Why is the US seen as the sworn enemy to the DPRK when there were many other belligerents involved in the Korean War?

  • According to Wikipedia, there were many belligerents on the South Korean side involved in the war. This includes The UK, France, Australia, Canada, Greece and many, many others.

    Why, then, is there so much more hatred towards the US when other countries were a part of the war? Was the hatred for the US spawned from that war, or has it been the US actions (sanctions etc) towards the DPRK over the years which has created the situation we are in now?

    Are other countries involved seen in the same light by the DPRK, as the US is?

    NK uses propaganda to create external existential threats that justify military rule. No level of propaganda will get people to believe that Canada or Australia is the world's "Great Satan."

    Shane hit it on the head. All the other reasons listed in other answers are excuses to hide the real reason that it is necessary to keep the NK regime in control. Picking a word fight with the USA is just a pragmatic choice. NK knows the US isn't going to risk a conflict with China by taking NK out. NK is nothing more than the little kid talking smack while his dad is around because the kid knows nobody is going to do anything. OTOH, if they picked on a lesser foe, like France/UK it is quite possible that France/UK would do something about it and then China wouldn't want to risk the conflict.

    UK/French troops on China's border is not desirable but livable for China. US troops on its border, absolutely not.

    @Dunk I suspect we might see the day where *China* takes North Korea out.

    "...there were many belligerents on the South Korean side involved in the war..." Surely they did not all contribute equally in the war? Maybe the US did contribute most and in order not to get distracted, NK is concentrating on the biggest of their enemies?

  • SJuan76

    SJuan76 Correct answer

    4 years ago

    While Alexander's points are correct and certainly do not help the USA win North Korean sympathies, I think that more than an historical view the answer lies in the current situation:

    • USA is the only foreign power that still has troops stationed in South Korea.

    • USA was the most powerful nation of the UN coalition. The advantage it had in the Korean war has only increased.

    • The other major powers (UK, France) have lost or granted independence to most of the colonial possessions that helped them to project power in the area (Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, former Indochina comprising of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos), reducing their influence and making it less visible.

    • As a consequence of the above, USA remains the most significant and involved foreign member of the "Western coalition". The six-party talks, for example, included Russia, China, North Korea, South Korea, Japan and USA. Of the latter:

      • Pressuring South Korea into submission is not a viable tactic, specially while it has the support of the USA¹.

      • Japan has a limited military so it is not much of a threat.

    • Other members of the former UN coalition seem to be happy following the USA lead (there are no separate political initiatives coming from the UK, France or Australia).

    I have seen some different analysis behind NK politics, but the above points make the USA the prime target. For example:

    • They want to invade South Korea and the USA presence is an additional obstacle. NK leadership thinks that threatening the USA will get it to retire its support to South Korea and leave the South Korean army without allies.

    • They are honestly afraid of the USA and South Korea invading them, and want to have leverage to avoid that.

    • They need a foreign threat to justify its military control of the population, and the USA gives the most terrifying threat.


    ¹ And @SoylentGray has a point that North Korea has not been ignoring South Korea: there have been artillery attacks across the border and there are strong suspicions that a NK submarine sunk a SK destroyer.

    "Pressuring South Korea into stop supporting South Korea": should one of those Souths be a North?

    @SteveMelnikoff Maybe I expressed in a complicated way, but I cannot think of any better. The point of pressuring someone is usually to get something out of it; it makes no sense to pressure someone for something they cannot or are never going to accept (you can point a gun at me and get my wallet, pointing a gun at me and asking me to fly is rather dumb). South Korea will not stop defending itself, so it makes little sense to direct many resources at that. But maybe the USA will stop supporting South Korea, if threatened enough.

    I'm still unclear what that sentence means, though your comment suggests it should read "Pressuring **the USA** to stop supporting South Korea"?

    @SteveMelnikoff - I believe they're looking at the 6 parties and saying why NK wouldn't be putting pressure on them to stop support SK. Looking at the last 3 countries, which are NK going to put pressure on to stop supporting SK? The most nonsensical one would be to try to pressure SK to stop supporting *themselves*.

    @Damien_The_Unbeliever If that's what's meant, maybe something like "They don't expect to be able to intimidate South Korea into submission." I don't think that's the whole reason though - both sides see themselves as the legitimate government for the whole continent, and the people on both sides see each other as having shared culture and heritage, so the DPRK would only be hurting its own legitimacy by making SK it's "sworn enemy."

    Interesting answer, especially about Japan's military power in the region (or lack thereof) now. Didn't view it from this angle. Thanks.

    "Japan has a limited military so it is not much of a threat." -- While that may be a valid point, lets not make that mistake again.

    It is important to note that the US unilaterally abrogated paragraph 13(d) of the armistice agreement in 1956, deploying nuclear weapons in South Korea in 1958, this actions were of course considered a threat to North Korea and thus making US being seen as a major enemy.

    The "N" in "UN" stands for "Nations". Thus "UN nations" sounds a bit redundant.

    Actually there is alot of antiSouth Korea propoganda and attempts at provocation in the area. The media really just does not report on them as much or make them appear to be aimed at the US.

    `They want to invade South Korea and the USA prevents it. NK leadership thinks that threatening the USA will get it to retire its support to South Korea and allow that to happen.` That's complete garbage. The reality is that the DPRK's military is antiquated and in no shape for a fight with South Korea, regardless of whether the US helps or not. (South Korea has the 12th largest military budget globally, and fields a modern military that's an effective fighting force, while the DPRK's forces are more likely to follow the lead of the Iraqi forces in GWI and surrender to get fed.)

    @HopelessN00b I actually think that the third option is the most accurate. But, without entering into an argument about the military capabilities of both armies -which I am not qualified to do-, Kim Jong Un would be far from being the first wannabe conqueror that launches an attack because he has not realized that his army is weaker than the enemy, and the rethoric from NK is agressive enough as to not consider that *possibility*. Anyway I edited the answer in order to acknowledge the existence (and capabilities) of the SK Army, that is a good point.

    "Japan has a limited military so it is not much of a threat." - Japan has quite a substantial military, on a comparable level with the UK or Germany. However article 9 of the Japanese constitution prohibits Japan from using military force against another state for any reason, except in self defence.

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