Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Commentary: Birthday Party Out of the Way, It’s Business as Usual in North Korea

John Nilsson-Wright, jakartaglobe.beritasatu.com

image from article

The 70th anniversary of the Korean Workers Party of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was as lavish an affair as expected. Featuring tens of thousands of the country’s soldiers and citizens, it reportedly cost $1.72 billion – approximately a third of the country’s annual budget.
At its heart was a tightly choreographed military parade (including a torch-lit procession) designed to act as a propaganda vehicle, highlighting the charismatic leadership and achievements of Kim Jong-un. ...
Pyongyang’s public diplomacy remains restricted, for now, to statements of defiance and theatrical displays of mobilizing power: adoring crowds, serried ranks of soldiers and military firepower rolled out in the center of the capital.
But the risk of instability is still there. The North’s populist tactics rely on a state of permanent tension with the outside world to keep the country’s elites in check, to burnish Kim’s own martial and technocratic credentials, and to distract attention from an economic reform process that has an uncertain future at best.
Kim Jong-un may have good reasons to celebrate the longevity of the party and his own political tenure, but for the region and the world as a whole, North Korea is still a clear and present danger – an opaque political and security risk with an uncertain future.

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