The North Korean border. Photocredit: kalleboo http://www.flickr.com/photos/kalleboo/2458338721/sizes/m/in/photostream/
North Korea is not known for its affluence or openness. Kim Myong Chol, often called an “unofficial spokesman” for the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, has claimed that the country is about to reach a new state of prosperity. Just how far can we believe him, as missiles are launched towards the South?
North Korea likes to keep everyone on its toes, and on Wednesday, communist North Korea and capitalist South Korea clashed along their tense western sea border. The skirmish was apparently started when North Korean ships launched artillery shells towards the south. The shells landed near the disputed line in the Yellow Sea which has divided the nations since they parted after the Korean War, in 1953. South Korea responded with three more artillery shots. Nobody was injured.
There are also reports that North Korea has sent agents to assassinate South Korea’s defence minister.
- Our dear leader. In 2012, said Kim Myong Chol on The Asia Times, there’s “every likelihood” that North Korea will enter the club of prosperous states. It’s already in the space and nuclear clubs. It manufactures lots, and is set to become one of the world’s most prosperous countries by 2020. The author then went on to explain how lucky North Korea was to be under the leadership of Kim Jong-il and his heir-designate, Kim Jong-eun. The world will wonder how a new Asian Tiger was born.
- The discreet rise of the bourgeoisie. North Korea’s a poor place indeed, said Andrei Lankov, also on The Asia Times. But the restaurant scene’s booming and there’s plenty of traffic. On the streets there are burger bars and women in designer clothes. The state’s socialism has been replaced with “grassroots” capitalism, making a new bourgeoisie. The new rich are officials, some of whom made their money illegally; also people who trade with China. Private enterprise is also common amongst the lower echelons. New affluence brings problems: an erratic electriciy supply means fridges are often used as shelves. The private economy is slowly “eroding” the government’s power. But if a revolution comes, it’s likely to mean unification with South Korea. This is “very good news.”
- This is also where they get their money from…. Banyan on The Economist said that the North Korean government’s been accused of renting out computer programmers to scammers to half-inch millions of dollars from online-gaming firms in the South. Operating from China, the North Korean team penetrated massively multi-player online games to amass “virtual assets”, then selling them on for real money to players. The money is then sent back to the North Korean government. According to South Korea, there’s 10,000 North Korean hackers doing this as well as cyber-warfare. Whilst many thought the internet would bring openness to North Korea, it seems that Kim Jong-il “is instead finding ways of using it to increase his chances of survival.”