Kim under pressure – Corona drives North Korea to the abyss – politics abroad

10 years of Kim Jong-un, 10 years of increasing isolation, 10 years of permanent crisis.

When the 37-year-old dictator officially took power in North Korea 10 years ago (on December 29, 2011), there was hope and, at the same time, cause for great concern about the nuclear arsenal.

The “Supreme Leader” quickly and radically consolidated his position – and further expanded the nuclear program. But now he’s under a lot of pressure, stronger than ever.

BILD asked Dr. Christian Taaks from the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in Seoul. The head of the Foundation for Freedom in Korea has been observing the Kim dictatorship from South Korea for years and sees the corona pandemic as a threat to the existence of the Stalinist regime: The Kim analysis on the 10th “anniversary”.

► The North Korea expert on …

… Kim’s responsibility:

“The situation in the country is currently extremely difficult, which has a lot to do with developments over the past 10 years. Beyond a political assessment, however, factors are also jointly responsible that are beyond the Fuehrer’s sphere of influence: for example, crop failures after natural disasters have led to an extremely tense food situation. “

… about the corona policy:

“The consistent closure of the borders in almost two years of the Covid pandemic has brought international trade to an almost complete standstill, including with China. Added to this are the international sanctions that made imports and exports very difficult even before 2020. The combination of these factors additionally complicates the already fundamental supply problems in the country. “

… North Korea’s perspective in the new year:

“Although it was previously unimaginable: The country is more isolated than ever. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘Hermit Kingdom’, which depicts both sides of this state of affairs: a self-chosen isolation from a hostile foreign country, combined with an undetectability for diplomacy, international cooperation and being embedded in world affairs. “

Photo: KCNA / via REUTERS

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The Communist Party meets – Kim Jong-un speaksPhoto: KCNA / via REUTERS

… the current life of the population:

“The state control of all areas of life is even more intensive, the personal freedom for the individual citizen has become even smaller. Ideologically, people are kept on a very short leash and any discussion of any kind of thinking other than the one given is made impossible. “

… a free market:

“In the wake of the famine of the 1990s, there had been, to some extent, such a thing as free markets that helped fill gaps in food and consumer goods. Initially, Kim Jong-un made economic adjustments and the general situation improved, albeit at a low level. In recent years, especially due to Corona, the necessary financial freedom seem to be increasingly restricted. “

Nordkoreanische Soldaten besuchen den Mansu-Berg am 10. Jahrestag des Todes des zweiten Führers Kim Jong-il (Vater von Kim Jong-un)Photo: – / dpa

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North Korean soldiers visit Mount Mansu on the 10th anniversary of the death of second leader Kim Jong-il (father of Kim Jong-un)Photo: – / dpa

… Kim’s Earnings:

“From the point of view of Kim Jong-un and the power elite surrounding him, it could be positively recorded that his power, after the first few years of consolidation, now appears to be very solid, despite all the difficulties. The successful armament with the development of new weapon systems would also be rated positively in this group. The price for this is high, however, because it comes at the expense of the prosperity of the population, who now have to tighten their belts again, although Kim promised a few years ago that this would never be necessary again. He openly admitted the numerous failures in economic policy at the party convention in January 2021. Those were completely unfamiliar sounds. “


Map: Factsheet North Korea - Infographic

… Kim’s Politics:

“Almost everything serves to secure power, which is also clear to the country’s elites, who support it. Kim knows that armaments and a strong army play crucial roles in maintaining the existing power and social system. At no time, not even in 2018/2019, was the development and acquisition of more modern weapon systems interrupted. To the outside world, they are the negotiating capital with the West, for example when it comes to lifting the sanctions. The only bad thing is that there are currently no negotiations at all, because North Korea has slipped a few places down on the list of US foreign policy priorities. But armaments also play an important role internally, because the political orientation of the population thrives heavily on enemy images and threat scenarios from which the country has to protect itself. “

… about Corona:

“The intensive ideological orientation of the population will be retained, as will the state control of all matters of social life. The role of the Labor Party will grow even stronger. The hermetic seal will remain for the time being, which also has to do with the Covid pandemic: To date, there has not been a single officially confirmed case, but also no officially confirmed vaccination. Given its health system, the country would perish if the virus spread and also be unable to manage the usual number of vaccination breakthroughs. Therefore one is waiting for drugs that work reliably. “

… the role of China:

“In terms of foreign policy, the liaison with China will become even stronger because the number of helpful friends is small. China is the main trading partner and a pillar of the regime. In the event of a crisis, this will also have an impact on the food supply, because China is interested in stability and wants to avoid profound crises. “

Nordkoreanische Bürger verneigen sich anlässlich des 10. Todestages von Nordkoreas zweitem Führer Kim Jong-il für eine SchweigeminutePhoto: Cha Song Ho / dpa

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Kim cult on orders: North Korean citizens bow for a minute’s silence on the 10th anniversary of the death of North Korea’s second leader Kim Jong-ilPhoto: Cha Song Ho / dpa

… about the relationship with the USA:

“It is extremely questionable whether there will be an improvement in relations with the USA. President Biden calls for a ‘step by step’ approach, but it is completely unclear what a first step could be – and who is taking it. In relation to South Korea, which is viewed by the north as an archenemy, sharper and more aggressive tones are to be expected after the presidential elections in March 2022 in the south. “

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