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North Korea To Face Tough Year

Pressure to increase the diversity of the Korean gene pool will lead to the ultimate reuinification of the Koreas. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Lee Jong-Heon
UPI Correspondent
Seoul (UPI) Jan 11, 2007
North Korea is expected to launch tough public campaigns this year to tighten its grip on citizens as their loyalty may wane in the wake of mounting outside pressure following the country's nuclear saber-rattling, South Korean analysts say. The impoverished country is also likely to join six-nation talks on its nuclear drive to lift international sanctions, but it would try to use dialogue to win global recognition that it is armed with nuclear weapons, state experts said in a series of new year reports.

"North Korea's social control has been recently loosened and the people's loyalty toward the system has been weakened," the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security said in its research report.

The North's economic situations would further worsen this year as the international community has reduced its aid shipments to the defiant country following its nuclear and missile tests last year, which could lead to a greater crack in the country's air-tight system, it says.

The international community has been implementing wide-raging sanctions on the North under Resolution 1718, adopted by the U.N. Security Council in October, as punishment for its Oct. 9 nuclear weapon test.

The IFANS report warns the North could face its worst year since the mass famines of the mid-1990s which killed hundreds of thousands. "As long as North Korea sticks to its nuclear armament drive, international pressure will intensify, fueling instability in the country," the report says.

In order to prevent social unrest and maintain its system, the North is expected to wage another "painful march under trial," imposing tougher crackdowns on the starved people, it says.

The North launched the first "painful march" campaign aimed at fighting a "last-ditch battle" to overcome the unprecedented hardships after the abrupt death in 1994 of the country's national founder Kim Il Sung and subsequent economic crisis and famine which caused a sharp rise in refugees leaving the country.

North Korea announced an end to the "painful march" in late 1997 and instead launched a new campaign to turn the country into a "Kangsong Taeguk," or a powerful and prosperous country, which was followed by a test-fire of a long-range Taepodong missile in 1998.

"Economic and external situations facing the North is worse than 10 years ago when the country staged the first 'painful march,'" the IFANS report says. "Instability of the North Korean system would increase this year," it predicted.

"In the course of responding to outside pressure and social instability, the influence of the military would further expand this year," the report says.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has given top policy priority to the military under his much-touted "army-first (songun)" policy, calling on the country's hunger-stricken people to bear economic hardships and build a strong military. The North's 1.2-million-strong armed forces, the world's fifth-largest, are the backbone of Kim's iron-fisted rule.

Another state-run South Korean think tank, Korea Institute for National Unification, also forecast the North would intensify ideological indoctrination campaigns to keep its grip on the people suffering from international sanctions.

"The North is likely to participate in the six-party nuclear talks this year to reduce international pressure," the report says. "But if the North does not win what it wants in the six-way talks, the North is likely to boost its military threats to South Korea," it says.

The North is also expected to use its military threats to influence South Korea's presidential election slated for December.

The communist country has already warned South Koreans against voting conservative candidates in the presidential election, showing its concerns that the anti-communist camp may take power in the South.

It has warned of "a nuclear holocaust" if the opposition Grand National Party wins the election in the South, denouncing the anti-communist party as being "reactionary and conservative," which relies on outside forces like the United States and pursues "anti-reunification war moves."

If the opposition party wins the presidential poll, the South's economic aid programs could be reviewed, which could deliver a blow to the North's efforts to rebuild its economy.

The North is expected to seek to drive a wedge in the U.S.-South Korean alliance and rekindle anti-American sentiment in the South, according to the KINU report. "The North is likely to make efforts to cope with possible U.S.-led bids for a regime change in Pyongyang," it says.

Citing its own survey, the institute said more than 70 percent of North Korean defectors to South Korea believe their communist homeland will collapse within a decade.

The North's rigid ruling ideology of juche (self-reliance) was chosen as the most unstable factor in the communist regime, followed by rampant corruption in the ruling elites, the economy troubles as well as tough outside threats.

Source: United Press International

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US Stealth Fighters Arrive In South Korea
Seoul N Korea (AFP) Jan 11, 2007
US Stealth fighters arrived in South Korea on Thursday, the American military said, amid continuing speculation over a second North Korean nuclear test. A squadron of radar-evading F-117 Nighthawk Stealth fighters and 300 airmen arrived at Gunsan, 270 kilometers (167 miles) southwest of Seoul, for a "routine" training deployment, said a US Air Force statement released here.

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