Catalytic Diplomacy

Note to Seeking Dialogue



Kim Undermined the Experts

Kim Jong-Il ordered authorities to report false numbers to Kim Il-Sung about the economy. But by 1975, the economy was already declining and by 1985, it was going down rapidly. Hwang continues:
Like his father, Kim Jong-Il was proficient in using Machiavellian tactics to seize power but did not have the ability to manage the country in a substantial way. Kim Jong-Il majored in economics but did not read the books that were complicated and did not learn much economics. He believed that he could succeed in economics, like he did in politics, by employing tricks.
Members of the party who knew nothing about economics had full control of managing the economy. As a result the economy of North Korea was in complete shambles. [Hwang gives examples of how coal mining was mismanaged.]

By 1989, Kim Il-Sung had lost his vitality and strength of mind, and spent most of his time trying to humor his son. Experts began telling Hwang that collapse was imminent, but members of the Organization and Guidance Department who were blindly following Kim Jong-Il began stating that the concerns of the economic staff were tantamount to defeatism and proceeded to make their lives miserable. “Showing the least bit of sympathy towards an open-door reform policy was an act of suicide.”

Hwang says that, in 1992, Kim Il-Sung became eighty and Kim Jong-Il fifty. At this age, he was fawning on Kim Jong-Il. And he reports that: “The performance of Kim Jong-Il’s exclusive dance troupe was enough to elicit disgust when seen through the eyes of people with healthy minds.” [But everyone had to clap; he got angry if they did not.]

As the economy worsened, Kim Jong-Il focused his energy on “preparing for war and held fast to a high-handed diplomatic policy externally.” Kim and his associates hated China for its moving toward capitalism and suggested starting a dialogue with Taiwan or playing the Taiwan card.

“Kim Jong-Il released propaganda stating that he was a genius of diplomacy and boasted that both the United States and China were afraid of his high-handed diplomatic ways.”

The Economy and War

Hwang says he talked to Kim Jong-Il’s closest associates, saying:

“Don’t you know that if we continue on in this way, our country’s economy will stop functioning altogether?” They said: “Everything has already stopped. My teacher, don't you know that?"

Hwang then said: “Are you planning to wage a war or not?” They replied: “If we wage a war, it is possible to occupy up to the southern tip of South Korea, but it will be difficult after that.” They also said that as the food supply was limited then, their leader Kim Jong-Il was unable to make up his mind.”

Hwang observed: “Tank lorries all became old and had flat tires. For welding to fix them, some steel was needed. But there was no steel available because all steel had been taken by the military.” [It had been taken at gunpoint. And this had been reported to Kim Jong-Il.]

Hwang said: “Kim Jong-Il thinks that North Korea can become a strong and prosperous super power by becoming an ideological super power, a military super power, and a political superpower. By becoming all of these, it can bring in economic prosperity from South Korea and other countries by threatening and intimidating them. That’s the logic of a strong and prosperous super power.”

Hwang said: North Korea believes that if it has a lot of (nuclear) weapons, the United States will give it help out of fear. The wealthy capitalists in the United States are afraid of war, and horrified of dying more than anything else. On the other hand, the have-nots are not afraid of dying. From this, therefore, North Korea derives a lesson that if it has weapons, the capitalists in wealthy countries will provide it with economic assistance out of fear.”



Continue reading chapter