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Time for Kim to Change

Kang Won Cheol, Senior Editor, NKnet  |  2012-05-08 15:35
I escaped from North Korea and settled in South Korea in 2000, so that means 13 years have passed. During that time, the president has changed three times (Kim Dae Jung, Roh Moo Hyun and Lee Myung Bak). On the coming December 19th, yet another president will be born. Eight months ahead of that presidential election, the steps of each partys candidates are quickening. For better or worse, they are working night and day to get public opinion on side.

North Korea has also changed its leader three times, but here we are not talking about an election for the people like in South Korea; we are talking about hereditary succession. Son Kim Jong Il naturally became the North Korean leader after the (July, 1994) death of Kim Il Sung, and Kim Jong Eun has now taken the place of Kim Jong Il. On the 11th of last month at the 4th Workers Party Delegates Conference, Kim Jong Eun was taken as Party 1st Secretary, and with it he became North Koreas supreme leader. For the peerless Suryeong to be picked in a democratic election would be impossible. Only the absolute loyalty of taking exists in North Korea.

Unlike in a democratic society, where only by reading public opinion and attracting support can victory in an election be possible, for Kim Jong Eun, who came to power thanks to the handing down of power, there is no such thing as public opinion. The North Korean reality is that the only public opinion is of loyalty to the leader and system. As a result, there is not even the word public opinion in Kims head. Just like his father, in fact. That this regressive motion is even possible against the tide of history is only down to the fear, repression and idolization of the Kim Il Sung-Kim Jong Il era policy of ignorancification.

Kim Jong Il turned North Korea into one huge prison over the course of his 17 years. During the March of Tribulation in the mid and late 1990s, 3 million ordinary citizens starved, and the dishonor of being known as the worlds worst abuser of human rights was conferred. He sent defectors caught simply looking for a way to survive by escaping to China to jails and labor re-education camps. He ruled over our North Korean land by force of arms.

Kim Jong Eun is now adopting the ruling methodology of Kim Il Sung without alteration, too. To a young man short on experience such as he, there is no leadership or strong base of support, and this is presumably why he is now shouting about the people of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il Chosun while putting the implementation of Kim Jong Ils last instructions at front and center, and this is also why Rodong Shinmun and other propaganda tools of state are being employed to make statements threatening South Korea in an attempt to secure domestic opinion by elevating the enemy outside.

However, this kind of divisive method is only making Kims predicament worse.

The first and most important thing for the North Korean authorities is to solve the problem of the peoples economy. However, Kim Jong Euns moves do not reflect this. Yet, the life of a leader who cannot carry the people is not long, as history can confirm. Kim Jong Il prolonged his dictatorial rule through repression and thorough controls, but North Korea is still no exception to the rule. If Kim Jong Eun follows his father and grandfather much further, then the day when he is struck down will only come more quickly.

The only way for Kim Jong Eun to survive is through reform and opening. Indeed, this is the only way for Kim Jong Eun and all the people to live. If he reforms and opens North Korea, then Kim Il Sungs own last instructions, that people be able to eat white rice and meat soup, will be realized. In a brief moment, reform and opening will recover peoples trust. It is not too late. The international community constantly speaks of how the window of opportunity is open, showing a slight sense of hope. Kim Jong Eun must show the resolve to reform and open before he finds himself judged by the people.
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