Bilateral: Fraternity

Nights like this were becoming more common.

Nights when his ugliness tore out of its cage.

Nights when he stopped pretending that he cared and admitted to his exploitative, controlling, and domineering nature.

Nights when he tried to remember—and then struggled to forget—the friend he once was.

Nights when they felt trapped.

By two in the morning they’d exhausted their will to yell anymore. Theirs was an anger that not even screaming could satisfy. With the climax of their violent argument subsided, they gave up on words. China slumped back in his chair and stared hollowly at the top of his desk while North Korea stood there and tried to ignore his shaking limbs.

But soon the Korean felt unsatisfied with the silence, and after some time he said, “We fought together. We bled together. Does that mean nothing to you?”

“The Korean War is over,” China said quietly, voice tired and strained. “It is not 1951 anymore.”

North Korea quickly turned away as the throbbing ache of nostalgia filled his chest.  Tears were not weakness in North Korea. The same could not be said of China.

He inhaled sharply, composing himself before he had the chance to give China another weakness to exploit.

“This is what you’ve wanted all along, isn’t it? When we met you told me not to trust anyone. You were talking about yourself.”

There comes a point when every brutal emotion blurs together. There’s no anger or sadness or pain. There’s only an all-consuming emptiness. And with that emptiness comes brokenness.

With nothing more to feel, North Korea said the only thing he could: “I want this to end.”

“That doesn’t matter,” China said. “You don’t have any other choice.”

But he must have forgotten that trapped animals will chew their leg off eventually.


North Korea and China are in something of a “toxic relationship.” China milks the DPRK for resources and uses North Korea as a buffer against the US and South Korea. Similarly, Chinese aid is North Korea’s life support–the machine that’s keeping its metaphorical heart beating. But there’s animosity too. China resents North Korea’s nuclear program and the problems it causes. China also hates that it has to continually “bail out” its ally, because not doing so might lead to the collapse of North Korea and that would be disastrous for China. So, it views North Korea as an immense burden. On the other side, North Korea resents having to rely so much on China, partly because China can be “exploitative, controlling, and domineering.” This is the epitome of a love-hate relationship grounded in necessity; they need each other even if they hate that they need each other.

Beggin For Thread” is a great song about misplaced trust.

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