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Ex-NK Official Speaks on North`s Internal Situation

Posted March. 19, 2009 09:51,   


North Korea has been playing an unpredictable card game.

After shaking South Korea by blocking access to and from the Kaesong Industrial Complex, the North then announced that it will reject U.S. food assistance. This has led to speculation over what the North Korean leadership thinking.

The Dong-A Ilbo yesterday held a phone interview with a North Korean Tuesday whose relative who is an ethnic Korean in China. The North Korean once held a high post and belongs to the North’s Workers’ Party.

In a conversation that lasted nearly two hours, he showed evidence of brainwashing by North Korean-style logic. The talk, however, provided clues to how North Korean cadres or residents perceive the situation.

○ Stricter control of residents

On if the North is returning to its previous method of military barrack style of ruling due to its tightening control of its people, the North Korean said his country has no choice but to strengthen internal control rather than opening its doors to implement reform.

“We know that the only way for us to become rich is to implement reform. We have sent a prime minister to Vietnam to learn from its experience. Discipline in our society has become too slack over the last 10 years because of the food crisis,” he said.

“There are significant fears that if reform is implemented under such circumstances, we could collapse just like the Soviet Union due to failure to control chaos. To wage a big battle, you have to arrange your rank first.”

On the North’s goal of becoming a “powerful country” by 2012, the North Korean said, “I have no great expectations. Rumor has it that (North Korean leader Kim Jong Il) said, ‘There is nothing much about becoming a powerful country. Putting our tanks on top of South Korea’s economy makes us a powerful country.’ Rather than meaning go to war, this indicates that our policy will continue to put priority on military power.”

○ Kaesong Industrial Complex

On the North’s taking of the Kaesong Industrial Complex as hostage, he stressed self-respect. As South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has not budged an inch from his North Korea policy that he championed for in his presidential campaign, the North has no choice but to take countermeasures, he said.

“We’ve hung on with our self-respect alone,” he said. “We will ultimately win the competition for self-respect.”

“We have our spiritual power as our weapon. Even if we get hit 10 times, (South Korea) will be dragged by us if we can hit it just once.”

○ Kim Jong Il’s successor

The North Korean was told that Kim Jong Il’s succession is attracting huge interest in South Korea and the world. He said a widespread rumor has it that Kim’s 27-year-old son is the heir.

Rather than making a sudden announcement of a successor, the North is using a process in which rumors about the heir are spread until he is eventually recognized as the successor, he said.

○ Food shortage

According to the North Korean, rice prices in the North have stabilized to a significant degree.

A kilogram of rice cost more than 3,000 won last spring, but now trades for around 1,700 won. A kilogram of corn costs 700 to 800 won.

He said food has been steadily flowing into the North from China through cross-border trade, and that prices of gasoline and other fuel have fallen significantly.

On if the dissemination of anti-North Korea flyers containing money from the South has disturbed North Koreans, he said, “We have to collect and burn them anyway. So I thank (South Koreans) for putting money in them.”