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International Relations Essay Sample

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International Relations Essay Sample


          Given the complex nature of international politics and the world economy, the two have become closely associated as times have changed.  Moreover, these items play a large part in the quest for status among the nations of the world, any number of which can be vying for political, military, and financial control over other nations at any given time. One of the most aggressive nations in the pursuit of power is North Korea.  To be specific, when an aggressive nation like North Korea seeks and obtains financial aid from other nations, it could lead to a variety of occurrences.  In this paper, the researcher will analyze the effects of giving aid to a nation like North Korea, and how it could affect their quest for power, their weapons program, and related areas.  By tracing the origins of the North Korean aggression, combined with a view of current events, the topic will be given depth and provide an excellent understanding of the topic for the reader.

North Korea’s Pursuit of Power

          The roots of North Korea’s emergence as a contender for world domination can be found in the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980’s.  Although the demise of the U.S.S.R lessened the conflict between capitalism and communism, North Korea remains as a stronghold of the old communist system (Sandhu, 2003).  With its biggest rival out of the way, North Korea has aggressively pursued ultimate control on their own terms with no sign of changing their ways or holding back.  Short of an overthrow of the current government, the only occurrence that seems likely to change the tide is a meltdown of the North Korean economy.  Rather than allow that to happen, the nation would be more likely seek economic aid from other countries and some less reputable sources of monetary support, providing the fuel that would be needed to continue the quest for control.

          In recent years, North Korea has flirted with the West to obtain economic stability, even going as far as relaxing travel restrictions that had previously been placed on citizens, agreeing to downgrade nuclear activity, and resuming diplomatic relations with the United States, at least on the surface (Shuja, 2005).  By fostering an improved relationship with the U.S., currently the world’s only remaining superpower, North Korea could be given a new lease on life. However, this dynamic warrants closer examination to understand exactly what the effects of economic aid to a potential threat like North Korea would be. 

North Korea’s Key Player

          The key player in North Korea’s reforms, or lack thereof, as well as the pursuit of economic assistance by that nation is the current leader, Kim-Jong-Il.  He is a truly complex, and some say deeply disturbed man, which adds some complication to the consideration of financial assistance to the nation itself.  On one hand, Kim claims to want to improve relations with the U.S. and also work on his historically abysmal human rights record.  On the other hand, there have been reports of nuclear proliferation by Kim, as well as situations where he himself has stated his intentions of building North Korea into a nuclear powerhouse, and therefore a dominant force on the world stage.  Within the last several months, Kim has openly boasted that he is no longer interested in pursuing better relations with any other nations, especially the U.S., in light of what he calls the Bush administration’s own pursuit of world power through involvement in Iraq as well as other parts of the world (Shuja, 2005).  In an ironic twist, Kim is becoming less diplomatic and hungry for domination and justifies it by claiming that other nations are doing the same thing.

Secret Deals for North Korea Question Credibility

          Another recent event that may explain what might occur if North Korea were to be given financial aid can is a recent situation involving what were meant to be secret business deals designed to funnel cash into the coffers of North Korea.

          In 2003, information became public which indicated that a subsidiary of the Hyundai Business Group had secretly arranged for about $200 million in business contracts to be given to the North Korean government without the proper bid process, auditing, and the like in exchange for the agreement to sit down with South Korea in diplomatic talks (Kyodo News Online).  This scandal has particular value in understanding how financial aid would really be spent by a nation like North Korea from a variety of points of view.  First, if the North Koreans are willing to accept financial aid which was illegally and immorally obtained, it speaks volumes about their real intentions.  Their real intentions are also in question because of the fact that North Korea would be willing to at least pretend to embrace an enemy nation in exchange for large amounts of cash.  What this means is if they were actually interested in pursuing a better relationship with their southern rival, they would do so without being paid to, and if North Korea was truly interested in reforming its behavior as it has indicated to others like the United States, so-called backroom deals and payoffs would be out of the question.

          What the deal with Hyundai, as well as the previous discussion of Kim’s clearly stated intentions of dominating the world, stepping up nuclear activity and ceasing to negotiate a better situation with other nations leads to the original question posed in this paper, namely what exactly would happen if a nation like North Korea were given a considerable amount of financial aid.

What Financial Aid for North Korea Could Mean

          With the evidence that has been presented so far, the question of exactly what could or would happen if North Korea received financial aid from other nations should be explored in more detail.  The following are some objective analyses of possible scenarios given financial aid to North Korea:

Best Case Scenario

    In an ideal world and given a best case scenario, North Korea could theoretically use financial aid to improve its nation from several standpoints.  First of all, aid could be used to improve the living conditions of the North Korean people by improving sanitation, building roads, enhancing medical and educational resources, eradicating hunger and the like.  However, at an estimated $1 trillion price tag (Sahndu, 2003), this is a huge task; moreover, it is unlikely to happen for a variety of reasons.  First of all, allocations of that kind of money are likely to bring out the most corrupt elements of the North Korean government, and given Kim’s proclivity for outrageous and unpredictable behavior, such a huge amount of funds would likely find their way into his pockets, rather than the people’s.  Also, from a political standpoint, Kim realizes that by upgrading the situation of his people, it is very likely that they will revolt and overthrow his communist system, just as it happened decades ago in the U.S.S.R.  This would mean a complete loss of power for him and his political supporters, which he is very unlikely to allow happening.  This best case scenario for the people would be a worst case scenario for Kim, and as such, will probably never happen.

Worst Case Scenario-Nuclear Proliferation

          In the worst case, Kim could pretend to embrace freedoms and reforms for North Korea, accept funding to so, and then misappropriate the funds for nuclear enhancement to his weapons programs and to openly become more aggressive with other nations in a quest for global domination.  Naturally, this will be highly undesirable for several reasons.  First, of course, nuclear weapons in the hands of a man like Kim are a terrifying thought, and could in theory lead to World War III.  If all out war does not occur outright, other nations, including the U.S., would have to devote so many resources to defending against a new communist aggressor, armed with nuclear weapons that other programs could suffer.  In short, the entire balance of world politics would be thrown asunder.

          Another possibility in a worst case scenario is that North Korea does become successful in dominating the world.  This would allow for a new reign of communism and a plaque that would likely infest the world for ages to come, as the original communist barrage under the U.S.S.R. did.  In short, under a worst case scenario, any possibility is terrifying. 

Closing Summary

          In closing and in summary, the North Korean quest for financial aid is dubious at best.  Give the previous behavior of the nation, and given the mindset of the current leadership, any aid that would be given could have disastrous consequences if haphazardly given to the North Koreans.  This is not to say that aid should not be given, but it should be given in a carefully monitored way to avoid the further creation of a nuclear monster and the further support of communism anywhere in the world.  Given the threat of terrorism that is infesting the internationals’ scene in the present day, every effort needs to be given to maintain peace, and North Korea needs to be closely monitored as a part of the pursuit of peace.  With too much money and too little monitoring, Kim could be planting the seeds for not only his own destruction, but that of the world as well.


Hyundai Merchant Marine secretly funneled funds to North Korea.(2003, January 30).  Kyodo News Online. Retrieved March 12, 2006 from the World Wide Web: www.kyodonews.com.

Sandhu, H. (2003). A Doomed Reform: North Korea Flirts with the Free Market. Harvard International Review, 25(1), 36+.

Shuja, S. M. (2005, December). North Korea and the West. Contemporary Review, 277, 334.

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