Zgodnie z zapowiedzią, po nawiązaniu partnerskich relacji z European Institute for Asian Studies, z którym współorganizowaliśmy w grudniu tego roku konferencję w Parlamencie Europejskim, rozpoczynamy publikacje tekstów naszych brukselskich partnerów. Dziś aktualny komentarz Glyn Forda dotyczący sytuacji w Korei Północnej:
The sudden death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il on December 17th saw Seoul, Tokyo and Washington trigger military alerts made plausible by noting the test by Pyongyang of a short range missile when his death was announced by KCNA on the 19th. Yet one suspects they have little reason to fear early North Korean military adventurism. Kim had been seriously ill for a number of years and the death was not unexpected. All had been carefully prepared and pre-planned. After all earlier this year they dropped 216 as the number plate of distinction for high officials (16th February was Kim’s birthday) in favour of 727 (July 27th was the ‚victory’ in the Fatherland Liberation War) because it was not really appropriate to celebrate individuals rather than the nation. By then Kim Jong Un was openly referred to as ‚the successor’ and visits to factories, farms and universities were commemorated by twin plates noting the presence of both father and son.
The next weeks and months will see a period of grieving and consolidation. The least provocation from the West the best during this transition. The consolidation will see Kim Jong Un emerge as a first amongst equals in the new collective leadership that his father put in place in September 2010 at the Party Congress that rejuvenated and returned the Party to centre stage. Kim Jong Un is too young and too untried to lead as an individual charismatic leader like father and grandfather, instead he will be the voice of the Party whose decisions will be made by an interlocking network of family and friends that were placed in collective control of the triple centres of power in party, military and ministries. The question is what will they say though his voice?
Those with their hands now on the levers of power will be willing and able to steer North Korea along the path that was recently set with increasing economic -but not political – liberalisation. The key figures in the new leadership are the modernisers not conservatives. Pyongyang is changing. North Korea is increasingly a land of contrasts. For those with money driving the SUV’s now to be seen on Pyongyang’s streets there is an unprecedented access to goods and services in the public markets and new ‚behind closed doors’ designer shops, while they are free to eat at Japanese or Italian restaurants or even consume hamburgers and fries at a couple of fast food restaurants. There are now a million North Koreans with mobile phones constantly texting, phoning and photographing. Yet at the same time parts of the country suffers from hunger, if not famine.
The issue now is how to spread these changes not so much to the countryside where things are not too bad, but to the benighted cities of the North East where heavy industry is barely working and where food and fuel is in short supply. The West has an opportunity to aid and abet this transition by adopting a policy of critical engagement with a new leadership freed from the burdens of the past. Pyongyang may not follow the Chinese model, but it might in its own way deliver the same result. All the alternatives are far worse for both the people of the North and the region.
Author: Glyn Ford