As Red Cross workers move into the Ryongchon area, the world seems just as surprised as I am at North Korea’s candor. While it seemed to take a whole day before the North Korean government would even acknowledge occurrence of the disaster, in a surprise move, they quickly asked for international help, opened their borders to aid workers, and released statements admitting that carelessness was behind the cause of the accident.
However, we must remember that this does not mean North Korea is looking for change– just for aid. There is no indication that the admission of carelessness will be released within the country– North Korean citizens may continue to live in the dark and be fed propaganda about the accident– and while they tell the world that over half of the casualties were schoolchildren, the North Korean government points a finger at the US, accusing us of planning to attack the isolated country. On one hand, they loosen their tight hold on their borders to let in international aid, but on the other, when the US decides to pull troops from the DMZ, the North Korean government claims this is preparation for a pre-emptive attack.
The release of these two stories on the same day is a testament to the truly unpredictable and, for lack of a better word, insane nature of the North Korean regime.