Kim Jong Eun and his young wife Ri Sol Joo have done a great job of raising expectations in the international community vis a vis change in North Korea, according to Dr. Oh Kongdan, a researcher with the Institute for Defense Analyses.
But, Dr. Oh told Daily NK in an interview on the 23rd, precedent appears to present a problem. The stylish British-born Asma al-Akhras sat next to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for many years, but she did not inspire any serious change in the country.
“It would be good if the modern, fashionable wife of Kim Jong Eun could to draw him towards reform and opening,” Dr. Oh admits. But, she warns, “Now is no time to be optimistic or pessimistic about it; it is the time to just watch and wait.”
“If Kim Jong Eun wants to reform then he is going to have to cast aside the entire inheritance he received from his grandfather and father,” she points out. “They key here is the real reforms that emerge from between the people of the Republic of Pyongyang (those with vested rights and influence) and those of the Non-Republic of Pyongyang (those without such rights and influence). Ultimately there has to be an attempt to differentiate Kim Jong Eun from his father.”
Meanwhile, Oh adds, there is no doubt that if sudden changes do occur in North Korea then the U.S. will intervene.
“Of course the U.S. will get actively involved,” she explains. “U.S. assistance is essential to face the fortified North Korea with its army of 1,200,000 and weapons of mass destruction. Not only that; the U.S. willingly helps open, democratic countries that respect human rights and embrace all cultures. That is called alliance."