The hype around North Korea

There’s a lot of hype around events related to North and South Korea right now. I’ve been including links to many of the major events in my Weekly Roundup, including:

  • North Korea says it will suspend nuclear testing to focus on the economy – Link

  • Impacting the negotiations: North Korea’s underground testing site collapsed – Link

  • North Korea’s Secret Christians: proselytizing using illicit radios – Atlantic

  • Amid the thaw, Chinese are eyeing North Korean real estate – Reuters

  • North & South dismantle loudspeakers blaring propaganda on the DMZ – NPR

  • North puts its clocks forward 30 minutes to match the south – WEF

  • “The Koreas take first steps to build trust” – Reuters Video

  • NKor & SKor “reportedly intend to announce an official end to war” – NightWatch

  • N Korea: Pyongyang welcomes hundreds of foreigners for the yearly marathon – NYT

  • N Korea: denuclearization is on the table, it says – NYT

  • Kim Jong Un visits China, his first trip out of the country. Link

There have been headlines about “the end of the war.” There have even been headlines that suggest North Korea will open to the Gospel, and churches will be able to “freely send teams.”

I’m not buying the hype.

Consider an extreme scenario: is it likely the North would offer to merge with the South, with the South in charge? No. So, what are they likely to offer? The leadership of North Korea has exhibited no willingness to take any action which would lead to a loss of power. I’m not anticipating freedom of the press, communications, religion, speech, or open borders.

The current scenario seems largely aimed at some kind of negotiated “peace” between North & South and the North and the United States. A win for North Korea is a US agreement not to attack the North; a win for the USA is the North agrees not to attack the USA with nuclear weapons – a “solid win” would be denuclearization.

Some analysts believe the North is negotiating now because it’s underground nuclear testing facility has disintegrated – without testing, it can’t make further nuclear weapons or maintain its stockpile. So it needs to negotiate now while it can have the appearance (to most of the world) of magnanimously offering peace.

Every presently likely scenario seems to make the North “look good” and “peaceful” and “statesman-like” while allowing it to “save face” (vs. the USA) and enabling the government to preserve its existence while opening the possibility of trade and aid funds.

What it seems unlikely to do is open the borders freely to the Gospel. I don’t see the North making any moves to bring more freedoms to its people.

I am continuing to watch and hope, but I am not optimistic for a significant and near-term change in this respect. (I don’t doubt that a cessation of hostilities could lead to some small openings and opportunities.)

Let’s thank God for any “warming” of the cold, but let’s be realistic about what it means.

I remember Libya, and how everyone thought the Arab Spring would bring great things to that nation. It didn’t. The present line for North Korea could make things worse for its citizens: if all we care about are the North’s nukes, and the North trades those away for the world’s acceptance of its legitimacy as a government, it could be a long time before the borders open.


North Korean Christians on summit peace talks: ‘this is not what we’ve been praying for’.” Highlights the increased focus on reduction of military violence without related reduction in human rights issues.

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