realize North Korea will never give up its nuclear arsenal. It’s just not going to happen, and I’m sure I won’t have to repeat why. Despite this being so clear to so many, some of the supposedly smartest in the country seem oblivious to the facts.

A few weeks ago, Rhyu Si-min a former health minister and author well-known for his eloquent manners and profound knowledge in fields big and small, told his opponent in a talk show that North Korea would never actually use its nuclear weapons. That’s it’s all a hoax, and we need to look over that and keep reaching out.

Rhyu made North Korea sound like a misbehaving little brother threatening to fire a sling. He and many others in this government seem to forget these are deadly weapons, and we would have to be daft to believe we are not in danger. North Korea is no longer some little rogue country that can be calmed with threats or smooth words.

Everyone is stepping up his or her game now that North Korea has farther-reaching weapons. Everyone, that is, except for Seoul, which shares a border and is the country with whom Pyongyang has a temporary truce over. Cliched as it is to say, the Korean War never ended.

Helping the helpless people of North Korea is a very worthwhile humanitarian effort that at any other time than this, would have been perceived as just that. And the president’s calm and rational words calling for Pyongyang to get a grip would also have been received as brave and impactful -- again, if they had come at any other time than this.

It’s not time to lose one’s head, but it’s also not the time to fool ourselves into thinking good deeds will bring Pyongyang back. In zombie terminology, North Korea is far, far gone. Hacking off the bitten arm or leg isn’t going to stop the virus from spreading. It’s already gone to the brain.

We can’t dictate what the government should do, and we’re sure there’s some super smart people at Blue House who are strategizing even at this moment.

Just that, we want a clear message that it would put utmost priority on protecting its people, even if it’s at the risk of forfeiting all past legacies of former liberal presidents, joining hands with the US and cutting ties with North Korea.

By Kim Ji-hyun

Kim Ji-hyun is editor in chief of The Investor. She can be reached at -- Ed.