Robert Kaplan and Abraham M. Denmark on North Korea's Demise
Robert Kaplan and Abraham M. Denmark, both of the Center for a New American Security, have co-authored an article for World Affairs (May/June 2011): "The Long Goodbye: The Future North Korea."
Their interest is in the possible collapse of North Korea, which they expect will be almost entirely unlike most of the collapses that occurred in Eastern Europe in 1989, but they did find one potential parallel:
[T]here is one lesson from Eastern Europe's example that does shed a chilling light on North Korea: the more repressive and artificially maintained the regime is, the more sudden and precipitous the collapse. Poland and Hungary, the most liberally administered Communist satellite states, with reformist factions tolerated inside the party apparatuses, had soft, velvet collapses that played out gradually over many months, beginning in 1988, a year before the Berlin Wall actually fell. But Albania and Romania, whose Stalinist regimes were heavily dependent on extreme cults of personality, unraveled at once and without warning. In the case of Romania, it took only ten days for a small demonstration about minority rights in the western city of Timisoara to mushroom into a nationwide uprising that culminated in the grim executions of tyrants Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu. Nobody should consider the future of North Korea without keeping in mind the Romanian example. It is not a coincidence that Nicolae Ceausescu was a close friend of Kim Il-sung, and considered North Korea a model for Communist Romania.I recall stating a similar warning in 1995, but sufficient time has passed for me to steer clear of uttering confident remarks about North Korea's possible collapse . . . though I'll gladly quote the predictions of other individuals. The parallel to Romania is at least historically valid, for Nicolae Ceausescu modeled his own cult of personality on that of Kim Il-sung after a visit to North Korea, and I remember well what happened when the abrupt collapse struck, for a friend and I were in Switzerland listening to the BBC-reported events on his shortwave radio, and we had a bit of fun at Ceausescu's expense, though events were in fact quite serious.
Kaplan and Denmark don't exactly predict, but they do consider various scenarios for collapse, each one more unexpected and alarming than all of the others.
The article is worth reading for a reminder that none of us knows what the feck is going to happen in the Kingdom of the North . . .