You've to thank Robert Boynton for his article--'Digital rebels taking on North Korea--in the April 2011 issue the Atlantic magazine.
You may quibble with Boynton's standpoint, but no one, we repeat no one, could or should challenge his observation that 'until recently [Pyongyang watchers] could say more or less whatever they wanted about North Korea, because nobody could prove them wrong, and hoary rumors have long been the coin of the realm.
'We've seen how serious the consequences of this "uninformed" [GaumDiary emphasis] punditry can be. Assured by North Korea expert in 2002 that the regime was "on the brink" of collapse, president George W. Bush saw no point in negotiating with Kim Jong Il, whom he loathed and wasn't inclined to deal with in the first place. Not only did the regime not collapse, but in October 2006 it detonated its first nuclear weapons'.
Anti Kim North Korean refugees in South Korea, armed with digital technology, have shown that the US North Korean clerisy are naked and have been selling snake oil all the long, or as long as their cottage industry of puffery and flummery have not been exposed. Yet pick up any publication, say, in the US and you will find the same old bromides and calumy that are the clerisy's trademark.
You may wonder why this charade continues: simply put, it's an industry heavy funded by government funds and like the long gone dinosaurs are incapable of adapting to a newer environment. Add to that, inertia which encourages sloth and lazy habits, and the attitude 'if it works why cahnge it?'
A recently published book--'Anatomy of Kim Jong-il' deals with the obvious 'ad hominem' attacks on the 'Great Leader'. Here, again, we have the usual surfacing of the superficial but not dealing with the fundamental questions which are harder to answer and which would cast a bad light on US advisors in and out of government [see above]. How much easier and more convenient to remix the same old same old nonsense on North Korea?
Hillary Clinton's approach towards dealing with North Korea is a classical case in point: hard line, no nonsense, brassy. It's a smash in the face attack: either Pyongyang will cry uncle or we will up the ante. Well the ante keeps rising higher and higher until US and its 'ally' South Korea trip a wire as they did in late November 2010 by shelling North Korean territorial waters along the NLL [Northern Line Limit]. Then North Korea riposted and visions of a renewed war in Korea had the US put its tail behind its legs. And not only that, Washington had to restain 'bulldozer' Lee Myung bak, for the last thing Obama & co. wanted or ever wished for was a third war in Asia when the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan are noticeable failures.
You'd think, too, the time had come for negotiations or talks. Wrong! The US and South Korea have learnt nothing. They have one common view in mind: driving North Korea over the cliff of ruin...economic and diplomatic by intensifying the ego money military exercises or imposition of harsh sanction which are not working.
It is easy for forget that war in Korea is entering its 61 year and the US and South Korea are harnessing their shoulders to keeping it going through propaganda and military showcasing and inept diplomacy for a century or more.
Yet North Korea survives in spite of those failed manoeuvres. You'd think that would say something to the US and South Korea? It hardly causes a ripple in a cemented case mindset. In the end, Washington and Seoul and yes even Japan will have to sit down with the North Koreans and work things out.
Boynton, with pride, can say that he has shown that the old and current Pyongyang watchers are, in the main, charlatans, and that we have to look elsewhere for what's happening on the ground in North Korea.