by Scott Creighton (H/T Jay H.)
A reader has sent me a link to a Youtube video recording of Prof. Charles Armstrong discussing the state of affairs in North Korea today and where he thinks it is headed in the future. The talk took place recently at Columbia University and was sponsored by the Asia-Pacific Affairs Council (APAC) of that same university which studies .
Prof. Armstrong talks about a changing dynamic in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) whereas they are actively seeking to open their nation to the outside world a bit. The new airport serves as a sign of this program. And he concludes his discussion by saying it’s possible, though they wont completely veer from the authoritarian path they are currently on, that this new openness will create a new version of North Korea but not one entirely different from what it is. He also stresses that this is not some obscure pipe-dream of a future in that North Korea is already moving toward this goal in many ways. He mentions a slightly better economy for the people of North Korea and the fact that fewer people are leaving the country now than there were just 5 years ago. He talks about how many North Koreans have cell phones and the readily available internet, though, according to him, it is still heavily controlled in terms of access to certain sites and ideas.
It’s an interesting talk and I thank Jay for sharing it with us.
[On a side note: after publishing my Feb. 12th article regarding the State Department’s provocation of the DPRK, I was contacted by another professor, this one from Beijing and Pyongyang, who asked if I would be interested in taking part in a fact finding mission to the DPRK in mid-April. I consider it to be an honor to have been asked and would love to attend but unfortunately my health does not permit me to do so. My disability has worsened over the years and traveling for extended periods of time in an airplane with blood clots in my leg and lungs is not a good idea. Worse case would be to have a PE on route to Pyongyang and then die in a DPRK hospital on arrival. Just imagine the field day the MSM would have with that one. Not to mention the whole “dying” thing. Kind of a lose-lose bummer. So, though I haven’t emailed him back yet (I should before posting this I guess) I have to politely pass on his gracious offer. I would love the opportunity to travel to that nation and to walk among the people and learn what life is like for them. I would love the opportunity to meet with the other journalists who are going and sit down with scholars who know the country, it’s history and it’s aspirations and report those back to you guys. And honestly, I probably wouldn’t mind being put on the no-fly list as well since I’m not looking to buy a gun anytime soon. It is an opportunity that I truly regret not being able to utilize. There is no other way to say that. I will continue to focus this site on what I have over the years and I will continue to strive to examine the path the people of the DPRK follow for as long as I can. I thank the professor from Beijing for his offer and I thank Jay H. for the link to the video.]