Over in eastern Asia we have the world’s last remaining Stalinist state, North Korea; a fanatical dictatorship ruled by a stunted little gargoyle with bad hair who happens to be the third in a line of stunted little gargoyles with bad hair. What’s more, they are kicking up their heels again with another nuclear test! It’s amazing, frankly, that a nation that so stunningly oppresses and starves its own people has lasted this long. What makes it even more amazing is that its neighbor to the south is one of Asia’s richest, freest, most prosperous nations, who by the way shares a language and a long, long history with the Norks.
So, what might happen if North Korea collapses? Have a read. Excerpt:
Kim Jong-un is not planning on giving up his rule of North Korea anytime soon. Having achieved another successful nuclear test, and successfully launching a theater ballistic missile from a submarine, Kim capped his summer by reportedly executing his Vice Premier Kim Yong-jin for slouching during Kim’s speech at 13th Supreme People’s Assembly this past June.
The annual summer military exercises between the United States and South Korea elicited the usual rhetoric from the Pyongyang regime, including the threat to attack Seoul with nuclear weapons. Described in defense terms as a response to a North Korean attack, the war games usually end with the reunification of the peninsula. But a growing chorus of voices think that internal collapse is more likely.
In the event of collapse, there are several issues that will have to be thought through, none of which are simple. First and foremost is the Chinese reaction. In any scenario in which the North Korean regime falls, many of its former subjects will head across the Yalu River. Beijing already sits uneasily on its relationship with its western minorities; with several million ethnic Koreans already living in China, Beijing fears another problem in borderlands, this time in its northeast. This potential trouble spot is much close to the growing middle class in Beijing, and it would be much harder to contain reports of repression. Chinese Koreans would also have a powerful voice across the Yellow Sea in the new, larger Korea.
Read the whole thing. Meanwhile, here’s my take: There are three nations in the immediate vicinity that should, indeed must be involved in the reconstruction of this horrifically failed state.
- China. North Korea has been a client state of China since the 1950s, and compared to North Korea, China is a veritable paradise; there have for years been troubles with illegal immigration from North Korea to China. It is in China’s interest to have a more stable, more prosperous nation on that border.
- Japan. Japan and Korea share a long and not-always-cordial history, but the two nations are similar in many ways, culturally, linguistically and (in the case of South Korea) economically. The hereditary dynasty of stunted little gargoyles that runs North Korea are fond of reminding Japan that they have missiles that can reach Tokyo; were the Norks to be re-united with the South and absorb some of the South’s penchant for enterprise, there would be a lot of relieved sighs in Tokyo. Also, the best way to stay at peace with your neighbors is to trade with them; Japan trades now with South Korea, and trade with a united Korea would make the region much more stable.
- South Korea. Everything noted above about Japan goes double for South Korea. Add to that the fact that a reunified Korea would remove the enormous Damocles’ sword that has hung over the South since the 1950s. Just about the only people the stunted little gargoyle regime likes to threaten more than the Japanese are the South Koreans, and despite the poverty and rampant starvation in the North, they nevertheless retain a powerful if someone outdated military; and it’s important to note that Seoul is within artillery range of the DMZ.
There are a few other major concerns, not least of which is the disposition of North Korea’s nuclear weapons; smart money says those will end up in China, and to be honest that’s not the worst thing that could happen. Japan, while they make ample use of nuclear power for energy, has an understandable reluctance to host their own nuclear weapons, and South Korea likewise has eschewed nuclear weapons. China already has around 260 warheads, and adding North Korea’s rumored 50-60 devices wouldn’t change the balance of power all that much; and China, unlike North Korea, is unlikely to suddenly start tossing missiles about.
The collapse of North Korea is not only inevitable but long overdue. We can only hope that when that collapse comes, that the stunted little gargoyle regime won’t decide to go out in a blaze of glory by launching missiles or invading the South.