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We must take them seriously

In his 2002 State of the Union address, President George W. Bush described an “axis of evil,” which included Iraq, Iran and North Korea. At the time, it was easy to see why Iraq and Iran were included on this list of terror-supporting nations, but North Korea seemed like the odd man out.

True, the country did have the fourth largest standing army in the world, and was run by a tyrannical dictator, but it had never previously shown any belligerence toward the U.S. outside of occasional tough talk that was never taken seriously.

Events of recent days may have shown that Bush knew what he was talking about. Various reports have surfaced saying that North Korea may attempt to launch a missile toward Hawaii sometime this month, as a display of its military might.

Whether or not North Korea actually goes through on this threat is irrelevant. The fact remains that this is a nation with a volatile combination — it has a huge army, it has an intense hatred of the U.S. and it has a brainwashed populace of 20 million North Koreans ready to give their lives for “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-Il.

If you visit the YouTube Internet site, you can view several videos taken by foreign visitors to North Korea. These mini-documentaries provide a scary picture of the mindset of the people in the nation. Every home must have a picture of both Jong-Il and his late father, “Great Leader” Kim Il-Sung (who, despite being dead, is still considered the “eternal president” of the country). One British visitor goes to a bookstore in the capital of Pyongyang, only to discover that every single book in the store was either written by Jong-Il or Il-Sung, or written about Jong-Il or Il-Sung.

North Korea’s laughable official name reminds me of Mike Myers’ old Linda Richman’s Coffee Talk character on Saturday Night Live. “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is neither democratic, nor does it belong to the people, nor is it a republic. Discuss.”

At some point, President Barack Obama may need to give a “Tear down this wall” speech, similar to what former president Ronald Reagan said when he commanded USSR premier Mikhail Gorbachev to dismantle the Berlin Wall. The demilitarized zone, the border between North Korea and South Korea, is arguably the most dangerous border on the planet — it is estimated there are a combined 2 million North Korean, South Korean and U.S. soldiers on the border, making it a powder keg just waiting to go off.

This is a nation that spends $6 billion a year on its military, despite having a gross domestic product of only $40 billion. It is a nation that has made no secret of its desire to build and maintain a nuclear and chemical weapons program. It is a nation that believes it will ultimately be reunified with its neighbors to the south — in other words, Korean War II may not be too far away.

It is a nation that must be taken seriously as a threat to peace.