How not to deal with North Korea

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How Not to Deal with North Korea By Richard J. Bernstein </authors/3253> A Moment of Crisis: Jimmy Carter, the Power of a Peacemaker, and North Korea's Nuclear Ambitions by Marion V. Creekmore Jr. PublicAffairs, 406 pp., $26.95 Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World by Gordon G. Chang Random House, 327 pp., $25.95 Rogue Regime: Kim Jong Il and the Looming Threat of North Korea by Jasper Becker Oxford University Press, 300 pp., $15.95 (paper) Instead of threatening northeast Asia and the California coast with nuclear weapons, North Korea by most reasonable expectations should have ceased to exist years ago, in part because it seemed so reasonable and logical that it would follow other recent examples of Communist regimes gone defunct. East Germany went out of business after it lost the unqualified support of the Soviet Union, and East Germany was much less dependent on Soviet aid for its very sustenance than North Korea was. When the Soviet Union collapsed and withdrew its lifeline to its Asian neighbor and longstanding ally, North Korea became conspicuously and shockingly unable to serve the basic needs of its people. The great pride of the regime, its claim to have created a tax-free, full-employment, everything-taken-care-of society under the benevolent care of the "Genius of Mankind" Kim Il Sung, was the basis of its legitimacy. By the time Kim Il Sung died in 1994, it had long become clear that the claim was bankrupt. Anybody who traveled to the Chinese side of the North Korean border in the mid-1990s saw the desperate and hungry Korean refugees who had sneaked into China in search, literally, of survival. The famine, taking place with a new, untested, and manifestly weird "Dear Leader," Kim Jong Il, at the head of the state, was proportionately even worse than the great Chinese famine of the early 1960s. Upward of a million of North
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Korea's 22 million people died in the famine, Stephen Haggard and Marcus Noland conclude in /Famine in North Korea/.^[1] <#fn1> Among those who survived, they write, is "an entire cohort of children consigned to a myriad of physical and mental impairments associated with chronic childhood malnutrition." While the Koreans starved and while the UN's World Food Program was appealing for funds for emergency food aid, the "Sun of the 21st Century," as Kim Jong Il is known, indulged a sudden fancy for Italian cuisine and invited a famous chef, Ermanno Furlanis, to come to North Korea to cook for him. As recounted by the British journalist Jasper Becker in his excellent book /Rogue Regime: Kim Jong Il and the Looming Threat of North Korea/, Furlanis later wrote about the special shipment of French and Italian wines and cheeses that would arrive at Kim's seaside retreat not far from Pyongyang, which itself was "equipped with a water amusement park and a pleasure yacht the size of an ocean liner." ------------------------------------------------------------------------ Phillips Collection / Impressionists by the Sea
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