[imText1]“North Korea needs to understand that the way to achieve political security is not by brandishing nuclear weapons but rather by engaging with its neighboring countries in a cooperative fashion.”
Dr. Marcus Noland, senior fellow of the Peterson Institute for International Economics further added, “If they (North Korea) are willing to forgo the nuclear weapon program, the U.S., South Korea and others would be willing to support North Korean’s integration into the world community in a much more constructive way.”
Dr. Noland during his interview with the Daily NK on the 12th said that he regards the North Korean regime as “a regime that will experience particular challenges in the post-Kim Jong Il world”. In order for North Korea to be more secure, Dr. Noland suggested North Korea to spend more money on food and to revitalize the industrial economy, which would give them opportunity to import more food.
He pointed out that the fundamental problem for the continuing food shortage in North Korea is due to the fact that North Korea does not import very much food. “Given the characteristics of North Korea, it will make more sense to emphasize on the production so that they can earn money then import food from other countries” he added.
One of the examples of such industrial economy is the Kaesong Industrial Complex. Dr. Noland who recently visited the complex said that current conditions of the complex are much better than any other factories in North Korea although may still fall short of international standards.
In the past there had been concerns of human rights being exploited in Kaesong Industrial Complex. He raised some questions to think about such as “Are the conditions exploited in Kaesong Industrial Complex? By the standards of the international community, the answer is surely yes. Are there almost unlimited number of North Koreans who would be happy to work in these factories? I think the answer is yes.”
Amid North Korean threats to shut down the complex, Dr. Noland believes that these threats whether real or not are foolish because North Korea actually benefits from the complex. It would be foolish for North Korea to shut down something that they receive funding from.
As far as president-elect Obama is concerned, Dr. Noland stated that there will be considerable continuity in U.S. policy toward North Korea because the current policy used by President Bush is generally supported by democrats. President-elect Obama will lead multinational efforts to impose sanctions if North Korea is not willing to accept, which is not too different from the current policy.
[Interviewed with Park Jin Keol]