Andrei Lankov has an article posted in the Asia Times that outlines how after the fall of the Kim Jong-il regime that a revisionist history of the regime may eventually develop. Like with just about anything written by Dr. Lankov this is a must read. Here is an excerpt from the article:
We cannot know the future, but currently it seems that the eventual unification of Korea under the Seoul regime is the only possible long-term outcome of the Korean crisis. But once the Kim family regime is gone, the 25 million human beings who lived under their rule will have to make something of their sad and terrifying experiences. Frankly speaking, the entire era was a massive waste of time, resources and lives, but can the average North Korean person accept and admit this? Some people, no doubt, will come to such painful conclusions, but many more will probably not.
There will be no shortage of people who are bound to lose out from unification and/or regime change in North Korea. The Kim family has produced a small army of professional indoctrinators and overseers. Many a well-educated North Korean has made a decent (that is by North Korean standards) living by lecturing his/her compatriots about the finer points of the Juche (self-reliance) doctrine or the heroic deeds of the Kim family. Many others have been employed to enforce the manifold regulations and rules. Under the new system, these people will instantly find out that their arcane skills will be of little use. They are bound to feel unhappy about the new world and they are also bound to search for ways to justify and embellish their past.
The social and material difficulties of these people can be trivialized by describing them as “willing collaborators of a brutal regime” (as if informed career choice would have been possible in their youth). However, in the post-unification Korea there are social groups whose problems cannot be dismissed so easily.
Once the country is unified, the majority of North Korean professionals will find out that in the new world, their skills are of little if any value. What can be done by a North Korean medical doctor who knows nothing of 95% of all the procedures and treatments which are routine in modern medicine? What can be done with an engineer who has spent all his life repairing rusting industrial equipment of 1960s’ Soviet vintage?
What about a school teacher who has spent decades teaching Korean literature but still has no clue about the majority of authors who really constitute its mainstream (Korean literature as understood in North Korea is essentially a collection of eulogies to the Leaders, whilst everything produced in the South since 1945, as well as a significant part of the colonial era literature is ignored)? [Asia Times]
Read the rest at the link but Lankov goes on to explain how the educated workers by North Korean standards will find themselves limited to low-paying jobs in a unified Korea. This will ultimately lead to resentment despite the overall improvement of North Korean living standards post-unification. This is all true if it is allowed to happen. For example if the North collapses and carpetbaggers from the South are allowed to purchase large amounts of land and businesses in North Korea and regulate the vast majority of North Koreans to low-paying jobs then yes I can see the historical revisionism happening.
However, if North Korea is given some autonomy post-unification and South Koreans are forbidden from purchasing property and businesses in North Korea this may reduce any potential resentment and more slowly ease North Korea into integrating with the South and the rest of the world in general. Likewise North Koreans should be greatly restricted from moving into South Korea because if they are seen by South Koreans from taking low-paying jobs from them like for instance bus drivers or factory jobs than this could create resentment in the South as well. It would also help prevent the trafficking of North Korean women into South Korea that will surely create resentment. By North Korea managing their own governmental bodies this should decrease possible resentment post-unification.
For example the teachers in North Korea may not be able to teach at the same level of a South Korean teacher, but they will need to be re-trained until they are. That is why I have advocated for North Korean defectors to be schooled in important post-collapse professions like teaching to help their fellow countrymen after regime collapse. The reconstruction of post-collapse North Korea has to have as much of a North Korean face on it as possible. Likewise with the security forces in North Korea. South Korean military forces at the initial onset of regime collapse will be needed to fill a potential security vacuum in the North. However, if they linger too long it will appear to be an occupation which will cause resentment. That is why security will need to be handed back over to North Korean policemen, coast guard, military, etc. as soon as possible. These forces will need advisers from the South to assist them in the modernization of their forces, but they cannot appear to be puppets.
I could go on and on about post-regime collapse North Korea but I think everyone gets the point that any collapse of the North Korean regime will have to be responded to with a detailed plan that puts as much of a North Korean face on the reconstruction of the country as possible to avoid the resentment and follow on revisionism that would occur if North Koreans feel like 2nd class citizens when compared to their fellow countrymen in the South.
You can read more on this topic over at the Marmot’s Hole.