Sunday, April 04, 2010
An interesting article on North Korea. If correct NK is becoming increasingly unstable. The Chinese would like to replace the government with a sensible pro-Chinese one. If mobile phones have made it impossible for NK to seal itself off from the rest of the world then the regime, whose failure is proven by satellite photos, cannot survive. The problem is to make sure it dies with a whimper rather than a bang & in that case a Chines supported coup would seem to be the best option. If such a coup were successful I doubt if it would be possible to form an NK government that would not seek some form of union with the so much richer south. When the Russians sought to replace the Czech government with reformers their coup succeeded but they could find nobody to lead such a government.
North Korea knows that Chinese options are few, because the last thing China wants is chaos in the north. That would mean millions of starving North Koreans pouring into China, and the risk of unification under South Korean rule. China, however, fears that North Korea would use those nukes to threaten China. Thus it comes as no surprise that both China and North Korea have increased espionage activity against each other. North Korea fears that China is trying to organize a coup by pro-Chinese officials in the North Korean government and military.
But the situation in North Korea is worse than it's ever been before. The people are not only angry, but they have more information about what's going on in North Korea, and the world, than ever before. Cell phone users along the Chinese border allow information in, and out. This despite secret police mobile cell phone monitoring patrols... most of the illegal cell phone users get away with it, and North Koreans not only know they are screwed, but how and by whom. Thus the looming famine is unlike the big hunger of the 1990s (that killed two million and stunted the growth of a generation), in that back then, the population were convinced that they were victims of an international conspiracy. This time around, North Koreans know that the cause is their own government. People are increasingly speaking out in public, and the security forces do nothing (or, more ominously, nod in agreement.)
One of the more damaging stories to spread through North Korea recently was the one about the several billion dollars Kim Jong Il has stashed in foreign banks...
March 26, 2010: A South Korean warship suddenly exploded and sank off the west coast, near the maritime border with North Korea. Most of the 104 crew survived, but 46 apparently died. Given the nature of the explosion, and how it broke the ship in half, the most likely cause was a naval mine. And probably a mine of recent manufacture (the 3,000 laid during the early 1950s by North Korea have long since been found and disposed of). The media is rife with speculation, but since the 1,300 ton Cheonan (PCC-772) went down in shallow water, it will be salvaged. That means the cause of the explosion will be obvious eventually.