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North Korea's calculations North Korea's calculations
by Joseph Gatt
2019-05-23 08:30:28
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North Korea doesn't believe in long-term plans. Simply because North Koreans believe that if they reveal their long-term plans, people are going to come meddle with their long-term plans. So it's not like you could tell North Koreans what life is going to look like 10 or 15 years from now.

nkor01North Korea is a militarized state, where every North Korean citizen is a soldier of sorts. North Korea is proud of its military, and North Koreans take as much pride in their nuclear arsenal and military capabilities as Lady Gaga takes pride in the Oscar she won. The nuclear arsenal is carried around everywhere for everyone to see.

So North Koreans are nurtured on military achievements. In Israel it's the six-day war that brings pride to the nation, in North Korea it's defeating the Americans and the Japanese that brings pride to the nation. Almost every North Korean movie or drama or monument or poster alludes in some fashion to defeating the Americans and the Japanese, and alludes in some fashion to the fact that the war is not over yet.

North Koreans view their economic situation with a great deal of fatalism, not that they have any standards they can compare themselves to. Of course North Korean defectors always say that they were unhappy with their economic condition, but the truth is North Koreans don't really complain about their economic condition, nor do they yearn for a better economic life. Remember that North Korea is a militarized nation where every citizen views himself as a soldier trying to help his or her nation defeat American imperialism, so just like good soldiers would, they don't complain about the cold or the lack of food.

The North Korean economy is what economists call a “bazaar” economy that is one with very little structure. Unlike western countries where you can more or less predictably shop around, get a predictable paycheck, and find the same stores at the same places, North Koreans view their economy more like a flea market economy: today there's a lot of food and products that are available, tomorrow, I might not get my paycheck and there might be no food on the stalls. As a matter of fact most North Koreans don't really think about tomorrow and are accustomed to the unpredictable nature of the economy.

So what's on the regime's mind regarding the nuclear negotiations? You'll know something about the negotiations if you know something about dating North Korean women. You ask them out on a date and they claim they have stuff to do, you ask them out on a date the next day and they claim they're busy, then six months later the girl contacts you and suggests you go out for a date. Now that's if you're lucky, if she was interested in the first place, she would want the first date to be perfect. She'll brush up on her poetry, she'll read a couple of books, she'll get a new hair cut, she'll try to get a new job or work hard to get a promotion at work, and when things look promising, she will come back to you finally suggesting that you go on a date. Then she'll brag about all the awards she won at work and all the poetry books she's been reading.

So North Korea does not have a plan. They are trying to wait and see, and trying to embellish their country. They are trying to wait and see that the Americans and South Koreans are being sincere, and trying to show a good face for their country. Perhaps North Korean officials are trying to read Donald Trump's dozen or so books, have studies where they meet and get lectured on the books, and will try to impress Donald Trump with their understanding of his books.

One thing for sure is that the North Korean regime needs money. And the sanctions are not helping. North Koreans want some form of guarantee that there will be sanctions relief in exchange for denuclearization. North Korea is also trying to buy time to look for alternatives to nuclear weapons, weapons powerful enough to cause damage without being nuclear weapons. And North Korea knows that if things go sour with the US or South Korea, they can always rebuild a nuclear arsenal, but nuclear arsenals are expensive, and North Korea knows that it does not produce anything substantial to fill state coffers. And with the global economic slowdown, North Korea is not sure how it would be able to make money if it gives up its nukes. So that's a lot of dilemmas for North Korea.

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