On Wednesday 27th of September, the International Relations Society has hosted the first Pizza and Politics of the semester, to discuss the recent developments in the Korean Peninsula and whether or not the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is to be considered a rational power.
After a brief introduction of the situation made by the student of International Affairs, Giovanni Raguso, and opening marks by Prof. Seth Jaffe, the discussion was opened to the public and moderated by our Trip Coordinator, Jessica Escobar.
From the debate, it emerged a general consensus on the fact that the D.P.R.K. is a revisionist power, seeking to assert its position in the region and to ensure its existence against the threat presented to it by international pressures. To this, it has been added that a factor that probably increases their survivalist attitude towards the international community is presented by the way in which, throughout the past decades, several regimes, in some cases even with close ties with the D.P.R.K. has been falling, thanks to both pressures, revolutions and foreign interventions. Therefore, there has been a general consensus on the fact that, objectively and strategically speaking, the behaviour of the D.P.R.K. could be considered rational.
Other considerations approached throughout the discussion regarded possible escalations of the situation and a potential degeneration of it into an armed conflict. While recent development such as the increasing of ballistic missiles tests and some bold statements from both the U.S. and North Korean Governments might have suggested it, this possibility was mostly regarded as unlikely. Notwithstanding this skepticism concerning the possibility of a conflict, it has anyway been agreed that the regions presents a very delicate balance of power, that might be easily altered. On the one hand, the militaristic policy of the D.P.R.K. is perceived as a threat by the Republic of Korea and Japan, that might overreact by starting an arms race. The U.S.A., on their side, might decide to increase their presence in Eastern Asia, generating more friction with China. All this to evidence, as agreed by most of the participants, the need to avoid further destabilisations and preserve the status quo in the region.
At the end, the event could be regarded as a success, as it had a considerably high rate of participation and resulted in an interesting and productive discussion on one of the most pressing issues of current international politics.