Reading the headlines, listening to the commentary, and talking to nervous Norwegians on the street, one would think the world is quickly coming to an end soon, Thanks to DJT (Donald J Trump). However, the American moves may be more calculated than we first thought. Currently, Kim Jong-un is between a rock and a hard place, having to maintain his strongman image to his inner circle while DJT and the world, including China, bears down on him, promising devastating sanctions that could weaken his regime.
Lately, to save face, Kim has been posturing. In North Korean fashion and on cue, he made some B-movie propaganda, tried to launch a mission, and sent some hollow warnings to America and the South Pacific. However, instead of yielding to international pressures and getting played by the Kim Dynasty, President Trump doubled down, applying “maximum pressure” to the young tyrant.
The Power Paradox
At the University of Illinois, a negotiations professor stated that every time a leader exercises absolute power, he loses some of it. Hence, people, when posed with uncompromising obstacles, find another way, eventually making the leader irrelevant.
Kim Jong-un’s power is not absolute but rather contractual with the North Korean Army, their secret police, other elites. Within these organizations exist various factions, offering differing levels of support and loyalty. Under pressure, Kim has been exercising that power, irrationally by some measures, indicating something is awry in Pyongyang. As Kim Jong-un purges his inner circle, quelling opposition, those who remain grow wearier with each passing day. That is further exacerbated by the spate of failed missile launches and some Chinese pressure.
North Korea’s military capabilities may be grossly overrated when considering the people’s mindset behind the weapons.
DJT is brilliant. Kim’s support apparatus, pondering the lose-lose outcomes, may be thinking about the future. While isolating Kim, the inner circle could reach out to the west, planning for a new era that would keep the current government in place while reforming human rights and nuclear weapons: thereby avoiding an utter collapse and an ensuing crisis.
Isolation on the Wane
The upper middle class (working professionals and government officials) and elites (high-level leaders and merchants) have been watching western media, mainly South Korean soap operas for years. Opportunistic North Koreans, including Army and other insiders are often on the take, benefiting from bribes and even helping resell the contraband. Hence, many North Koreans, especially in the capital, working in high-level government positions, and living on the border, are well aware of the world outside the Hermit Kingdom.
In addition to standard smuggling, crossing the border at night with USBs and DVDs, activists have been sending balloons packed with money, candy, and media, which sometimes includes porn. The video below shows how that – when captured, finds its’ way to the upper echelons of society.
In essence, more and more North Koreans realize the government propaganda is BS, including those on the inside. Therefore, Kim Jong-un could be experiencing some doubts, ascertaining which military generals would go along with an attack order and which ones would either defect or turn the guns on him.
Corruption & Defections
Defections from North Korea rarely happen in a vacuum. The jailbreak stories, breaking out of a North Korean concentration camp, and ending up Seoul are extraordinary because they are rare. Just like everywhere else in the world, money talks and BS walks. Bribery of border guards is par for the course, just like with the USB and DVD smuggling. The following video discusses how one’s chances of successful defection increases with cash on hand.
That explains the spate of successful defections by prominent North Koreans. Some have become TV stars in the South, broadcasting to both North and South Korea. There was even one defector going back and forth from South to North Korea, visiting friends and relatives. He even made a video with happy North Korean soldiers, smiling about receiving a bribe. Ironically, it was the South Koreans who jailed this guy for going back to North Korea to visit.
North Korea is a country with discipline and work ethic. Unlike the Former Soviet Union countries, they don’t suffer from chronic alcoholism or an unproductive work style. The Kason Industrial Park is a joint venture between North and South Korea. Although currently suspended, it was successful when it was operating, demonstrating that North Koreans can work to western standards.
North Korea also sends workers abroad, including European Union countries like Poland and Malta, working in shipyards, farms, and clothing sweatshops. ***
They are taking social dumping to a whole new level: modern day slavery in plain sight – right here in Europe!
Trump’s pressure of North Korea may be Political Judo, stoking a rebellion from within the Kim Regime like that in Operation Valkyrie (July 20, 1944 – Several of Hitler’s Generals banded together, hoping to assassinate Hitler and bring a swift end to the war), using North Korea’s weight against them. Lately, the defections have been getting more brazen and from the higher social strata, indicating that not everyone inside the Hermit Kingdom drinks the Kool-Aid. Rather, they are laying low and playing along until they can find an opportunity to escape.
Moreover, the younger generation is not complying like ones before, compounding the difficulties for Kim. Recently a young North Korean soldier shot seven of his comrades after they hazed him. It is almost certain that he was exposed to an outside influence, causing him to question authority. The corruption indicates that some North Koreans already have capitalistic tendencies. Without formally being taught commerce, it is an encouraging sign. Therefore, President Trump must keep this pressure, forcing a coup that can keep the country intact while transitioning to freedom.