SPEAKING FREELY US needs cultural weapons for North Korea
By Brian Min
Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click hereif you are interested in contributing.
In 1994, North Korea became the first country to revoke the Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Ever since, successive nuclear tests have followed up with accompanying international reaction. Their third nuclear test and successful Unha-3 rocket launch  surprised the international community. In addition, they the North has recently revoked the armistice agreement  with the US that ended the Korean War.
The transition of power to Kim Jong-eun has led to a more aggressive and perhaps even stronger North Korea than under Kim Jong-il. Despite the shifting tides of domestic politics, the
international community now more-than-ever stands firm with an Asiatic aligned future: a denuclearized North Korea.
The US still relies on feeble UN sanctions and China to try to normalize relations. However, Washington certainly needs to reassess its current North Korean policies. Quite simply, sanctions have not deterred North Korean nuclear development. The US has backed about six UN sanctions since the late 1990s and applied a plethora of its own.
However, as the Belfer Center for International Affairs elaborates, in the past decade, North Korea acquired
enough plutonium for six to 10 weapons.  It is continuously profiting from nuclear weapons. Countries like Pakistan, Syria, and Iran continue to demand nuclear weapons or energy resources.
In 2007, an Israeli airstrike destroyed the Syrian plutonium nuclear reactor  North Korea helped build. But North Korea evaded international condemnation while still retaining its financial thrust. Similarly, now, it continues to do nuclear business.
In September 2012, North Korea signed a "Scientific Cooperation Agreement" with Iran. North Korea and Iran have exchanged ballistic missile technology and nuclear scientists.  Often vague, elusive diction is home to Iranian apathy on North Korea. The National Bureau of Asian Research explained how in 2005, under the title "civilian scientific and technological cooperation", North Korea was able to gain specific Russian long-range missile technology through Iran.  The application of sanctions is not doing enough to end North Korea's nuclear agenda.
There needs to be a priority on handling nuclear sales from North Korea. Some of the UN Security Council
measures need to be enforced more rigorously, and the US needs to implement US specific sanctions
against the North Korean-Iranian alliance.
The US often wants China to pressure North Korea to reform. China can influence North Korea more than any other country. As the Center on Foreign Relations explained, China provides 80% of North Korean consumer goods and 45% of its food. North Korea continues to rely on China more every year.  However, China will not pressure the Kim regime into a disfigured democracy. China wants to maintain the status quo because they are afraid of South Korea completely taking over the Korean peninsula. The South Korean takeover will undoubtedly lead to a US military troop presence right on China's doorstep.
China views the Korean peninsula as a zero-sum game with the US. Only when China believes its military prowess is equivalent to that of the US is China likely to consider replacing the Kim regime. But, at the current pace of Chinese military growth, it will probably be more than a decade before China can feel the same power as the current US military.
Thus, the US should still maintain regional efforts with China by advocating for things like condemning North Korea for ballistic missile launches in tandem. On the other hand, the US should not expect China to do much in the long-term.
Lee Myung-bak, the former president of South Korea, had extremely close ties with the US. Although US-oriented South Korea was beneficial for some foreign policy makers, it could have potentially deterred independent South Korea negotiating efforts. South Korea would have undoubtedly wanted to seek approval by the US, always, which would sometimes slow down efforts, possibly why the Lee administration never talked about any nuclear development policies with North Korea.
In contrast, the newly elected president, Park Geun Hye, seems to be going off on an independent course. She has highlighted the need for inter-Korean talks. The US should allow South Korea to loosen up a bit, as they are already poised for such a course. The Ministry of Unification in South Korea recently approved children and welfare benefits to North Korea  and underlined the importance of inter-Korean talks for any sort of progress.
The most important effort the US should take to try to denuclearize North Korea is to encourage North Korea to experience the outside world. Educational and cultural experiences by the North Korean people can force a significant change. The US should advocate for the use of an international educational exchange programs with North Korea.
The North Korean regime will probably choose future officials and class individuals for such a program. They will most likely not allow people to go to the US, but North Korea still has other democratic nations to send their people to. North Korea has diplomatic relations with all European Union nations except for France and Estonia. Australia, Brazil, Canada, and many other nations are favorably viewed by North Korea for potential economic gains. 
Such permission by North Korea could allow the subjective status deprivation theory to create revolutions and a path to democracy much easier. The subjective status deprivation theory states people are not infuriated with the living standards of the North Korea because everyone else is poor in North Korea.
However, if citizens start seeing richer people in other countries, then a revolution could more likely occur
and much more passionately. Furthermore, the upper class in North Korea is unlikely to have as much freedom and wealth than other upper class individuals from other countries.
If the US wants to follow a more comprehensive plan on North Korea, it should change its approach. UN Security Sanctions should be applied more effectively, not just with numbers, China should not be looked upon as the sole negotiator, South Korea should be given more flexibility, and an educational exchange system needs to be brought up.
Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say.Please click hereif you are interested in contributing. Articles submitted for this section allow our readers to express their opinions and do not necessarily meet the same editorial standards of Asia Times Online's regular contributors.
Brian Min is a Kennedy fellow at the WeiBian Center for Pan-Asiatic Stability.