Fury after North Korea tests hydrogen bomb

Warheads: North Korea claims that the silver device in this photo is a working H-bomb. © Getty

Why does this tiny socialist state hate America so much and would it help to understand? Yesterday, to global condemnation, North Korea carried out its sixth and most powerful nuclear test.

At first, it felt like an earthquake. But soon, North Korea’s state media confirmed what many outsiders had feared: the country had carried out its sixth nuclear test. It claims it now has a hydrogen bomb small enough to fit onto one of its intercontinental missiles.

Although the news has not been independently confirmed, the message is clear: its nuclear weapons can now reach the USA.

President Trump called it “hostile and dangerous,” while South Korea warned that the North was “threatening world peace.”

Why does North Korea hate America?

The answer is almost 70 years old. In June 1950, North Korea invaded the South. The US military soon arrived to defend its southern ally. For the next three years, the North was devastated by US bombs. Towns were flattened. Around 20% of the population was killed, as 635,000 tonnes of explosives were dropped.

The US bombed “everything that moved in North Korea,” said Dean Rusk, then an army colonel.

Crucially, North Korea tells its people that the South started the war. And — as there was only ever a ceasefire — technically it is still ongoing.

War games

The USA must reckon with its actions during the Korean war, say some. It sees the North as crazy — but step into their shoes, and the fear of the USA starts to make some sense. In America, however, Korea is referred to as the “forgotten war”. It must face up to what happened, or the two will never find peace.

This is the wrong answer, respond others. Germany, Japan and Vietnam are on good terms with the USA, despite being at war with it around the same time. But North Korea is the only one to exaggerate and obsess over the past. Kim Jong-un wants his people to hate America because an enemy will distract them from problems at home. He will not give that up, no matter what America does.

You Decide

  1. Is America partly responsible for North Korea’s actions today?

Activities

  1. Imagine that you are the United Nations general secretary. Prepare a short 100 word statement in response to yesterday’s nuclear test.
  2. Create a timeline of North Korean history, starting with the country’s creation in 1945.

Some People Say...

“Leaving North Korea is not like leaving any other country. It is more like leaving another universe.”

Hyeonseo Lee, North Korean defector

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
The “artificial earthquake” caused by the nuclear test yesterday morning registered at a 6.3 magnitude. In the last year, North Korea has launched missiles which can travel around 7,400 miles — far enough to reach London, Moscow and much of the USA.
What do we not know?
Whether North Korea has actually created a hydrogen bomb small enough to attach to these missiles, as it claims.

Word Watch

Hydrogen bomb
Also known as an H-bomb, this can be up to 1,000 times more powerful than an atomic bomb, which was used by the USA against Japan in 1945.
Intercontinental missiles
North Korea has tested such missiles several times already this year, and now claims they can reach most of the US mainland.
635,000 tonnes
According to the historian Charles Armstrong. This is more than was used against Japan in the second world war.
Ceasefire
Signed on July 26th 1953. No peace treaty between North and South Korea has ever been signed since.

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