Economic Blows Aimed at Popular Thinking

[imText1]While North Korea tries to close off the possibility of popular political or ideological breakaway by harshly regulating markets, internationally it will pursue economic aid through negotiations and by making its possession of nuclear weapons an established fact.

In the interview with The Daily NK on Monday, Kim Young Hwan, a member of the editorial committee of the Zeitgeist, explained his thoughts for the future, “There are more unstable elements than in the period of Kim Jong Il’s succession,” he said, advancing the weakened authority of Kim Jong Il; reduced ability of Kim Jong Il to assist in the succession due to his poor health; and social instability due to the redenomination and its repressive follow-up measures as evidence.

In Kim’s interpretation, the redenomination was designed to control markets and, at the same time, “in order to deal a blow to people’s way of thinking about spontaneous market activities.”

“Since the mid-1990s, North Korean people’s lives have not followed the state’s plan or intention, but developed spontaneously, and the people have built up their own abilities,” he explained, “Therefore, the North Korean authorities may have decided that unless they struck the people a blow now, people’s awareness and thinking would gradually develop away from reliance on Kim Jong Il and the belief that ‘Only the power of Kim Jong Il can save the people.’”

“The fundamental purpose of the redenomination was to get rid of this tendency by attacking spontaneous ways of thinking.”

Regarding people’s reactions to the redenomination, he went on, “In the past, Kim Il Sung was the God of the people, but now money is their God. However, that money has turned into trash, and the people’s anger at that will last for quite a long time.”

Furthermore, he added, “If inflation proceeds at its current speed, the people’s pain will grow and complaints about the pain are liable to develop into political opposition or a resistant spirit. We cannot completely exclude this possibility.”

Regarding the North’s demand for a peace treaty before denuclearization, Kim explained, “First, it announces that the reason for the development of nuclear weapons is to bring about peace. Second, during the process of future nuclear negotiations, which will ultimately resume, North Korea can now claim to have given up its demand for a peace treaty.”

Kim sees a dim future for nuclear negotiations, though, “If China or the U.S. were to provide the North with a substitute for its nuclear weapons, the North could give them up. But, in reality it is not feasible for the U.S. to conclude a nonaggression pact, and China’s automatic intervention in the North’s security threats needs to be accepted by both China and the U.S.”

He explained the North’s strategy on China, “North Korea does not have any other choice but to rely on China in order for its security and the succession system.”

He noted, “Somehow or other, North Korea will try to get assistance from South Korea. Since the Lee Myung Bak administration is not one which sticks to a particular line, North Korea thinks there is still room to use it.”