North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un's government could collapse if people living under his rule knew “how stupid" that country's political system is, and if they had a means of escape, according to a defector from the regime.
“The population of North Korea are divided into different classes, and [we] have to tell the North Korean population how stupid [a] system it is,” former Ambassador Thae Yong Ho told lawmakers Wednesday. “We have many things to tell to the North Korean people, that it is not a paradise, it is not a socialist welfare system, it is [the] worst, inhuman system in human history.”
Some of that information has reached North Korea through illicit broadcasts of South Korea media, but Thae argued the South Korean media is insufficient because it’s not designed to undermine the northern dictatorship. A series of diplomatic efforts and “targeted sanctions” could lead to a regime change analogous to the collapse of the Soviet Empire, he suggested during a congressional hearing.
That starts with contradicting the “brainwashing” that the Kim regime implements to maintain the allegiance of the North Korean people. “The North Korean system can only be in place by making its leader as a god,” Thae told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
He said the United States should undermine those beliefs by telling stories about Kim Jong Un’s personal life that would demystify the dictator. “Nobody in North Korea knows his date of birth; nobody in North Korea knows who [his mother] is,” Thae said. “Nobody in North Korea knows his half-brother, Kim Jong Nam. Nobody in North Korea knows that he is only the third son of Kim Jong Il.”
That sibling history would undermine the dictator’s claim to be the only heir to the regime, Thae said. Additional damage could be done with the revelation that Kim Jong Un was raised in Switzerland and never met his grandfather, who founded the regime. “He was kept secretly and silently in Switzerland,” Thae said. “But the majority of the North Korean population do not know this fact ... His grandfather himself didn’t know the existence of this boy.”
Such counter-propaganda, paired with information about “the basic concepts of freedom and human rights,” could lead to a “mass exodus” from North Korea, Thae argued. But that would require enhanced cooperation from China, which has a policy of returning defectors back to North Korea.
“If [the] Chinese opened its routes for defectors to South Korea, I think North Korea’s system would collapse in a very short span of time,” Thae testified.