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Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Is North Korea headed for collapse?

Dana Mathewson

Interesting speculation. There are those, especially in Russia, who say that the transfer of leadership is beginning to take place between Kim Jong-Il and his son -- and that it will leave North Korea vulnerable.

Actually, "South Korean newspapers Korea Times, Chosun Ilbo, Dong A-Ilbo and Arirang News reported late last week that the Russian Institute of World Economy and International Relations opined in September that the Kim regime in North Korea will collapse and that “the North will no longer exist in its current form.” The peninsula will then come under the control of the South, a result the Institute considers good for Russia."
"Russia has shunned using the term “collapse” for the North, so it is unusual for the think tank, which helps devise Moscow’s foreign policy, to consider the collapse of the North as a fait accompli. This signals that either the North is showing abnormal signs that cannot be taken lightly or Russia is making a major change in its assessment of the North’s status. Moscow has apparently judged that the North is on a downward path toward collapse and that the path is rapidly narrowing."

China, of course, has other ideas. As well she might, sitting next door to North Korea as she does. "Relations between Russia and China — apparently amiable now — could come under strain due to the Korean situation. China would not likely view a “positive impact on Russia’s standing in the Asia-Pacific region” as in her best interests. Although China has occasionally seemed frustrated with North Korea, they retain a symbiotic relationship. China’s acceptance of reunification, as summarized by President Hu, envisions neither collapse of the North nor reunification under Seoul."

If there is to be a reunification of the North and the South, China clearly would prefer to keep the Russians out of it. But with Russia flexing her muscles as she is doing now, we may be treated to quite a show in the future.

Meanwhile, "[r]eunification is decreasingly popular with young South Koreans.
The change is clear both from anecdotal evidence and public opinion polls. In a recent survey conducted by the Peace Research Institute, respondents were asked whether they see North Korea as the same state and North Koreans as their ethnic brethren.

In regard to the first question, 44.1% chose the following response: “In the past North Korea was the same state, but now I am beginning to feel it as a different state.” In regard to ethnic solidarity, a majority (52.9%) said that they still perceive North Koreans as their ethnic brethren, but the second most popular (30.2%) response was: “In the past they were our ethnic brethren, but now I am beginning to feel that they are foreigners.” And an additional 9% said: “North Koreans are as foreign as Chinese.”

Just 15 or 20 years ago, such replies would have been virtually unthinkable. Every good, patriotic Korean, regardless of his/her views on other subjects, was supposed to be an ardent believer in the glory of unification.

"Absorbing the North could cost about $3 trillion and be far more difficult than was the reunification of Germany. Meanwhile, North Korean defectors continue to dribble into South Korea, twenty-one on October 30. Although the trip by sea is very dangerous, a total of 21,294 defectors are reported to have arrived by various means as of April of this year. They provide much of the South’s information about the North."

Interesting, yes?

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