Thursday, November 18, 2004

Something’s Shaking In North Korea

First there was the news last week that North Korea may be easing on it’s nuclear demands. Now we are learning that the North Korean government seems to be easing away from the cult like reverence of the “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il:

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea seems to be softening its hitherto rigid personality cult around leader Kim Jong-il, experts on the reclusive communist state said Thursday -- although they were still unsure why the changes had been made.
Some diplomats in Pyongyang and experts in the South said this week portraits of Kim had been removed from some public places, starting as far back as September or even August.

Some visitors to the North have said fewer people wear lapel badges bearing Kim's image. Seoul's Yonhap news agency reported that Kim himself had ordered the portrait shift three weeks ago because he was concerned his image had been "lifted too high."

Experts are giving many possible reasons for the change, but it may not be as complicated as the “experts” are making it out to be. In this post from last week regarding the softening stance on their nuclear position, the North Koreans basically stated that they would soften their stance if President Bush allowed the regime to exist. Kim Jong Il is scared. It is important to remember that when the United States invaded Iraq Kim Jong Il went into hiding for fear that we were coming after him. The reelection of President Bush has probably convinced him that unless things change, he will share the fate of Saddam Hussein. Why would this fear lead “Dear Leader” to order that many of his portraits be removed and the population soften their reverence toward him? Kim Jong Il realizes that the cult following enforced by the regime is bizarre to the rest of the world and adds to the belief that the regime is a backwards and oppressive, it in effect draws unwanted attention to him. Kim Jong Il has launched a PR offensive to save his regime and his life. The President’s inclusion of the regime in his “Axis of Evil” speech, and his steadfastness in the War in Iraq, combined with his reelection has done more to convince the regime of North Korea that they must reform, than any agreement reached in six party talks ever will.

Something is shaking in North Korea, and it appears to be Kim Jong Il in his own boots. Look for the North Korean regime to continue to soften in the near future.

Be sure to check the current posts for updates.