Is the day of the carrot over?
The ‘carrot and stick’ approach has long been used on North Korea, except it seems like there has been a change in approach since North Korea’s fourth nuclear test and long-range rocket launch earlier this year.
President Park of South Korea has vowed to change North Korea with sticks, remarks which come at a point of realization, that past ways of dealing with North Korea have been unsuccessful with curbing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
“It has become clear that the past ways of coping with North Korea cannot curb the country’s nuclear ambitions. It is time to seek fundamental solutions to actually change the North,” Park said in a televised address given at the National Assembly. (16 February 2016, The Korea Times)
As punishment, the South Korean government closed down the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) in the belief that wages paid to North Korean workers at KIC were diverted for weapons programs directed by the Kim regime.
“Most of the dollars we paid are presumed to have been funneled into the Workers’ Party responsible for nuclear and missile development, instead of being used to improve the livelihood of ordinary people,” Park said.
“We will take stronger and more effective measures to create an environment where the North cannot survive with its nuclear development and it eventually will speed up the collapse of the regime,” Park said.
But there is scepticism among some independent and authoritative observers of North Korea.
“It’s like punishing a masochist,” Prof John Delury of Yonsei University in Seoul told the BBC. The logic of sanctions is “bleed them ’til they cry for mercy – but their system thrives in isolation“.
The upshot is that there are no signs that North Korea is thinking about giving up its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Full-steam ahead is the order from Pyongyang. There are no signs, either, that the regime is tottering.
Neither sticks nor carrots have worked.