Things are starting to change in North Korea. Under the new leadership of Kim Jong-un, the North Korean government is trying to put a happy face on its rule. That is quite a task since there is probably no place in the world as dour as North Korea.
Amidst starvation, poverty, oppression and general bleakness, it is now okay to enjoy such decadent luxuries as pizza, French fries, hamburgers, high heels, cell phones and earrings. Women are even allowed to wear trousers when not at work.
In the past, women who dared walk down a street wearing clothes other than a dress faced the prospect of having their pants cut into a skirt as they walked.
These changes will be welcomed by the North Korean people as long as one problem is overcome: food shortages. North Korea does not have enough food to feed its citizens now. Like most good things in North Korea, pizza and the other newly approved foods are only going to be enjoyed by the select few.
The change from the not-so-happy times of Kim Jong-il is what this social makeover is all about. The younger Kim envisions a North Korea more like the one when his grandfather Kim Il-sung ruled:
Dong Yong-Sueng, North Korea specialist at Samsung Economic Research Institute, said: “It’s all part of his image making to imitate a warm, fatherly impression like his grandfather.”
Ah, yes, the “warm, fatherly” type that created a prison camp system that rivals any of Stalin’s gulags. The first Kim had another advantage with the North Korea that he ruled. The cupboards were stocked with Soviet food. The Chinese have not shown themselves to be as generous with the current leadership.
Kim can do all he wants to present himself as a trusted leader, but until the North Korean people have enough food so they no longer need to forage for insects, these promises are going to come up short. Earrings, high heels and dyed hair are going to be expensive and hard to find as well.
In the end, this is just a cosmetic change at best. The same Kim family and its cronies are in charge of this misfortunate nation. That is not likely to change for a long time.