Donnerstag, 15. April 2010

Cold Feet in Pyongyang

Never before did I use this blog to advertise a book. And now that I am doing it for the first time, it isn't even mine. Barbara Demick's "Nothing to Envy" is a very useful and indeed rather frightening account of the state of affairs in North Korea and a valuable insight into ordinary lifes in North Korea. This country seems to be on the verge of collapse and since nobody really knows what is going on in it, its inevitable and in fact overdue collpase will almost certainly come as a surprise. How's that for a dilemma?

Leslie Forgach from the American Enterprise Institute had an interesting piece in which she described the preparations for the upcoming succession battle in North Korea, here is the first paragraph of her article:

"In a move to tighten its grip on the masses, Pyongyang recently renamed two of its security organizations, upgrading the People’s Safety Agency to the People’s Safety Ministry, and the Chosun People’s Guards to the Chosun People’s Administrative Unit. The changes may seem inconsequential, but the writing on the wall tells us that Pyongyang is in fact preparing for greater instability leading up to Kim Jong Il’s succession."

She also says that its actually China that is keeping the North Korean regime alive and she does have a point. When I was visiting China last year the military and political officials were all saying basically the same thing: North Korea is a major challenge and problem. They hoped that Kim Jung Il will soon fade and that his successor will embark on a course similiar to that of Deng Xiaopeng. The only thing that stunned me was that they had no plan B. They are not prepared to deal with a successor in North Korea who would continue the ill-fated policies of Kim Jong Il.

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