GuamDiary has in the last month spoken of Dr. John S Park of the US-funded US Institute of Peace. Harvard trained Park has the singular flair of knowing China and North Korea, and in reading today's online edition of the 'NYT' [New York Times] has his name found its way into the newspaper of note's columns. 'North Koreans Struggle, and Party Keeps Its Grip', written by Mark McDonald, reporting from Seoul.
[see his LinkedIn profile]
First and foremost of all, McDonald has tapped a much used source of North Korea watchers in Seoul, notably Kookmin university professor Andrei Lankov. Lankov, who should and does know better, keeps chanting the mantra of 'reforms mean death' for the rulers of North Korea. Well, it may surprise this Soviet trained Korean specialist, reform has been going on in the North: reform which other Soviet and western trained North Korea scholars have written about in scholarly journals and the popular press. Has Lankov been sleeping at his post?
Listen to Bradley Babson, chairman of the DPRK Economic Forum of the US-Korea Institute, in responding to Park's work on Chinese public and private investment in the rust belt in North Korea's eastern border. 'They've clearly opened up to China in a way that's unprecedent'. Well, Lankov is this not a sign of 'glasnost' and reform?
GuamDiary does suggest reading John S Park, for he, personally, despite institutional corsetting, sees farther than the standard awful dreadful fulminations of the US North Korea clerisy. We wish to point out that North Korea in escaping the
US noose that Washington wishes to choke Pyongyang with, has found in China a way to escape economic encirclement and have access to hard currency and a school of more sophisticated business practices. China, let's recall, during Hu Jintao's visit to the Obama White House, has called for good relations with the US, yet here we are, it has managed to use a parallel track with North Korea, which does not 'violate' the intentions Hu expressed in Washington. In a way, the US is getting a large dollop of the tactics it uses with its cheek to jowl coziness with Israel!
On another level, the US and the EU and Australia are refusing to provide more food aid to a hungry North Korea. In a way, GuamDiary appeals to a historical analogy: these countries want to control the control inside North Korea of food distribution. England and France tried this tack with Egypt's Nasser at the time of his nationalisation of the Suez Canal. Gamal Nasser saw the ploy for what it was, the west's retention of the levers of another country's powers. North Korea sees the US, EU, and Australia's refusal in the same light. They have forgotten Guinee's president Sekou Toure's words when rebuffed deGaulle removed even the light bulbs, after Guinee refused to joint the French Community. Toure famously said: it's better to be free and stand tall than a slave on one's knees.
The US and South Korea and the US North Korea clerisy simply do not get it. They plod along the same well worn path dumbly.
Yet McDonald makes mention of an on going exchange programme with North Korea that Syracuse university has been maintaining for the last decade or so. The old guard of the New York Korea Society helped put that on track. Which means that among the US North Korea watchers there is a splinter of good sense in dealing with North Korea, but they are very much in the minority. It would take political guts and a strong will to go against the hard liners in Washington.
The official line remains as GuamDiary outlined in several blogs highly critical of the CFR [Council on Foreign Relations] patronage of the pamphlet advising US policy towards Korea, which called for regime change in the North, by the obedient and government funded US North Korea clerisy, in early 2010