More proof that times have changed in North Korea: in the 1990’s, Kim Jong Il allowed perhaps millions to starve and did next to nothing about it. This year, the regime is ordering the urgent distribution of rice rations to prevent starvation in the most vulnerable areas. Well, it’s a modest step in the right direction that the regime is actually trying to prevent starvation, even if, as the Daily NK suggests, that it’s because the regime is afraid of unrest. Of course, if it really wanted the people to eat well, it wouldn’t have rejected U.S. food aid and severely restricted the World Food Program’s operations.
It demonstrates that the only way for the North Korean people to improve their lives even marginally is to oppose it. When the tyrants also fear for their lives, there is a balance of terror, which results in some small measure of accountability.
How Kim Jong Il reached the conclusion that The Great Confiscation had failed.
More on the growing acceptance of the Chinese yuan as North Korea’s de facto currency. I expected that this would happen, and I also expect that within the next year or so, the regime will try to set confiscatory limits on the possession of foreign currency.
An interesting CNN podcast, in which Christiane Amanpour interviews a U.N. official and (in the second half) my friend Professor Sung Yoon Lee on hunger, food aid, and North Korea’s palace economy, a term that seems to be catching on in the media. I don’t recall having seen that term used elsewhere before I used it here, although I suppose it’s always possible.