A Catholic source, anonymous for security reasons, analyses the visit by three high-ranking North Korean officials to South Korea. “Nothing is certain, but Pyongyang certainly does not want to fall into the hands of China or Russia. For this reason, it needs South Korean help. The country is on its last legs politically.” Meanwhile, the two sides continue to provoke each other in the Yellow Sea.
An interesting notion, but I do not find it persuasive. NoKo is already dependent on China for a lot of things, and why China would want to take over an utterly devasted country like NoKo is beyond me.
Russia is interested in stealing the industries and rich resources of Eastern Ukraine. Why would it want a piece of Asia that has no resources to speak of and would have to be built from scratch?
Limitless supply of kimchi?
As a Korean, I always take reunification news with a grain of salt. Two North Korean leaders have died in my lifetime, and despite hope of collapse and reunification, succession of power continued smoothly.
North Korea successfully continues its vicious cycle of asking for aid, lashing back in the name of protecting its sovereignty from corrupting foreign influence, and then asking for aid again. North Korea considers South Korea a puppet of the US, and therefore, a continuation of the colonial era–which could be correct if you take a critical view of history. Though many are destitute, many others survive just fine and they know very much about the outside world, thanks to pop culture smuggled from China. Underground trade is very much alive, as it’s not so much about following the regime, but more about survival.
There is no hope for revolution. The regime has military vehicles parked all over Pyongyang and the rest of the country to quell a regime fast. North Korea’s small size allows it to starve and suppress its people simultaneously.
But yes, three high-level officials suddenly visiting the South is notable.
As far as your dismissal about China and Russia wanting to take over North Korea, my response is: I agree regarding Russia. But China, not so fast.
The Koreans are not Slavic, and therefore aren’t considered the kin of Russians. There is no interest in Russia “reunifying” North Korea. A Japan/Russia war is only hypothetical. Other than that, there is no Pacific threat to Russia, thanks to its harbor in Vladivostok. South Korea props up the Russian Far East with its soft economic power, and Russia provides gas, so it is a valuable trade relationship.
Although China might not want to officially annex North Korea, as it already has enough revolting ethnic minorities and poor people, it is very interested in making North Korea a puppet state. Why? To contain United States interests, and its troops stationed there. After all, this is why China got involved in the Korean War–to protect its own borders.
China, Korea, and Japan are rivals, and none is interested in seeing the other become more powerful. In particular, neither China nor Japan care for a unified Korea–after all, how is Korean unification in their interests? A unified Korea would have a population the size of Germany and almost that of Japan. Thanks to North Korean poverty, it would have a birthrate above 2.1 (replacement value), which threatens Japan, as Japan is going extinct. China would fear irredentism in Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces (the two closest to Korea). Cheap North Korean labor would only be to the advantage of Hyundai and Samsung, which threatens both China and Japan. A unified Korea would also have nukes.
However, does Korea want reunification? Not yet, thanks to studies showing that it would be even more economically detrimental to Korea than it was for Germany. (I question these studies myself; these studies assume that North Korea is totally incompetent at modernizing but it is not. North Korea knows much more about the outside world than people think.) And I’m not sure that people under 25 even care. Civilian communication is cut off and younger people like me don’t know anyone on the other side. And it may be better for South Korea to have North Korea and its nukes in place as a buffer state.
Trade relationships, and the reality that too many would die, are the only thing preventing open war. All three nations would rather keep the status quo, no matter how much less than ideal it may be. Either way, we need to work on reconciliation first, before reunification.
In the end, let’s not get too excited. This visit by three officials is most likely just another ploy to get more free aid from South Korea. South Korea will likely give them some aid to keep them at bay, and the cycle will continue. Kinda like donating to your homeless uncle.
Wow, CaliLobo–I have no idea whether your right or wrong, but that’s one impressive explanation. Comprehensive, detailed, analytical. I feel like I now know something about a situation that I knew very little about before.
According to Victor Cha in his book The Impossible State, NK is actually sitting on a rich bonanza of rare-earth elements and other metals used in electronics manufacturing, minerals that by itself North Korea is incapable of actually exploiting. China has very favorable deals (think “over a barrel”) with NK to exploit these resources. were NK to collapse or make noises about reunification, I could see where the PRC would get protective of their mining rights. OTOH, as I’ve said before, China also doesn’t need the economic headache of millions of the poorest in Mid-East Asia essentially and suddenly becoming part of Manchuria. If I were a betting man, of the options mentioned in the article “Switzerland in Asia” would be the option I’d see China putting it’s weight behind, as it’d be the best of both worlds – it has its buffer between the West and the Chinese land border, it gets to keep exploiting the mineral wealth through existing contracts, it doesn’t have to worry about millions of starving refugees streaming into Jilin Province, and it might even get a saner government in Pyongyang into the bargain.
An article I read said there might have been a coup because no one had seen the leader in 3 weeks.
Warm water ports like Wonsan.
Who’s running the country? Where is Kim Jong Un? Could get complicated.
He hasn’t been seen for at least 3 weeks or more. :shrug: