North Korea Goes Rogue
But recently several disturbing incidents seem to make no sense, and, in fact, suggest North Korea is reaching new levels of psychosis that may be heading for a genuine crisis.
First, North Korea sank a South Korean warship. This was an unprovoked act of war. And though North Korea denies it, even China seems to accept that North Korea did the deed and has seemed open to sanctions against North Korea over the incident, something China has almost never supported.
Then there was a sudden reshuffling of North Korea's government. Some speculate that this is merely lining up a successor to Kim Jong Il, smoothing the path for Kim Jong Il's third son Kim Jong Un as successor. Everything in the reshuffling supports the idea that it is an internal matter to make sure Kim Jong Un succeeds his father smoothly in time. But why does it come now when North Korea has started alienating even its usual ally, China? I can't help but think they are connected. Both suggest to me that something bigger than usual is happening in North Korea.
And then comes the latest odd incident where a North Korean border guard actually shot and killed three Chinese, an incident which I think is unprecedented. This incident seems to be about black market trade across the border, but given the secrecy of both nations it is hard to tell and it is one more unusual incident coming all within a few months.
Is it all about the succession and creating an atmosphere that will keep things smooth for Kim Jong Un? Is it all about Kim Jong Il's supposedly failing health? Is it about North Korea's nuke program? Or is it about the gradually declining ties between North Korea and China, something that some have speculated could lead to greater acts of grandiose stupidity on North Korea's part, including possibly picking an open fight with South Korea. China knows that instability in North Korea is bad for China and the whole region and possibly North Korea is creating incidents to remind China of what can happen if China continues distancing itself from North Korea.
Given North Korea's near complete isolation we may never know what is behind all this, assuming it doesn't erupt into a major crisis. That may well be the best scenario. Worst case scenario is North Korea's leadership has finally completely lost touch with reality and is preparing for the equivalent of a millennial cult's big blow out, committing suicide in a blaze that takes out as many innocents as possible.