‘irrational brinkmanship’ a fig leaf political analysis of North Korean policy

A while ago I wrote a short essay on North Korea. An Amateurish attempt to work out what makes Kim Jong Un tick. A retrospective on the piece, written much earlier on in the year shows that I was looking to dimiss the idea that the politics of North Korea were one of ‘Irrational Brinkmanship’, as canvassed by western media at the time.

It is my belief, and that of other authors (I chose to look at the publications of Dr. Wright who writes for Chatham House) that Jong-Un’s government is making well judged policy decisions like any civilised government. Through a certain amount of analysis I agree with Dr. Wright that in the main North Korea’s chosen policy is one of ‘strategic provocation’. This policy decision is meant to bolster Kim’s place in a complex political landscape.

I refer to ‘Juche’ ideology (the idea of independance and autonomy) as a historical root for the reason behind the choice of strategic provocation. This is also complimented by the ‘Songun’ ideology, meaning military first.

Accepting the concept of ‘strategic provocation’. Then we need to question what challenges the regime in such a way that it needs to reinforce the binding ideologies of ‘Juche’ and ‘Songun’?

While Dr. Wright argues there is no discord among the military, and among the wider North Korean government complex, my argument is that there are long term institutionalised known channels where the main dissenting opinions are broadcast. Among the opponents is the military establishment.

I hint, in the essay, that the military has become such a dominant voice that Kim has had to push an active policy of ‘active provocation’ and fall back on the strengths of ideologies such as ‘Juche’ and ‘Songun’. I base my proof in the essay on causal links between the closing of the Kaesong industrial complex and the political will of the military instition.

Further details to my argument can be found in the full essay.

DPRK Imbroglio < essay link


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