12th of June 2018 in Singapore would go down in history as an important day. It marked the first step for North Korea to modernize. Well, if that really happens say a decade from now. Let's hope it happens, lest our $20 million would have gone to waste and this photograph of them sunbathing in our Infinity Pool would be a joke.
Epic moment at our Infinity Pool
Well, to be honest, it was a joke. It didn't happen. Some internet smart aleck photoshop-ed this and circulated it around the internet and Whatsapp. It was a good one, for what it's worth. Now, with forty eight hours passed, it seemed more like it might just not go the way the world wanted. North Korea media just told their citizens that their Supreme Leader got the better end of the stick. They could de-nuclearize step-by-step, with each step extracting more concessions from the United States. So this de-nuclearization for dinners could go on for a long time with North Korea enjoying sumptuous dinners for decades.
No more tree barks for dinner!
In the end, it could well be more of the same trick used by Kim Jong Il. We have seen this before. North Korea played hardball, then soften to extract concessions, get red wine and beef into the country, maybe some watches and diamonds as well, only to renegade on their de-nuclearization promises and then continue to fire ballistic missiles again. Meanwhile their population continues to suffer in poverty, with not enough to eat but as they were all brainwashed by propaganda, they continue to believe that their country is the greatest nation on earth.
I am afraid, that's the likely scenario. The document the two leaders signed in Sentosa had really little meat in it. This is very much like the original bak kut teh served to coolies working along the Singapore River a century ago (not the ones we get today full of spare ribs and a pound of fatty meat). Here's the four points from the Financial Times (FT):
1. The United States and the DPRK commit to establish new US-DPRK relations in accordance with the desire of the peoples of the two countries for peace and prosperity.
2. The United States and the DPRK will join their efforts to build a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.
3. Reaffirming the April 27, 2018 Panmunjom Declaration, the DPRK commits to work towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
4. The United States and the DPRK commit to recovering POW/MIA remains including the immediate repatriation of those already identified.
And here's their signatures affirming the four points:
Signed, confirmed plus chopped!
That's $20m worth of ink.
So much trouble for so little.
Poor North Koreans...
Is that really it?
Now, for a moment, let's think out of the box. Kim Jong Un knows his country is shit. His people are suffering. He doesn't even have the money to fly to Singapore. He borrowed a plane from China to come all the way here to play a practical joke for the whole world to see. Then he goes back to his old ways, so that he can enjoy Californian wine and US beef which he couldn't get because of the trade embargo that was imposed since he fired those ballistic missiles. He would then be remembered by history to squander the one chance to lift 25 million of his countrymen and women and children out of poverty, as a great idiot, like his father.
What if he was better than that? What if he took this step to secure a new future for his country? Could he had killed his uncle and his half brother to secure enough power in order to take this step? Or maybe the rumour that one of the nuclear tests failed and destroyed decades of work was true. So he had to take this step. He had to take the risk to fly a Chinese plane to foreign soil to do the inevitable deal. Whatever the case, he knows the bright future that lies ahead if he opens up the country.
He might lose power but gain so much more in return. He would be immortalized as the leader who enriched the whole nation. Just like China, the Asian Tigers, Myanmar and most recently Vietnam before her, if North Korea opens up her economy and modernizes, she would see exponential GDP growth. This would be like those Korean Youtube sensations transforming themselves with makeup (see pic below). If we take another bold step forward bringing South Korea into the picture, we are talking about a unified Korea. This would be a strong nation with 85 million people, with technology and markets which could become the Asia's third largest economy, behind China and Japan.
From GDP per capita of of $500 to $25,000
Here's another excerpt from the FT:
At one point in his press conference, Mr Trump provided some insight into his mindset when he asked everyone to “think of it from a real estate perspective”. He advised Mr Kim to imagine the potential of his “beautiful beaches” if he were to stop using them for artillery exercises and built condos on them instead.
If and that is really a big if with caveat lodged, North Korea just made the first baby step to become a free market, when the time comes (usually it would take decades for them to liberalize the domestic real estate sector though, Vietnam just allowed foreigners to buy two years ago), then we must really act!
Buy Pyongyang property! Huat Ah!
Here's wishing Happy Hari Raya to all Muslims!