The Mafia Parallel the Kim Jong Il Regime

[imText1]Every state system in North Korea failed. As the distribution system shut down, millions of people starved as they began roaming the country in search of food, in spite of travel restrictions. Illicit private trade flourished in North Korean markets.

In the past, few people tried to cross the tightly controlled borders; however, during the great famine at least a million crossed illegally into China. Antagonistic politics couldn’t block hungry refugees who faced torture and/or execution if caught attempt to cross.

This period was characterized by the crumbling of voluntary obedience to and respect for the “dear leader.” Brain washed idolization could no longer be counted on by Kim Jong Il, though even defectors still used both their names and titles of great and dear leaders. Because of their habits of many years, they were surprised to find that their leader was not respected outside of North Korea. As the cult of Kim Jong Il was decayed by corruption and immorality, his bureaucracy foundered.

Although North Korea is filled with apparently reverent slogans for Kim Jong Il and his father, they mask real fear. Any activity must be carefully considered and planned with an eye towards risks incurred such as public criticism, and imprisonment in jails and political prison camps.

Kim Jong Il Construes Nationalization as License to Steal

The property system in North Korea has changed. State and community property used to form the base of the economic system. Now, the entire economy is centered on the state because it has come to own the collective farms. In the 1970’s ownership of state property began to be transferred to Kim Il Sung and especially Kim Jong Il. During the 1990’s Kim Jong Il completed the transfer of all state property to himself. Embezzlement by public officials is common in undeveloped countries; Kim Jong Il is unique, however, in his overt use of national property for the well-being of himself and his family, and his use of the property to its use also designed to retain his grip on power. He escapes criticism within North Korea.

Collapse of the Planned Economy

The state’s economic implosion was not entirely due to Kim Jong Il. Free markets could not work when enterprise profits began to be confiscated by local authorities and officers. Once an economic success became known, its developer was squeezed for money. Without banks and a working financial system, successful North Koreans pretended to be poor and hid their money. Experts say the scale of the underground economy is three or four times as large as the official economy. This private, underground funding system presupposes citizen payment of bribes to various authorities. Underground funds are not used in the formal markets and are instead hidden or used as underground capital. The ordinary economy was privatized by Kim Jong Il and the underground economy was privatized by people. The illusion of state property faded.

The planned economy was overwhelmed by the far-reaching underground economy. Janmadang (current markets, black markets in the past) are part of a semi-underground economy that cannot even be classified in the planned economy. The famine-induced collapse of the state system rendered the planned economy useless. In the mid-`90’s, the planned economy fell into complete ruin with just 20% of state factories operating. The planning situation is unimproved.

The Mafia Parallel

North Korea is no longer considered to be socialist because it lacks proletarian rule, state ownership of property, and a planned economy. In the late-`60’s, socialist elements of North Korea weakened and finally succumbed in the mid ‘90’s. Today North Korea is a mixed society living under elements of pre-modern dynasty, military dictatorship, and hierarchical Mafiosi.

Its similarities with the Mafia include (1) one man rule, (2) operation by families, relatives and close associates, (3) serious military power, (4) an operation based on fear and terrorism, (5) unconditional loyalty for the boss, (6) serious penalties for defectors, (7) a reliance on illicit activities (dealing with drugs, counterfeit money, weapons), (8) the use of extortion for money, and (9) its isolation from other communities. Power is concentrated with Kim Jong Il in an organized system of fear, terror, and a powerful military capability.

North Korea is not a stable society built upon innovative theory, but a rudderless, listing dictatorship with some fearsome weaponry.