Monday, September 06, 2004
THE WARMING WINDS OF TRADE WON'T CHANGE NORTH KOREA
So argues "WonsanGhetto" over at NKZone. The post includes a useful series of descriptions of the various attempts to increase trade with North Korea including special economic zones, tourist projects, and industrial parks. The bottom line, they don't seem to work all that well:
Recent history confirms that North Korea shrewdly uses the lure of openness and riches to extract as much profit and as many diplomatic concessions as it can, but it has never tolerated more than a very limited amount of free trade, which it hermetically seals off from the rest of the country.In short, the folks in charge in P'yongyang are keenly aware of the destabilizing potential of increased exchange with the outside world:
If we can see that economic penetration leads to ideological penetration, presumably, so can the North Korean security services. Kim Jong-Il must realize that if his people really knew how the folks live down South, his movie would end with a backdrop of torches and pitchforks. For that reason, no government has ever taken greater care to limit contact between its citizens and foreigners.These are, I believe, good points. At the same time, I think it is important to point out that things do appear to be changing (at least at the margins) in North Korea in ways that some in the leadership do not wish to see (and even deny the existence of).