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« More evidence that KJE is embracing Dengist reforms | Main | Impact of the drought is multivariable »
10:50AM

Chart of the Day: North Korean mobiles

Kim Jong-Eun is presenting himself in the guise of his grandfather, discounting the military and presenting a "great father of the natio" motif.

Now, with one million-plus phones, and all those portable cameras, the place opens up considerably.

My projection:  KJE is going to try and reform the place in the Chinese way and thinks he can handle the process.

My hope: it spirals out of control in a Gorby manner.

Whatever the mid-term outcome, nice signs and good progress in all of this. I honestly believe that DPRK is off the danger radar in five years.

That way, we can all get jacked about arresting fishermen in the South China Sea, pretending it serves as prelude to a high-tech war with China.

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Reader Comments (4)

Having been in NK two times for humanitarian reasons, I have actually seen some of these phones. They seem to work great for those that can access one and afford its use. But their system is confined in use internally within the country. What is ubiquitous is the unauthorized Chinese mobiles that people near the Chinese/NK use "illegally" per the regime. Many traders use them for commerce and communication with their counterparts in China. It will be interesting to see if five years is too long of a wait in a world that changes so quickly geopolitically and economically. Let's hope for a peaceful transition that will benefit not only a unified Korea but also Asia, and world.

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKizo Hiramine

Just completed " Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles" by Ruchir Sharma (Managing Director, Head of Global Emerging Markets Equity Team, Morgan Stanley )

i highly recommend (provides a more sober assessment of the global economy rather than adding to BRIC hype)

very positive on ROK - comments on unification copied and pasted below:

"South Korea is already preparing to adopt the well-disciplined workforce of North Korea, which could fail at any moment.
...
"For some years now many Korean leaders have assumed that the North was doomed to fail under the inept guidance of the late leader Kim Jong Il and his family, which is a big reason why Seoul has kept its government debt down to just 34 percent of GDP: it is preparing to absorb the high cost of rebuilding the North, which is increasingly viewed as an investment that could unleash more growth.

In fact South Korean policy makers are so sure of the unification idea that when I recently asked a top national security adviser whether he had considered China’s long-term strategic interest in keeping the Koreas divided, his response was that the lesson from history is that whenever China interfered in the Korean peninsula the cost of the invasion had often led to the downfall of its empire.

... it is not unthinkable that South Korea could grow significantly larger in a single leap if a unified Korea emerges within the next five or ten years.

Unification would add large coal reserves to an economy with no energy resources of its own, and a disciplined population of twenty-four million northerners to South Korea’s already considerable labor muscle. Those who doubt how successfully the South can adopt the shut-in Communist society of the North should consider how quickly it is adapting to emerging trends all over the globe.

(Kindle Locations 2806-2807; 3076-3089)

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterR. Jordan Prescott

I've looked at the balance of power of the region and the irony is that NK seems to behave much like the keytone of an arch, holding the region's balance of power in place. I'm curious why the dissolution of NK would be better than the creation of a stable polity. Why not let the Six-Party Talks form into a more thorough security arrangement for the region?

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commentergeosapien

I guess I find the concept that the DPRK's existence serves the stability of East Asia to be downright bizarre, and I don't know anybody who seriously argues that.

For a long time, it was considered a potentially strong destabilizer, but for years now it's just an eyesore and huge humanitarian disaster. It's dissolution has zero capacity to trigger great-power war. Instead, it will trigger even more talks about who avoids paying for the rehabilitation of a brutalized population.

I am uncomfortable perpetuating a system that systematically starves entire generations of sufficient nutrients for children to develop into healthy adults.

August 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTom Barnett

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