Last week, as Donald Trump became President of the United States, we entered a new era of alternative facts, unconventional politics and above all - the rise of an 'America First' policy both domestically and internationally.
Not only did Trump consistently repeat this phrase, which is known to have anti-Semitic roots, throughout his inaugural address, Trump's 'America First' policy was reinforced by one of his first executive orders: declaring his inauguration date as a National Day of Patriotic Devotion. Ironically, some analysts are now comparing Trump's proclamation of patriotic devotion to North Korea's state-sanctioned propaganda. Additionally, Trump's immediate withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership signals that we are truly entering a new age in foreign policy: unpredictable, unorthodox and unhinged from all policy analyses and recommendations no matter how entrenched in history - as we have seen with Trump's disregard for the 'One China' policy back in December.
In a discourse that is often dominated by the complex geopolitical relationship between US and China, I would argue that Trump and his administration needs to be paying more attention to North Korea. Not only does the Korean peninsula have one of the most heavily militarized borders in the world with nearly 25,000 US troops ready to defend the Republic of Korea, North Korea has been establishing itself as a nuclear power with over 5 nuclear tests - 2 in just the last year. In fact, one of the latest reports indicates that North Korea has recently placed two new intercontinental ballistic missiles into position near Pyongyang.
Anti-China rhetoric may have policy analysts hypothesizing about economic and military impacts. But there is no hypothesis about North Korea that does not end in serious military ramifications that could destabilize the entire Asia Pacific region. Despite all jests of Trump echoing North Korea propaganda or the constant media temptation to mock North Korea's leader, there should be no doubt that North Korea is a serious threat to both national security and international human rights that requires critical consideration by Trump and his administration.
Let us also not forget that North Korea is the only country in the world which today, in 2017, still has concentration camps with reports of horrific human rights abuses that "shock the conscience of humanity".
During his campaign, Trump drew criticism for his admiring remark on Kim Jong Un as a guy that "doesn't play games". Trump and his administration would do well to remember that yes, Kim Jong Un is not a guy that plays games - especially when it comes to nuclear capabilities and human rights atrocities. Unorthodox and unhinged actions - no matter how unintentional - could thus lead to devastating results for not only the North Korean people, but for the entire international community.