Vsevolod Chaplin: ''DPRK’s independence won’t be sacrificed to cunning urges to 'peace on Earth''

The 'Gorbachyov scenario' for North Korea? The results of Kim Jong-un’s meeting with Donald Trump

A historic meeting of the leaders of North Korea and the USA Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump took place last Tuesday. As Realnoe Vremya said, the US president and the leader the DPRK leader signed the final document after the summit in Singapore. Washington promised to provide security guarantees to Pyongyang. Juche affirmed the affinity to complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. In a column written for Realnoe Vremya, our columnist Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin tells how the Koreans are living now and warns DPRK of the 'Gorbachyov scenario'.

These people don't live in clover

The meeting of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un can not only weaken the tension on the Korean Peninsula and the Far East, in general, but also considerably affect the domestic situation in North Korea despite the current confidence of its authorities in society's stability, which is carefully protected from external influence. To avoid such a development of events, the country's authorities should carefully study the experience of the ideological and political 'disarmament' of the Soviet Union.

The modern population of DPRK remains loyal to both the rulers and the political and social system created by them. This especially refers to rural residents. They are cut off from external information sources, constantly have a workload and are supervised by many informers who control not only every collective but also every house.

Yes, these people don't live in clover (though the rumours about mass hunger are exaggerated). An ordinary family has a very small area to live even in new houses – some 20 square metres. A bicycle or cow cart is the main personal transport. It's been recently possible to own a scooter, a bike, moreover, a car is prohibited. The traffic in streets resembles a utopian dream of sufferers from Moscow traffic jams. However, the system of public buses is well developed. The identical clothes of not bright colours, haircuts approved at the top – 15 styles for women and the same number for men (there are differences depending on the age) – are regulated. All people including numerous men and functionaries must participate in social works that are accompanied by drummers and amateur performances. The loyalty is supported by meetings near statues and portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il from time to time. Portraits in homes and establishments are a separate topic. The attitude to them is quasi-religious. If, for instance, a fire breaks out, a North Korean resident starts to save these images first. They are fixed by two devices – it can't fall from the wall.

''A weaker official ideology and rapid loss of the unique North Korean lifestyle, which is expressed modesty, equality, independence of the country and cult of labour, will become a consequence, of course.'' Photo: tatmitropolia.ru

USSR in Gorbachyov's early era

All these standards are conserved in cities. But, for instance, Rason special economic zone has a variety of commercial shops, there is a market with an abundance of meat and seafood where mainly Chinese yuans are used to pay. Many business projects are supervised by Chinese. The city has its own gilded youth. This all is very similar to, unfortunately, the USSR in Gorbachyov's early ruling. Experts say apathy hides behind the rock-solid loyalty to the official ideology – among both urban and rural residents. People don't express it openly. But it's unknown what happens if the control weakens.

The West, of course, is able and probably intends to offer the North Korean authorities many comforts. Firstly, it's a cancellation of sanctions, as it usually happens. Then there will be a humanitarian aid and joint economic projects. Later there will be educational, cultural, informative and other means of 'discovery'. Probably, even with famous George Soros. A weaker official ideology and rapid loss of the unique North Korean lifestyle, which is expressed modesty, equality, independence of the country and cult of labour, will become a consequence, of course.

At the same time, the western 'friends' will likely insist on reducing Russian and Chinese influence. Beijing is unlikely to leave DPRK and will severely fight for its interests. There is less confidence concerning Russia.

No real concessions from the USA

How can the North Korean authorities stop the 'Gorbachyov scenario'? First of all, they should always remember that the negotiations are held by two equal sides, even if one of them is much richer and stronger from a military perspective. Nuclear disarmament is required from North Korea with an ultimatum. According to official messages, Pyongyang destroyed the park for nuclear tests, which it doesn't need in the nearest future. Will it destroy nuclear warheads? And will it dare to demand to withdraw American nuclear weapons instead – ideally, from neighbouring Far Eastern countries – and establish international control to avoid the return of nuclear missiles and bombs to South Korea? Will he manage to at least stop joint American-North Korean military exercises near his coasts?

''Will Kim Jong-un decide to clearly offer the West and the world its own vector of political development like his father and grandfather did? We will hope he will have the will for it all.'' Photo: whitehouse.gov

There is another a more serious issue. Will the North Korean leader be able to insist on conserving his country's own unique ideology and public order linked with it? Will he be able to have the right to this order recognised as equal as the right of the West to its model of democracy and market? Would they ensure the conservation of such an order from the application of manipulative technologies of the 'change of the regime'? We've recently said about mechanisms of such guarantees including for DPRK in a document of Russian Mission community. We offered to 'create an international system to oppose external attempts to change the public order and aggressively influence the information, educational, public spheres of other nations'. We approved 'the support of countries within this system to get rid of such aggression, even use of WMD – in exchange for a refusal of countries that don't have it to create it'.

Then. Will Kim Jong-un decide to clearly offer the West and the world its own vector of political development like his father and grandfather did? We will hope he will have the will for it all and the independence of North Korea backed by nuclear weapons won't be sacrificed to cunning urges to 'peace on Earth' and doubtful honour to take photos with western leaders. Gorbachyov and Yeltsin's negative example should be a powerful warning of how he shouldn't do and what he shouldn't trust.

Meanwhile, unfortunately, everything is developing according to the scenario that is not very promising for DRPC. The joint document signed in Singapore almost doesn't have real guaranteed concessions from the USA. The North Korean leader almost didn't use the summit to promote the ideology of his country – and, in general, he looked quite silent in comparison with the American vis-à-vis. The nearest time will show what will happen next.

By Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin

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