Another "Reformer" Gone Bad

Monday, December 16, 2013
We're all familiar with the now infamous media narrative that had portrayed Syria's Bashar al-Assad and Cuba's Raul Castro as "reformers."

Time has proven that both Bashar and Raul are just as brutal -- if not even more -- than their predecessors.

Add North Korea's Kim Jong-un to that list.

This weekend, media outlets expressed "shock" at Kim's highly-publicized execution of his uncle, Jang Song-Thaek, who was believed to be North Korea's second most powerful person.

Of course, the "shock" is of their own irresponsible making.

Does this all sound familiar?

From Time:

[Y]oung Kim, who spent a few years as a teenager going to school in Switzerland, may be willing to acknowledge the blindingly obvious: that what North Korea has been doing for decades economically doesn't work, and that there are plenty of examples right in the neighborhood — South Korea and China most obviously — that over the same period have gotten a lot of things right economically.

From Spiegel:

Young North Koreans are suddenly wearing chic outfits, men gel their hair like South Korean actors, and private markets have more flexible opening hours. Do these tiny differences signal a change in course by the country's new leader, Kim Jong Un?

From AFP:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has called for a "radical turnaround" in the impoverished country's economy in a rare New Year's address that also appeared to offer an olive branch to South Korea.

In terms of the survival of his regime, the least perilous short-term option for Kim Jong-un is, in fact, to expand economic and political ties with China, while launching modest reforms to capitalize on newly designated special economic zones.

But hey, no worries -- for we were just reassured:

A senior North Korean official said yesterday that the execution of leader Kim Jong-un’s once-powerful uncle will not lead to changes in economic policies and vowed that the nation would push ahead with an ambitious plan to develop new economic zones.