It was business as usual on the foreign front for North Korean leader Kim Jong un. He went to Vietnam with the intention of negotiating an economic win for his country without actually giving up anything tangible. It’s standard operating procedure for North Korea over the decades, but this time it yield no fruit. President Trump walked away without a deal.
Where does that leave the North Koreans? The sanctions are clearly hurting, but their leader seems unwilling to budge on his nuclear aspirations. That means it’s back to business as usual on the domestic front again, but is it sustainable?
Unfortunately, as long as the people remain trapped in their oppressed state, the answer is yes. This can be sustained in perpetuity because the will of the people and the conditions in which they live are not a concern of the government. They are slaves to the state, sometimes literally. There is literally nothing they can do because decades of indoctrination, brainwashing, and servitude have established a populace with no ability to fight for their own human rights. In many ways, they don’t even realize their rights are being withheld from them.
The vast majority of the 25 million North Koreans living in awful conditions have no idea their conditions are awful. They are isolated from the rest of the world and taught from an early age that the rest of the world is evil, especially the United States and their “pawns” in South Korea. They’re forced to believe their leader is supreme in a way that is practically divine, leaving them with no recourse.
In fact, if economic sanctions were to be lifted, that doesn’t necessarily mean the people will prosper. More likely, it will mean the people will be driven deeper into servitude to the government because their basic needs will be met better following the lifting of sanctions. That’s the nature of communism. As the government prospers, they’re able to make the people even more loyal because the choices are so slim.
So when we ask the question of what’s next for North Korea following the failed summit, the answer will come on the international front from China and Russia. They’ll still very capable of supporting the resource-poor nation as long as the North Koreans are able to continue generating revenue. Therein lies the real problem with North Korea. They have money. They make it regularly. They make it illegally.
Now’s not the time to detail how or where they get their money, but they’ve become very good at essentially “hacking” their way to riches. They’ve been doing it for years with bank scams and tax fraud schemes, among others, but lately they’ve been focusing on cryptocurrencies.
If the United States wants to negotiate from a position of strength with North Korea, we must cut off the billions of dollars they steal yearly through their clever hacking schemes. Otherwise, they’ll keep going to China and Russia for resources.