More to the point, the US & co.'s attitude considers the DPRK not only a failed state, but an inferior nation worthy of its contempt.
It is then little wonder that American scholars, diplomats, intelligence, lawmakers, journalists & the like's haughtiness put them at a disadvantage. Seeing only the tree, they miss the dense growth of trees, plants, and underbrush that make North Korea the country that it is.
As GuamDiary observed, the US and its allies feel threatened by North Korea more out of self styled fear than on actuality. They quake at the thought of having been outmanoeuved in negotiations or hoodwinked by a 'Wizard of Oz', who has humiliated them time after time, which may not be the case.
The incessant tattoo, America's North Korean clerisy beat that 'the DPRK should not be rewarded for bad behaviour' has more to do with their own ideological shortsightedness, if not blindness. They whittle their opinions to a prevailing code of ideas which has not changed much in the last 65 years.
Such intellectual rigidity is its own worst enemy. To these clerics on whom so much money has been wasted in educating them for service to the US government, the return on the US dollar invested is quite meagre.
If you regard North Korea as a wayward child who only understand punishment, to correct its way, well, you've only yourself to blame. Furthermore, the DPRK is not an infant; its leaders do not suggest, by far, a lack of maturity, but rational and calculated thought.
In dealing, say, with the US, it weighs America's undue confidence and smugness, which North Koreans have learnt to exploit to their own advantage, sanctions and saber rattling notwithstanding. It is not for nothing that the US and the present revanchist government of Lee Myung bak in Seoul quiver and quake in formulating policy to North Korea. Their offensive self righteousness lulls them into positions so that they are blind to the danger of failure.
And fail they must for the plain and simple truth they do not view North Korea as a worthy equal in the comity of nations. As such, the DPRK uses the arms of the despised and the wretched of the earth in America's eye, to not only to elude, frustrate, thwart, and ultimately outsmart the US' high handed and the ghetto of diplomatic inaction, to its own advantage.
Consider North Korea's explosion of a nuclear device: in dealing with, for the lack of a better description, the inarticulate and blustery Bush administration, Kim Jong il had put forth a reasonable set of ideas to deal with the North's nuclear programme. But the Bush administration had other ideas: it sought to humiliate North Korea and blew Kim & co. away by dissing them. Well, the next thing you knew, North Korea had the bomb, and that sent Bush's emissaries scurrying back to paper over the damages. And like all the kings men, the couldn't put the Humpty Dumpty of the 'status quo ante' back together again.
And thus it was and thus it is under the Obama administration, which like Bush's before it, with a gaggle of experts and intelligence know next to nothing about North Korea. Is it a lack of trying? Maybe. More likely, the US is led by its nose by its own arrogance, pious belief in the sanctity that it is God's gift to the universe, and dubious moralism.
In other words, the fault lay not in the stars and even less with North Korea, but in the exhibition of contempt it has for the DPRK and its leadership.