Saturday, August 17, 2013

Lankov Looks to Cooperative Future for Korea

Some key assessments from Andrei:

I am under no illusions about the North Korean leadership, and that is my major difference with the left: they believe that through this policy they can change the North Korean leaders and start some gradual evolution of the government. I don’t think it’s going to happen.
I’m not talking about the North Korean leadership “seeing the light” and becoming mild, non-authoritarian democracy lovers. If that were to happen they would be killed. Their major reward would be a firing squad. Such exchanges make common people, especially the lower reaches of the elite, demand change, demand transformation, demand reform. 
No. Starting to behave better is not in their interest. If I were in their shoes, what would I do next? I would do another Cheonan; some manipulation that comes with plausible deniability, or at least where responsibility cannot be proved immediately.

Lankov Looks to Cooperative Future for Korea

[Saturday Interview: Professor Andrei Lankov]
By Chris Green. Interview transcription by Jason Mallet.
[2013-08-17 17:09 ]  
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▲ Professor Andrei Lankov of Kookmin University in Seoul. (ⓒNKnet)
Yesterday, Daily NK revealed Professor Andrei Lankov's positive perspective on Tuesday's agreement to restart the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC). As the interview revealed, Professor Lankov supports the reopening of the KIC, seeing it as a trustworthy window on the world for the information-starved North Korean people.

Today we bring you the full text of the interview, which took place at Professor Lankov's office at Kookmin University in Seoul on August 15th, a national holiday in both Koreas that commemorates the arrival of freedom from Japanese imperial rule in August 1945.
Daily NK (DNK): The Kaesong Industrial Complex is to reopen. Do you welcome the news?

Professor Lankov (L): Yes, it’s a very good thing. Frankly, I did not expect it to happen. When asked about probability I used to say, “60 to 70% it is not going to restart.” Some people whom I take very seriously even said 95%. So it’s a good thing: slightly unexpected, but very good.

DNK: Why are you so pleased about it?

L: Two reasons, maybe even three. 

First, it is a sign that relations between North and South Korea will warm. Of course, the North Koreans only want better relations with the South because they’ve got South Korean money; it’s very simple. Nevertheless, as our experience of the Sunshine Policy shows, when North and South Korea interact economically there are far fewer military clashes and serious confrontations. I’m not saying that clashes do not happen; we saw some clashes under the Sunshine Policy after all. Rather, the possibility of a clash is much lower, and the possibility of any clash escalating is quite close to zero. 

Second, North Korea has to be changed, and as the Cold War in Eastern Europe illustrates, the best way, maybe the only way, the outside world can promote change is by infusing information inside North Korea.

To this end, information that goes through official channels is usually seen as trustworthier than that which does not. In Kaesong there are 55,000 North Koreans who are exposed to the sight of South Koreans every single day. They are tall: and their skin! It clearly shows that they are not sent to do labor, that the American imperialist dogs don’t send them to work for free in the fields as a part of agricultural labor mobilization programs. When we take into account family members we are probably talking about a quarter of a million people getting this type of exposure. It’s a significant part of the North Korean population, located in a strategically very important area. 

Number three; sooner or later North Korea will start changing anyway. I don’t know whether it will come about as a result of popular revolution, regime collapse or as a result of some gradual transformation, but it will come, and when the country starts changing, one of their major obstacles will be a dramatic shortage of information about modern technology and the modern world. In Kaesong, North Koreans see how modern factories should operate, and they learn the basics, very primitive basics no doubt, but still the basics, of modern technology. It should be welcomed. Kaesong is a good start, and I just hope that late president Ro Moo Hyun’s 2007 idea of a second industrial complex will happen, too.

DNK: Do you mean the planned complex at Haeju?

L: Probably in Haeju, but as far as I understand it the final decision about location has never been made. Is it going to be implemented? Yes, eventually, and the sooner the better. 

DNK: Do you really think it will happen?

L: I’m not sure. I hope so.

DNK: That’s just a hope, though.
(Continued at the link below)

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