Now it’s time for On Point, where we speak to experts to delve deeper into the biggest news stories in the spotlight right now.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un recently marked his tenth year in power.
A lot has changed in North Korea over the past decade and his leadership, while arguably touch-and-go at the start, has seemingly solidified in recent years.
However, the North currently faces a myriad of challenges on almost every front, not least a looming food crisis as we head into the most unforgiving period of the Korean peninsula’s notoriously frigid mid-winter.
On the international front, North Korea has been relatively quiet in terms of missile launches and there have been no major provocations, such as an ICBM launch or nuclear test, in years.
Perhaps, taking the relative calm as their cue, China and Russia have teamed up - both permanent members of the UN Security Council - to try and press for a lifting of certain international sanctions imposed on the North.
For more, we connect to Mark Barry, a North Korea expert and the Associate Editor of the International Journal on World Peace. Good morning, Mark.
Why do you think Russia and China are pushing for the removal of sanctions on North Korea. Considering the other members - the U.S., the UK and France - would never agree and all have veto-wielding power, what’s the real motive behind Beijing and Moscow making this move - that’s doomed to fail - at this current time?
In your view, how important is it that the international community maintains sufficient economic leverage over the North through sanctions to ensure the regime fulfills its denuclearization commitments? And would you support making the sanctions even tougher to try and force the North’s hand?
Ten years ago, at the age of 27, Kim Jong-un was the North’s so-called “Great Successor.” Fast-forward to 2021 and the regime is in crisis - arguably poorer and possibly even more isolated than when he took power. How do you assess Kim's decade as North Korean leader?
Some experts say Kim is facing his toughest moment as leader yet - crushing sanctions, the pandemic, food shortages and growing economic trouble all converging. Do you think Kim and his top aides recognize something has to change - and fast - to ensure he remains in such a powerful position in another 10 years from now?
Well, as always, Mark, thank you for making time and sharing your insights. We look forward to speaking to you again soon.