Monday, October 21, 2019

Interesting Times

Broke North Korea has a small ruling elite and a huge military. But they have little money since the USSR gravy train stopped. They thought they had a plan. But it isn't working.

Without the money to support a huge military capable of invading South Korea, long ago the North Koreans decided to save money by almost literally starving the military. The rulers decided to rely on nuclear weapons to deter invasion and rely on secret police to control the people and the now-downgraded army that has become mostly a slave labor force.

I called the strategy "kooks, spooks, and nukes."

North Korea doesn't have nukes yet to deter exactly nobody who wants to invade that black hole of poverty.

The strategy makes sense from a regime survival point of view--from Pyongyang's point of view that thinks North Korea is sponge-worthy.

Yet still nobody invades. Odd, that is.

Unfortunately for the loony tunes running the concentration camp with a UN seat, the secret police pillar is weakening:

[North Korea's] secret police like ... their bribe income ... . The secret police have become more tolerant of their personnel taking bribes, especially if that leads to foiling spies, especially spies with any connection of South Korea. However, any secret police found to have taken a bribe from someone connected with South Korea, the repercussions are severe and losing your job is one of the milder punishments.

The secret police have been told that finding “spies” is now a high priority mission. So conversations in coffee shops can be very useful. The government is most concerned about gossip and “chatter” getting out of North Korea on a regular basis and informing the rest of the world what is really going on. The government has been trying harder to stem this flow of bad, or just interesting data to China and the rest of the world. There is a lesser problem with news of the outside world getting in.

And more and more people are escaping reliance on the government for food, fuel, and shelter. As the secret police join that growing cadre of people, things could get interesting.

Which way does the demoted military go in that scenario?