“I think it’s time we talked about regime change in North Korea, and I do not mean military action, but I do believe that this is a very unstable regime,” Sen. John McCain said. Indeed the question of the regime change in North Korea is an urgent question of the modern international security politics. The international community orients its North Korean policy, believing that North Korea will fail, especially South Korea and the USA.
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The problem of the regime change in North Korea is particularly interesting as it can bring considerable changes into the lives of Korean people, international relationships of North Korea with the United States, South Korea, other countries, as well as change the overall political situation in the world. The question of the second regime change emerged after the Kim Jong-Il’s illness:
“Foreign policy challenge of how the United States and its allies can prepare for the possibility that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il’s illness becomes the source of sudden and destabilizing change in North Korea” (Stares 1).
However, the background for the regime change was the nuclear politics of North Korea and its refusal to abandon production of the nuclear weapon. Politics, as well as political scientist try to predict possible outcomes of the regime change.
The governments of two countries, the USA and South Korea, are extremely interested in the promotion and results of this change, “G. W. Bush laid down an ambitious marker when he declared that the US would not “tolerate” the acquisition of nuclear weapon by Iran and North Korea” (Litwak 1) Thus, in this essay, I am going to analyze possible outcomes of the regime change in North Korea and the role of South Korea during the regime change.
This topic is particularly interested because it presents a perfect “raw material” for the study of the security policy. I would like to analyze this topic because I am familiar with its history and culture of both North and South Koreas. The outcomes of the first regime change from Kim Il Sung to Kim Jung IL were somehow unpredictable: many historians, US believed that North Korea will collapse. But it became even stronger.
Thus, the outcomes of the outcomes of the second regime change can be seen from different angles. It can have as positive as negative results. In particular, it can influence the relationships of North Korea with other countries and improve economical, social and cultural life of the country. On the other hand, it can cause more conflicts and even war.
This topic was selected because the international community aspires to change the regime in North Korea believing in the positive outcomes of this affair. Moreover, there were many researches that predicted possible ways of changing the regime and how it could result for the world.
Thus, doing the research of this topic it would be reasonable to analyze, first of all, the outcomes of the first regime change and how it influenced on different aspects of human life in North Korea. Second, as it has already been mentioned, there were examples when a country survived the change of regime and benefited from it (the division of Germany after the World War II on Federal Republic of Germany and German Democratic Republic and its reunion in 1990). Let us take another sample. North Korea often compared with Iraq as it presents the “threat to international security” (Pak and Kim 1). But:
“The Iraq was set an important historical precedent by being the first case in which forcible regime change was the means employed to achieve no-profitable ends. …necessitated regime change because of Saddam Hussein’s unrelenting drive to acquire weapons of mass destruction” (Litwak 1).
Third, analyzing the outcomes of the first regime change in North Korea and the results of the regime change in other countries, we should also analyze how the change can influence on the industrial, agricultural and service sector in the country, as well as on the structure of the government, social, economic life and even the culture of the country. We should also analyze why the regime change in North Korea would be beneficial for such countries as the USA and South Korea.
In 2008, the relationships between South and North Korea took a turn for the worse because Lee Myung-bak became the president of South Korea who took a “sharp” position towards the DPRK.In response, the government of North Korea (North Korea accuses South of deadly spy plots, n. pag.) refused the process of reintegration and accused Lee Myung-bak in attempt on Kim Jung IL’s life.
As a result, in June 2009, the DPRK announced the withdrawal from all peace treaties and in February, it announced the readiness to war with South Korea. However, soon, it renewed the telecommunications with it. Still, the two parts of the county have tense relationships. The government of the South Korea is supported by the USA government. These two countries are the most interested ones in the regime change in North Korea:
“Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed full U.S. support Monday for South Korea’s decision to take tough new steps against North Korea and said Pyongyang’s “belligerence” has created a “highly precarious situation” in the region.” ( McCormack, n. pag).
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Before this announcement, the president of South Korea assured that their nation would cease all the trades with the country and most of the investments. Thus, Lee also supports the idea of changes in North Korea (McCormack, n.pag).
What is the point? Why are all the countries so interested in the regime change? The first answer can be rather trivial, and the most obvious one, in fact. The international community tries to preserve piece in the society and improve the lives of people of the North Korea who lived under the “the staying power of North Korean totalitarianism, which has resisted decades of sanctions and isolation” (Hirsh, n. pag).
However, can we judge from what is said to us by means of media and in political speeches? Who knows the real situation? Indeed, it would be too far-fetched to estimate that North Korea is a “monster” which wants to seize the power in the world. Hardly can it be true. Perhaps, all the actions are just an attempt to preserve the independency and unitary of the state.
To prove this position it should be mentioned that once “North Korean Foreign Minister Nam Sun told Weldon, “If the U.S. would sign a nonaggression pact, we would give up nuclear programs and weapons.” (Kaplan, n. pag). At any rate, the intentions of both opposed sides are their own business and in the spotlight of my essay are the possible outcomes of the regime change.
The predictions of the regime change have been made by many political scientists. According to Paul B. Stares, there are:
“Three potential succession scenarios: managed succession, in which the top leadership transitions smoothly; contested succession, in which government officials and factions vie for power after Kim’s demise; and failed succession, in which a new government is unable to achieve legitimacy, possibly resulting in the collapse of North Korea” (1).
The results of the regime change depend on the actions of both sides the ability to find a compromise. According to Bruce Bennett and Nina Hachigian:
“Ideally, regime change in North Korea would mean a neat handover of power from Kim Jong Il to a cooperative, benign leader that the United States and its allies can work with. Or, it could lead to a quick and peaceful unification with South Korea, as happened in Germany” (4).
Indeed, in such case, the US would be able to control the government of the country, guarantee stability and prevent the danger of nuclear weapon. The country will be united. Such an outcome can greatly improve the prosperity of the country, “the economic prosperity has something to do with political stability” (“Modeling Regime Change” n. pag.) and the change can lead to the “revolutionary upheaval, in a likelihood implying the North’s collapse and its absorption into the rival Southern state” (“Political Change in North Korea” n. pag).
Jin Pak and Michael Kim also suggest four scenarios for the regime changes in North Korea. According to them, it is the USA who has to arrange positive changes, “scenario 1 depicts a global environment in which the United States is successful in Iraq and Kim Jong IL obtains stability in his regime” (4). There are four scenarios and each of them depicts the picture when the USA changes the regime in North Korea. However, the DPRK’s main purpose, as well as the other countries, is not to be submitted to other governments.
Thus, if the North Korean’s independence and safety will not be preserved, the outcomes of the regime change can be negative. The worst thing that can happen is the war as the North Korea can take military actions to prevent the collapse of the country and use its nuclear weapon. Or there can even appear the worst regime.
Thus, the outcomes of the regime change can be different. Most international communities may hope that the North Korea will fail, however, it can even become stronger. Its current regime and the experience of previous historical events show that the regime will not change, but the government will only change its strategy.
Bennett, B. and Hachigian, N. “A Different Axis: Don’t Try Regime Change in North Korea”. The New York Times. 2004. Web.
Hirsh, Michael. “McCain Calls for ‘Regime Change’ in North Korea”. National Security. 2010. Web.
Kaplan, Fred. “Regime Change in North Korea?” 2003. Web.
Litwak, Robert S. “Non-Proliferation and the Dilemmas of Regime Change”. Web.
McCormack, J. “Obama Supports Regime Change in North Korea?” May 2010 Web.
“Modeling Regime Change”. Web.
North Korea accuses South of deadly spy plots. — Reuters, 18.12.2008 “Political Change in North Korea.” Web.
Pak, J. and Kim, M. “Implications for Scenario Planning on the question, “Should the US pursue Regime Change in North Korea?” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, Hilton Hawaiian Village, Honolulu, Hawaii. Web.
Stares, Paul B., and Joel S. Wit. Center for Preventive Action. Preparing for Sudden Change in North Korea. Council on Foreign Relations, 2009.