A New Approach to North Korea

The North Korean threat nowadays derives more from the regime’s internal weaknesses than from its aggressive external posture – the latter being the authorities’ fearful response to the former. Unfortunately, however, most international efforts have sought to ameliorate the symptoms rather than cure the underlying disease.

SEOUL – The long-delayed meeting of North Korea’s ruling Worker’s Party is now underway, and comes at a time of severe tension between North Korea and the international community. It is widely expected that Kim Jong-il’s third son, Kim Jong-eun, will be appointed to a key position and be publicly announced as his father’s successor. There are also hints that a reshuffling of important positions within the Party will take place, allowing the presumed heir to form a new power base.

Whatever happens, and whoever turns out to be the new leader, North Korea most likely faces an unstable future. The cost of maintaining internal order will continue to rise as the system’s fundamental defects force the new leader to confront stark new challenges. Moreover, responsibility for managing that potential instability extends far beyond the leadership in Pyongyang.

North Korea’s fragility is suggested by the fact that even such an important political event as the Worker’s Party conference, held for the first time in three decades, was abruptly postponed earlier in September. One cause for the delay could be a schism within the ruling elite, a group that “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il himself cannot control as effectively as before. Moreover, Kim’s health problems might have worsened much faster than outsiders guess, further complicating matters.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/g42Y5UA;
  1. China corruption Isaac Lawrence/Getty Images

    The Next Battle in China’s War on Corruption

    • Chinese President Xi Jinping knows well the threat that corruption poses to the authority of the Communist Party of China and the state it controls. 
    • But moving beyond Xi's anti-corruption purge to build robust and lasting anti-graft institutions will not be easy, owing to enduring opportunities for bureaucratic capture.
  2. Italy unemployed demonstration SalvatoreEsposito/Barcroftimages / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

    Putting Europe’s Long-Term Unemployed Back to Work

    Across the European Union, millions of people who are willing and able to work have been unemployed for a year or longer, at great cost to social cohesion and political stability. If the EU is serious about stopping the rise of populism, it will need to do more to ensure that labor markets are working for everyone.

  3. Latin America market Federico Parra/Getty Images

    A Belt and Road for the Americas?

    In a time of global uncertainty, a vision of “made in the Americas” prosperity provides a unifying agenda for the continent. If implemented, the US could reassert its historical leadership among a group of countries that share its fundamental values, as well as an interest in inclusive economic growth and rising living standards.

  4. Startup office Mladlen Antonov/Getty Images

    How Best to Promote Research and Development

    Clearly, there is something appealing about a start-up-based innovation strategy: it feels democratic, accessible, and so California. But it is definitely not the only way to boost research and development, or even the main way, and it is certainly not the way most major innovations in the US came about during the twentieth century.

  5. Trump Trade speech Bill Pugliano/Getty Images .

    Preparing for the Trump Trade Wars

    In the first 11 months of his presidency, Donald Trump has failed to back up his words – or tweets – with action on a variety of fronts. But the rest of the world's governments, and particularly those in Asia and Europe, would be mistaken to assume that he won't follow through on his promised "America First" trade agenda.