Saturday, March 15, 2008

Shifts underway in North Korea

South Korean daily Dong-a Ilbo reports that, fearing a military coup against him, Kim Jong-il is pulling back some power from his military, a major shift in North Korea’s military-first policy.

A North Korean government source says funds for the armed forces are being cut by 30 per cent to prevent the generals from taking over. Meanwhile the secret police apparatus is strengthened, the Ministry of People’s Security.

According to this anonymous government source, the shift indicates that Kim Jong-il is afraid of the power vacuum that his death might cause, and that he is convinced that his dynasty has the right to rule over the country. For this reason he does not want the military to dominate a power struggle.

Additionally, The Washington Post reminds us, “A grim rite of spring is the calculation of how many North Koreans could starve before the fall harvest -- and what the neighbors are willing to do about it.”

Severe crop failure in the North, surging global prices for food and tougher behavior by donors, particularly South Korea and China, are putting unaccustomed pressure on Kim Jong Il's dysfunctional communist state.

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