Kim would now likely agree to abandon his nuclear weapons because they are threatening, and not ensuring, the survival of his regime.
Tears trickle down the cheeks of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as he gazes out toward the horizon while standing on a coastline. The scene is from a documentary for party officials that was released in April. A narrator explains that Kim is “distraught over his inability to radically overhaul the economy to make the reclusive country a vibrant power,” according to a report by The Asahi Shimbun, which got the information from a North Korean defector.
Kim’s show of weakness would shock North Koreans, who are told to worship the Kim family as gods. The defector believes that the documentary sends a message to party officials that they have no option but to follow Kim’s lead as North Korea prepares to stop nuclear testing and focus on economic development. The documentary may also be aimed at getting officials to accept the outcome of the Singapore summit talks between himself and President Donald Trump.
Kim’s tears are part of an ongoing attempt by his regime to sell denuclearization and peace to North Koreans. Kim will likely agree to abandon his nuclear weapons because they are currently threatening, and not ensuring, the survival of his regime.
Regime survivability comes first and foremost for the authoritarian communist regimes of North Korea and China. For instance, Deng Xiaoping abandoned Mao Zedong’s policies in order to transform China and maintain power. Deng saw the danger in Mao’s disastrous Cultural Revolution and collectivization policies and so led a partial liberalization of the Chinese economy to rescue the Chinese Communist Party’s legitimacy. Years later, Deng also ordered the merciless massacre of student protesters at Tiananmen Square because he felt that the party’s survival was at stake.