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Report: N. Korea Facing Worst Crisis Since 1994

Posted July. 18, 2009 08:14,   


North Korea is facing its worst situation since the time of the death of its founder Kim Il Sung in 1994, the leading state-run think tank in South Korea said yesterday.

The Korea Development Institute said in a report that North Korea is saddled with a string of problems, including the internal problems of supreme leader Kim Jong Il’s poor health and power succession and external matters of international sanctions and stalled inter-Korean relations.

“When comprehensively considering the situation in North Korea, the North is facing a grave crisis comparable to that in 1994, when it was concurrently embroiled in its first nuclear crisis and saw leader Kim Il Sung die.”

At the time, an estimated hundreds of thousands of North Koreans starved to death due to food shortages resulting from U.S. economic sanctions and a string of natural disasters. As a result, Pyongyang pressed its citizens to persevere and overcome their crisis through a “March of Struggle.”

The institute’s report said the gist of North Korea’s nuclear problem was the dismantlement of its nuclear programs, but is now a showdown between North Korea, which demands global recognition as a nuclear power, and the five parties to the six-way talks who do not want to see a nuclear Pyongyang.

“It will be difficult to see a dramatic turnaround again, like former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s visit to Pyongyang in 1994 and inter-Korean summits,” it said.

“The factor having the most direct impact on the North Korean economy is international economic sanctions on the North, while stalled inter-Korean relations are also affecting goods trade and entrusted production.”

The entire burden is passed onto North Korean citizens, with the North’s economic crisis poised to become prolonged, the report said.

The institute cited as the most prominent characteristic for this year’s first half the North’s adoption of a conservative economic policy.

“Pyongyang is resuming collective labor mobilization campaigns that it used in the past, including Chollima Spirit and the 150-day Fight,” it said. “Through these campaigns, North Korea seeks to step up state control over its people while maximizing internal resources it can mobilize.”