OK to Capitalist Goods But NO to Capitalist Regime

[imText1]The higher the class, the closer one is to the 2nd and 3rd tier network. If a person is discovered to be in opposition to the regime they will be brutally punished and so a person is cut off early if they are found to show any signs of anti-Kim Jong Il.

The people who inflict the greatest control are the military high commanders. North Korea’s military can be seen as a branch of national politics that really does represent half of the regime. Political elites from the military closely control high commanders with under cover spies whose job is to specifically tattle on suspicious officers to the Party. Then, the protection agency in command contacts an expert who equipped with bugging devices carefully monitors the high commander’s every move, 24 hours a day.

In addition to this, control over university students who are being trained to become North Korea’s next elite group is also severe. In order to intensify regulations on university students, the protection agency initiates secret movements. Protection agents and even information staff are grouped to control the student’s movement with one information staff in charge of monitoring every each 5 students.

Even amidst the Workers’ Party and the ministries, national safety agents are dispatched to monitor the elite.

“Capitalist goods are good, but reform is unacceptable”

Though envious of South Korea’s economic development, North Korea’s upper class are opposed to growth and reform.

There is a popular story of an elite North Korean official who visited the South and frankly revealed “Though we may crawl and be worn, we cannot follow South Chosun’s economy.” It is also a well known fact that elite officials preferred Samsung digital cameras and showed interest in Hyundai cars at a South-North Cabinet talks and Aug 15th event in Seoul. Nonetheless, when it comes to acknowledging the need for capitalist reform, North Korea’s central class discards it with a wave of the hand.

The reason that capitalist goods are preferred but reform rejected is a result of the ideology that their individual power will be lost with change to the regime. Those who have loyally followed authorities have no mindset nor special skills that will enable them to survive a capitalist system. Rather than confronting a competitive society, they prefer their current position and the glory that comes with it.

[imText2]The central class is also well aware of the restraints on North Korea’s economy. Every year as the harvest season arrives, they see citizens march onto the fields malnourished and underfed. They know that the economic policy implemented by authorities has failed and is incoherent. Yet, ultimately they are unwilling to let go of the small privileges they are endowed upon by the preposterous and unreasonable regime.

These people have become accustomed to their power which is utilized to gain them their privileges and tyranny. Even if North Korea enters a famine, they need not worry about food or clothing.

For example, in the case of an official factory secretary, he/she satisfies ones own personal needs by selling factory goods. Using the excuse that factory profits are being raised, he/she orders the workers to engage in more work, on the side. This is how tyranny occurs with the factory secretary manufacturing personal gains. Yet, these officials are not punished with any legal sentences.

Newly-rich dualism, collaborative relationship with official powers

Following the July 1st economic measures in 2002 trade became legal and North Korea experienced a sudden boom in newly rich elites. What led this new rich class to accumulate so much wealth was the fact that they had introduced an enterprise system which allowed trade with China.

The newly rich have a great interest in reform and development, and are well aware that the North Korean regime will not be able to solve the economic issue without facing reform.

However even this class of people are disinterested in bringing an end to the regime. They have already accumulated their wealth and feel no onus in the poverty stricken situation in North Korea. Whether capitalism or the current North Korean regime, as long as they can sustain a living, these people can continue to remain in a dualistic mindset.

While North Korean authorities are strengthening control over this new class, they are in another sense, receiving money and bribes to protect them. Where investigations are involved, authorities are risking their own identities being revealed and hence often ignore the illegalities of the people, even going to the extent of passing on information.

It is a fact that North Korea’s central class is acting as the forefront in sustaining the regime, but then again, these people have greater educational standard than the average commoner and they have had more opportunities to experience Western civilization. Hence, they can compare the North Korean regime with the outside world. Though the majority of this class accommodates to the North Korea regime, the possibility that a fraction of the elites may have some sort of antagonism against the Kim Jong Il regime and the odds that these people may just act upon these feelings cannot be discarded.

In addition, as North Korean society continues to decay, the organization of its systemic corruption may just be hit with danger. As corruption deepens and a crack appears in the regime, authorities will try to control this leak but while doing so, it is possible that endless punishment may just incite some elites to secede.

Particularly, the more information about foreign communities flow into North Korea and the people’s animosity against Kim Jong Il increases, even the elite will not be able to completely suppress feelings of antipathy.