Hunger for reunification

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Hunger for reunification

The Workers’ Party of North Korea has turned 70 years old. North Korea celebrates the 1945 founding of the single ruling party on Oct. 10, when Kim Il-sung made a keynote speech at the convention of the Communist Party of Korea.

The day has been a national holiday marking the birth of socialism since 1949. Since the party wields omnipotent power, it is the 70th year since the creation of the North Korean regime.

North Korea held a lavish spectacle, including a military parade and mass rally, at Kim Il-sung Square in the capital. The largest-ever military parade showed off the country’s military muscle with the latest weaponry.

Pyongyang took pains to make the event colorful and grandiose. Rumors say soldiers and citizens were given bonuses tantamount to a full monthly allowance. Some reports say Pyongyang spent $1.4 billion, one fifth of its total annual trade turnover, on the celebrations - a typical showcase for a vulnerable dictatorship.

Fortunately, there were no signs of the launch of a long-range missile. There were expectations North Korea would fire a rocket under space program pretext to test an inter-continental missile, timed with the anniversary.

But Pyongyang would not dare to attempt military provocation while Liu Yunshan, fifth ranked in China’s all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee, is visiting the nation as a special envoy from Beijing. However, there is still a chance of North Korea testing the arms after Liu leaves.

There was a time after the war when North Korea’s economy outpaced South Korea’s. But over the last seven decades, the two economies have become poles apart to the extent they no longer are comparable. The South is 44 times richer in gross national income and its trade 144 times bigger than the North’s. The so-called socialist paradise cannot even feed its people because it is spending whatever it earns to produce and develop weapons of mass destruction.

What use is nuclear weapons and missiles when the people go hungry? The arms are an exhibitionist luxury simply to sustain the regime.

The young North Korean leader would have been intoxicated by the thunderous cheers from crowds that were mobilized to fill Kim Il-sung Square. But he must not stay drunk on forced and fickle loyalty. Instead he should seriously contemplate ways to save the nation. The starting point would be an improvement in inter-Korean relations.

JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 10, Page 26

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