When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Kim Family Dynamics: We Overlook North Korea At Our Peril

What should the world make of Kim Jong-un, his young daughter Ju Ae in tow, flexing North Korea's military hardware? Nothing good, though the scenario that it is mostly just a flex is still the most likely.

Image of a TV screen with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's second public appearance with his daughter during a photo session with officials when intercontinental ballistic missile

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's second public appearance with his daughter during a photo session with officials when intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) were launched on November 2022.

Pierre Haski


Every week, it seems, North Korea announces a new military development. This week it was a visit by Kim Jong-un, the North Korean dictator, to a satellite production center with his daughter Ju Ae by his side. She's with him on all such occasions. Kim's father used the appearance to announce that North Korea had completed manufacturing a spy satellite, the first of its kind.

Last week, there was Pyongyang's first-ever test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that uses solid fuel. According to experts, solid fuel makes it easier to load missiles compared to liquid fuel that was used previously. This allows for faster preparations for firing and makes it more difficult to detect any potential launch in advance.

Since the beginning of last year, North Korea has carried out over 100 missile tests of various types as a way to test its weapons, improve its technology, command structures, and coordination of its armed forces. This is a record, and most importantly, it is completely prohibited by UN Security Council resolutions — but Pyongyang doesn't care.

This is a strategy thought out by the Kim family, in power in North Korea for decades. The North Korean nuclear and ballistic program took off under the reign of Kim Jong-il, the father of the current leader, and was accelerated by his son.

Life insurance

North Korea has already conducted six confirmed nuclear tests, making it a de facto nuclear power, and it is unlikely to step back. It has acquired a full range of missiles and a formidable cyber army, and the spy satellite adds to the military arsenal that consumes a significant portion of the resources of this unparalleled country.

The Kim regime wants to be taken seriously.

Despite its warlike rhetoric and outward appearances, North Korea may not be actively preparing for war. Instead, the country appears to be engaged in a dual approach. First and foremost, it seeks to deter potential aggressors by maintaining a robust arsenal, which the regime sees as its life insurance against its historical enemies, the US and South Korea. The other dimension is more complex: the Kim regime wants to be taken seriously.

As we saw in 2018-2019, North Korea engaged in numerous military provocations before reaching out to Donald Trump. This led to the flamboyant Trump-Kim summits, which ultimately resulted in a fruitless honeymoon period, with the US refusing to sign an agreement without a guarantee of denuclearization.

Image of \u200bA TV screen shows a footage of North Korea's missile launch during a news program at the Yongsan Railway Station in Seoul on January 1st 2023.

A TV screen shows a footage of North Korea's missile launch during a news program at the Yongsan Railway Station in Seoul on January 1st 2023.

Kim Jae-Hwan/SOPA Images via Zuma

Upward ambitions

After the breakdown, Kim Jong-un resumed his aggressive rhetoric and military preparations, a long road to prove his capacity for harm. Up until now, it could be thought that he was only seeking the guarantee of his regime's survival and the lifting of economic sanctions.

Today, with concrete support provided to Russia and growing Sino-American tensions, has North Korea revised its ambitions upwards? Is it ready to be more actively confrontational? This would certainly be more worrying.

In the meantime, people in this part of Asia are living under threat, like those on the Japanese island of Hokkaido who were sent to shelters last week because a missile appeared to be headed their way, before falling into the Sea of Japan. In the absence of any real political perspective, the Kim family only seems to want to raise the military stakes. Come what may.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


Protests Derailed: A History Of Polish Railways Getting Political

Polish state railways have been accused of deliberately keeping protestors from reaching the capital for an anti-government protest march. This is not the first controversy the railways have faced.

Photo of trains in the Warszawa Rembertów Station, Warsaw, Poland.

Warszawa Rembertów Station.

Piotr Stanisławski via Wikimedia Commons

Last June, Polish opposition leader and former President of the EU Commission Donald Tusk called on Polish citizens to protest against the “authoritarian” steps taken by the ruling party, PiS. Estimates by state organizers approximate that 500,000 participants marched in Warsaw, with smaller marches occurring in other Polish cities.

“Do you have enough of [PiS’s] lies, theft and corruption?” Tusk asked in a video published on his Facebook page. "Then come to Warsaw on the 4th of June… we will show them our might”.

In the days leading up to the protest and on the day of the event itself, passengers and groups of demonstrators blamed state railways for delayed train permits, inaccessibility for those with disabilities and a deficit in the train's ability to transport participants to the capital.

“This is how rail functions in Poland,” an anonymous passenger told Gazeta Wyborcza, “It is impossible to get to Warsaw for the March at 12pm from Szczecin.” The same passenger told Wyborcza they were “speechless” at the realization, adding that “it’s an outright exclusion of rail communication”.

This is not the first time that the state-run rail lines have come under fire for allegedly political acts.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest