The Cheonan Sinking: Wounded Tiger vs. Crippled Child “

 

North Korea: “The Cheonan Sinking: Wounded Tiger vs. Crippled Child “

 

May 22, 2010.

On the receiving end of any spanking from Seoul and the U.S., North Korea actually has a split personality disorder. On the military side, it is like a wounded tiger. On the economic side, with an economy stumbling at roughly the Zimbawe level, North Korea is akin to a crippled, little child. Depending upon where you decide to spank, the policy types in Washington and Seoul get to choose between slapping the wounded tiger or kicking the already crippled, young child. They must understand clearly, if they choose to hit–the “where” and “how” have very different consequences and, like many North Korea issues, the correct strategy is not always obvious.  

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North Korea: “The Cheonan Was Bait for an Internal Propaganda Frenzy “

The Cheonan sinking is an important internal propaganda victory that Pyongyang  created. With the loss of 46 South Korean sailors, Washington and Seoul had no choice. They took the bait.  In so doing, they have predictably teed up the opportunity now for Kim Jong Il to do a little defense of the homeland frenzy. This internal, “Defense of the DPRK” propaganda barrage that now follows the Washington Seoul “spanking” is  extremely valuable to the regime to enhance its stability at this delicate and difficult time of transition. The Dear Leader and his elite, inner circle know full well that, given Kim Jong Il’s 2008 stoke, his clock is already in overtime.

While we may never know for sure, the sinking of the Cheonan appears to be part of a deliberate teasing to coax a limited military response out of Seoul and Washington. Given the sophisticated, Kasparov-like chessmaster moves made by Pyongyang (typically outgunning U.S. negotiators concentrating on their checkers board), the Cheonan incident is just one of several moves coming up. Brinksmanship?  Hardly.  Pyongyang knows full well that at worst it faces a limited spanking response like perhaps joint military exercises (for show) or perhaps beefed up security between U.S and ROK forces on the peninsula combined with some rhetoric. Nothing more. Should Seoul engage in even the most benign cross-border military skirmish, Kim Jong Il can  then get away with his slash back and propagandize that as blocking the aggressor from the South, no matter how minimal the “deterrent” response is from Washington and Seoul.

There is another piece to this already complicated puzzle. Kim Jong Il needs a leadership-anointing opportunity to assist his youngest son, the Swiss-educated  Jong-Eun, to obtain some kind of military leadership, albeit limited, in defense of the fatherland. He also needs to cinch down the military power base for Jong-Eun. So how would this work? Whip the country and the KPA into a war frenzy, organize rallies in Pyongyang, put the KPA on alert, cut off trade and communications with the South. Perhaps even give “Brilliant Comrade ” (Jong-Eun) a military leadership role in the slash back exercise which can then be internally propagandized and then jerk him back to safety once the slash back has been undertaken. Military anointment completed and the internal film and propaganda machinery can then be unleashed. But before “Brilliant Comrade” is placed in the limited line of fire, the Dear Leader needed to test the waters and set up the U.S. an South Korean response. Hence, the Cheonan incident. The timing of this Cheonan chess move is not coincidental—the DPRK Party Congress is set to meet in a few weeks and it is likely that Kim Jong il will confirm then that the baton will pass to Jong-Eun.

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North Korea: “Juche and Kimilsungism Block Effectiveness of Any Sanctions Against North Korea ”

 

North Korea: “Juche and Kimilsungism Block Effectiveness of Any Sanctions Against North Korea “ May 27, 2010.

Pyongyang plays by a vastly different rulebook. Economic sanctions vis.a.vis the DPRK only serve as political pablum for constituencies in Seoul and in the U.S. The North Korean philosophy of Juche (originally created by North Korean academic Hwang Jang-Yop who later defected) as modified by Kim Jong Il into Kimilsungism will never permit Pyongyang to knuckle under to economic sanctions imposed by outsiders. If you thoroughly understood that philosophy you would know that economic sanctions are an exercise in futility. In fact, the Dear Leader just demonstrated for the world last year that the regime was all too ready, and did, in fact, shoot itself in the economic foot by completely shutting down the economic zone at Kaesong and trade with South Korea in the wake of its 2009 missile and nuclear tests.

The burden of economic sanctions will not scratch the elite ruling class in Pyongyang or the DPRK military—it will be borne by the North Korean people. They are the weakened, impoverished child that will have to take the brunt of any further economic spanking.

 

 

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