Even the official name of North Korea suggests that things have gone badly off track and are mired in the ditch. On a really good day, I can spell Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Even on a great day, I'd never want to live there.
If a country's official name gets any longer or more bureaucratic than say, Los Estados Unidos de Mexico, a lot of things have probably gone terribly wrong in the State of Denmark, or anywhere else that happens to call itself a People's Republic. As if there was some other kind...
North Korea's problems begin with its climate and geography. According to the US Library of Congress,
"Topography: Approximately 80 percent of land area mountain ranges and uplands. All mountains on peninsula over 2,000 meters high are in North Korea.
Climate: Long, cold, dry winters; short, hot, humid summers. Approximately 60 percent of rainfall falls in June through September. "
To make a long analysis get to the point, the place is an agricultural failure waiting to happen. It takes good, competent managers to prevent this. Which brings us, regrettably, to the cretinous moorlocks currently in charge.
The US Library of Congress works for a bunch of congressmen. This requires them to develop the use of nuance and euphemism to the point where they can technically describe the North Korean government without resorting to profanity.
"Political System: Communist state under leadership of Kim Il Sung, general secretary of ruling Korean Workers' Party (KWP)and president of state, elected May 1990. Power centralized in hands of Kim Il Sung ("great leader"), son Kim Jong Il ("dear leader"), and select few holding positions on three-member Standing Committee of twenty-member Political Bureau (elected to five-year terms under 1992 revision of 1972 constitution; as of September 1992, thirteen full members; seven candidate members), inner council of 303-member KWP Central Committee (as of September 1992, 160 full members, 143 alternate members). Preeminence of party control (estimated 3 million members) unchallenged and as of mid-1993 no discernible signs of internal opposition to Kim Il Sung's absolute authority. Members of Supreme People's Assembly, unicameral legislature, also elected to five-year terms (as revision to 1972 constitution) in May 1990, with power to elect and recall authority of chairman, National Defense Commission, on president's recommendation; universal suffrage age seventeen. Constitution revised April 1992 at Supreme People's Assembly; text released in November 1992 by South Korean press. Nominally Marxist-Leninist in doctrine, but since mid-1970s, chuch'e, indigenous doctrine, promotes ideology of national self-reliance."
Or to put things more accurately and less euphemistically, they have a dictatorship that does not dictate well, quashes dissent after they screw up, fails to share anything with anyone in the country and then tells the nation's people to go practice an "ideology of national self-reliance." You'd think they were People's Republicans or something.
They are not. They are insane idiots. Their subjects eat less than 50% of what the World Health Organization suggests a healthy adult should. These people serve a government that hates The United States, and wishes us nothing but rampant colon cancer.
Perhaps, on a primal, carniverous level, this is a good thing. Except that it isn't, unless you're Judge Greer and find these people extraneous anyhow. North Korea's suffering will become a major problem for us.
Why? Because everyone's suffering becomes a major problem for us. We are the world, we always get stuck feeding the children. The rest of the planet despises us for that, but that will never stop them from begging.
Another reason why? 39% of the North Korean population undergoes at least semi-regular military training. Out of 22 million people, that equals lots of them. To put this less flippantly, they are a potential juggernaut, commanded by a leadership, that would expend their lives like a dot.com business enterprise would blow through its petty cash fund.
To make this situation even less pleasant, we're technically at war with this nation. It's the hairball in East Asia's digestive tract and it's stubborn and determined in a way that only the truly fanatic can be.
So how will this mess probably end? Not well. There are no winners. It's the ultimate sucker bet for anybody involved. So I rank what I perceive as probably outcomes in order of least pestilent to most tragic.
- The North Korea government falls victim to it's own irrational stupidity. It fails and it's fuedalistic primates all purge one another. This is good because the hellfire never rains on Seoul and the Koreans can begin the awful rebuilding project. This is bad because China and South Korea end becoming the primary care givers for over 20 million people who haven't had a good, juicy Big Mac in over a decade. This is also bad because the US, Russia, Japan, S. Korea and China have a jump ball over who gets to play with North Korea's nukes. This, of course, assumes they find those nukes before they show up on E-Bay.
- The South Koreans get tired of the US Army and kick us out with KIJ still running The Nuthouse to the North. According to a Pew Survey, 58% of South Koreans regretted the fact that the Iraquis didn't put up a better fight against the US Army. It's not like these people still consider us an ally. The immediate result would probably be massive military and diplomatic pressure from both North Korea and China on South Korea to fold its tent and join the Worker's Revolution. Pyongyang would come to rapidly rule a united Korea and the South Korean economy would work about as well as Cuba's or North Korea's. That is to say, the world would then have to feed 60 or so starving, miserable Koreans with over a 12 million man military and nuclear weapons, or else.
- The North Koreans get desperate, hungry and invade S. Korea to steal what they can't grow. The carnage is awful. The entire Korean Peninsula gets returned to the 4th Century AD. China and Russia deploy millions of soldiers and tanks to seal their borders and stop refugees from crossing. The US and ROK Army probably win an exhaustive war that grinds about 3 or 4 million people into fertilizer. Maybe, a nuclear weapon gets used on Seoul or on a US base.
So the Korean Peninsula is the ultimate no win situation. Everyone plays what Coach Dean Smith termed "The Carolina Four-Corners" and hopes the other side runs out of time and fresh players off the bench. The entire fiasco perhaps lends credence to General MacArthur's poignant assertion. "There is no substitute for victory."