Marketization as Stablizing Influence

Mok Yong Jae  |  2012-02-02 17:21
[imText1]The 'marketization' phenomenon that is widely credited with creating instability in the North Korean system can be utilized as a way to stabilize the Kim Jong Eun system, according to a new analysis from Professor Lee Woo Young of the University of North Korean Studies.

Speaking today at an academic seminar, Post Kim Jong Il Era Korean Peninsula, Lee explained, The North Korean authorities, be it the military or organs of power, will strengthen the existing system while extracting new benefits from the market.

Those socialist capitalists or donju (money men) emerging via the market will, rather than changing the system, conspire with the existing dominant groups, come to be incorporated with them and increase the stability of the regime, he added.

Especially given that state rationing has largely disappeared, market controls can mean economic collapse for those shut out of the system. Thus, when market controls are strengthened by the authorities, the general population offer bribes to gatekeeper cadres to guarantee their market presence.

In addition, many of the influential figures in North Korean are raise governing funds via the market directly. Kim Jong Euns aunt Kim Kyung Hee, for example, is said to have ordered cadres to sell goods provided by South Korea. The cadres collude with merchants to sell to third parties and then these bring the items to market. Prof. Lee believes that the system acts as a stabilizing influence.

Moreover, Professor Lee even considers it possible that Kim Jong Euns emergence itself could be a positive element in the system. He explained, If Kim Jong Euns physically affectionate nature, robustness, youth and drive can be well used in propaganda then it has the power to persuade people.

Using Kim Jong Ils death to promote a sense of crisis can inspire the people and positively stabilize the system, he went on, before stating definitively, Inflows of external information will not have an affect bringing about regime change.

North Korea, unlike in the past, has already experienced inflows of outside information and people already know that South Korea is an advanced country. However, living day-to-day is a more important problem to them, so longing for South Korea will not lead to them overthrowing the system, he explained.

Prof. Lee's opinion stands in contrast with that of many other experts, who believe that external information is slowly changing the thoughts of the North Korean people, bringing them to a new awareness of the poor state of North Korea.
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