What on Earth Does North Korea Want?

first_img AvatarDaily NKQuestions or comments about this article? Contact us at [email protected] What on Earth Does North Korea Want? [imText1]Kim Jong Eun appears to be taking what can be called the “rugby ball approach” to relations with the South. In other words, Pyongyang is making it difficult to predict which direction North Korea’s policy toward South Korea will bounce next.North Korea’s decision to abruptly postpone a late September round of separated family reunions with just days to go was in marked contrast to the conciliatory attitude they displayed in agreeing to restart the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC). Following the reunion cancellation, a step that caught many off guard, Rodong Sinmun, the publication of the Workers’ Party, and Chosun Central News Agency launched a simultaneous media offensive blasting South Korea, but the North Korean authorities did not hinder progress on the KIC reopening. The head of the Korea International Institute, Park Doo Jin recently sat down with Daily NK to discuss the latest developments. He did not provide a confident outlook, declaring, “North Korea is on a path that we can make neither head nor tail of. The current leader Kim Jong Eun lacks both experience and competence.”Park went on, “Compared with his father, he is lacking in the foreign policy field. Even his domestic and foreign policies are incompatible. He wants to achieve a lot in a short period of time, so his policy decisions are impulsive. This narrow-mindedness means he cannot take the long-term view.”“There was logic behind North Korea’s foreign policy during the Kim Jong Il era. The argument was set out thus: ‘Pressure from the U.S. brought about our economic crisis,’ and, ‘The U.S. has nuclear weapons, so we are justified in having them too,’” he noted. “Yet such justification and persuasive power is waning under Kim Jong Eun. Furthermore, he is limited in his ability to fully grasp this situation.”The postponing of the separated family reunions may have also unintentionally alienated pro-North Korea elements in the South, according to Park, who explained that the move “attracted criticism even from left wing forces in South Korea. Kim Jong Il used to incite conflict between right and left in the South, and saw the left as a force that could help bring about unification. He provoked the South and initiated criticism offensives. But Kim Jong Eun is not like this.”In addition, “We can see strong psychological forces at play; Kim Jong Eun must surpass both his grandfather and father. Adding to this is the fact that his mother was born in Japan. Nor is he even the eldest son. This has served to weaken his legitimacy and prestige with the people, and may be a significant source of anxiety for him.”Speaking on the subject of fluctuating military positions among the old guard, Park offered the following analysis: “The military played a key role during the military-first policy period. If leaders change then subordinates become confused. The South Korean media claimed that, ‘Kim Jong Eun’s self confidence is high, the system is stable, and he has paid tribute to the military.’ But it’s more likely to be the case that frequent military replacements have resulted in internal instability. “If the current system were to stabilize, there would be no reason to replace the military personnel who form the core of the regime and are vital to its longevity. Kim Jong Eun has purged the aging generals and replaced them with younger recruits to remove any insecure elements in the military.”Park believes that if such incidents continue, “The problems of the North Korean single-rule system will be exposed. If Kim Jong Eun cannot put a lid on his frequent mistakes and totally dominate internal Party cadres, it is possible that the regime will face a challenge within the next five years.”In response to Kim Jong Eun’s focus on construction of the Masikryeong Ski Resort and a number of water parks, Park stated, “They are thinking about economic reform; they’ve constructed entertainment facilities and hope to earn foreign currency. Yet if the single-rule dictatorship continues and reform doesn’t materialize, things won’t turn out the way they planned.”“Kim Jong Il had no economic management skills, which resulted in the economy nose-diving during the power succession period. If Kim Jong Eun proves equally unproductive, blame may be placed on (current Cabinet Prime Minister) Pak Pong Ju.”When asked about the future of South Korea’s policy towards the North, Park replied, “There is a huge opportunity up for grabs if South Korea takes a leadership role and North Korea undergoes change, just as we saw during negotiations to restart the KIC. The South should not follow blindly along with North Korea’s political maneuvers, and it should continue to stick by its principles. Change must be induced in the North.“South Korea should foster a broader view and focus on exerting a greater democratic influence not just within South Korea but over the entire Peninsula. The South should continue to push for dialogue while simultaneously working to eradicate domestic organizations sponsored by the North.” Tracking the “unidentified yellow substance” being dried out near the Yongbyon Nuclear Center Analysis & Opinion SHARE Facebook Twitter RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHORcenter_img By Daily NK – 2013.09.30 4:16pm Analysis & Opinion Analysis & Opinion Analysis & Opinion Is Nuclear Peace with North Korea Possible? Pence Cartoon: “KOR-US Karaoke”last_img

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