North Korea, known officially as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), has troubled headlines lately with its aggressive and bellicose behavior and rhetoric. The entire Korean peninsula was previously governed by the Korean Empire annexed by Japan after 1905's Russo-Japanese war. Following this annexation, Korea was split into Soviet and American occupied zones in 1945.

When the southern region held an election overseen by the United Nations in 1948, and the northern region refused to participate, the two Koreas were born. Because both sections claimed natural ownership of the entire peninsula, the Korean War of 1950 ensued. Since the 1953 armistice that ended the fighting, but did not proceed to establish a full declaration of peace, tensions have remained high between the two countries, which are technically still at war with one another.

The political ruling class of North Korea has been vehemently criticized by human rights groups and western governments for maintaining what outsiders believe to be a campaign gross civil mismanagement, oppression and intimidation of its own people. Harsh domestic laws within North Korea include severe prison labor sentences for citizens caught owning or using a cellular phone, accessing the internet, or attempting to leave North Korea.

Kim Jong-Il is the current head of state and commander of North Korea's army, the fourth largest in the world. In 2009, the country's constitution was amended to refer to him as the "supreme leader". He began his climb through North Korean politics via the Korean Worker's Party and maintained a perpetual agenda of tightening political bodies along conservative lines, exposing individuals considered unfaithful to the government, and advancing propaganda engines while enforcing stipulations that artists and writers work only within the confines of government dictated themes.

It is for this reason that many much of North Korea's popular culture essentially deifies Kim Jong-Il and previous supreme rulers, claiming that Kim Il-sung created the world and that Kim Jong-Il has mastery over the elements and weather. This personality cult is a chief feature of the many control schemes in place to ensure absolute control of the entire populace at the highest ruling level by a select few.

Today, North Korea maintains somewhat tenuous commercial and political relationships with Russia, Iran, and China among others. It regularly buys oil and weapons from Russia and China. Lately, these relationships have become strained as South Korea seeks increased response from its allies, including the U.S, to the North's belligerent activities. On March 26th 2010, the South Korean warship Cheonan was sunk off the Korean peninsula in an attack that much of the world now blames North Korea for deliberately undertaking with foreknowledge and malice.

This in turn has led to escalated political rhetoric from South Korea and its allies. In the past, North Korea has exhibited a pattern of commencing with some form of agitation or military incident only to stir global tensions and threaten war. Historically, the North's threats come to little as the peninsula settles back into its usual tense but relatively stable denouement.