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(EDITORIAL from the Korea Times on March 3)

All News 06:58 March 03, 2016

End of Kim Dynasty
NK leader should learn from Iran example

If North Korea collapses, it would be because of its leadership's failure to adapt to a changing environment, not because of a series of sanctions imposed by the international community, culminating in the forthcoming United Nations package.

Left to its own devices, the North would complete its slow journey to doom pretty swiftly, ironically vindicating those who foresaw the early death of the nation built around the cult in the 1980s. It is a miracle for this tin-pot dictatorship, now in its third generation, to have survived this far, but the miracle will not last and time has already caught up with it.

However, although the chance is remote, the North's young dictator, Kim Jong-un, may try to follow a new path for a change by undoing what his father and grandfather did -- by introducing a system change. The alternative is a regime change, possibly similar to the tragic finale that befell Nicolae Ceausescu, who faced a firing squad, with his body pictured carelessly thrown under a tarpaulin during the 1989 Romanian Revolution.

Or Kim may follow the path of Iran, which recently cut a deal with the West, freezing its nuclear program in return for the lifting of sanctions that dated back to the 1979 Iranian Revolution that toppled Shah Pahlavi and saw the ransacking of the U.S. embassy in Teheran.

Since the advent of the theocracy in Iran, the two pariahs have been close, supporting each other on their nuclear and missile programs. Interestingly, it was rumored that a senior Iranian delegation was present during the North's third nuclear test in 2013. Also, some reports had it that Teheran's missile testing was helped by the North. The two were also named in the axis of evil with Iraq by U.S. President George W. Bush. It was the pinnacle of their "blood ties" that goes even to before the start of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.

Now, the fates of the two could not be further apart. Iran accepted the proposal by the P5+1 (five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany) and the European Union, preserving its body politic and being welcomed back into the world community. To employ a biblical analogy, Iran has become a land of milk and honey again, with foreign leaders and investors rushing back. Now, reformist President Hassan Rouhani is gaining greater control through recent parliamentary elections.

In contrast, the North is about to see its main mineral exports cut off and cash flows dwindle to a trickle. Kim has China to thank for sparing fuel supplies for civilian use from the sanctions and God for their coming at the end of winter. Kim has now gained bragging rights for his nuclear weapons and missiles that are still years from perfection.

Would he try to maintain his reign of terror in hope of keeping its undernourished population on their toes and preventing the military from becoming disloyal? From inside, he may not see his kingdom severely straining itself on every seam but, seen from outside, bursting open appears a matter of time.

The North does not have what Iran has -- oil or a modern political infrastructure like a real parliament elected through a popular vote. But that should be the least of excuses for doing nothing and waiting for Damocles' sword to fall. The North has its own suite of strengths -- well-educated manpower and a willing hand of support from the outside. So it is time for the North to use them, emulate Iran and get its own deal for survival.

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