Wednesday, December 21, 2011

riddle me this

The Marmot points to a "must-read" article by Korea expert Andrei Lankov, a Marmot's Hole favorite. It's an excellent piece, but I wonder about one claim:

The affluence and freedom of the South represent a dire threat to North Korea, whose rulers realize that the spread of knowledge in their country about the prosperity of the outside world, particularly of their fellow Koreans in the South, would deliver a heavy blow to the legitimacy of the regime.

I've heard this many times, so it's not as though Lankov's claim is anything new. But I've also read North Korean defectors' testimony (especially that of Kang Chol-hwan, author of The Aquariums of Pyongyang) to the effect that NK citizens aren't stupid: many are fully aware of the prosperity of the South. This awareness hasn't translated into concerted citizen action-- for a number of reasons, including the country's shoddy infrastructure-- which makes me wonder whether South Korean prosperity really represents as dire a threat as Lankov thinks.

Your opinion?



John said...

I have read other accounts that more and more of the general population is learning that the official NK indoctrination and dogma has all been lies.

Of course just knowing the truth doesn't get you to revolution. I did find it interesting that NK expats in Libya are not being allowed to return home, presumably so that can't bear witness to what a popular uprising can do.

In my opinion change will be glacial and come as a result of outside pressure (China). Perhaps as the current NK henchmen die they may be replaced with more progressive (relatively speaking) leaders. I just don't see a bottom-up revolution on the horizon.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it has something to do with the results of this study.

“'You’d think that when people are stuck with a system, they’d want to change it more,' says Kay. But in fact, the more stuck they are, the more likely are they to explain away its shortcomings. Finally, a related phenomenon: The less control people feel over their own lives, the more they endorse systems and leaders that offer a sense of order.'"

Of course, the study doesn't address authoritarian states explicitly.