“Fear” is the key word to understanding North Korea. Fear plays itself out in almost a mind-boggling array of manifestations north of the 38th Parallel.
The below gives a depressing update of how fear is preventing one small corner of Asia from enjoying the fruits of progress enjoyed by its near and far neighbors. The fear of reform or substantial change keeps the country locked down, since we should recall that the North Korean leadership not only viewed former East German bureaucrats selling pencils on the street, but the top DPRK echelon was forced to watch the video of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife being machine gun executed during Christmas 1989.
At the same time, change is inevitable – even in North Korea. It may come later, and more likely it will come suddenly. The harsh reality is that it is almost certain that no one inside or outside of the DPRK will be remotely, adequately prepared when change arrives. Change could happen as dramatic as a coup, or as gradual as the Chinese politically and economically absorb North Korea in de facto terms. Both scenarios are entirely possible – but no one knows the odds of either, or of the chances for any other possible outcome.
All of this is old hat, but what is news is what is happening in North Africa and the Middle East.
While there is no direct corollary between today’s Jasmine Revolution and tomorrow’s North Korea, one may make the following conclusions:
First, what we are witnessing today is not a short-term event that will quickly shake out to a new Arab order – it is the beginning of a new paradigm that is likely to be witnessed around the world in due course; and second, the spread of information technology can be delayed and stifled, but never entirely suppressed – and that allows the many-to-many spread of “dangerous” ideas as opposed to the old order of one-to-many broadcasting (and control) of information.
Autocrats will do what they can to resist this tide of history, but in the end they are destined to fail. It doesn’t necessarily follow democracy will replace dictatorships. New dictatorships are also likely to rise, but they, too, will lack the controls on which their predecessors depended.
As Jimmy Durante used to say, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”
Hardships Fail to Loosen Regime’s Grip on North Korea
By MARK McDONALD
The New York Times
Feb. 23, 2011
Link to article