North Korean Collapse Delusion


Around the end of 2010, Goh Kun, then chairman of the Presidential Committee on Social Cohesion, visited Cheongwadae to report what the next term committee will focus on. The seasoned bureaucrat, former Seoul mayor and ex-prime minister, was to continue to chair the next term. Goh reported to the President that the committee will promote tree-planting in North Korea. North Korea’s severe forest denudation is well known.

“What’s the use of tree-planting in North Korea, which will soon collapse?” President Lee Myung-bak  asked back. Goh skipped reporting on other projects and then resigned. ((You can read about it here))

As we all are aware, during the Lee administration inter-Korean relation fell to an all-time low. The North provoked the South several times in response to the Lee administration’s strategic patience. The administration wasn’t able to protect its citizens and servicemen from it, nor did it try to recuperate inter-Korean relation.

At the time of Park Geun-hye’s inauguration, even former hard-liner student activists were expecting that Park would improve inter-Korean relation significantly. But after facing serious crisis of legitimacy, Park harked back to endless reiterating of no talks for talk’s sake instead of trying to make a real progress.

Unfortunately for those who want to see a real progress in inter-Korean relation (including me), Park’s position somehow worked quite well in comparison with her disastrous personnel management and pointless economy policies. People (still) evaluate Park is doing well in North Korea policy.

All of sudden, Park called for unification “jackpot(대박)” in a new year’s press conference. So can we expect a forward-leaning approach to the North? Unlikely. Her remarks seem to be based on analyses from the NIS and her aids that North Korea will soon collapse.

It was reported unification ministry held a closed meetings with government officials and NK experts on January 7 and experts attended said Park and her aids seemed to think that Kim Jong Un regime is soon to collapse. ((The ministry denied it all (link) and the original report is now removed)) Weeks ago, Nam Jae-joon, director of the NIS reportedly said in an year-end party of the spy agency that the peninsula will be reunited in liberal democracy by 2015.

The problem is, no one except those who are around the President and some hardcore right wingers expects the North Korean collapse coming soon. Daniel Pinkston’s response to my tweet about Park administration’s assess on North Korean collapse, for example:

So I am worried that we might not able to see any practical improvements in inter-Korean relation for some time.


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