Predicting the collapse of North Korea is a fool’s game — and one I never tire of playing. So with that, let’s play along today with Christopher Lee:
Kim Jong Un is defined by many as an egotistical fanatic whose recklessness led to dreadful mistakes during his two year tenure. First, instead of implementing a sound plan to alleviate the mass hunger and poverty in his nation where the average annual income is $1,800, he continues to conduct costly missile research, development, and test launches. To support his weapons programs, Kim spends approximately $10 billion – about 25 percent of total GDP – on his military. The $3.2 billion spent on nuclear weapons and missile development over the years is equivalent to three years’ supply of food for North Korea’s citizens.
Second, on April 8, 2013, Kim broke his partnership with South Korea regarding their joint venture in the Kaesong Industrial Park. This action further severed ties between North and South Korea and cost North Korea 53,000 jobs and wage losses amounting to $245.7 million. South Korea paid workers’ salaries directly to the North Korean government, so this loss of revenue further bankrupted North Korea.
Third, and above all, Kim’s most flawed and dangerous decision was the recent purge and public pillory of Jang Song Thaek. This action not only destroyed the image of unity in his regime, but also inadvertently acknowledged the dissension and instability within the state-run government. It strained his nation’s alliance with its closest ally, China, who was working closely with Jang in an effort to convince a determinedly opposed Kim to adopt to a China-style economic reform.
Combined, these instances demonstrate a realistic probability that this authoritarian regime may potentially crumble in the near future.
That third item is the key. As we’ve discussed here before, the ruling clique needs the carrot and the stick, or the whole thing falls apart. Oftentimes rather suddenly.
That’s why I say it’s a fool’s game. Outsiders have no way of knowing who is making overtures to China or who is getting ready to flee or which security services colonel (it’s almost always a colonel) thinks it’s time to “save” his country via firing squad.
But then it happens, or all at once.