Are North Koreans Heading for the Exit? By Kongdan Oh, Asia Times
A decision by the Chinese government to withdraw support would be a game changer for North Korea. Although Pyongyang appears to be stable now, such stability is like nuclear deterrence: it works right up to the day when it does not.
Since North Korea’s deputy ambassador in London defected to South Korea in the middle of August, the international media have renewed their speculation that North Korea is beginning to collapse. News of North Korea’s fifth nuclear weapons test on September 9 has eclipsed the defection in the news cycle, but the test may have increased the chance of a North Korean collapse. After both events, my phone started ringing, and once again I needed to consider where North Korea lies on the collapse-survival scale.
This is a question that has dogged North Korea ever since European communist governments collapsed in the early 1990s—to the obvious discomfort of a Kim regime that continues to misrule the country. Has anything materially changed in North Korea’s survival calculus in recent years?…