Monday, August 23, 2010

Reform in North Korea?

Could the return of a market-oriented planner be a harbinger for a reform-minded Kim Jong-un? From Bloomberg:
The former North Korean premier was reinstated as first deputy director of the central committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, according to an announcement on state-run Central Broadcasting Station, Yonhap News reported Aug. 21.

Pak, 71, fell afoul of North Korea’s military and party hardliners three years ago over his efforts to push market- oriented reforms, according to the Yonhap report. His return may indicate the leadership is willing to test economic changes again, said Kim Yong Hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul.

“The North may be thinking that they don’t have a choice but to use more flexible policies to fix the economy,” Kim said. “Pak may have been emphasized within the North’s party as the hands-on person to fix its problems.”
Problems like this, I would imagine.

The ruling elite has got to be seeing the writing on the wall. Some may be looking to the demise of Kim Jong-il as a chance to set the country back on the right track, positioning the Brilliant Comrade to take on the role of North Korea's Gorbachev. Surely he'd like to star as the hero in Pizza Hut commercials someday.

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2 comments:

  1. Yeah, count me skeptical. This may well be just another short term deviation from Kim-ism that will be upended when the regime feels safe enough to revert to their old ways. Or, a feint designed to give the impression that they are on the verge of reform when all they want is yet another massive aid package so they can continue with their old ways.

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  2. You may be right, but that's an awfully brazen move to make — rehabilitating a disgraced party member — just to put up a veneer of reform. I'm more reminded of the third of fourth coming of Deng Xiaoping and how that all turned out.

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