HISTORY: Why does North Korea hate us?

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The collision course between the two countries was set in June of 1950, when communist North Korea, invaded the south - walking right over the South Korean army, and doing much the same to hurriedly activated U.S. troops. (KGO-TV)

Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have seemingly escalated as President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un continue to trade threats over nuclear attacks. But the strife between the two countries started long before, here's a look back at why.

The shooting between North Korea and the United States ended in 1953, but technically the war is still going on. The violence ended in a ceasefire; the bullets replaced by hard feelings and harsh words.

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The collision course between the two countries was set in June of 1950, when communist North Korea, invaded the south - walking right over the South Korean army, and doing much the same to hurriedly activated U.S. troops.
It's tempting to think that's why the U.S. and South Korea are still at odds today. but, there's more to it than that.

"North Koreans are also upset that we are preventing them from unifying their country, under their control, by defending South Korea," said Rand Corporation Analyst Bruce Bennett.

And we've been doing that since the cease-fire was signed in 1953. There are nearly 30-thousand U.S. troops in South Korea as a deterrent, and thousands more on Okinawa and in Alaska to be rushed there should trouble start.

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But, the rocky relationship between Pyongyang and Washington is about more than just the military.

There's an economic component as well.

"North Korea is an island of poverty surrounded by an ocean of prosperity," said San Francisco State University professor Sanjoy Banerjee.

He says North Korea had a stable economy from the fifties into the seventies, then watched as economies in Japan, China, and South Korea exploded with American involvement. Those countries were producing billionaires while North Korea struggled to feed its own people.

That's a bitter pill for the Kim Jong Un regime to swallow. "So, they have to have someone to blame and they've chosen the United States as the scapegoat," according to Bennett.

The blame game was a nuisance up until the Clinton years. Since then, the north has worked hard and made significant progress with its nuclear program.

American intelligence believes they've developed a nuclear warhead that's small and light enough to fit on top of their new generation of missiles - missiles theoretically capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. Bennett doesn't think Pyongyang is quite there yet.

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"I think they could probably deliver a very small, inert warhead to somewhere in the U.S., but could not deliver a nuclear weapon other than in perhaps parts of Alaska," Bennett told ABC7 News.

Kim Jong Un, his father, and grandfather made numerous threats against the U.S. over the decades. Most presidents either played down the threat or tried to negotiate their way to a kinder, gentler rhetoric.

President Donald Trump is taking a different course.

Un threatens, Trump threatens back. Kim threatens Guam, Trump counters with "fire and fury." Banerjee says the Un regime is not suicidal and knows that its estimated twenty warheads couldn't stand up to the estimated five thousand in the American arsenal.

But, the regime's survival is based to a great extent on keeping the populace focused on an outside enemy that North Korea is protecting them from. that and firm control of internal information flow and dissent keeps them in charge and unchallenged.

It also continues a conundrum faced by successive administrations: How to cope with an unorthodox regime, leading a poor and angry country, that now has the bomb.

Analysts say since neither side seems to really want a war, things may come down to some form of negotiation, and to that end, China will probably have to play a role, since they are the only international power North Korea seems to listen to.

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Related Topics:
politicsPresident Donald Trumpdonald trumpnuclear weaponsnorth koreakim jong unviolencewaru.s. & worldhistoryWashington DCNorth Korea
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