Korea: April 5, 2002

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North Korea has agreed to resume peace talks with  the United States. In addition, the north has resumed gestures like reuniting families split by the 1950-53 war and other moves that allow communication between the populations of north and south Korea. The economic and political situation in the north continues to get worse. The "reformers" in the north (those in the leadership willing to try something other than old fashioned Stalinist communism) are becoming stronger. At the urging of China, North Korea has sent a delegation of economic experts to China to study "economic reform by a Communist state." Similar delegations went to Russia. But China's communists were never able to impose a rule as strict and brutal as the North Koreans. A major fear in the north is the social explosion that would occur if enough of the people just decided it was time for a change. The northern leadership is still haunted by what happened in Eastern Europe in 1989, especially in Rumania.  The Chinese are trying to convince the North Koreans that there is another way. The Chinese have their own interests at stake; the thousands of desperate North Koreans sneaking across the border are becoming more of an economic, social, diplomatic and political problem.

 

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