Is Kim Jong Un Opening Up North Korea?
Fashion, honesty, markets hint at small changes in Pyongyang
By Mark Russell, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2012 9:57 AM CDT
North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un waves at the end of a major military parade to mark 100 years since the birth of the country's founder and his grandfather, Kim Il-Sung, in Pyongyang on April 15, 2012.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Considering Kim Jong Un has spent much of the first months of his reign test-firing long-range missiles, threatening to kill South Korea's leaders, and generally being bellicose, could it be that the young dictator is actually ready to open North Korea? At least a little? Der Spiegel thinks so, noting several changes in how Pyongyang goes about its odd, authoritarian business. For example, even though North Korea ignored world opinion with the missile launch in April, it also fessed up right away that the rocket was a dud—an embarrassing admission that Kim Jong Il's North Korea never would have made.

In addition to Kim Jong Un's attending a concert with Disney characters and Western music, there are small reports that the country is relaxing its control in other ways. People are allowed more stylish clothes and hairstyles, often mimicking trends from South Korean soap operas. More imported clothing has been turning up in the country's small, private markets, and those markets have been allowed more flexible opening times. And while radios and TVs must still be tuned to official state channels, DVD players are allowed (there's even a DVD player factory in Pyongyang), unofficially allowing in popular Western and South Korean movies and music. But the increased flow of information may have a price, says one expert: "In five to 10 years, the majority of the North Korean population will have learned that they live in a very poor and unusually repressive state."

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Jul 15, 2012 7:14 PM CDT
Do you think that the citizens don't know they are poor, hungry & run by a brutal regime? I'm pretty sure they know.
Jul 15, 2012 5:31 PM CDT
North Korea has been described as the world's largest Concentration Camp. The mark of an adult is to be able to turn bad into good- As he matures, Kim Jong probably realizes NK has what the Corporations of America desire most- SLAVE LABOR in abundance (its why they had Nixon elected to "normalize" relations w/China in order to ship American factories to China for the cheap SLAVE LABOR) Only robotics can compete w/S.L. Why do we think Fed is destroying the dollar? Ever hear of SLAVE WAGES. When they pay us with diluted monopoly money they won't have to outsource jobs- Either way we are all screwed just cuz some idiots who set policy on more's have decreed a policy of NO Birth Control, to ensure too many workers means low wages
Jul 15, 2012 4:16 PM CDT
Maybe he is smart enough to figure out Japan doesn't like missiles in its air space.