The Tragedy of North Korea

As North Korea continues to defy the international community in its quest for nuclear weapons, its people starve and suffer the worst depredations of communism. All around the North, in China and in the South, economic growth is occurring at break-neck speed and Pyongyang, by reinforcing its failed socialist policies and persisting in its bellicosity toward the world, is missing out on the bonanza. The people under Kim Jong-il’s regime are afflicted with hunger, biting poverty, and hopelessness. They live in ramshackle dwellings with income that goes from hand to mouth. More succinctly, they are serfs, held in bondage to their government, which exploits the fruits of their labor, and through its intransigent nuclear stance leaves them impoverished.  

North Korean woman in her ramshackle village.


 However, even in a slave society there are goods to be gotten, money to be  made, and a life to be had. Indeed, in the world’s most closed country, free and private markets — the pillar of a strong economy —  sprung up and flourished until last December when the earnings of North Koreans, and with them the market system, were wiped out by a currency devaluation. The aim of this action was to wipe out the country’s nascent capitalistic elements and unfortunately — by breaking  the intrinsic contract that goes with the use of paper money — it did. In order for North Korea to prosper, these markets have to be nurtured and not butchered, and the communist regime must modify its behavior both internally and externally. 

All it must do is to look  the North’s north and to its southern neighbor to witness a vindication of the free market system and a chilling indictment of the controlled, communist economic model. South Korea, which was poorer than the North in 1950, is now an economic tiger, thanks to its embrace of capitalism. China, with its financial and monetary liberalization program, has awakened a sleeping dragon. The region is awash in cash and confidence. Look at South Korea at night and you will see a blaze of lights, look at the North and you will see everyone equal in darkness, except for the Dear Leader, whose electricity never shuts off. 

Korea at night.


While Kim isn’t ailing, the people of North Korea are being left out and literally left in the dark. North Korea and its people cannot afford nuclear weapons, the criticism they bring, and another fifty years of solitude, suffering, and famine.     


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