The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea is a brutal regime that is swift and efficient in silencing dissent. The country has also been in the cross-hairs of the United States and other Western countries for quite some time now. To understand the current problems facing the country one must look at North Korea’s history, and what led to rise of such a tyrannical regime.
The story of the modern state of North Korea starts shortly after the second world war. The previous Japanese occupation had ended, and the country was split into two regions. With the Soviet forces taking the north while United States forces took the south.
It wasn’t until 1948 that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was established with Kim Il Sung installed by the Soviets as the ruler. It was at this time Soviet troops withdrew from the many areas of the North.
The United States did not approve of this new regime. Aside from Kim being a brutal dictator his policies did not favor the western corporate interest. So they began to fund groups in the south that favored U.S. policies and opposed Soviet. Eventually in 1950 thesouth declared themselves independent from the north. Thus starting the Korean War.
The war lasted three years with the United States providing military support to the South. The Soviets provided much aid and the air support to the north, but did not provide troops like the United States, eventually a cease-fire was agreed upon by both sides. The ceasefire has lasted until this day.
In 1994, the long-time ruler of the DPRK Kim Il Sung passed away. Leaving his kingdom to his son Kim Jong Il.
The years to follow would bring great suffering and great hardship for the region. Severe flooding in the country lead to famine leaving many starving. Leading to the deaths of over three million.
During this time, the Kim regime was terrified of the people rebelling. So the regime became even more brutal and efficient with shutting down revolutionary talk very quickly.Videos smuggled out of the DPRK show public executions of those who opposed the Kim regime.
Kim Jung Il’s reign lasted until 2011 when he died. Almost immediately afterward his son Kim Jung Un was named the “great successor”.
Throughout the years, the United States has been looking for a way to take out the Kim regime, and install a ruler that would best fit U.S. interests. While North Korea has struggled to maintain such a brutal state.
The border between the north, and south is very heavily guarded on both sides. So many attempts to escape the regime through China. The problem with this is that if they are caught in China they are sent back to North Korea to face the same fate as that of Winston Smith in 1984. So where does this leave the people? What hope do they have to be trapped between the iron fist of two powers? The answers are quite surprising and has been there since the dawn of recorded history. It is only thanks to this new digital age that we are able to see it in action.
The modern age has allowed light to be shined onto the once hermit kingdom. Black markets have allowed for videos from the lives of those inside the regime to make their way out. As well as allowing foreign videos and goods to make their way into the country. The Kim regime isn’t stupid, they know that these black markets pose a serious threat to their power. However, they also know that they cannot wipe out these smaller markets entirely. This is why the regime tolerates small markets but selling for personal gain is still illegal.
The United States also realizes that that the Korean people partaking in these counter-economics is a threat to their interests. The black markets could actually provide the real change that North Korea needs. Engaging in counter-economics provides elements of free trade that would greatly benefit the people of the north but would threaten foreign corporations. This is why the U.S. will take whatever excuse they can to further sanction the north. These more strict sanctions will not only hurt the current rulers of the DPRK, but it will also hurt those who engage in black market activity. Eliminate those who oppose you, even if they show potential for real change, and support those who will work in your interest.
Engaging in the counter-economics of the black market has always led to the end of tyrannical regimes. In his work, An Agorist Primer, political philosopher Samuel Edward Konkin III cites several examples of how counter-economics have brought authoritarian entities to their knees. Most notably though Konkin shows how counter-economics brought the Soviet Union to its knees. If we look at the DPRK today we can see the same black market forces choking the Kim regime. People smuggling flash drives into the country full of western media for people to sell, illegal radio broadcasts put out by those who have defected from the state, jumping the border to get money to China to bring back to North Korea, all are fine examples of counter-economics that are choking the regime. For if there is any true hope for the people of the DPRK it lies in the black market.