Tag Archive | "Kim Jong-un"

"The Interview" Censored Graphic

Sony Pictures’ “The Interview”— Freedom of speech or act of war?

            The Interview, starring Seth Rogen and James Franco is a comedy about the assassination of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un.  Bitterly offended by the film, North Korea called the content an “act of war.” North Korea began making threats during the summer of 2014, going so far as involving the United Nations in an attempt to stop the production of the film. Despite this, Sony Pictures refused to cease production and release of the film.  In November 2014, Sony’s computer system was besieged by a series of hacks by a group calling themselves the Guardians of Peace.  This eventually culminated in Sony cancelling the release of the film due to threats of further attack in movie theaters.  Sony and the United States suspected North Korea of masterminding the cyber-attacks while North Korea vehemently denied any part in it.

The controversy surrounding the film centers on freedom of speech. The reaction to the initial cancellation of the film in Hollywood was intense with concern that censorship in response to threats will set a dangerous precedent where films and other forms of art will be censored in response to threats. President Obama voiced similar concern over the repercussions Sony’s initial decision to cancel the release of the film will have on freedom of speech, as did other politicians from around the world.

"The Interview" Censored Graphic

“The Interview” Censored Graphic
Photo Credit: TechCrunch.com

However, not everyone agrees that a film depicting the assassination of the leader of a sovereign nation represents a black and white issue of freedom of speech, especially when it involves a nation with whom we do not have good international relations to begin with. Of further concern was the sympathy some Russian officials lent to North Korea in their reaction to the film, as well as the apprehension of North Korea’s ally, China, to get involved in any blame for the cyber-attacks on Sony Pictures.

Though restricted in some nations, freedom of speech is a human right. However, nowhere is this right without limit. More recently, freedom of speech came up with Pope Francis’ controversial assertions on the limits of freedom of speech in reaction to the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo by Islamic extremists.

Out of these recent controversies, questions for the future arise: Can freedom of speech go too far? Could too much freedom of expression result in war? Or will restriction of freedom of expression itself lead to war and violation of human rights? Ultimately, we must find a way to balance the competing interests, preserve our rights and settle our cultural differences peacefully.

Bernadette Shetrone is a 3L law student at University of Denver Sturm College of Law and a Staff Editor for the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy. 

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Kim Jong-un

North Korea Undeterred by U.N. Sanctions

On April 15, 2013, North Korea celebrated the 101st birthday of its founding leader, Kim Il Sung.   The day was filled with flowers to honor both its founder and current leader, Kim Jong Un; however, North Korea did not take a reprieve from threatening South Korea and the United Nations.  From Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, the KCNA reported that “[o]ur retaliatory action will start without any notice from now.”   Pyongyang’s comments were directed at South Korea’s protest to the celebrations.

Kim Jong-un

Kim Jong Un, Flexing His Muscles
(NPR)

This is the latest in a long line of threats North Korea has directed at the United Nations and its member countries.  Just a few days ago, Pyongyang threatened that “Japan is always in the cross-hairs of our revolutionary army and if Japan makes a slightest move, the spark of war will touch Japan first.”  North Korea warned that Tokyo would be the first city targeted for a nuclear strike.

While North Korea continues to threaten the United Nations, member countries Japan and the United States remain positive that a peaceful resolution can be reached through talks.  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged the regime in North Korea to stop its nuclear program and hold talks with the United States and Japan.  In response, the KCNA cited North Korea’s military leaders, stating, “If the puppet authorities truly want dialogue and negotiations, they should apologize for all anti-DPRK hostile acts, big and small, and show the compatriots their will to stop all these acts.”   Although North Korea’s media continues to insult and disregard the United Nations, many believe that talks are still a possibility and a resolution can be reached.

However, this has not prevented South Korea and the United Nations from readying for a possible North Korean attack.  South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said South Korea was closely monitoring North Korea’s moves and was ready for any attack.  The North’s threat is “regrettable,” Kim told reporters. “We will thoroughly and resolutely punish North Korea if it launches any provocation for whatever reason.”  Japan, too, launched fighters to protect its capital from the threat issued by Pyongyang.

Regardless, the current United Nations strategy against North Korea continues to have little impact.  Threats and sanctions issued by the United Nations have been met with open hostility by North Korea, resulting in its third nuclear test and continued military preparations by Pyongyang.  Many initially hoped that new sanctions would “bite, and bite hard” against North Korea, but the sanctions continue to have little effect.  Some are beginning to believe that the reality of the situation appears to be different. Chang Yong-seok, at the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University, believes “The ultimatum is just North Korea’s way of saying that it’s not willing or ready to talk with the South. North Korea apparently wants to keep the cross-border relations tense for some time to come.”

While the United Nations and its member countries continue to wish for a peaceful resolution with North Korea, it appears that peace may be a long way off.

Brad Bossenbroek is a third year law student at the Sturm College of Law, an editor on the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy, and a Publishing Editor for The View From Above.

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Critical Analysis: Eccentric 90’s American Basketball Player Attempts Diplomacy – Korean War Reignites

 

Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-un talk Basketball Diplomacy court-side. (The Sun)

Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong-un talk Basketball Diplomacy court-side. (The Sun)

Late last month, Dennis Rodman traveled to North Korea to try his hand at unsanctioned “Basketball Diplomacy.”  More famous for his antics off the court, Rodman was a power forward for, among several other teams, the 1995 – 1998 championship winning Chicago Bulls.  Modeled after the ping pong diplomacy that the United States and China engaged in during the 1970s, Rodman and several other basketball players traveled to North Korea for an exhibition basketball game.  Rodman watched the game court side with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un.  Thought to be North Korea’s first leader to support the United States, Rodman and Kim Jong-un shared laughs during the game and also at a party afterwards.  Despite not being designated an official envoy by the United States, Rodman was able to bring back a message for United States President, Barack Obama: “Kim Jong-un wants [you] to call him.”

Despite his efforts, Rodman was not able to quell the ongoing tensions between the United States and Korea.  Days after the basketball match in Pyongyang, the United States and South Korea engaged in annual joint military exercises.  In response, North Korea cut communications with South Korea and rescinded its cease-fire agreement with the United States and South Korea, signed in 1953.  Adding fuel to the fire, the UN has increased sanctions to North Korea, effectively keeping North Korea’s rich from buying yachts and sports cars, a move North Korea has vowed to retaliate against with nuclear weapons.

Although hostilities have thankfully not re-started following North Korea’s withdraw from the cease-fire agreement, tensions are on the rise.  North Korea has finally had a successful test of a long-range missile and has renewed threats to use nuclear weapons against South Korea.  In response, the United States has pledged to upgrade their missile defense system, effectively negating North Korea’s new-found capabilities.  Whether or not one or both sides are posturing remains to be seen, since China has yet to weigh in on the issue in its current state.

That outlines the current stalemate.  Dennis Rodman flew to North Korea to sit with Kim Jong-un and watch basketball.  Rodman’s suave diplomacy skills uncovered Kim Jong-un’s deep seeded desire to just have a seat at the table with a personal invitation from President Barack Obama. Meanwhile, the world waits with bated breath to see whether China will permit the United States to increase missile defense, rendering not only North Koreans missiles ineffective, but Chinese missiles as well.  

Tom Dunlop is a 2L at Denver University Law and a Staff Editor for the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.

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Critical Analysis: North Korea Recognizes its First Lady

The Happy Couple (Hello Magazine)

In North Korean media, a mysterious woman has been showing up alongside Kim Jong-un.  This woman was seen attending an important gala concert, followed by a kindergarten, and most recently at the inauguration of an amusement park.  However, at this most recent event, North Korean media reported that this woman, now identified as Ri Sol-ju, is in fact the wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.  While Kim Jong-un’s father acted previously in a near reclusive dictatorship, Kim Jong-un’s public recognition of his wife is just another sign of continuing policy change for North Korea.

“Secrecy and shadows characterized the 17-year rule of Kim Jong-il,” said John Park, a research fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University. “In contrast, Kim Jong-un has already shown a pattern of being more open and engaging. He appears to enjoy public events and interacting with children and the common soldier. Many of these recent appearances look like a re-enactment of his grandfather’s mingling with the people in better times.”

The public announcement of Kim Jong-un’s wife was not the first event in changing North Korean politics.  Kim Jong-un was recently seen attending a Mickey Mouse concert, previously seen as a symbol of corrupted western society by his father.  Additionally, Kim Jong-un fired one of North Korea’s military general and removed some economic benefits from the already large army.  Regarding these changes, Cheong Seong-chang, a senior fellow at the Sejong Institute think-tank believes, “Kim Jong-un’s move appears to give the youth hoping for change, especially young women, a favorable impression of him, although it can make conservative old North Koreans uncomfortable.

Others have noted that Kim Jong-un’s actions may not show such a positive policy change; rather, these changes are meant to help consolidate and recognize power for Kim Jong-un’s dictatorship.  “This is all part of the process of legitimizing Kim Jong Un,” said David Maxwell, a retired U.S. Army colonel who served in South Korea and now is associate director of Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies in Washington. “I think all the events of late, from the purge of General Ri Yong Ho to the marriage announcement, is all about elimination of opposition and consolidation of power among the elite while establishing Kim Jong-un’s reputation as the leader of the Party, the Army, and the people.”  However, regardless of the reasoning behind North Korea’s policy changes, at least some positive benefit is reaching the people on the transfer of power to Jim Jong-un.

Brad Bossenbroek is a rising third year law student at the University of Denver and a Publishing Editor on The View From Above.

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