Via the Marmot’s Hole comes an article from one of my favorite Korea analysts B.R. Myers who provides intelligent observations about North Korea that most in the media, government, and academia fail to realize. Here is a snippet of the article:
Though some Pyongyang watchers fantasize about internal turf wars inside the regime between “pragmatists” and “ideologues,” there would be nothing pragmatic about abandoning an ideology that has so far done a sterling job of maintaining a stable and supportive population. The peninsula already has one economy-first state zipping around the track. There is little political capi tal to be had from entering the race a hundred laps behind, as North Korea’s party and military are well aware. A rising GDP is nice to have, of course. Calls for more consumer-goods production and a rise in living standards were typical in official propaganda under Kim Jong-il too, well before the international media started interpreting them as signs of a fresh wind. But whatever progress is made on the economic front, North Korea has to keep asserting its superiority on nationalist grounds instead, always presenting itself as the stronger and purer of the two Koreas.
This does not mean that the military-first policy serves only a domestic propaganda function. But we can take the regime at its word that it is not afraid of being attacked. If it were, it would not still be lavishing hard currency on luxury imports while its stunted soldiers go hungry. Nor is it plowing billions into armament on the remote chance of extorting a greater sum from U.S. negotiators down the road. As for the idea that the regime just wants an embassy with Old Glory hanging out front, or a piece of Obama-signed paper with “peace treaty” written on it, how we flatter ourselves. Its eye has always been on the infinitely greater threat posed by the rival state.
That threat comes not from the South’s military—which since 1953 has never retaliated against Pyongyang’s aggression with any great force, let alone launched an unprovoked attack—but from the self-containedness with which the “Yankee colony” merrily goes about its own business. Especially subversive, now that so many of Kim Jong-un’s subjects have access to outside sources of culture and information, is the South Korean public’s manifest lack of interest in either the personality cult or unification. The regime is right to believe it cannot be secure until the peninsula is unified under its own rule. This is, of course, the “final victory” that Kim Jong-un and his media keep boldly promising the masses. [Newsweek]
Make sure to read the whole thing, but it is amazing how many people fail to realize that the Kim regime’s legitimacy is based on race based militant nationalism with the ultimate goal of reunifying the peninsula. Myers is right that governmental policy should be based on what North Korea is and not the fairy tales that people want to believe about the place.