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North Korea turns backwards

With the Great Leader Kim Jong Il’s interest in nuclear proliferation this tends to be where the West’s diplomatic focus tends to be in relation to North Korean affairs – its atrocious human rights record tends to be placed in the back-burner – even by South Korea.  This excellent article in the Washington Post – along with graphic – paints a surreal picture of the North Korean Gulag. This is a prison system that targets so-called political crime alone. Five major camps with 200,000 prisoners. Guilt-by-association is a legitimate crime in Pyongyang and whole families are punished – they use a twist on the Chinese Ming Dynasty’s 3 agnates principle – for the alleged misdeeds of a single family member. The system has control logic – senior bureaucrats are subject to its whims if they displease the Great Leader. The gulag system means that all sections of North Korean society are terrorised by the Great Leader.

I have been following with interest discussion of North Korean issues at East Asia Forum rapidly becoming one of the most interesting political blogs in Australia. The repression and the use of Stalinist economic principles iNorth Korea seem to be intensifying.  Earlier trends of liberalising in the direction of the Chinese model are being reversed. Part of the difficulty seems to be that attempts to cooperate with South Korea – for example the joint industrial park in Gaesong – involve North Koreans communicating with ethnically identical South Koreans  who speak the same language – the truth has apparently been leaking that the South is not one great prison ruled by the United States (here, here).

The final really ominous news is that the evil regime in North Korea may be doing nuclear deals with the almost equally repulsive regime in Myanmar. Its a grim picture that cannot be allowed to continue to develop. It seems that even the Chinese are losing their patience with this truely criminal regime.

3 comments to North Korea turns backwards

  • Uncle Milton

    “Its a grim picture that cannot be allowed to continue to develop”

    What would you suggest? Sanctions are ineffective against a regime that doesn’t care about the welfare of its citizens. No one is going to invade. There is no appetite or money for it, and the Chinese wouldn’t allow it.

  • hc

    Despite the fact that China insists that the Korean peninsula be de-nuclearised it still gives significant amounts of aid to the North. There are signs even China is losing power with this regime and that even the military in the north are rumoured to not want a third dynasty of “Great Leaders’ to take over.

    There is some leverage given the natural underlying pressures on the regime. Its lies become harder and harder to sustain. Eventually there will come a point where some degree of market liberalisation makes sense to the Great Leader’s’ henchmen – that might occur with his death.

    Direct invasion might not be possible but subversion by making the truth clear would help.

  • derrida derider

    Oh yes, the contradictions are being heightened and this regime will in time be thrown into the dustbin of history. In the meanwhile it is bloody horrific but Uncle Milton is right – there’s actually little we can do.

    The stuff about Myanmar sounds unlikely, though. The Burmese generals are notoriously venal and therefore vulnerable to sanctions, their country is too disorganised to mobilise the resources needed for a nuclear weapons program and it is any case hard to see what they would gain if they did get the bomb.