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North Korea: Look at Me, Look at Me!

Posted on July 24 2010 7:00 pm
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Kim Jong-Il’s going to do it again. The regime needs attention and as any parent of an insecure teenager can testify, this need will be met no matter how much hell it causes for other people.

North Korea is threatening to start a “sacred war” against the U.S. and South Korea in retaliation for their planned joint military exercises. The regime also said that it would use its “nuclear deterrence” in response. There had been media reports months ago, which were disputed by intelligence officials, that the regime was planning another nuclear test this summer. This may be the option North Korea exercises to provoke an escalation, but there are certainly other things the regime can do. The sinking of the South Korean warship this year shows that the regime is becoming increasingly aggressive, and if it doesn’t get the attention it wants, it’ll have to keep upping the ante in order to get it.

But why does North Korea need this attention? As I’ve written about this year, the regime is becoming increasingly unstable as the population becomes more aware of their misery. So, Kim Jong-Il is falling back on the typical trick of provoking international tension. At the same time, there is an ongoing succession process. These provocations coincide with major developments in this succession.

The erecting of a statue honoring Kim Jong-Il is another sign that they are preparing for his demise. The key question now is how confident the regime is. Do they believe that the crisis with South Korea has adequately set the stage for the son to take over or do they believe even bigger measures need to be taken?

We’re stuck in a vicious cycle, folks. The more confident the regime, the bolder their actions will be. But the less confident they are, the more they’ll be compelled to instigate crises to maintain regime unity. Expect to hear from North Korea in big ways over the next couple of months.

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