Man, I’ve really been neglecting this blog lately, and, in accordance with the First Rule of Blogging, I must go out of my way to point this out. In my defense, the past week has been pretty hectic, with real analysis homework, a project due and a test to take in my operating systems class, and final preparation for the ACCA programming competition today.
I’ll try and get back in the swing of things over the next week, but right now I just wanted to share a couple of news stories I was just reading about. More protests against abusive regimes have broken out, this time in North Korea. North Korean citizens have long suffered under the “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il, and the Asian press is reporting that fear of Kim Jong-il’s son and potential successor, together with still worsening economic conditions, may have sparked the protests—the first of their kind in the secretive totalitarian state.
It remains to be seen what effect, if any, these protests will have on the broader North Korean population. On one hand, many international relations scholars share the opinion of Chinese professor Liu Jiangyong, who feels that there is “not a big chance for North Korea” due to the extreme isolation of the country’s population. On the other hand, even small, sporadic protests represented a marked chance in the North Korean social atmosphere. Moreover, the Asia News Network reports that news of the Egyptian protests has reached some North Korean citizens through Chinese television broadcasts and clandestine phone calls.
Making an already tense situation even tenser, South Korea has begun a “psychological campaign” of its own, dropping leaflets about the recent Egyptian democracy protests to its troubled northern neighbor. The North Korean government, in turn, has responded as it usually does: by threatening military action if the South continues its leaflet campaign.
Such posturing on the part of the North is hardly new, of course, but it does reflect on how seriously the North fears any attempt to assail its official state worldview. The citizen protests of the past few days and the South’s attempt to inform North Koreans of similar dissent elsewhere face tremendous hurdles, but they also appear to have left the North Korean government slightly uneasy, and such efforts might play a decisive role in the eventual democratization of North Korea.