North policy needs good senseNorth Korea has grabbed global attention with the execution of Jang Song-thaek, the uncle of its leader Kim Jong-un and former No. 2 man, stunning the world with a cruel and tyrannical symbol of its dictatorship. The dramatic purge and elimination of a top veteran official has evoked a period of history when family blood ties and dynasties ruled the Korean Peninsula. It underscores how dangerous and reckless the work of handing down power from father to son can be, and the dear price the people and country must pay to sustain such an abnormal ruling system.
Unfortunately, we have no say in what goes on in North Korea. But we nevertheless have to closely watch the repercussions on our side of the border from the unpredictable developments in Pyongyang so that we can preclude any negative impact on the security of the Korean Peninsula.
The stunning event has set tongues wagging wildly about what’s really happening in North Korea. Various organizations of North Korean defectors are unleashing unverifiable rumors, and the media are hyping about them without discretion. Even some elites and politicians are joining the reckless grind of the rumor mill. The cascade of misinformation can divide our democratic society. We must stave off the temptation to brood about the possibility of a collapse in the Pyongyang regime.
It appears that the government is well informed about the background and developments leading to Jang’s purge. It now must contain the spread of misleading rumors and assumptions. It must share with the public what information it can and set the record straight on groundless rumors.
We also must be wary of cynicism and nonchalance. South Koreans tend to shrug off shocking news from North Korea after having been through so many provocations from the country. Many have come to believe anything is possible across the border and have grown immune to violent rhetoric and actions. But we must be aware that the paradoxical and abnormal dynastic rule and single-man leadership is nearing its end.
There had been expectations for a breakdown and changes in North Korea after Kim Il Sung and his son, Kim Jong-il, died. That blind hope affected our North Korea policy as well as the inter-Korean relationship. Still, North Korea cannot forever manipulate and control its people to sustain its maverick political system. We should always be vigilant against dramatic developments in the secluded state and prioritize peace and stability on the peninsula. The government should neither resort to any risky bet on the North nor remain naive to signs of changes. We advise the government to be sensible and flexible in watching and addressing current events in the North.