Published : 2013-08-15 19:38
Updated : 2013-08-15 19:38
In her Liberation Day speech given a day after South and North Korea agreed to reopen a joint industrial complex, President Park Geun-hye proposed that the two sides hold reunions for separated families and establish a peace park in the heavily-fortified strip of land dividing them. The realization of her proposals, which appear to reflect her increasing confidence in dealing with Pyongyang, would help significantly thaw the frozen ties between the two Koreas.
How far her process of inter-Korean trust building can proceed will be affected by the present conditions and ulterior motives of the repressive regime in Pyongyang. In this regard, some meaningful inferences may be drawn from its recent move to change the 10 key rules regarding the establishment of its ideological system, which have been upheld as being more important than its constitution or the bylaws of the ruling Workers’ Party.
The move, which experts here say was taken in June, marks the first time that the rules have been revised since the North’s founding leader Kim Il-sung introduced them in 1974, shortly after designating his son Kim Jong-il as his successor. They oblige all North Koreans to pay unconditional obedience to the Kim family, stipulating what actions must be taken to express respect and allegiance.
The revisions appear to have been primarily aimed at consolidating the inheritance of power by incumbent leader Kim Jong-un by highlighting the need to complete the legacies left behind by his grandfather Kim Il-sung and father Kim Jong-il.
Every North Korean is taught to pledge loyalty to each generation of the Kim family, named by regime propagandists as the Mount Baekdusan bloodline. A new article in the 10-point set of principles made it imperative to keep the North’s ruling party and revolution in existence eternally through the Baekdusan bloodline and maintain its integrity.
A closer look into the changed rules, however, suggests an unstable position of the young, inexperienced leader and the dilemma in the process of establishing his third-generation dynastic rule. The inclusion of a stipulation that is literally interpreted as ruling out power wielding may hint at the existence of some resistant groups within the ruling class, who are reluctant to accept his authority without vetoing him in an outright way. The emphasis on the bloodline, meanwhile, could hardly clear him of the inferiority complex he might have toward his older half brother Kim Jong-nam, who was initially considered by their father as the Kim dynasty’s third-generation ruler.
It may be that new stipulations emphasizing bloodline integrity and warning against disobedient forces point to deepening internal crisis in the repressive regime.
What also draws our attention ― and raises our concerns ― is that the prologue of the changed rules declared that the North has acquired military capabilities based on nuclear arms and a robust self-reliant economy. It had already proclaimed itself a nuclear power in its constitution revised in April last year.
Nailing down nuclear armament as the crowning achievement of the Kim dynasty can be understood as implying North Korea would never abandon its nuclear arsenal through negotiations with South Korea and other neighboring powers. The North has yet to realize that its goal of developing the economy while armed with atomic weapons can never be attained.
With Pyongyang continuing to move in an unreasonable direction, it will be hard for Seoul to push it into accepting international standards in inter-Korean dealings. Nevertheless, Seoul would be in no position to give up engagement with Pyongyang, and that may be its own dilemma.