In a new interview today, Minister of Unification Hyun In Taek revealed that he thinks the current ‘winds of democratization’ will not have the strength to blow as far as North Korea, suggesting that geography and the country’s continuing isolation from technological advances are likely to mitigate against it.
Speaking with Yonhap News, Hyun said, “Since the North Korean people cannot use the internet freely, and North Korean TV does not report on this, the people don’t even know the facts.”
“The core of the North Korean regime is able to know about it and is watching these facts, and of course they are trying to stop it from having a harmful influence on the North Korean system,” Hyun did concede, but pointed out, “It is also geographically rather far removed, so the power to affect the North Korean people directly does not seem to be all that great.”
“As a result, right now I’m thinking, is the effect not likely to be exceedingly slight.”
This is of course not the first time that widespread outside changes have been stopped from crossing North Korea’s borders with the outside world; in the late 1980s, watching the collapse of the Eastern Bloc with alarm, Kim Il Sung reacted by strongly emphasizing the slogan, “Let’s live in our own way”.
In May, 1990, Kim Il Sung emphasized that it was necessary to fight to the death for the victory of socialism, and in May the following year, still more than six months before the hammer and sickle would finally go down over the Kremlin, he called for “our-style socialism” in discussion with Party Central Committee members.
By April 1992 the constitution had been amended to reflect these new philosophical and ideological priorities, with Marxism-Leninism summarily deleted as the governing creed and replaced with the Juche Idea. By 1997, Kim Jong Il, keen to deify his late father, had taken Kim Il Sung’s birth date and made it the starting point from which all other dates would thereafter be measured.
Thus, by playing a bad hand ruthlessly, North Korea managed to avoid having to make any serious changes to its ruling system, and put in place the ability to weather the current democratization storm.