The Victory of the Ajummas

Shortly after North Korea announced The Great Confiscation came The Ajumma Rebellion, an event that may prove to be one of the most significant in North Korean history. The historical perspective comes into focus as I read this analysis at the Daily NK, not so much of why The Great Confiscation failed, but why the regime even tried something so clearly predisposed to fail. It concludes with this:

Decades after the leader promised “boiled rice and beef soup” to everyone and with no sign of it on the horizon, strengthening state control will only incite more and greater resistance. Most citizens already know that the government is neither willing nor able to give boiled rice and beef soup to them. Therefore, the only choice is to introduce a system where anyone can have boiled rice and beef soup as long as they are prepared to work for it. [Daily NK]

It certainly looks as if revolutionary capitalism is North Korea’s destiny, no matter how much Pyongyang and Berkeley may wish otherwise. The author, perhaps hoping to appeal to Pyongyang’s softer side, suggests that this will actually strengthen the North Korean system. I disagree and embrace the coming chaos. The victory of those brave ajummas who protested in the markets means — who stood up to the world’s scariest tyranny and won — means that for the first time in North Korean history, the regime’s power isn’t absolute. It has not lost, but has begun to lose, its power to starve and terrorize its subjects into submission. It has not lost, but has begun to lose, its control over its borders and over the flow of information across them. The regime’s unprecedented retreat in the face of unprecedented open opposition will accelerate all of these trends during the years to come.


  1. Ajummas = Chinese styled ‘capitalism’ (actually, relaxed socialism, but indulge me here…).

    The PRC is NOT a fan of the Juche cult. 10% of Chinese are practicing Christians. Juche’s days are numbered, and even China opposes it. China will back a disunified Korea option with the DPRK styled after the neo-capitalism practiced in the PRC.

    Most of the USFK is oblivious to both the religious practice of Jucheism in NK and the Chinese designs on ‘modernizing’ the DPRK.