[FOUNTAIN]North Korea could crash in a blinkIt’s never safe to guarantee the future. Surprises can always happen. You have to consider various possibilities and prepare.
One of the possible scenarios for the future of the North Korean regime is an internal collapse similar to that of East Germany, argued the conservative U.S. magazine Weekly Standard in its Feb. 21 issue.
The climax of East Germany’s collapse was the fall of the Berlin Wall in December 1989. Today’s North Korea is similar to East Germany. In terms of poverty and oppression, endless caravans of defectors and the rejection of true economic reform.
Erich Honecker, the autocratic leader of East Germany, did not predict the fall of the communist state. Mikhail Gorbachev, Soviet leader and his mentor, had advised that the party is responsible for failing to help people’s lives, and East Germany could fall. Only a few months before, Mr. Honecker said the wall would last a century.
Chancellor Helmut Kohl of West Germany learned the news of the Berlin Wall’s fall during an overseas tour. The historic event occurred without advance notice. There was no manual on how to respond. Mr. Kohl linked the situation with a vision of unification, saying that East and West Germans were one people and unification would not wait.
Diplomacy with four neighboring giants was the biggest challenge for Mr. Kohl. To the U.S. president, he promised that a unified Germany would remain a solid ally of the United States. He persuaded British and French leaders that the unified Germany would not be a threat to them.
It took 2 trillion marks and over 10 years for West Germany to bring East Germany under control. Sometimes, as much as 45 billion marks were loaded on a freight car and delivered to East Germany overnight. The prolonged slump of the German economy originates from the post-unification efforts to assist East Germany. If North Korea collapses like East Germany, it would be a catastrophe for South Korea. Seoul does not have the diplomatic clout or economic power that West Germany had. When North Korea has a leadership vacuum, control of the North might fall to China or the United States. When the South gets control, the two Koreas will face an extreme economic challenge. We don’t want the disaster to happen, but we have to be prepared.
by Chun Young-gi
The writer is a deputy political news editor at the JoongAng Ilbo.