Will the recent Chinese action cutting off financial services against North Korea’s Kim advance his day of reckoning? No one knows for sure. Until that day arrives, however, Putin’s observation still stands—Kim will ensure the North Koreans continue to eat grass and will not give up its nuclear program.
By Morgan Norval l November 7, 2017
There are living hell holes throughout the world—Nigeria, Somalia, and Zimbabwe to name just three. However, these three must seem like a paradise to the citizens of North Korea who face starvation and have literally eaten grass when famine was widespread in the early 1990s.
Communist countries are notorious for their inefficiencies which can cause food shortages. Stalin even used famine as a policy tool to rid the Ukraine of land owning peasants. North Korea has, and still is, following Stalin’s example. Since its founding, the Kim family has glorified itself and its draconian policies. It does so, in part, by pursuing monument building and the quest for nuclear weapons instead of caring for its citizens. Maria Antoinette was reputed to tell hungry peasants in France to eat cake. The Kims feel that is too rich a diet and say eat grass instead.
A monument is basically a structure—buildings or statutes, for example—created to honor a person or event. This is usually done to show and honor the greatness of the person or event. Statues of the Kim family are everywhere as well as other examples. The original founder, Kim Il-Sung, desiring to show the world how great he and his country was, decided to build the world’s largest skyscraper, rising 105 stories. The building today is unfinished and empty. That didn’t stop the Kim family as they also constructed the world’s largest athletic stadium that seats 150,000 people. Imitating Russia, the two preceding Kim rulers are, like Lenin in Moscow, entombed in a glass-enclosed setting where loyal North Koreans are expected to daily pass by and pay their respect to the embalmed tyrants. Meanwhile, as Putin points out, the people eat grass and the current Kim ruler is fat.
This glorification at the expense of the North Korean citizen’s health and welfare is readily visible inside North Korea. North Korea’s GDP is a miserable $16.12 billion. To put this in perspective, the combined GDP of three of its neighbors, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, is 394 times that of North Korea.
The Kim regime’s policy of starving its people to pay for their glorification and nuclear and missile development is having serious harmful consequences. The life expectancy in North Korea has dropped from 72.7 years in 1990 to 69.3 today. This is ten years less than the same figures in South Korea. Six million children in North Korea suffer from chronic malnutrition. North Korean teenagers are 8 percent shorter and weight nearly 20 percent less than their South Korean counterparts. This has effects upon the North Korean Military.
The North Korean military is a large prison system. Conscription is mandatory for 18-year-olds. Prior physical standards for military service were for the recruits to be at least 59 inches tall and weight a minimum of 106 pounds. Today those requirements have been lowered to 54 inches in height and 95 pounds in weight.
The 18-year-old age conscription date has been reduced and now 17-year-olds are being taken. The North Korean government is also pressuring 16-year-olds to “volunteer” and is even encouraging 15-year-olds to do the same. North Korean conscripts serve at least six years and up to ten. This tends to keep the youth least likely to be tempted to engage in revolutionary dreams while under the thumb of the military until they reach their mid-twenties when the regime has brow beaten any thought of anti-regime action out of their heads.
An army is a myth unless it trains with its weapons and the North Korean military is no different. However, the troops get little ammunition when they train and at the end of the day their weapons, rifles, pistols, etc., are locked up out of their hands.
Totalitarian regimes rely on the military and security police to keep them in power and are catered to by the regime. One would expect the North Korean leaders to take better care of them than the rest of its citizens. Non-military North Koreans are living on the edge of starvation and one would expect the military would be given adequate food. That, however, doesn’t seem to be the case. Reports out of North Korea indicate most military units do not have sufficient food. It has gotten so bad for the army, for example, the regime has ordered army officers to encourage their troops to steal food during the harvest time. This thievery does not endear the army to its starving civilians, but the military and security police have preference over the masses as they are the iron fist propping up the Kim rule. This is a sure sign that a lot, if not most, of the military don’t get enough to eat. This could be due to an insufficient supply of food—communist states are a model of gross inefficiency—or a result of the rampant corruption when somebody in power steals it—or both.
Corruption is rife in North Korea and criminal gangs are forming to take advantage. In fact, criminal gangs are one of the fastest growing sectors of that dismal economy. Many consider North Korea to be the most corrupt country in the world. The use of bribes is widespread and keeps the tattered economy sputtering along, but at the expense of the poor, half-starved North Korean citizens. The latest UN sanctions and the Chinese cutting off financial services to North Korea will be a boon to these criminal gangs and even the Kim regime will have to rely on their services to hopefully keep the sputtering economy from collapsing in a heap.
Pyongyang already rents its citizens out as slave labor for foreign projects—in the Middle East, for example—and the regime is paid their wages directly. They use these wages to help finance the North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile programs that threaten the United States. Even though sanctions have outlawed this exported slave labor, it still goes on. North Korea orders these workers to stay on and work illegally. The North Korean supervisors of these workers can threaten their families and relatives with serious, or fatal, consequences if they don’t follow the Kim regime’s “suggestions.”
The Kim government is likely the most sadistic and vicious group in the world that has run its country into the ground. They purposely starve their citizens to pursue nuclear and missile technology so they can strut and share the world stage with the big boys.
The Kim regime will eventually collapse, and it is doubtful that its leader Kim Jung-Un, dubbed “Rocket Man” by President Trump, and his closest sycophants will die peaceably like his father and grandfather. Unless he commits suicide, his death will come slowly and painfully, maybe more so than that of Libya’s Gaddafi. The vast majority of North Korean citizens living in this, the world’s worst hell hole, hope it is soon and, no doubt, will be very happy when it occurs.
Will the recent Chinese action against North Korea’s Kim advance his day of reckoning? No one knows for sure. Until that day arrives, however, Putin’s observation still stands—Kim will ensure the North Koreans continue to eat grass and will not give up its nuclear program.
Morgan Norval is the founder and Executive Director of the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research and a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis of the online-conservative-journalism center at the Washington-based foundation.