The outrageous public demands and threats by a nation half the size of Great Britain and less than one-third of its population can still command the world's attention. The question is not how, but why they would seek to isolate themselves, create international tensions, and ignore the welfare of their people in the face of current international pressure.
To begin to understand North Korea's motives and possible solutions, it's helpful to gain a brief history of the nation. The Korean peninsula has a rich history as a unified nation dating back several centuries. Until the Japanese Imperialism that began at the beginning of the 20th century, Korea was a country that was unified by tradition, language, and ethnicity. Its borders reflected the single ethnic population and the Koreans had experienced several centuries of civil order and law. The imperial occupation of Korea by Japan from 1905-1945 provided a political climate for the split in Korea. Differing political views towards Japan developed in the North and in the South. After the defeat of Japan in World War II, Soviet-American agreements exploited the divisions that had sprung up during the previous decades. Soviet-American actions divided North and South Korea, precipitated the Korean War, and erected a lasting division in a country that had been a united and orderly people just 5 decades earlier.
In 1953, the Military Armistice Commission (MAC) was created to oversee and enforce the terms of the armistice. Over the next decades, North Korea has attempted to take apart the MAC mechanism in search of a new peace process. In April 1994, it declared the MAC void and withdrew its representatives ("Background Notes: North Korea"). There have been attempts to reunify Korea but they have been unsuccessful. Talks between North and South began in 1971 and continued intermittently through the early 1990s. In 1991 there were reconciliation and non-aggression pacts reached, but as the decade passed, North Korea became more aggressive in pursuing nuclear technology. In 2003 North Korea agreed to hold six party talks that included the United States, China, Japan, and others. However, according to the US State Department, " [...] in November 2005, the D.P.R.K. began a boycott of the Six-Party Talks, citing the "U.S.' hostile policy" and specifically U.S. law enforcement action that had led in September to a freeze of North Korean accounts in Macau's Banco Delta Asia" (Background Notes: North Korea).
There is a stark contrast between North and South Korea today. Though both nations are of similar size and geography, South Korea has a per capita income that is 15 times that of North Korea ("Background Note: South Korea"). North Korea dogmatically pursues a Communistic ideology in a world that is changing around it. North Korea's gross national income is less than $1,000 per capita and makes it one of the poorest nations in the world. South Korea is a modern industrialised democracy while the North is agrarian and living on the barest of subsistence. The political ideology of Communism may be one explanation, but their economy also suffers from over burdened military spending.
North Korea's commitment to military spending cannot be overestimated. Their dedication to an aggressive military posture is noted in a North Korean news release that proclaims, "The single-minded unity of the DPRK in the Songun era represents an indestructible harmonious whole in which