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Critique of Into the future article by NK News about future of North Korea

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Excerpts are taken from speculative what-if article titled “Into the future” that is written by Chad O’Carroll and published by North Korea focused American online based news and analysis website NK News, it is a critique that uses quotes from the article in order to give context as to which arguments and speculations are being addressed in the criticism, commentary and providing counter arguments as allowed under fair use under American law.

The premise of O’Carrolls article is what could North Korea look like 20 years from now in 2040 in which the author’s speculations are in some regards borderline predictions that are bound to happen and some other are contextually in the narrative of scenario by the author as to remain a status quo. It lacks the consideration of major deviation from the possibility North Korea would remain in relative stagnation that is under the sanctions regime.

Quotes:

While North Korean officials have the privilege of planning for the long-term, policy-makers in democracies like the U.S. and South Korea tend to think on four or five-year timelines… it’s clear that in responding to DPRK strategy, short-term fixes like “carrots” and “sticks” have been the principal mechanisms of choice…

Critique:

This is generalization as South and America aren’t comparable to each other because their historical, cultural, political and ideological landscape are very different along what North means to them such as being a domestic policy for South that claims to be only legitimate ruler of Korean Peninsula as does North too while for America it is for them a foreing policy. Because of this policy difference of domestic versus foreign, there is different treatment on this political issue as evident with South that has belligerent policy when conservatives are elected compared to liberals that have policy of detente. Since former are right wing that is product of anti-communism with heavy American influence in internal politics of southern Korea during its occupation when it established government and whose influence allowed Koreans that collaborated with Imperial Japan to get in power with tacit support simply for being anti-communist versus liberals whose foundation can be attributed to Koreans that resisted American occupation along their essentially marrionetes that did their bidding by stamping out leftists from position of power which lead to many mass murders before and after the war, which is consequence of meddling by foreign power with division being result of American demand to divide the Korean peninsula in half in order for them to control Seoul. American policy involving the North is of course a foreign policy one and throughout its history It with some exceptions is consistent regardless of which party is elected to guide America. Both Democrats and Republicans’ stance towards North is superficially different in terms of rhetoric as former is far less confrontational in tone than the latter while both heavily rely and use sanctions as a tool to apply pressure while never delivering on their promised carrots.

Quotes:

Indeed, Pyongyang is thought to only possess six such vehicles, imported as Wanshan WS51200 heavy logging trucks from China in 2011…it is thought that it has been unable to reverse engineer the design for indigenous production…With the six far short of what’s needed for credible nuclear deterrence, it is probable that mastering an indigenous heavy launch vehicle capability will be a key medium-term priority for Pyongyang.

Critique:

Not even a month ago as 8 heavy transporter vehicles were in procession in a parade during the 75th anniversary of Workers Party of Korea on October 10th, which is 2 more than 6 and these are for wheeled chassis while North Korea also produces heavy tracked chassis as evident by KN-25 variant that is utilizing 10 axle model with same tracks and wheels as T-62. If to maintain a weight ratio as a main battle tank it would mean around 80 tons maximum with chassis and missile hence could carry 50 to 55 ton heavy missile at most which is far greater than weight of Russian solid fuel ICBM Topol that has weight of around 40 tons. Production of heavy transporter vehicles has already started as evident in the parade.

Quotes:

Given sanctions have continued to build over the past several decades, there is no reason to expect this momentum to reverse…The more sanctions pressures increase, the more North Korea will seek to mitigate through cooperating with other targets of U.S. sanctions policy…as China increasingly turns a blind eye to sector-level sanctions it will eventually get busier, with the prospect of significant economic benefits for Pyongyang…Unable to attract foreign brands to officially open in the DPRK due to sanctions and foreign investor fears

Critique:

Both Russia and China are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and for which any narrative of sanctions violations along turning a blind eye doesn’t acknowledge their status at United Nations along being powers whose cooperation was needed for such sanctions regime to be legitimate under eyes of the United Nations. If they are to decide that they can accept North Korea as a nuclear power as Pakistan and India were accepted as such. Retracting support for resolution would render the sanctions regime illegitimate as it was forged by five powers that are foundational pillars of the sanctions regime and without two the foundation can not stand as it justifies only by support of those that  have made it. Not considering such a possibility is a large oversight considering historical precedent and the author’s reliance on the present to continue in future as a form of status quo hence this what if scenario is one of conservative prediction on assumption that nothing fundamentally changes.

Quotes:

North Korea won’t have fully overcome its chronic power shortages by 2040, but in central Pyongyang at least much more sustained supplies can be expected….By 2040, things likely won’t have changed much…In the agricultural sector, then, this may manifest in a growing proliferation of low-cost mechanized farming machinery to bolster crop sizes…Though such improvements will be poorly distributed.

Critique:

This is a bold assertion considering North Korea has a nuclear light water reactor program that with experimental reactors could in very near future go operational and lessons learned from it will lead to larger designs that would address any power shortage concerns by 2040. Involving agriculture, another bold assertion as certain with poorly distributed claims as the North demonstrated that with reform they can improve efficiency as evident involving their ballistic missile and nuclear weapons program along conventional weaponry. There is no reason to discount the possibility of reforms being conducted in a manner that would lead to at least moderately well distributed agriculture machinery considering industrial capacity.

Quotes:

North Korea’s shelling of the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong-do, which took place in November 2010 after the sinking of the Cheonan corvette…kind of USFK responses might be considered if…North Korea were to shoot down a civilian ROK aircraft, arguing it had entered DPRK airspace…how could South Korea respond if the DPRK were to unilaterally seize a cluster of islands near the disputed Northern Limit Line…North Korea’s long-range artillery arsenal…Pyongyang has credibly targeted Washington DC with nuclear weapons.

Critique:

First of all, mentioning American forces and shooting down civilian airliners is ironic since American military shot down an Iranian airliner in 1988 even when it wasn’t a fighter jet, not so long ago one of their aircrafts spoofing identification as a civilian airliner near China. Second, conflict at west sea be it bombardment of Yeonpyeong-do, sinking of Cheonan and naval battles before those is due to Northern Limit Line which is not part of Korean Armistice Agreement nor legal under United Nations Convention of Law of the Sea after the 1970s.

Response by North is token resistance towards Southern occupation of their territorial maritime waters and the majority of those islands are closer to North with heavy artillery. Lastly, America had Pyongyang in range with nuclear weapons since the late 1950s when it introduced nuclear weapons in the South in 1958 which were withdrawn in 1991, yet by that time America had developed reliable ICBM capability to lob a nuke at any part of Earth.

Rest of the article by O’Carroll relies on the assumption that sanctions will continue, there is nothing else of note to address and critique, just demonstrates narrow focus of the author with mindset that sanctions are going to remain as if it’s certain.