North Korea: U.S. owes us $65 trillion

International condemnation for the sinking of the Cheonan and the disgraceful 0-7 World Cup defeat at the hands of Portugal seem to have unleashed a Pandora’s Box of Kim Jong-Il wrath. Citing costs induced by six decades of American hostility, Jong-Il has rummaged up his calculator, revived his old grudges, and delivered a tab to ...

KNS/AFP/Getty Images
KNS/AFP/Getty Images
KNS/AFP/Getty Images

International condemnation for the sinking of the Cheonan and the disgraceful 0-7 World Cup defeat at the hands of Portugal seem to have unleashed a Pandora's Box of Kim Jong-Il wrath. Citing costs induced by six decades of American hostility, Jong-Il has rummaged up his calculator, revived his old grudges, and delivered a tab to the U.S. to the tune of $65 trillion -- plus tax.

KCNA, North Korea's official state-run news agency, has asserted North Korea's "justifiable right" to collect financial compensation from the U.S. for an alleged six decades worth of antagonism -- one trillion dollars for every year since the Korean peninsula was divided in 1945. North Korea ascribes most of the demands to U.S. war crimes committed in the Korean War. Though most peg the war's outbreak to a North Korean invasion of the south in 1950, Jong Il's regime maintains that capitalist South Korea and its U.S. and U.N. allies are to blame for the military conflict's onset. 

KCNA broke down the aggregate cost as follows: 26.1 trillion from U.S. "atrocities," about 20 trillion from sixty years of economic sanctions, compensation for civilians killed, and a variety of smaller claims. And according to North Korea, these restitutions are not even as severe as they could be: they say the toppling sum ignores money lost as a result of the U.S. sanctions enacted in 2006, targeted at the communist country's developing nuclear program.

International condemnation for the sinking of the Cheonan and the disgraceful 0-7 World Cup defeat at the hands of Portugal seem to have unleashed a Pandora’s Box of Kim Jong-Il wrath. Citing costs induced by six decades of American hostility, Jong-Il has rummaged up his calculator, revived his old grudges, and delivered a tab to the U.S. to the tune of $65 trillion — plus tax.

KCNA, North Korea’s official state-run news agency, has asserted North Korea’s "justifiable right" to collect financial compensation from the U.S. for an alleged six decades worth of antagonism — one trillion dollars for every year since the Korean peninsula was divided in 1945. North Korea ascribes most of the demands to U.S. war crimes committed in the Korean War. Though most peg the war’s outbreak to a North Korean invasion of the south in 1950, Jong Il’s regime maintains that capitalist South Korea and its U.S. and U.N. allies are to blame for the military conflict’s onset. 

KCNA broke down the aggregate cost as follows: 26.1 trillion from U.S. "atrocities," about 20 trillion from sixty years of economic sanctions, compensation for civilians killed, and a variety of smaller claims. And according to North Korea, these restitutions are not even as severe as they could be: they say the toppling sum ignores money lost as a result of the U.S. sanctions enacted in 2006, targeted at the communist country’s developing nuclear program.

The real question is: if the world were flipped upside-down and North Korea were awarded this colossal fortune, what would Kim Jong-Il do with it? It’s pretty safe to say that even with that kind of money in the bank, his first priority would not be converting those gulag-like labor camps into more humane jails, or supplying something other than potatoes to his 9 million starving countrymen. I wonder if he has already tabulated how many pairs of thick-rimmed, triangular sunglasses and ego-boosting elevator platforms— I mean, "heightening loafers" — $65 trillion could buy…

Sylvie Stein is an editorial researcher at Foreign Policy.

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.