A major reason for North Korean desperation
is the disappearance of its support from Japan. The Korean community in Japan,
descendents of slave laborers stranded there after World War II, are prosperous
and, until the 1990s, about half of them supported North Korea (mainly because
North Korea was more vehemently anti-Japanese.) At its peak, in the 1990s, the
pro-north Japanese-Koreans were sending about half a billion dollars worth of
cash and goods to North Korea each year. But the famines, and lunatic economic
policies of the north have turned off many of these supporters. So now, 90
percent of the aid from Japan is gone, and this is a major problem. The lost
aid is most acutely felt by the million or so North Koreans who run the country,
and depend on foreign cash to buy the goodies that keeps them loyal. The North
Korean ruling class is not as well looked after as they were a decade ago, and
that has led to more corruption, less discipline and murky loyalties.
July 1, 2007: The north continues to pour money into
missile research, trying to build more reliable solid fuel missiles, equipped
with more capable guidance systems. These are seen more as export products,
than something that will help defend North Korea from enemies.
June 28, 2007: Five months late, North Korea is now ready to
begin shutting down its nuclear weapons research reactor. In return, South
Korea is resuming food and fuel shipments, and a Chinese bank has released $25
million in dirty money that the U.S. had put a freeze on.
June 23, 2007: In the north, there is a crackdown on the
gangs that assist people to get out of the country. Four of the "people
smugglers" have been arrested, convicted and executed. Some of the
executions were public, with the secret police observing the crowd, looking for
those who appear sad about the proceedings. These might be other members of the
gang. This is typical of police procedures in the north. Meanwhile, law abiding
North Koreans are rushing to learn English. This is largely unofficial, as the
U.S. is still a major enemy of the state. But people believe they see the
future, and it speaks English.
June 21, 2007: The South Korean military admitted, when
pressed by parliament, that they monitor many North Korean military activities
in real time, using a combination of technology and agents. The growing
corruption in the north has been a major assist to South Korean military
intelligence. The reliability of the spies can be checked via air
reconnaissance, spy satellites and other sensors, making the South Koreans
confident they know what's going on up north. The South Koreans are less and
less impressed with North Korean military power, which is slowly eroding
because of money shortages and declining morale and discipline.