Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Deadly and Deeply Rational North Korea

Follow my leader - Book Review 

The Kim regime is despotic, deadly and deeply rational. It will not change

WESTERN politicians like to grandstand about North Korea, calling its leaders “mad”, “rogue” or “tinpot” (The Economist has been known to do this too.) In fact, North Korea is the world’s most rational despotic regime: a highly successful Communist absolute monarchy. Kim Jong Il, son of the country’s Stalinist founder, Kim Il Sung, failed as a leader by any of the usual standards—he enforced North Korea’s isolation and presided over a famine that killed between 400,000 and 2m people. But he succeeded in what counts. He lived a long time, died peacefully in late 2011 and passed power on to his son. In the same way that betting once raged about how briefly Kim Jong Il would last after his father’s death in 1994, so too are outsiders now calling time on North Korea’s fun-loving heir, Kim Jong Un (pictured). It may be a triumph of hope over experience.

For all its self-imposed isolation, North Korea since its inception as a Soviet creation in 1948 has depended for survival on a small, shifting, group of nations, which it has shaken down with consummate skill. Most aid these days is hoarded by the elites. But, as Mr Lankov explains, the regime did not set out to oppress its people. Kim Il Sung’s early promises included giving North Koreans a daily meal of meat soup and boiled rice, eaten under a tiled rather than a thatched roof. That appealed to a poor, agrarian people. Even today, after so much disillusionment, the ceaseless propaganda depicting the Kim dynasty as parents-in-chief, protecting a vulnerable nation from American and Japanese wolves, works to a remarkable degree.

Loyalty, however, was also won through ruthless purges of potential enemies, and through the North’s unique and horrifying songbun, a caste system in which families are classified as friendly, wavering or hostile, according to their historical, political and economic background. The efficacy of songbun as a tool of state control lies in it being forward-looking as well as regressive. Until recently, at least, not only did those suspected of disloyalty face official discrimination; so did their children and grandchildren. Whole families were thrown in the gulag.

 “The ceaseless propaganda…” a great book of forensic analysis…

Update: Bit of personal, recently I was asked  "...why are you not crack on North Korea?.." Very good questions, my answers was "...I am not sure... probably I am coward... or probably I am not ready yet... or probably ... I am afraid... or probably above of all ....I don;t know where to start....but it always there with me ...deeply ingrained as a burdensome agony..." so please bit of gentle and kind to me.