October 31, 2020

‘Dangerous’ era of dissent may have begun

Discontent about leadership may portend change in years to come

It seems that the “era of dangerous talks” has, at last, begun. Reports coming from numerous unrelated and generally trustworthy sources point to a significant, albeit not necessarily quantifiable, change in North Korean society. Educated North Koreans, including junior members of the elite, have begun to privately and seriously discuss political issues – and these discussions do not usually follow the officially prescribed line. This is a new development: the first signs of this deviance have become visible only since around 2011.

This does not mean that North Korean college teachers, mid-ranking police officers and market vendors are now dreaming of revolution. Nonetheless, they are increasingly aware that their country is lagging behind China, not to mention South Korea, they are becoming more and more inclined to blame their own government and their country’s economic and political system, rather than the notorious U.S.-instituted blockade or other twists of fate – and they are willing to talk about this.