This week, yours truly met up with Chris Green for an episode of World Wise on Bloggingheads.tv. Chris Green who is the manager of international affairs for Daily NK and co-editor of Sino-NK provided an informative survey of the knowns and unknowns of the Kim Jong-un regime.
In particular, I asked Chris Green whether he saw any repercussions of the high-profile purge on Sino-North Korean relations. He suggested that, regardless of what role Jang Sung-taek played in bilateral relations between Pyongyang and Beijing, it is telling that Kim Jong-un is doing his utmost to signal stability and calm to the Chinese leadership and business partners. Green pointed out that this is evident in the way Chinese delegates were invited to the basketball friendly (spearheaded by Dennis Rodman for Kim’s birthday) and the recent deal struck to construct a high-speed rail line connecting the two countries. These developments suggest that Pyongyang does not seek to change the status quo with Beijing – something that we noted before as being critical to North Korea maintaining market/food stability in 2014.
In addition, I asked Chris Green whether the recent FAO report on increased grain yields in North Korea should be taken as a sign that the country’s fragile economy has turned the corner. He replied that while it is too early to definitively tell why 2013 proved better than previous years, relatively favorable weather conditions and the fact that the country had hit such a low point moving into 2013 (comparing last year’s growth to that seen in 1999 as North Korea recovered from the famine) probably contributed to the growth that international organizations observed during the fall harvest.
Running at 30 minutes, I highly recommend the video as an informative look at where North Korea stands at this very moment.
Check out the video here