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N. Korea not likely to collapse through popular uprisings: expert

The international community should not expect North Korea to collapse soon through popular uprisings but instead seek an incremental approach to build trust with the nuclear-armed communist state, an expert said Sunday.

Andray Abrahamian, a freelance writer on Korea issues who teaches at Social Science College of the University of Ulsan, South Korea, dismissed chances of any collapse of the North Korean government by a popular movement as being "nearly impossible."

"First, civil society spaces where counter-government action could develop barely exist in North Korea," Abrahamian said in a contribution to the Web site "38 North," specializing in North Korean affairs. "More importantly, there is an absence of elites willing to risk challenging the existing order to harness a mass movement. Essentially, these elites have nothing to gain and much to lose; people who might benefit from regime change do not have the capacity to act."

The scholar did not predict North Korea will "repeat the kind of popular uprising that brought down Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak," claiming, "This leaves a painful, piecemeal engagement approach as the only option for change."

He is critical of the so-called grand bargain approach the South Korean government proposed in 2009 for the denuclearization of North Korea through a comprehensive deal rather than a piecemeal approach.

The grand bargain envisions a package deal in which members of the six-nation talks provide Pyongyang with security guarantees, massive economic aid and other incentives in return for a complete deal that does not necessitate further negotiations for the North's nuclear dismantlement. (Yonhap News)