Sunshine Policy failed to change North Korea: report | ReutersSouth Korea's peaceful "Sunshine Policy" toward North Korea failed, a government report has found, saying there have been no positive changes to Pyongyang's behavior despite a decade of mass aid and encouragement.
Aid shipped to the North during the administrations of Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun from 1998-2008 also failed to make a difference to the lives of destitute North Koreans, said the Unification Ministry white paper, seen by Reuters on Thursday.
This development is not too surprising. The differences between the two Koreas are rooted in North Korea's ideology not economic disparities. That ideology, which is imposed in a suffocating and pervasive fashion, largely makes it impossible for credit/good will to be nurtured toward those who provide the assistance.
If anything, North Korea, accustomed to receiving international assistance, has little incentive to change. Moreover, it has demonstrated a willingness and ability to resort to severe pressure to obtain aid.
If, on the other hand, assistance were tied to gradual and steady basic reforms, beginning not with markets but a relaxation of the regime's ideological oppression via North Koreans' being permitted to gain information from outside the regime/regime's propaganda organs, there might be somewhat better prospects for improvements in the future. Even that process could be gradual.
In the end, the international community would do well to consider the findings of this report before it heeds the UN's latest call to provide additional assistance to North Korea. Even as the UN's call concerns humanitarian assistance, North Korea's regime has had a long history of diverting that assistance to the country's military and other key sectors of society that support and sustain the regime, often despite the role NGOs have tried to play. Unless, access of the aid to civilians could reasonably be assured and it were assured the aid would not free up resources for the military/regime's supporters--assurances that would require a verification regime of sorts--the UN's requested aid would likely contribute to a propping up of the current regime, rather than materially providing for the humanitarian needs of North Korea's suffering people.