Jong Un

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un

The film told the story of a fictional plot to assassinate Kim Jong-un. Hackers broke into film company Sony?s computers, and weeks later threatened to target any cinema which screened the film.

An FBI investigation concluded that North Korea was to blame for the cyber attack. North Korea responded angrily, with Kim Jong-un calling President Obama a ?monkey?.

What do we know about his ambitions? Four insiders offer their insight into what Kim Jong-un wants.

?A stronger economy’: Businessman Geoffrey See

Geoffrey See is a Singaporean who has been travelling back and forth to North Korea for the past seven years, working with young entrepreneurs. He says North Koreans are now thinking more innovatively about the economy:

?About six years ago when we first started our programme, our counterparts would often start off with a very long spiel about socialism and how this is the system they have and they are never going to change it.

?In recent years instead of saying that, people talk about? trying to bring in what?s best from overseas, and try to adjust it to fit into the system. So I think that?s a very interesting change in terms of thinking.?

Where this new investment is being targeted is also interesting.

?If you look at the economic zones that North Korea was investing in, one of the key areas is Wonsan. So this is an economic zone on the east coast of North Korea. It faces Japan and it borders South Korea. So it is kind of almost the furthest location you can have from China. So we believe that it?s part of this broader aim to balance off Chinese economic influence in North Korea.?

Kim Jong-un has also been making overtures to Russian President Putin. Two years ago, Russia wrote off 90% of North Korea?s debt. But Geoffrey See says there aren?t many foreign investors willing to engage with the country?s idiosyncratic business environment:

?We would email the North Koreans two, three, four times and we [wouldn?t] get a response, and we used to get very worried about it. We wondered if they are reading our messages, if things are moving ahead.

?We would go in like three months later from the first set of emails. When we meet with them we ask them, ?Did you receive our emails?? The response is always like, ?Oh, you are coming in three months? time, we didn?t feel the need to send a response because we can just chat when you?re back in here?.?

?Friendly neighbours’: China analyst Yanmei Xi

Yanmei Xie is senior China analyst for the International Crisis Group in Beijing.

She argues that Kim Jong-un can do little without China?s support.

?North Korea relies on China for survival. If China cut the fuel supply across the Yarlu River which is between North Korea and China, then the regime? will collapse in a matter of weeks. So Beijing plays a very crucial and vital role in the Korean Peninsula.?

And when North Korea does something that China doesn?t like, its punishment is swift and exact:

?When there were reports and intelligence saying North Korea could be on the brink of a fourth nuclear test, China slowed down fuel supply and food aid.

?But before it did that, China looked into the fuel supply and harvest of grain and calculated the amount of reduction in order to make sure that the reduction would not cause instability. [This] was meant to send a signal of displeasure but not to destabilise the regime or cause real pain.?

This is because China also needs its neighbour: North Korea stands between China and the 28,000 US soldiers stationed in South Korea.

?North Korea used to be a military buffer for China in terms of heading off any potential advance of US armies. Now in the age of naval and air dominance of United States, a land war is not as important, but North Korea remains a political buffer in that it is a buffer between China and South Korea, which remains a US ally.

?So China shares interest of managing Kim Jong-un. But I think sometimes people confuse that with signs that China is ready to abandon the Kim Jong-un regime. But actually it?s the opposite. China is? stabilising the regime? to prolong, to preserve the current status quo.?

Source: BBC


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