North Korea's New Offensive
The Man Who Would Be Kim
Why North Korea Will Muddle Through
How to Deal With North Korea
The Fire Last Time
Regime Change and Its Limits
The Long Road to Pyongyang
Why North Korea Will Not Change
The Once and Future Kim
Succession and Stasis in North Korea
What I Found in North Korea
Pyongyang’s Plutonium Is No Longer the Only Problem
Next of Kim
North Korea, One Year Later
The China Option
Progress in Pyongyang Must Go Through Beijing
Why China Hasn't Reined in North Korea
Trump and North Korea
Reviving the Art of the Deal
Getting Tough on North Korea
How to Hit Pyongyang Where It Hurts
Atoms for Pyongyang
Let North Korea Have Peaceful Nuclear Power
Kim Jong Un's Quest for an ICBM
The State of North Korea's Missile Program
Japan's North Korea Options
Will Tokyo Equip Itself for a Preemptive Strike?
Caught in the Middle
The North Korean Threat Is Ultimately Seoul's Problem
China's North Korean Liability
How Washington Can Get Beijing to Rein In Pyongyang
The Wolf of Pyongyang
How Kim Jong Un Resembles a CEO
The Korean Missile Crisis
Why Deterrence Is Still the Best Option
Preventing Nuclear War With North Korea
What to Do After the Test
Changing North Korea
An Information Campaign Can Beat the Regime
A Korea Whole and Free
Why Unifying the Peninsula Won't Be So Bad After All
When Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s founding ruler, died in 1994, many outside observers predicted that his state would die with him. That never happened, of course, and his son Kim Jong Il managed to keep the regime alive until his own death, in 2011. When his son Kim Jong Un took the reins that year, numerous Korea watchers again predicted a collapse. Once again, they were proved wrong. Despite its extreme poverty, North Korea is still very much alive and a major threat to its southern neighbor.
But cracks are appearing. Last December, Kim Jong Un took the unprecedented step of publicly executing his uncle Jang Song Thaek, the second most powerful official in the regime. Although Jang’s removal may help strengthen Kim’s rule in the short run, it could have the opposite effect in the long run, convincing North Korean elites that the 31-year-old heir to the throne is too hotheaded to be trusted. The regime’s patrons in China, meanwhile, were undoubtedly unsettled by the execution of Jang, who was Pyongyang’s chief envoy to Beijing and a proponent of Chinese-style reforms.
But Beijing is unlikely to start putting more pressure on Pyongyang, at least not anytime soon. China’s leaders may not like the current regime, but they like the alternative far less. North Korea’s collapse would likely flood China with refugees and precipitate a military intervention that would bring South Korean and U.S. forces to China’s border. So Beijing sees supporting Kim as its least bad option.
Seoul, for its part, has also traditionally avoided doing anything to destabilize Pyongyang, and for similar reasons. For South Korea’s leaders, living with the North’s occasional pinprick attacks and the ever-present threat of another war is preferable to bearing the crippling social and financial burdens that would accompany reunification.
Even the United States and Japan, which have much less to fear from North Korea’s demise, have quietly decided to live with the
Loading, please wait...