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Is North Korea Throwing In The Maoist Towel?

How Would You Modernize The Mess That Is N. Korea?

North Korea’s new leader Kim Jong-un is amazing! He is their dear and respected leader! It seems King Kim III just saved 60 flood victims from death. The N. Korean News Agency reminds us of MSNBC’s balanced coverage of President Barack Obama in the report filed below.

“Isolated incommunicado, they did not find a way out, in panic at rising water. At that time a helicopter appeared,” it said. “After receiving an urgent report, the dear respected Kim Jong-un issued an emergency sortie order to a unit of the Air Force of the Korean People’s Army.”

More importantly, when he isn’t saving flood victims or marrying comrade Ri Sol Ju; the lady who gave us that thrilling rendition of “Footsteps Of Soldiers” in the YouTube atop the post, Kim Jong-un may be trying to modernize North Korea. He has been far more visible than his father was and has at least hinted that he wants a more modern and at least somewhat more capitalistic future for North Korea. In a piece optimistically entitled Glasnost in North Korea?, John Delury reports on some of Kim’s recent hints at possible reform.

From the sudden dismissal of his top military leader, on grounds of “illness,” to a pop music show featuring American icons Mickey Mouse and Rocky Balboa, to a novel guest- worker program allowing North Koreans to earn hard currency in China, Kim Jong-un is taking a firm grip on power even as he loosens strictures and tells officials to try new things.

He recently toured a derelict Pyongyang Amusement Park* and chewed out several local officials during a highly publicized “guidance visit.” Delury describes the fireworks below:

Fixing the park, Kim said, “should be made an occasion of removing outdated ideological point of view from the heads of officials and ending their old work-style.” Kim then tapped the cabinet premier and a senior military figure to personally supervise the renovations. The park is now a demonstration project for Kim’s demand that officials be “creative and enterprising.”

Of course China still holds N. Korea on a leash. But, King Kim openly admitted one of his rocket tests failed and even claimed to be concerned that too many people in his isolated nation go hungry. He excoriates some bureaus of his government for selling his nation’s resources off to the Chinese in return for kickbacks. He went so far as mentioning the need to cut back on military spending to redirect assets to “The People’s Economy.”

These are baby steps, but they are legitimate. This willingness to actually tell the unpleasant truths about how things are in N. Korea may well explain his recent troubles with hardliner members of The North Korean Army. The recent firing of General Ri Yong-ho may have been over an issue similar to Julius Ceasar’s crossing of The Rubicon River.**

North Korea’s Army chief Ri Yong-ho may have been ousted for defying orders and moving troops near Pyongyang during a military exercise, South Korean intelligence sources told a major South Korean news agency. The troop move drew the ire of Ri’s main rivals Jang Song-taek, the uncle and guardian of leader Kim Jong-un, and Vice Marshal Choe Ryong-hae, Chosun.com reported.

Whether this is an actual attempt to climb down remains to be seen. North Korea still supplies the Yakuza with narcotics and makes some of the most undetectable counterfeit dollars and Euros in circulation. North Korea could certainly open its markets while still threatening the South Koreans and remaining “The Soprano State” in the near term.

Yet opening to the world could also incapacitate much of the threat posed by North Korea. They could depend upon others enough to not want to see the rest of the world burn. Their people could demand more of what the rest of the world has to offer. The Kim Monarchy, like The Russian Politburo under Gorbachev, could discover that opening only partially to the rest of the world cannot be done in a controlled manner. Then Kim Jung-un could go down in history as a praiseworthy man for authoring his own demise.

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*- We now have an oxymoron to rival liberal tolerance, mandatory fun and Democratic Party.
** – Unlike Pompey and the Optimates, King Kim apparently doesn’t play that.

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