North Korea is also a Millennial issue
Watching the morning news is tough these days. This is especially true when it comes to the current diplomatic row between the Trump administration and Kim Jong-un's Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) regime.
Pundits can opine that progress has been made toward denuclearization above the 38th Parallel. As a matter of fact, I believe that positive progress has been made, given the DPRK's confirmation that Kim is willing to negotiate with President Donald Trump. However, what the news media fail to accomplish in their sensationalist coverage of North Korea is a holistic approach.
That said, it's my opinion that Kim-Trump negotiations will significantly impact the global dynamic – for better or worse. Once that dynamic is changed, diplomatic and national security issues built around North Korea will rapidly become issues for the rising generations. In particular, a case can be made that current relations between the United States and the DPRK are now one of the leading issues that members of the Millennial generation are due to address.
About a year ago, I watched an exceptional documentary, The Jangmadang Generation, produced by the nonprofit Liberty in North Korea (LiNK), covering the rise of Millennial-run illicit enterprise and entrepreneurship in the DPRK. The film follows many Millennial individuals under the clout of the North Korean regime as they live – and work – in a 21st-century dictatorship. As I watched this excellent piece of cinema, I realized we need to address all of the issues surrounding the DPRK with a "people-focused" perspective.
This was affirmed when I was commissioned by the South China Morning Post to write up a commentary piece on the potential of an environmental disaster linked to the North's nuclear weapons testing last September. During this process, I dealt with several hard truths.
First, we, in all generations, need to stop demonizing the DPRK's civilian population for their own victimization. What we need to achieve cultural and economic self-realization is the power to open up the North from outside and inside the country.
Here in the United States, we also need to remind Millennials that the concerns built around the DPRK by the older generations are not yet gone. In fact, it's quite frightening when 56 percent of surveyed Americans believe that the growing student loan debt crisis is a more immediate threat than Kim Jong-un's regime. Student loan debt is indeed troubling; however, our generation is growing into our shoes, so to speak, when it comes to dealing with international threats.
Even within the borders of North Korea, our in-country Millennial counterparts are working through illicit and legitimate means to fight oppression, as highlighted above. In some capacities, North Korean Millennials are building up a small yet budding middle class. Getting past existing economic sanctions, these individuals are the owners of private companies while approaching the global market in a capacity that directly challenges ruling political influence.
This could also improve human development environments in country as well. Economist Anthony Kim, in a 2007 commentary piece for the conservative Heritage Foundation, mentioned that growing economic liberalization directly impacts a positive growth in human rights in oppressed settings. On this basis, North Korea is ripe for this change – not a nuke.
Regardless of where you land on our defined understanding of the American political spectrum, we can all agree that moving forward on North Korea is a policy priority – with an approach built on diplomacy, not war – is an imperative factor. Using the logic of the climate change doomsday crowd and the new-age anti-Second Amendment activists, we need to fix the mistakes of the generations of our parents and our grandparents.
McGrady is a Millennial and internationally published libertarian journalist. He is also a political consultant and content-marketer.