Pyongyang policy should be based on facts, not rumor
Nothing is more dangerous than making important decisions based on wrong assumptions. This is especially true when it comes to the future of North Korea. Leaders must be extra cautious when predicting the future of the communist regime.
These days South Korean society is full of Kim Jong-il regime collapse scenarios. They believe that the North will fall apart when he dies. Do they have any evidence to come to such a foolish conclusion?
Correct information, not intelligence, rumor nor wish, should be the basis for making North Korea policy. It is 100 percent true that North Korea will collapse when it collapses. At this stage, this is the only logical conclusion. For the past decades, speculation and predictions have been rife regarding the breakdown of the North. They have proved to be wrong so far. Even Washington has aired the possibility of changing the regime since the late 1990s. It had failed to mobilize methods and policies to do so.
President Lee Myung-bak, during a meeting with Koreans in Kuala Lumpur Thursday, said that he feels reunification is not far away. His statement is his hope or prediction, probably not a fact based on any actual correct information. He also stated that North Koreans have begun to know what’s going on outside the communist country and that the South is pretty well off. The President said reunification is a significant change nobody can resist. He added that the South Korean economy must grow further to prepare for reunification.
He criticized the Kim regime for arming itself with nuclear weapons and only feeding privileged party leaders at a time when people were starving to death. Lee said the South has the responsibly to reunify the Korean Peninsula through peaceful means so that the 23 million North Koreans can enjoy basic rights, including the right to enjoy peace.
President Lee’s message indicates his distaste for the Kim regime, for its repeated provocative acts, including killing civilians. He hinted that he will be talking directly with the Northern brethren, not with the regime. President Lee is right in foretelling the people to prepare for an ultimate reunification. He has already suggested the need to collect a reunification tax.
Lee’s vision is reminiscent of what conservative President Ronald Reagan did in the early 1980s in dealing with the former Soviet Union. Reagan’s heavy military spending triggered a corresponding arms race from the former Soviet Union. Ultimately the Soviet Union collapsed without a shot being fired. Reagan had repeatedly described the Soviet Union as an evil regime, which must disappear from the Earth. He attempted to hold direct talks with the people of the communist country.
President Lee has begun to do the same although Seoul is not aggressive in military spending. It will be for historians to see whether Lee’s approach will have the same intended effect as Reagan’s strategy that triggered the collapse of the Soviet Union and its Eastern satellite communist countries. The only exceptions were China and North Korea.
The government should bear in mind that confirmed facts should be the only criteria in formulating North Korea policy. The administrations both in the U.S. and South Korea have failed in this thus far.