Viewpoint: You should know about North Korea

Many of us hit zone-out mode the moment someone mentions history and politics, so we’re going to start by throwing out some words our Twitter feed tells us are all the rage: nuclear zombies.

Do we have your attention?

Well, this column isn’t actually about toxic undead that glow radioactive-green while simultaneously mutating your cells and gnawing on your brains. Instead, we’re going to have a serious talk about international issues, because we are mature college students and the world out there is the one we’re going to use our degrees in.

You should know what’s going on in that world. And you should make it your business to understand why.

There’s some unhappy stuff happening in the United States. Not only is the economy in a meltdown thanks to brilliant budget cuts and a government that works in theory but fails in life (and yet is still determined to fix other countries’ problems), but there’s a nation across the ocean threatening to toss nuclear weapons our way.

No, we’re not talking about Western Asia, which, by the way, is a region made up of several countries and is otherwise known as the Middle East. For those who watch the news or have Facebook friends who do, you’ve probably guessed that we’re talking about the other side of Asia, specifically North Korea.

On Wednesday night (or Thursday morning, depending on your global position), the North Korean government cleared the use of nuclear weapons against the U.S. and moved a missile of some type to a launch base. In response, the U.S. mobilized defensive measures in Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific that might be in range of said missile.

As of writing this, there’s apparently confusion about whether North Korea’s move is a simple show of force or if they’re actually going to explode something. It seems we’re not even sure if they can.

But the fact is the United States may very well be in another war by the time this is published.

This is a touchy subject. A chunk of the U.S. public doesn’t take North Korea seriously. Many act like North Korea is out to get us for no good reason, like a silly bully, and the United States is the innocent victim. Also, it’s politics. Politics are always touchy.

But it’s a lot more complicated than that.

Now, before we go any further, we want to note that we aren’t speaking for all Koreans or all Americans. We only wonder: Do you know why this hostile situation is happening? According to our Facebook feed, because social media is how we do things, most people don’t.

And yet the country of topic is pointing a metaphorical gun at our heads.

“So then,” you say, “why don’t you tell us the answer if you’re so smart?”

Let’s pretend that Korea is Florida, even though it’s not as big. Something happens and the Democrats and Republicans split it down the middle and call one side North Florida and the other South Florida. Both parties set up governments in their half of Florida that follow their preferred ideals without much input from the Floridians.

The Democrats and Republicans don’t really like what the other half is doing in their side of Florida. They talk about reuniting the state, but they can’t agree on the government it should have. A bunch of other states hop in on either side of the debate. Then someone pulls out the bombs.

North Florida is wasted. Every major structure is turned to rubble. South Florida, meanwhile, didn’t do so hot either. Millions of people, most of them Floridians, are dead. The survivors bury what’s left of their families. They look at their leveled cities and dead parents and children and want someone to blame, because they’re human and that’s what we do.

Who will they blame? Probably the people in charge of the other Florida. “If only the other side had backed off,” they’ll say. “Then this never would have happened.”

Their grief becomes anger. Anger becomes hate. Hate becomes nuclear threats.

Yoda saw this coming.

If this sounds familiar, even in its super-simplified and condensed state, it’s because it happened in Germany. It happened in Vietnam. And it happened in Korea, only instead of Democrats and Republicans, it was the United States and communism.

Now, in modern times, millions of lives still feel the war’s effects, and countries are left with bitter relations. Whose fault is this? Who’s right and who’s wrong? Should one side have backed down? That’s another debate for another time. There are many facts we’ve left out due to space, but the point is this: North Korea and United States are hostile with one another. North Korea and South Korea, even six decades later, are still technically at war. The U.S. could very well be on the brink of a war we can’t afford.

You should understand why. Because if you don’t, what’s going to stop it from getting worse?