North Korea has become an abberation of history, although currently a pretty dangerous one. Historian Paul French explains at the BBC how the isolated country has become a global liability.
As the 1980s ended with the fall of the Soviet Union, the loss of Soviet aid was a major blow. When China recognised South Korea in 1992, North Korea felt betrayed and increasingly isolated.
“Its economy has been in freefall since the collapse of the Soviet bloc,” said author and North Korea expert Paul French.
“The economy failed, industry shuddered to a halt. Eastern bloc export markets fell away.”
“North Korean agriculture collapsed and the country descended into a famine in the mid-1990s.”
The country’s nuclear programme, probably begun in the 1960s according to former ambassador John Everard, became increasingly important. “As the international environment turned against North Korea, its leaders came to regard the nuclear programme as the guarantee of its existence as an independent state.”“The “Great Leader” Kim Il-sung, followed by his son the “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il and now his grandson and “Supreme Leader” Kim Jong-un have all held one massive trump card – the great nuclear bargaining chip,” adds French…
“The Korean War has still not finally ended. The old enmities remain, at least in Pyongyang’s eyes” says Paul French.
“Seoul has forged ahead economically and become a thriving democracy.”
“The North has remained as if in aspic since the mid 1950s, positioning its historical narrative in terms of victimhood, only now with a nuclear capability that means everyone must pay attention.”