Hwang Jang Yop Calls for Ideological Warfare Against Kim Jong Il

I was too busy to see Hwang Jang Yop speak in D.C. the other day, but a few news services picked up his remarks:

North Korea’s highest-ranking defector said “ideological warfare,” not military action, would help topple the regime of Kim Jong Il.

“We don’t need to resort to force,” Hwang Jang-yop told a small audience Wednesday at the Center for Strategic International Studies, a Washington-based think tank. “We need to use ideology and markets and diplomacy. We need to take a lesson from the cold war.” [….]

“Simply trying to make Kim Jong Il die would not be the solution,” he said. “The solution is ideological warfare. We need to focus on the people of North Korea and alert them to the human rights abuses that are taking place.” [CNN]

I agree with Hwang’s message about ideological subversion and believe that most North Koreans are ready to be subverted. I’m not sure, however, that I’d want Hwang, who still professes belief in the “misunderstood” juche ideology, to be the messenger or the author of the message. I’m deeply ambivalent about Hwang. North Korea’s Inner Party is the sort of place where you don’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs. Like Rudolf Hess before him, his defection doesn’t exactly absolve him of his responsibility for helping to create a tyrannical system, and like Hess, he hasn’t necessarily rejected the ideology on which the system is built. Still, his defection has value for what it tells us about that system and its weaknesses, and for what it has done to discredit the system.

Hwang also called for excluding North Korea from the six-party talks, which sounds silly to me because (a) North Korea is doing just fine excluding itself; (b) eventually, the regime is going to fracture and we’ll want a mechanism in place to talk to Kim Jong Il’s replacement, and eventually manage the peaceful reunification of Korea, and (c) I get that the talks’ value is exclusively cosmetic, so why ruin that by excluding North Korea?

Oh, and Hwang just doesn’t understand why China doesn’t help us pressure North Korea to be nice to everybody. Really?