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The Asahi Shimbun/2020/10/15 14:10
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13820330

N. Korea’s only saving course is to scrap its nuclear arms

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un showed an unusually humble attitude in addressing his wretched nation in a recent speech.
These remarks came despite all the pomp that accompanied North Korea’s ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the ruling Workers’ Party, including fireworks that lit up the sky in the wee hours for a vast crowd.
Kim's rare apology for his failed leadership appeared to indicate the severity of the predicament his secluded country is in.
In his address, Kim apologized for his failure to live up to the people’s expectations and, shedding tears, offered words of gratitude to the people.
North Korea is said to be suffering from a triple whammy.
The stiff international economic sanctions against the country are still in place. Its vital imports from China have almost evaporated due to the new coronavirus pandemic. And the impoverished country has been battered by typhoons and other natural disasters, added into the bargain.
Even so, Kim, who is a dictator with absolute power, demands that the North Korean people rebuild the stricken nation on their own without relying on foreign aid by working harder to ramp up production.
If he really wants to improve the lives of the people, however, he does not need to impose such a taxing burden on them.
Kim can achieve the goal quickly by simply abandoning all his regime’s programs to develop nuclear arms and missiles, which eat up so much money, and showing his country’s commitment to responsible behavior as a member of the international community.
But Kim seems to get it all wrong.
A military parade that followed his speech featured a panoply of weapons including what appeared to be a huge, new intercontinental ballistic missile.
Kim apparently tried to fend off pressure from the United States by showing off the country’s advancement in military technology while avoiding referring to Washington in his speech.
North Korea has for some time restrained itself from taking any action that could directly provoke the United States. Instead, it has fired a slew of short-range ballistic missiles, threatening the safety of Japan and South Korea.
Kim and other members of the leadership in Pyongyang must be closely watching the U.S. presidential race, waiting nervously for the outcome of the election in early November.
The nation’s leaders seem to have the intention to make decisions on how the country will tackle key policy challenges on both the domestic and diplomatic fronts after the next U.S. president is elected.
North Korea's ruling party is scheduled to convene its congress, the ruling party’s supreme organ, in January.
A party congress, the most important political event in the country, was never held while the late Kim Jong Il, the current leader’s father, was in power.
But it will be the second party congress since Kim Jong Un took the helm, following one held four years ago.
The upcoming congress in January is expected to set forth a new long-term economic development plan.
The plan will offer some important clues as to the direction Kim is going to lead the nation.
Whoever the next U.S. president may be, North Korea will not be freed completely from the international sanctions if it continues retaining its arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.
U.S. President Donald Trump, who stressed his friendly relationship with Kim for a time, now seems to have lost interest in dealing with the North Korean dictator.
If Kim’s regime starts drawing international attention with military provocations again, the isolated nation’s economic difficulties will only worsen.
Kim should make a tough-minded assessment of the realities surrounding his embattled nation so that he can make realistic decisions and take pragmatic actions.
--The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 15


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