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Some Say North Korea Collapse Inevitable

Posted November. 09, 2005 03:02,   


Professor Barnett said, “The need to discuss the post-Kim Jong Il regime is what I have been insisting to the State Department for several months,” adding, “U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, for the first time as a high official, discussed it with his Chinese counterpart, which I checked myself with intelligence sources in the administration.”

However, he said, “Instead of detailed discussions, the U.S. approached the concept as if to ‘plant a new seed,’” adding, “Whether or not this issue (post-Kim Jong Il era) will be discussed in depth is not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when.’”

Along with this, Barnett stated, “From 2010, fifth and sixth generations educated in the Western world including the U.S. will become leaders of China,” adding, “They will regard the Kim Jong Il regime and the Taiwan issue as the biggest stumbling blocks as they prioritize strategic cooperation with the U.S.”

Professor Barnett, in his book “Blueprint for Action” published last month, argues, “China’s strategic choice will eventually destroy the North Korean regime.” In addition, he dubbed North Korea as the useless “tailbone” of the Cold War, prospecting that the U.S. will establish forces with China, Japan, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and others to remove the North Korean leader.

He came up with three scenarios to take down Kim: good scenario (offering Kim a haven somewhere as in the case of the Haitian leader Baby Doc Duvalier), bad scenario (arresting Kim alone and imprisoning him as in the case of Panama’s Manuel Noriega), and ugly scenario (asking a secret envoy to show Kim the pictures of Saddam Hussein’s dead sons, Uday and Qusay, over the opposite side of the table and then showing him the U.S. neo-cons’ plans to conquer and rebuild North Korea).

Meanwhile, Russia’s representative expert on the Korean peninsula, Andrey Lankov of the Australian National University, said in a phone conversation with a reporter on the same day, “The incumbent North Korean officials won’t be able to sustain more than 20 years,” predicting, “Around 2025, the North will collapse in the order of a military coup and civilian reforms led by the middle class in North Korea.”

He argued, “In the 1980s, South Korea’s democratization movement was led by the middle class. As such, the North’s middle class with adequate knowledge will try to revolutionize the nation, believing that the South is right below their nation to support them.”

Lankov added, “As for now, Cheong Wa Dae is thinking of its desired version of gradual reunification, but in reality it does not make sense,” adding, “It should prepare for emergencies.”

However, there have been some counter arguments as well. Kent Calder of Johns Hopkins University said in a phone interview with a reporter, “On the strategic level, it is possible to raise voices over the possible collapse of the North Korean regime,” adding, “But as long as assistance from China, Russia, and South Korea continues, the North Korean regime is expected to continue for quite a while.”

Jung-Ahn Kim credo@donga.com