Over the last few decades people have been thinking and developing all kinds of strategies to so-call "deal" with "the North Korean problem". So far, nothing works. The only thing that works is to play their game and pay blackmail.
Military threats do not work because Dear Leader and his band of apparatchiks know that no country would launch a preemptive strike without a massively good reason. People simply won't stand for it. Furthermore, they know that China wants North Korea exactly where it is because it acts as a buffer against the west. Chinese leaders prefer to have an annoying (but communist) neighbor than a US-friendly one. As such, should North Korea be attacked for no reason, it is likely that this will automatically produce a Chinese military response.
The so-called "benign neglect" (i.e. do nothing and wait until North Korea collapses) has done nothing so far and will continue to do nothing. This is so because the price the DPRK pays by creating a crisis is far, far lower than the price that South Korea or Japan pay. It is an a-symmetric threat. Basically, the DPRK has very little to lose while the other countries have a great deal. It costs very little to the DPRK to be a pain in the neck, particularly at an economic level. For example, would you consider investing millions in South Korea knowing that your factories are within the reach of Dear Leader's guns? Thus, DPRK cannot be neglected.
Diplomacy does not work. DPRK simply uses diplomacy to convey blackmail messages.
Trying to shift the DPRK towards a market economy "a la China" does not work, because Dear Leader and it happy band of criminals understand very well that free…er markets require entrepreneurship and you can't have entrepreneurship without a minimum degree of freedom. Problem is, freedom implies thinking and the second people in North Korea begin to think Dear Leader is screwed. Thus, a change in economic policy won't work either.
So then, what's the answer?
The solution is simple and, believe it or not, it is already happening. It is happening inside North Korea.
Stay with us.
As the DPRK is slowly but surely running out of money (their blackmail process is becoming less and less successful) they realize that they cannot afford to pay all the apparatchiks required to keep the population in line. Thus, said apparatchiks have resorted to "supplement" their income with bribes.
And what happens when apparatchiks can be bribed? The free market resurges because arbitrary regulations become mute (see for example Bribery The Universal Equalizer). This is exactly what is happening in the DPRK. The free market is beginning to appear spontaneously!!!
Yes, miracle of miracles, people do what people tend to do naturally; they trade.
And why is the DPRK not hunting down, arresting and shooting all those "deviants"? Because it:
- Cannot afford to get rid of such a source of wealth that the elite can use
- There are too many apparatchiks involved to the point that bureaucracies themselves tend to sabotage those efforts.
Again, the free market at work. Self-interest for the betterment of humanity! What about that!!!
And what happens when we have shining examples of market success? People start asking the question: why aren't we so successful? What -or more precisely- who is stopping us from having a better life? (see The Investment Barrier). And you already know what the answer to this question is in North Korea…
That's right. Libertarianism leads to Free Markets… but Free Markets also lead to Libertarianism! And this is precisely what is happening inside North Korea. People are discovering that yes! they can be the leaders of a country of one: themselves! (see The Leadership Barrier).
It is for this reason that, believe it or not, the only working solution to "the North Korean problem" is… Libertarianism.
Now, having said that and in line with our theory of political change (see The Three Laws Of Political System Change) any such change will only come from inside, driven by economic needs but it will be transitional in nature.
What this means is that whatever happens with Dear Leader's regime, people won't institute a Libertarian system. They will create a state which will be far better than what it is today but it will also retain certain dictatorial properties from the current regime.
Remember, political stages cannot be leapfrogged. They must be burned through.
The DPRK and Dear Leader et. al, are not irrational nor are they stupid. They are fighting to retain their way of life at the cost of about 25 million people's misery. This regime is a pain in the ass that is resilient to all "classical" political, diplomatic and military so-called "solutions". The only solution that actually works is Libertarianism as expressed by the Free Market. We know this because this is already happening. This is not a theory but it is an actuality. North Korea is changing from the inside-out.
And yes, "equality" is disappearing with a "nouveau riche" class of people in the DPRK. Also the so-called "middle class" is making its reappearance. Yes, equality is being destroyed… for the betterment of all! North Korean people had a choice; they could retain the ways of the current regime (and starve to death) or they can switch to a higher standard of living (see for example Piketty Fences). They chose the latter.
They realized that it is far better to be in-equal in a place with big prosperity than being equal in a place with no prosperity at all. Absolute wealth does matter. People will always prefer to have more than to have less and they are not particularly interested in the super-rich. What matters is what's in the bank, not which island did a super-rich person purchased. In this sense, North Koreans decided that they don't really care what Dear Leader is doing, insofar they become wealthier. This is the most rational and healthiest choice that they could have possibly made.
This issue is interesting at several levels because it point out at how Libertarianism happens and how Free Markets actually operate for the betterment of all people. It highlights the fact that a hyper-controlling system (or a controlling system for that matter) does not work while a distributed one (without controls) is a massive success.
The lesson here is always the same. Libertarianism and Free Market work. They are not perfect but they are natural and by far the best thing we have capable of lifting our standards of living through the roof (and providing that roof too!). More importantly even, they just happen. We don't need a Great (or Dear) Leader. We don't need education in Free Markets. We don't need economic "stimulus". We don't need people telling us what or how to do stuff. All we need is that they leave us alone. We will do the rest. After all, it's only natural!
And so, just like the North Korean, you have a choice. You can keep supporting your controlling government, your controlling politicians, your controlling apparatchiks or, you can say: No Mas!
Hell NO, we won't vote!
And that will solve the issue.
Now you know and knowing will never left you. Now you have to ask yourself; is it worth it? Is this system worth it? Or is it time for a change?
Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.