Expert Interview: What A Pro-Kim World Will Look Like

Until a few months ago the Korean Peninsula was gripped by the tension of a possible U.S. military intervention in North Korea. What will become of the situation now with the “friendly mood” set up by the two Koreas?


Professor in International Studies at Takushoku Univerity

O Sonfa

Born in Jeju City, South Korea, in 1956, O Sonfa moved to Japan in 1983. She graduated from Daito Bunka University and later completed a Masters degree at Tokyo Foreign Language University. She began journalism activities while still a student and is the author of numerous books in Japanese. She is a naturalized Japanese citizen.

–How do the South Korean people see the friendly North-South relations?

So: There is an absurd “Kim Jong-un Boom” going on in South Korea at the moment.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un made an unexpected visit to China to meet with President Xi Jinping in March, and has scheduled a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in May or June.

Seeing this, the South Korean media is reporting that “spring is coming!”, and “Kim Jong-un is clever!” and “He is on equal ground with the two top world leaders!”. Criticism of Kim is quieting down.

Kim has been taking a ‘soft approach’ – a friendly mood act – ever since the Pyeongchang Olympics. He sent a group of beautiful cheer squad girls and his sister Kim Yo-jong to South Korea, and had his wife accompany him in public events, such as his visit to China. He’s got the world media reporting on these things.

He is successfully changing his image as a tyrannical nuclear megalomaniac.

–What is Kim’s goal?

So: I think mainly preventing the U.S. from engaging in military intervention and getting the U.S. to withdraw their troops stationed in South Korea.

If he can show the world just how “peaceful” the Korean Peninsula is, the U.S. will have no reason to have their army stationed there or to opt for military intervention.

Kim’s goal coincides with that of South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

For generations, the long unachieved goal of South Korean presidents has been to drive out the U.S. troops and regain military operational control authority. And Moon is an especially pro-North president. He wants to make a powerful country, and his strong desire is for Korean unification to be achieved by the hands of his own people.

Here again, Moon’s goals match those of Kim Jong-un. This is the direction in which the two Koreas are headed.


The Korean Race Unites Through Hatred

–Are North Korean missiles not a threat to South Korea?

So: The dominating opinion in South Korea is that it is impossible to get rid of North Korea’s missiles all at once: it must be done in stages. More specifically, they think that is it impossible to get rid of them completely anyway, and after the reunification South Korea can have access to them.

Then the biggest problem falls on Japan. In recent times South Korea has been using the term “Union State” to mean ‘one country two systems’. The thing that binds the two systems together is the power of hatred. That hatred is now being directed towards Japan. If left alone, the Korean Peninsula will turn into an anti-Japan nuclear power.

In 1993 an anti-Japan novel “The Rose of Sharon Blooms Again” was a record hit in South Korea and was even adapted into a film. It was the story of a North-South joint nuclear development program that was eventually used to declare war on Japan.

They have also brought up many anti-Japan cases in the international community over the decades, such as the Comfort Women problem and the Wartime Recruitment System.

After reunification, Korea will undoubtedly demand huge WWII reparations from Japan. Japan will be turned into their cash dispenser.


South Koreans Respect North Korea

–South Korea goes as far as to fabricate history to criticize Japan. Why then do they never criticize North Korea – a country that continues to infringe upon human rights?

So: The Korean people don’t quite understand the concept of human rights. This goes back to the Choson dynasty (1392 – 1910). It was a Confucian society in those days and there was a strict caste system.

Any rebels were executed along with their whole family, and any village that helped rebels was completely wiped out. Anyone could be an informant, and the officials controlled the people by constant fear through torture and public executions.

The Korean race have inherited these cultural genes and view the North Korean purges and human rights oppressions as a necessity to keep people under control. If anything, they highly respect North Korea for their fastidious control and their totalitarian system.

–Are there people who see the danger of North Korea?

So: Of course. Some people have conservative ideas.

Unfortunately, most of these people are over 60 and have no vision for the future. They jokingly say, “there are only 2 ways that South Korea can survive: one is to become a U.S. state; the other is to come under the guardianship of Japan”.

In contrast, President Moon is a man with a vision, for better or worse. He is looking to improve South Korea’s poor economic conditions through China’s “One Belt One Road” ideology. His version of the Eurasian Economic Union is to extend a railroad through China, Russia and France to open up the economy. This railroad would have to travel through North Korea, making a friendly relationship imperative, and is a good opportunity to establish an economic community with them.

The previous president Park Geun-hye had the same idea, but it was actually originally conceived by the Samsung Institute during the Roh Moo-hyun government.


China, The Rising Sun

–Why is South Korea leaning towards socialism?

So: South Korea has long been unstable: they came under the IMF umbrella in 1997, and the stock market crash of 2008 was a huge blow. This has consequently widened the wealth disparity.

Many large businesses have moved overseas, and the smaller ones left behind are in terrible condition. Young people may study hard and graduate from a top-level university, but only 40-50% of them can find employment.

Naturally people – especially the younger generation – are beginning to question the values of capitalism and even to blame it. The recent major scandals such as Heather Cho, Lotte, and the 2016 political scandal have made the people lose trust in large conglomerates.

Then along comes Moon and promises to create 810,000 civil service jobs, prohibit contract work, prohibit companies from sacking workers, and provide compensation for low-income workers. None of these, however, are systems that generate new wealth. They simply leech wealth off the wealthy and divide it amongst the people: it is a totalitarian controlled economy.

In South Korea they call the U.S. the “setting sun” and China the “rising sun”. It means it is better luck to side with China because they are going to prosper. The people have started to think that it is not a capitalist economy but the Chinese socialist economy that will bring South Korea the prosperity it needs.


Military Intervention A Possible Option

–What can the Japanese people do in this chaotic situation?

So: The Japanese Diet is throwing criticisms at the Prime Minister for the Moritomo scandal. It is possible that he will succumb to the temptations of popularity for the coming election, meaning he will stop being proactive and be satisfied when North Korea returns just a few of the abducted citizens.

In reality, Japan cannot rest until they are all returned, nor should we agree to talks with Kim Jong-un until we can clearly see a way to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons.

For Kim, nuclear weapons are worth his life. It is unthinkable that he will truly embrace denuclearization. That means that U.S. military intervention is a possible option.

Many Japanese people fear the prospect of war on the Korean Peninsula. But we must consider the consequences of not having a war: North Korea will not abandon its nuclear weapons and Kim will stay in power. Such a future world is unfathomable.

Expert Interview: What A Pro-Kim World Will Look Like
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