ROK Drop

Avatar of GI KoreaBy on April 17th, 2013 at 6:22 pm

B.R. Myers Explains What North Korea Really Is In Newsweek

» by in: North Korea

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.

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  • Onezime
    4:41 pm on April 17th, 2013 1

    The idea that North Korea can reunify the peninsula under its own terms, though, is preposterous.

  • Glans
    5:09 pm on April 17th, 2013 2

    Meyers says that North Korea is a power not of the far left, but of the far right.

  • Conway Eastwood
    6:32 pm on April 17th, 2013 3

    If only more people in D.C. listened to this bloke.

  • Denny
    10:25 pm on April 17th, 2013 4

    Dennis Rodman claims US government wanted to hire him as North Korean informant.

  • TxL8r
    2:56 am on April 18th, 2013 5

    Any serious student of the evolution of the Kim dynasty must study Kim Il Sung’s rise to power. He steadfastly held onto a concept of one-ness for the Korean race, and before his invasion of South Korea, he had established his power base and legitimacy on this one primary and singular premise – Koreans must maintain their purity against outsiders – i.e. Manchurians, Japanese, Russians, and of course, Americans.

    I do not believe Meyers is suggesting what you disdain. On the contrary, he is asking for acknowledgement of their preposterous and belligernt position based on their raison d’etre, which is the ethnic purity thingy. He’s got a valid point. And if you have much experience with the sentiment that South Koreans display regarding foreigners in South Korea, it has an errie and weird similarity to the sentiment of Kim Il Sung’s total peninsular ‘oneness’.

    So I would say that Meyers is making a solid case for understanding the source of the belligerence and the armed threats. As I have said previously, it might be time to simply say ‘OK, you’ve got nukes, and you’ve got some significant capabilities. We will check these blocks for you in the international sphere of acknowledgement (U.N., ASEAN, etc.). Now how about we get down to allowing you and your blood brothers to live in peace, and while we’re at it, dis-assemble and remove some armaments, since we all agree that you are a legitimate nation.’

    See, I just cannot get behind the idea of continuing to play fetch and chase with these guys. They obviously have the guns and capes to go out in glory, and they would no doubt fall in harmoniously and patriotically if ordered to do so. But I see an unwillingness to learn the details that Myers brings to light – the historical perspective, the language barriers in international relations, and the smug arrogance of the newly risen South.

  • Glans
    3:49 am on April 18th, 2013 6

    TxL8r, should we acknowledge their right to print $100 bills?

  • TxL8r
    4:16 am on April 18th, 2013 7

    @6- Too funny!

  • Obama's Speech Coach
    4:45 am on April 18th, 2013 8

    Bill Whittle gets it right…

  • TxL8r
    5:11 am on April 18th, 2013 9

    I like the part about Chamberlain’s appeasing approach – very appropriate in this case.
    Never heard the term ‘mirroring’ used n this context. Seems like a good name for this insane and feeble back and forth crap, though.

  • Conway Eastwodo
    12:21 pm on April 18th, 2013 10

    Seems a lot of people in the comments section at the article art butthurt that Myers called the DPRK right-wing rather than leftist.

  • Obama's Speech Coach
    7:25 pm on April 18th, 2013 11

    #10, Not “butthurt”. Most Americans just don’t like more lying general officers. We understand he “serves at the pleasure of the President”. We just wish he showed more backbone and less of Mr. Mom-jeans’s crap on his nose…


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