The last rogue state

Barring something dramatic, the North Korean regime isn’t going anywhere just yet


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Photo: KCNA/Reuters
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Photo: KCNA/Reuters

The term ‘rogue state’ is often used loosely; the US has been accused of using it as a label for any country that acts against its interests. But if there is one state—perhaps the only one currently—that truly fits the description, it’s North Korea. However, with a nuclear test and ballistic missile launch earlier this year, it has finally vexed its sole backer—China—once too often. Beijing has now withdrawn the protection that buffered North Korea from the consequences of its actions for decades.

As a consequence, tough new UN sanctions have been initiated. This raises the question: does Pyongyang care? In perhaps the most isolated and repressed nation in the world, the leadership is unlikely to be severely undermined by such measures. And they have limits: Beijing has already signalled its displeasure with further sanctions imposed unilaterally by Washington. Barring something dramatic, the North Korean regime isn’t going anywhere just yet.