The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, the perpetually petulant adolescent personality cult masquerading as a nation, got the world's attention again this weekend by acting up in class and launching a spit wad across the room.
Kim and his clan of sycophantic generals and governmental administrators know that the only way to maintain their hold on power is to maintain a state of fear. This they do through a combination of hyper xenophobia and hysterical introspection. A million-man army (armed with enough chemical weapons to make a thousand Saddams happy) is justified by maintaining tension with the United States and the Republic of Korea. The populace is controlled, at the edge of starvation, by a sadistically sinister and systematic program in which everyone participates in daily group meetings for the purpose of (and you could only make this up if you were George Orwell) criticising each other. In the Korean culture, sense of self esteem and one's place in society is paramount--these criticism clatches serve to unsettle each individual in the population to the point that he or she is literally too introspective to care about the crises continuum that has been their country for generations. Of course, maintaining your nation in a near absolute news vacuum helps to keep your message in the headlines as well.
The all-controlling command economy of North Korea makes the old Soviet Union's look like rampant capitalism by comparison. It is ten times more inefficient and unproductive as well. The North Korean countryside is barely arable and resource poor. So, Kim needs help from outside to maintain his stranglehold on the 23 million people inside the borders of the world's largest concentration camp. He doesn't want aid for his people. He needs money to buy food and luxury goods to keep his army fed and his bureaucrats bought off.
This weekend's missile launch, the anticipation of which captured headlines for weeks, and was in contravention of agreements Kim made in exchange for money from the international community, was an operational failure. Reportedly, the second and third stages malfunctioned and the missile failed to accomplish its mission of putting a satellite into orbit. But, we (the rest of the world) will beg Kim to stop his intercontinental ballistic missile program and he will--in exchange for more money.
Don't know how you deal with adolescents pitching extortionary fits in your household. I ignored mine. They've since grown to maturity and entered society as productive, non-threatening adults. Time to turn our backs on Kim. What's the worst that can happen? He could resume full-scale combat operations against the Republic of Korea in the war that has simmered under an armistice since 1953. He has nothing to gain except suicidal notoriety with that course of action. The ROKs would crush him eventually, probably without too much of our help.
Will be interesting to see what H does with this one.