North Korea Has No Possibility for Successful Reformation and Liberalization

[imText1]“The only way to fundamentally solve North Korean problem is North Korea’s reformation and linearization.” “There is a high success possibility for North Korea’s reformation and liberalization.” These are the main and usual arguments of the Roh Moo Hyun administration’s policies toward North Korea.

For this reason, the government of South Korea, although the North Korean nuclear problem has entered an unpredictable and dangerous phase, is still sending financial assistance and continues economic cooperation with North Korea. However, such a logic that North Korea’s reformation and liberalization can succeed disregards the fact that there is a huge difference between China of 1970s and North Korea.

Conditions for China’s Successful Reformation and Liberalization

There were some conditions which helped China to successfully reform and liberalize.

One, communism and power (dignity) of international communism still prevailed at the time thus it was possible for China to proceed practical reformation and liberalization without being influenced of outside political ideology tides.

Two, Chinese communists still held a strong power and was able to draw out support and participation of the people.

Three, the leaders of reformation and liberalization were politically and morally clean.

Four, in the end of the 1970s, the US and the western countries endeavored to draw China closer to the West for the purpose of isolating China, and created an advantageous international environment for China to pursue reformation and liberalization.

North Korean Regime, Incapable of Evading the Wind of Reformation and Liberalization

However, present North Korea is totally different.

One, international communist movement has entirely collapsed and Juche ideology is weakening at a fast pace. North Korea has little base to overcome the side effects and storms of the reformation and liberalization.

Two, the North Korean Worker’s Party has lost power (dignity) to play the pivotal role for the North Korean reformation and liberalization. Kim Jong Il ignored the structural order of the Party for a long time, the Party cadres were more concerned of Kim Jong Il’s emotions and taste than the Party decisions, and the people blame the Party for the human rights abuse and corruption.

Three, Kim Jong Il has a fatal moral defect; he is responsible for severe economic crisis, corruption, apart from complex women relationships, disarray social life, embezzlement of national fund, and luxurious life of the Kim Jong Il family. If they are to be reveals, it is hard to expect North Korea’s stable politics.

Four, there are many negative elements in the international society for North Koreas reformation and liberalization. Most of the people in the world perceive North Korea as extremely poor and least development country with highly unpredictable and unreliable politics that practices human rights abuses.

Five, taking into account that South Korea is considered as one of the alternative if North Korea’s reformation and liberalization are accelerated, there will be increase of dissatisfaction among the people when North Korea is compared to South Korea, which will bring a great political anxiety.

High Possibility of Coincidence of Reformation & Liberalization and Regime Collapse

Since all the power is concentrated in Kim Jong Il, it may be easy to decide on and pursue for the reformation and liberalization. Moreover, if reformation and liberalization proceed under Kim Jong Il’s decision, the current rate of factory function which remains under 20% could be normalized within few years and with the South Korean and Chinese assistance, North Korea could improve its economy as well.

However, we must not forget that political insecurity and regime collapse will also proceed at the same time. At the point when Kim Jong Il regime cognize the political anxiety and the soon coming regime collapse which will coincide, it will not be able to stop the reformation and liberalization movement nor could it continue pursuing the efforts.

This is because political anxiety (insecurity) or the regime collapse will only come after the ideological and structural power has already melted in the wave of reformation and liberalization.

It is dangerous to assure North Korea’s successful reformation and liberalization only because China successfully proceeded its reformation and liberalization. Kim Jong Il could proclaim reformation and liberalization. However, success is difficult. Actually, it is almost impossible.

Considering such aspects, policy revision and re-evaluation of the South Korean government’s policies toward North Korea are no longer “postponable.”

Kim Young Hwan

– Editor Board, Zeitgeist
– President, Green People (1996-1997)
– Member of Committee for the Unification of Korea, National Democratic Alliance (Jun-Min-Ryun), (1989)
– Central commissioner of National Salvation Student Coalition at Seoul National University (1986)