Fleeing vs. starving in North Korea
Posted by aogTuesday, 04 February 2003 at 16:26 TrackBack Ping URL
Via Winds of Change I found an interesting post concerning the stability of the North Korean regime. I tend toward pessimism on this score as well, but an interesting point is whether a massive wave of refugees could bring down the NK regime. Parker correctly points out that the regime has survived massive deaths from starvation. However, emigration is quite different. For those who remain, it's much easier to envy those who escaped than those who died. The emigrants may well set up external communities that communicate with those who remain, which famine victims seldom do. Uncontrolled information flows are far more dangerous to North Korea than any number of famine related fatalities so it's in the best interests of the NK regime to make sure any flood of refugees doesn't make it to the border even if that means wholesale slaughter. I'm kind of surprise that NK hasn't put land mines on its Chinese border, but that may be because they still have sufficient control of the border to make it not worth the expense. Overall, I have to agree with those that put the probability of internal regime in North Korea as low. Unfortunately there seem to be few superior alternatives. The only thing I've seen that has any realistic hope is sending large numbers of small solar or hand powered radios in to North Korea. Even this runs up against the problem that all of these articles point out - the NK regime learned much from the fall of other Communist regimes and will realize that allowing such things to go unchallenged is a form of surrender. The NK regime isn't going to sit idly by while we undermine them, which makes all of these plans very risky.

P.S. The 3 Feb 2003 issue of The New Republic has an article by Jasper Becker (not online) that claims that the level of cooperation between China and North Korea is vastly overestimated by the West as part of a deliberate disinformation campaign by China. By pretending to be on the "in" with NK, China enhances its leverage with Western nations, particularly the USA. The article points out that overall yearly trade between China and South Korea is $100 billion which make South Korea much more valuable to the PRC than North Korea. China has apparently been slow to fufill its obligations to round up and return refugees.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
pj Wednesday, 05 February 2003 at 12:34

You need to read Norbert Vollertsen’s article in the Wall Street Journal. We should do all we can to make emigration from North Korea as vigorous as possible, perhaps by stationing boats outside North Korean waters and offering refuge in South Korea to any North Koreans who reach them. North Korea can decide whether to go to war to stop them.

Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 05 February 2003 at 15:31

Or just shoot the refugees at the border. Or mine NK territorial waters.

End of Discussion