Pyongyang Regime Rushes to Seize Initiative As Endgame Nears

Wednesday’s high-level talks between North and South Korea — the first since December 2007 — reflects the growing urgency and even desperation felt by N. Korea’s ruling cliques at the prospect of losing their iron grip over the nation’s fate.

On the surface little seems to have changed in N. Korea. A Kim remains paramount leader. At least a quarter of the population continues to suffer from chronic food shortages. The regime continues work on developing nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. Hundreds of thousands suffer and die in labor camps. Brutal executions are carried out for purported offenses against the regime.

But reports of the mechanism sustaining the N. Korean economy reveal it to be functioning in a radically different mode from the one in place during the final years before Kim Jong-il’s death.

Instead of a state-run rationing system that assumed at least nominal responsibility for feeding the population, an estimated three-quarters of N. Koreans now support themselves by engaging in commercial activity ranging from selling crops on the open market to selling their labor to trading across the Chinese border. Only the most privileged quarter of the population receive substantial food rations, and even most of them are participating in commerce as the best way to accumulate wealth.

A recent report suggests that a quarter million N. Korean families now have assets of over $50,000 — a bewildering statistic for a supposedly dirt-poor communist nation whose annual per-capita GDP is $1,800. By comparison the median family net worth in S. Korea is about $26,036 and about $80,000 in the US, with an OECD average of about $40,516. Of course, a quarter million families is only about 3% of all families in N. Korea. But their wealth suggests that a financially secure middle class has begun emerging in N. Korea.

In short, N. Korea has ceased being a communist regime in all but name. Instead it is now a distressed welfare state increasingly engulfed by a burgeoning capitalist economy. This reality has become glaringly apparent to all N. Koreans, including even the privileged minority living mostly in Pyongyang. Rather than put their faith in the ruling regime, they are putting their faith in the hard currencies they can amass.

The regime has had little choice but to acquiesce to this reality. It has recently created 14 special economic zones in which transactions are lawfully conducted only in yuan, dollars, euros and other foreign currencies. Despite their names, very little of the activity in these SEZs involve foreigners who remain too skittish about N. Korea’s erratic leadership to invest there. The SEZ designations are a fig leaf to provide a bit of face-saving cover for the regime at having to let its own people use foreign currencies to conduct purely domestic economic activity because the N. Korean won is essentially worthless.

The capitalist free-for-all taking shape in N. Korea will make continued central control all but impossible without a radical transformation of the ruling regime into a governmental structure equipped to exercise broad-based control of a market economy. That is unlikely given the jostling among the various factions that make up the regime — the military, the Workers Party, and of course Kim Jong-un and his recently diminished family. The abrupt and systematic executions of Kim’s uncle Jang Song-taek and his family and followers was most likely a symptom of Kim’s need both to appease the powerful military faction as well as to assert his own precarious authority.

Now not only Kim, but the military and the party, face the stark choice of either being shoved aside as irrelevant in a capitalist society over which the regime is losing its grip or launching another brutal crackdown on free-market activity and forcing the nation either to sink back into mass starvation or explode in a thousand desperate uprisings. The latter option seems increasingly less attractive, especially as the Pyongyang cliques recognize the diminished prospect of securing Beijing’s help against a possible intervention by the South and its US ally.

It’s little wonder that the regime is now eager to resume the dialogue it abandoned seven years ago in hopes of improving its bargaining position with nuclear weapons and long-range rockets.

One of the more interesting developments to follow in the coming year or two will be the manner in which the various factions that currently cooperate to sustain the N. Korean regime will unravel as each intensifies the competition to play a bigger role in normalizing relations with the South and the outside world.



Sinopuppy · Feb 13, 10:35 PM · #

United States threatens China prior to John Kerry visit.

New China ICBM Sub
Appears Years Early
By Bill Gertz
The Washington Times

China’s military has launched the first of six new class of ballistic missile submarines in what defense officials view as a major step forward in Beijing’s strategic weapons program.

The new 094-class submarine was launched in late July and when fully operational in the next year or two will be the first submarine to carry the underwater-launched version of China’s new DF-31 missile, according to defense officials.

“When fully operational, it will represent a more modern, more capable missile platform,” said one official familiar with reports of the new submarine.

A second intelligence official said building submarines is a top priority of the Chinese, and the Type 094 will be “China’s first truly intercontinental strategic nuclear delivery system.”

The new Type 094 was spotted by U.S. intelligence agencies at the Huludao shipyard, located on the coast of Bohai Bay, some 250 miles northwest of Beijing.

The submarine is in the early stages of being outfitted and is not yet equipped with new JL-2 submarine-launched nuclear missiles.

The submarine is believed to be based largely on Russian nuclear submarine technology, the officials said.

A CIA report made public last week stated that Russia was a major supplier of technology to China’s naval nuclear propulsion programs.

The launching of the new missile submarine appears ahead of schedule. A Pentagon report on Chinese military power made public in May stated that the new Chinese missile submarine would not be deployed until around 2010.

A Defense Intelligence Agency report produced in 1999 and labeled “secret” stated that the new submarine is part of a program by China of “modernizing and expanding its missile force.”

“Mobile, solid-fuel missiles and a new ballistic missile submarine will improve the force’s ability to survive a first strike,” the report said, “while more launchers, on-board penetration aids, and possibly multiple warheads will improve its ability to penetrate missile defenses.”

The DIA report stated that China is expected to field one new ballistic missile submarine by 2020.

A Chinese Embassy spokesman had no immediate comment.

In a related development, U.S. intelligence officials said the Chinese suffered a setback in their JL-2 missile program when a test flight of the JL-2 missile failed over the summer.

The JL-2 missile program was delayed by the test failure but is continuing to be developed, the officials said. China conducted tests of the JL-2 in 2002 and last year.

Richard Fisher, vice president of the Washington-based International Assessment and Strategy Center, said the launch of the new missile submarine is “an astounding development.”

“The 094 has followed 093 development far more rapidly than the assessments in the annual Pentagon reports on the PLA,” Mr. Fisher said, referring to the China’s People’s Liberation Army.

China also recently launched a new attack submarine known as the Type 093. Additionally, U.S. intelligence agencies were surprised by China’s disclosure in July of a third new type of submarine known as the Yuan-class, a diesel-electric attack submarine.

“In the very near future, China will have a secure, second-strike nuclear attack capability that it will use to bolster its nuclear strategy of seeking to deter the United States from aiding Taiwan after a PLA attack,” Mr. Fisher said.

Mr. Fisher said the JL-2 likely will have multiple warheads.

The new submarine will make it more difficult for the U.S. military to take part in a defense of Taiwan because of the threat of nuclear retaliation, he said.

The Pentagon has deployed a new missile defense system, but a spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency has said the current interceptor system is designed to stop a long-range North Korean missile, but not an attack from Chinese or Russian missiles.

A 1999 report by the House Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People’s Republic of China stated that the new missile submarine will likely benefit from stolen U.S. nuclear warhead designs.

The report stated that the JL-2 is expected to have a longer range than the DF-31 and that 16 JL-2s will be deployed on the new submarine.

The range of the JL-2 is estimated to be about 7,500 miles, enough “to strike targets throughout the United States,” the report said.

“Instead of venturing into the open ocean to attack the United States, the Type 094-class submarines could remain near [Chinese] waters, protected by the [People’s Liberation Army,] Navy and Air Force,” the report said.

The new submarine will be a major improvement over China’s current ballistic missile submarine known as the Xia, which is equipped with medium-range missiles.

Sinopuppy · Feb 13, 10:43 PM · #

China Tests DF-41 ICBM and JL-2 SLBM

Sinopuppy · Feb 16, 01:00 AM · #

U.S.A Sec John Kerry threatens China regarding East China Sea ADIZ and proposed South China Sea ADIZ.

China appropiates budget funding for 1000+ weaponized Dark Sword UAV.

Sinopuppy · Feb 24, 09:39 PM · #



The Chinese PLA informed Japanese government officials at the China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies Conference in Beijing – Peking University on May 14-15, 2010 – that China had implemented and established the China East Sea ADIZ.

Sinopuppy · Mar 10, 03:42 PM · #

China Weapon: Submarines deploy Nuke torpedo

**China PLAN deploys approx 84 submarines against U.S.N Aircraft Carrier Battle Groups

Sinopuppy · Mar 13, 08:25 PM · #

China weapon: OLD SCHOOL HAN CLASS SUBMARINE with nuclear RK-55 Granat (SS-N-21 ‘Sampson )
venturing to 2nd Island Chain

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