South Korea gave Kim Jong Un a blueprint for developing North Korea -- but it could be his downfall

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un received a USB drive with a blueprint for connecting his country to the world when he met South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April.
  • The blueprint had plans for railways to connect North Korea to the outside world in the interest of economic cooperation, but that could end up getting Kim Jong Un killed.
  • A former director of national intelligence in the US said that outside information is Kim’s “kryptonite,” and an expert told Business Insider it could crush the Kim regime.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un received a USB drive with a blueprint for connecting his country to the world when he met South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April – and while the device was likely meant as a sign of goodwill, it could bring Kim’s downfall.

South Korea’s Blue House, where Moon lives, reported that Moon gave Kim a book and a USB drive containing an e-book and a presentation on the “New Economic Map of the Korean Peninsula,” something Moon announced last year.

The USB drive contained a blueprint for economic cooperation between the Koreas which detailed a series of proposals for railway lines that would connect the country to China, Russia, and as far as Europe.

Though Moon most likely wants to use the map to entice North Korea to keep to the Panmunjom Declaration the two leaders signed at the demilitarized zone, it could have dire consequences for the Kim family.

North Korea fiercely controls the media and imprisons an estimated 100,000 of its citizens in camps that have been called worse than Auschwitz, a Nazi German death camp. North Koreans can be imprisoned or killed for having South Korean media, which is often smuggled into the country on USB drives or small SD cards.

In fact, the practice of smuggling outside media into North Korea by putting an SD card up your nose has become so common they have a name: “Nose cards.”

If North Korea goes through with denuclearization, declares peace with South Korea, and opens itself up economically to the world, the North Korean people will likely prosper, but the Kim regime may meet a bitter end.

While Kim seeks a promise from the US that its military will not invade North Korea after his proposed denuclearization, according to Yun Sun, a North Korea expert at the Stimson Center, if North Korea opens up to the world, the US won’t need to invade.

While the US may not invade, it may “try to use colour revolution,” or promote democracy among the people until they organise in support, and then find ways to support that organisation.

Kim’s Kryptonite

A former US Navy admiral and the former director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, testified to Congress in January that “the kryptonite that can weaken North Korea is information from beyond its borders.” Blair expressed high confidence that an outside information campaign could weaken and destroy Kim’s support.

In the case of reunification and denuclearization, North Korea would also be exposed to its prosperous southern neighbour, which is one of the most advanced, connected, and productive democracies in the world.

Millions of North Koreans could gain access to a world of outside information. North Korean propaganda advances ridiculous, unscientific histories, which likely wouldn’t hold up to scrutiny or exposure to outside information. Importantly, the citizens may find out that hundreds of thousands of their own friends and families had died, been tortured, and abused at the hands of Kim, who does not hold power temporariliy or democratically.

“I don’t think the North Korean regime is prepared for that,” said Sun, who went on to question how sincere North Korea could be about opening up the country knowing the dangers of an informational revolution. Often in colour revolutions against violent dictators, the ruler whose grip loosens comes to a violent end.

Sun shared a common joke around North Korea watchers – that the country is like canned food, because “once you open it it goes bad in days.”

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