Gaat Noord-Korea open voor zaken?

SEOUL – Het Noord-Koreaanse systeem begeeft het. Het land heeft te maken met ernstige energietekorten en de economie stagneert sinds 1990, met een jaarlijks inkomen per hoofd van de bevolking dat geschat wordt op 1800 dollar, wat net iets meer is dan 5% van dat van Zuid-Korea. Ondertussen zorgen voedseltekorten ervoor dat 24 miljoen Noord-Koreanen honger lijden en dat er jaarlijks meer dan 25 van elke 1000 jonge kinderen sterven, tegen 4 in Zuid-Korea. Om te overleven zal ’s werelds meest gecentraliseerde en gesloten economie zich moeten openstellen.

Een meer dynamisch en welvarend Noord-Korea zou (samen met vrede en stabiliteit op het Koreaanse schiereiland) niet alleen de belangen van Noord-Korea zelf dienen, maar ook van zijn buurlanden en de gehele internationale gemeenschap. Een plotselinge ineenstorting van Noord-Korea of een militair conflict op het schiereiland zou tenslotte de regionale veiligheid ondermijnen terwijl buurlanden belast zouden worden met miljoenen vluchtelingen en honderden miljarden dollars aan wederopbouwkosten.

Dit zou internationale instituties en buren van Noord-Korea moeten aansporen om te voorzien in de voedselhulp, technische bijstand en directe investeringen die het land nodig heeft om aan zijn huidige kritieke situatie te ontsnappen en de overgang te maken naar een markteconomie. Maar er blijven aanzienlijke obstakels voor zo’n samenwerking, niet in het minst door de obscure en vaak onvoorspelbare politiek van het Noorden die wordt geïllustreerd door de recente executie van de ooit machtige oom van Kim Jong-un, Jang Song-thaek.

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