North Koreans war stance is for internal consumption only

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North Koreans war stance is for internal consumption only

North Korea's latest saber rattling is really for internal consumption rather than threatening the rest of the world.

They are about to enter a time of regime change, and to make sure the new leader is accepted North Koreans leadership are trying to build national unity. It would be a dangerous situation if the rest of the world takes the bluster as a real prelude to war.

However even if war did eventuate North Korea would quickly be beaten, its old equipment and dispirited population would overwhelm the few real weapons they possess.

On the streets of Pyongyang, posters depict workers soaring into the sky alongside a long-range rocket - part of a 150-day campaign to spur North Koreans to work harder by instilling them with national pride.

Some suspect the push is not just a "let's-work-harder" drive but a political campaign designed to cement national unity as the regime sets the stage for the communist nation's next leader.

North Korea launched a rocket April 5 in defiance of international calls for restraint. On Monday, the regime tested a nuclear bomb underground. While world powers debate how to punish the regime, analysts say Pyongyang may also have another audience in mind: its own people.

Cheong Seong-chang of the Sejong Institute, a South Korean security think tank, believes North Korea is using the 150-day campaign to parade its achievements in a bid to bolster national pride.

The five-month campaign is set to culminate in early October, about the time of the anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party. North Korea could then hold a national convention - its first in nearly 30 years - to announce a successor to aging leader Kim Jong Il, Cheong said.
... Quote:
It's politically driven. I think the campaign is aimed at building up achievements that the successor can later claim credit for
he said.

Kim, 67, reportedly suffered a stroke in August 2008, sparking regional concerns about instability and a possible power struggle if he died without naming a successor. He has three grown sons, but has not said publicly who will become head of the nation of 24 million.

The eldest, Kim Jong Nam, appeared to fall from favor after he was caught trying to sneak into Japan on a fake Dominican passport, allegedly to get to Disneyland.

A former employee of Kim's said the leader considers his middle son, Kim Jong Chol, as too effeminate for the job, although a high-profile defector told a South Korean newspaper he still has a chance.

Most analysts, including Cheong, think Kim's youngest son, 26-year-old Kim Jong Un, is his favorite and has the best chance of succeeding the authoritarian leader.

Cheong sees signs the regime may be gearing up to make a succession announcement.

Cheong noted that North Korea founder Kim Il Sung arranged for his son to take credit for a "70-day battle" before he was tapped in 1974 to succeed his father. The succession decision was made public in a 1980 convention. Kim Jong Il formally assumed leadership upon his father's death in 1994.

Last year, North Korea launched a national economic development drive aimed at turning the impoverished nation into a "great, prosperous and powerful nation" by 2012 - the centennial of Kim Il Sung's birth.

Kim Jong Il was said to want to name his successor in 2012. But health concerns may have sped up the timing, analysts said, with the 2012 date moved forward to what's been billed in the North as a "150-day battle."

"He can't postpone it any longer, considering his health," Cheong said.

Kim must address three main issues before his health worsens: establishing security by normalizing relations with the U.S., strengthening the economy and naming a successor.

"The nuclear test shows that Kim feels he's running out of time," said Kim Yong-hyun of Seoul's Dongguk University.

Communist North Korea is one of the world's most isolated nations and has few sources of help since the demise of the Soviet Union. China has cut back on its once-generous sponsorship. A decade of South Korean handouts ended when conservative President Lee Myung-bak took office last year, pinning aid to nuclear disarmament.

The underground blast was a bold gambit to dramatically raise tensions, and perhaps panic the U.S. into offering aid, Kim said.

North Korea also has custody of two U.S. journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, accused of entering the country illegally in March and engaging in "hostile" acts. They are to stand trial June 4.

"He wants to settle all problems through a package deal with the U.S.," he said. "That's why he is putting forward all his negotiating cards."

Kim Jong Il may also want to shore up support at home for a smooth succession, analysts said.

"I think the succession plan is still taking hold and (the nuclear test) is a way of solidifying the transfer of power," said Peter Beck, a Korean affairs expert at American University in Washington. "In the wake of the missile test, it was clearly for domestic consumption."

Both the rocket launch, which North Korea called a successful bid to send a satellite into space, and the nuclear test were praised as achievements displaying the country's might and scientific skill.

Thousands of North Koreans and uniformed soldiers held a rally Tuesday to celebrate the atomic blast, shouting "Hurray!" and clapping, according to video from APTN North Korea. A banner at the Pyongyang Indoor Gymnasium read: "Long live the great victory of the military first policy."

As part of the 2012 drive, construction projects began sprouting up across Pyongyang last year. Visitors reported seeing new apartment buildings rising, old buildings getting a facelift and roads being paved.

Now, posters touting the "150-day battle" urge building an economy impervious to foreign pressure, according to recent visitors to Pyongyang.

It was even referred to when the North announced it had conducted a nuclear test. The blast "is greatly inspiring the army and people of the (North) all out in the 150-day campaign," a statement said.

The official Korean Central News Agency and the Rodong Sinmun newspaper have mentioned the campaign nearly every day since early this month, saying factories and workers across the country are exceeding their production goals.

This week, APTN video showed an apartment complex under construction when the North announced it "successfully" conducted its nuclear test. Pyongyang's streets looked like business as usual, with uniformed schoolchildren marching and singing a song lauding Kim, as others casually strolled along.

"Let's run like a storm, riding on a flying horse," one street poster said. "Let's all become winners in the 150-day battle."
By netchicken: posted on 28-5-2009

The much-maligned, oft-mocked "Dear Leader" in Pyongyang, Kim Jong-Il, is on his way out the door. The stroke he suffered last August was a doozy, as evidenced by recently released photos that show the left side of his face decidedly drooping.

All evidence points to Kim soon stepping back from the day-to-day exercise of power, and orchestrating the rise of Idiot Son No. 3, Kim Jong-Un, to Pyongyang's top spot. Idiot Son No. 3 from Unimportant Wife No. 3 is reportedly not yet even thirty years old.

Kim Jong-Il was in his early forties when he emerged as heir apparent, and in his late fifties when he truly assumed the throne. By that time, his manufactured legend had been methodically drilled into the skull of every citizen-inmate of the Hermit Kingdom.

In contrast, almost nothing is known about son Kim Jong-Un, not even his actual age. The only verified photo dates back to his childhood. And this simply will not do for a regime that obsesses to a level that would have turned Josef Stalin deep green with envy over the leader's cult of personality. Kim Jong-Un cannot simply step up. According to the regime's loopy tradition, he must be transformed into a near god before his official succession.

To the outside world, such a transition seems if I may be allowed to abuse that term "logical" enough, but inside North Korea's ultra-paranoid political culture, it cannot seem anything less than frighteningly uncharted waters.

And do you know what happens when a totalitarian state suffers such a panic? It must create a far larger one externally; hence the "unacceptable provocations" of this week. So, no, we won't be breaking this crazy-ass regime any time soon. It's only going to get much worse and stay much worse for a very long time.

Having said all that, Pyongyang's declaration yesterday that it's tossing away the fifty-six-year-old armistice with South Korea makes clear that North Korea is freaked out enough over the Kim transition that it would consider re-engaging (or at least threaten to re-engage) the South in some military skirmish or even war.

And it begs for an alternative solution: The West could call Kim's bluff by proceeding with every "hostile act" that we know will push his buttons. If nothing else, direct hostile reactions might reveal the fraud that is North Korea's decrepit military might, and who knows maybe they would actually tip things over into the regime-ending conclusion the whole world is looking for.

Unlike, say, Iran, North Korea is a completely fake state the unnecessary tailbone still remaining from the Cold War plus it's truly totalitarian, meaning engagement is a fool's errand. So let's not pretend this is any test for America or our new president, because it's not.

This is an existential crisis for an artificial nation that's survived long past its expiration date and it shows. If there is one spot on the planet where President Obama could get away with aping Bush's "bring it on" bravado, North Korea is it.

Much more good analysis here

Warning for bad language (and I don't mean the accents)

north-korea-crisis.jpg - 13.14kb
By netchicken: posted on 29-5-2009

Here is a rare video interview with the oldest son, Kim Jong Nam, who appeared to fall from favor after he was caught trying to sneak into Japan on a fake Dominican passport, allegedly to get to Disneyland.
By netchicken: posted on 8-6-2009

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