The good news about North Korea

A message of hope

Korea is old. Legend has it that Gojoseon, an ancient Korean kingdom, was created in 2,333 BC by the emperor Dangun, grandchild of the God Hwanin, Lord of Heaven.

History — in briefest possible terms

According to Chinese records, which date back to 7 BC, the kingdom was moved to Pyongyang at around 400 BC, for reasons unknown. By 100 BC, the Chinese leader Wiman had seized control of Gojoseon, which remained under Chinese rule until the Koreans recaptured it 400 years later.

Korea was invaded by the Chinese and the Mongolians but at its heart remained more or less Korean until the early 20th century when the Japanese empire slyly assumed power, using a combination of questionable political treaties and passive military intimidation. After Japan’s surrender at the end of the Second World War, the prevailing global heavyweights USA and Russia agreed to split Korea, with the Soviets controlling the north and the Americans controlling the south.

To rule the newly separated country, the Soviets appointed Kim Il-Sung, a guerrilla leader, beginning the dynastic dictatorship we see now.

Mentality

When Japan’s dominance of North Korea ended, it left behind a fascist, imperialistic national ethos, which remains today. The people are forced by the state to show unwavering public support for their leader, however interviews with individual defectors typically reflect a more cynical attitude.

In the event of regime failure, which many outsiders consider inevitable, it’s possible that the natives will quickly abandon their forced mantras. The more clearly apparent comparative wealth of neighbouring countries, together with the observation of the leadership’s retrospective failures leading up to the collapse, will shatter what North Korean citizens already see as an illusory form of patriotism, in favour of previously-unimaginable possibilities such as free speech and greater freedom of movement.

Government

The most optimistic scenario for the future of North Korea concerns neither a military conflict, nor economic meltdown but a low-key route to regime change. The growing availability of information through mobile phones and the impact of China’s coal sanctions are testing the people’s loyalty.

The possibility of covert intervention looms. It’s conceivable that if sufficient pressure were exerted on China, a carefully managed assassination and replacement operation, targeting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could be a viable option.

The replacement may need to be an individual already well-respected among the ranks of the North Korean military, while progressive enough to ensure gradual advancements in international relations over the long-term, a reasonable ask since even the current regime has started to turn a blind eye to growth in private business to support GDP.

Outlook

Following the US’ decisive response to events in Syria, the President has set his sights further East. China recently announced its intention to assist in suppressing North Korea’s nuclear program. Meanwhile, the US has sent a naval strike group to the Korean peninsula.

With nuclear war being its only real threat to the outside world, it’s unlikely North Korea will abandon its development program without major foreign intervention.

While President Trump was seen by many as an irresponsible choice of Commander in Chief due to his own nationalistic tendencies, there’s a chance that his negotiation skills could come in handy when it comes to rallying other countries around the North Korean threat.

Assets

For a low-income country, North Korea has a relatively high life expectancy at around 70 years. Its people are lean and hardworking.

Charitable organisations such as Liberty In North Korea help fund the safety and wellbeing of refugees for whom adjusting to life in a new country can be a struggle.

At a base level, North and South Koreans share the same language, which helps those who make it across the border to form relationships and gain work.

Though currently inaccessible, North Korea is rumoured to contain rare earth elements, the likes of which are used in the production of smartphones. If the legal landscape were to change, the country could benefit from foreign investment related to the extraction of resources.

In closing

North Korea needs help. That will not change in the near future. The regime might, though. If and when that time comes, a civilisation will emerge from darkness. Our new friends will have the opportunity to share their rich national history. Open minds. A strong work ethic. An appetite for trade.

With the right amount of patience, intelligence, and luck, there’s a possibility that North Koreans will eventually see their country restored to the peaceful kingdom that was lost all those years ago.