Friday, October 23, 2009

Why is North Korea reaching out?

Reuters has an interesting Q&A article that examines why North Korea appears to be "reaching out" toward the neighbors with whom it usually has hostile relations. Some of it is old hat for people who have been paying attention to North Korea for a while, but it's still worth a read as a refresher, especially in light of new events:
North Korea appears to be looking for help with its broken economy that was dealt blows by fresh U.N. sanctions imposed after its nuclear test in May, a loss of aid from the South caused by political rancour, and floods that may lead to a smaller harvest this year.

North Korea also has a record of taking a tough stance when new governments come to power in the United States and South Korea and later softening its position. The North may be repeating this pattern with U.S. President Barack Obama, who took office about 10 months ago, and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who took power in February 2008.
It also deals with the prospect of a Lee-Kim summit, and talks about why that might happen:
Lee has said he would only agree to a summit if it was tied to meaningful steps by Pyongyang to reduce the security threat it poses to the region. If there is progress in the nuclear dealings, a summit could be seen as a victory for Lee because it will serve as a validation of his policy stance.

Even if there is no significant progress on the nuclear front ahead of a summit, the South Korean public has shown great support for its two leaders who went to the North to meet Kim because those meetings decreased tension on the heavily armed peninsula and stirred emotions of a fraternal bond for Koreans on the other side of the border.
I'm not so sure I agree with that. Kim Daejung might have seen a spike in his popularity and Roh Moohyun a bump (I'd have to see the numbers, but such ephemeral approval ratings are hardly reliable in a land where public opinion is nebulous and usually buffeted around by events so much that it's hard to trace its trajectory), but in the end both — especially Roh — were wildly unpopular in some circles.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. corrected:
    Im rlly sick of N. Korea flip flopping like that. Nowadays I don't care wat the dictator does.


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