Should trouble-making and flood-plagued North Korea get to have it both ways? Absolutely, but with conditions.

A week after conducting its fifth, and most powerful, nuclear weapons test — an apparent warning to the international community about its ferocity — Pyongyang is appealing to that same international community for assistance addressing floods that have inundated much of the country. Maybe the concepts of irony and hypocrisy are unknown in that isolated nation.

The floods have killed 133, injured 495 and left more than 100,000 homeless according to the government, whose figures have been confirmed by the United Nations and other international aid agencies in the country. Leaders of the impoverished nation have asked those agencies to fund relief efforts out of their own budgets, which are limited and divided among a variety of international crises.

North Korea now plans to appeal for international financial aid and assistance, according to The Washington Post, an appeal which is likely to receive a chilly response given the rogue nation's nuclear saber-rattling. South Korean President Park Geun-hye warned Monday of the "fanatical recklessness" of his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong Un, in the latter's determination to build a nuclear arsenal and periodically conduct unnerving weapons tests.

The North Korean people are victims of their leader, as well as the floods, and should not be punished for both. However, international assistance must come with assurances from the North Korean government that its people will be told where the aid is coming from. This would counter the propaganda North Koreans are receiving about the evil intentions of the Western world.


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Pyongyang is begging for heavy-duty economic sanctions, but the West should take this opportunity to weaken the government from the inside by reaching out to its people.