How to beat North Korea

So instead of using bombs and soldiers to kill off the Kim regime’s brainwashed population why don’t we use capitalism? Let’s offer Un $10 billion dollars to give up turn the country over to the South and retire to Switzerland.

And what if Kim takes the money and just builds more nukes? Why would we want to try to bribe a dictator to change their ways? Has that ever worked? Might that not lead to blackmail by Kim to get more free money? BTW, what makes you think Switzerland wants him?

You don’t hand him the money until the turn over. As far as i know nobody has ever attempted to bribe a dictator into surrender but economic sanctions have never worked and the military option is too horrible to consider and just leaving those people to live under that regime is equally horrible.

You don’t need 10B to get the fat fuck to give up his position and move to Belize. I bet you could buy him off with a box of Cinnabons. It’s everyone else that props up the NK regime that needs bribing. Give them enough money and they’ll feed the fat bastard to some hungry Korean pigs.

I was going to drop in here and make a cynical, smartassed remark, but I actually like your idea. It would be a damn sight cheaper than a war, and of course less bloody. And, who knows, maybe it would work. Worth a try.

just getting rid of one guy may not matter. Castro is gone but Cuba has not changed a lot.

  1. Why would he trust us to keep up our end of the bargain?

  2. How do you think the American voters would react to our government giving them “amnesty” and money?

  3. How do you deal with a nuclear armed nation whose population has been taught all their lives that the West is their enemy, and now has had their leadership somehow taken away by the West?

He could easily live another 40 years and GDP in 2015, after a round of sanctions reduced it from peak in 2014, was 16.12 billion. You’d have to look at things like the time value of money and enjoying stuff (like large homes) that are already purchased in previous years and only need upkeep. 10 Billion is a solid offer but it’s not an offer that can’t be refused.

There are some real parts of being a dictator that just can’t be purchased on the open market. The adulation and raw power probably aren’t available for Kim if he takes the deal. Simply upping the offer doesn’t allow purchase of those things. If they are part of the personal value in being dictator it’s hard to pay enough to give them up.

Even if he takes the deal, the system might well continue. There’s a whole host of powerful people that support and benefit from the system. Both transitions of power in North Korea have seen purges of potential challengers. A senior member of the regime, possibly another family member, might step up and fill the vacuum. They’ve got even more reason to do so after the first dictator takes the golden parachute. It’s not just about winning a position in a system that has a lot of benefit. Now there’s precedent for being bought off by the international community. Reform after seizing power isn’t necessarily in that new leader’s best interest either. Maintaining, if not increasing the threat, becomes a good negotiating position to get a personal payout.

Although it was not a direct bribe, Muammar Gaddafi was persuaded by the Clinton Administration to give up their nuclear weapons program and permit the oversight and eventual destruction of their chemical weapons arsenal, as well as (debatably) reducing support for terrorist organizations and violent pan-Arab and pan-African movements and inviting rapproachment with Europe and the United States. That the tables were turned on him under Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State which encouraged the protests and rebellion that became the Arab Spring movement, and Gaddafi ended up dying in a ditch with a bayonet stuck up his ass is a cautionary leason to any dictator such as Syria’s Bashar al-Assad or Kim Jong-Un about giving up weapons of mass destruction in exchange for legitimacy and normalized relations.

The notion of Jong-un leaving North Korea and going somewhere else (Who would have him? Certainly not the Swiss, who have endured enough bad press over passive profiteering from the Holocaust) is really a non-starter; all he has ever known is being the privileged member of a dictatorial dynasty, and he’s shown the willingness to execute close officials and family members to ensure his grip on power. He’s not going to entertain the life of a billionaire political expatriate even if he thought the deal would be honored, notwithstanding the vast number of people who would do anything to see him dead if they could gain access to him. There is nowhere on the planet for Jong-un to go that he would be safe or anonymous, and of course, no one is going to worship him as a diety.

There is, however, some merit in the basic idea of undermining the North Korean regime though goods and fashions rather than military force. The North Korean upper class–the people a level or two below Kim–have shown desperate affection for the trappings of the West, and reportedly are in awe of the splendor of the shitty Chinese border towns they are infrequently permitted to visit on official business travel. Bright lights that stay on all night! Imitation scotch that doesn’t taste like it was aged in a jerry can! All the steak you can eat that comes from an actual cow instead of consolidated chunks of rabbit! The same strategy worked, albeit somewhat unintentionally, with the Soviet Union and more open Warsaw Pact nations where people viewed even the castoff and years-out-of-date fashions ans media with something akin to awe. Wearing blue jeans in public (after dark, of course) to a literal underground club on the outskirts of East Berlin to listen to crappy covers of The Sex Pistols or Bruce Springsteen songs was a legitimate political statement against repression that didn’t stop with just economics or government but that ried to dicate how people think and what they can say, even in private.

Currently, the only goods and media that even the upper class of North Koreas receive is through the Peoples Republic of China, which of course has its own agenda to keep North Korea well-heeled to its interests. Flooding North Korea with Western media and goods would result in increasing dissatisfaction among North Korean elites (who, according to recent defectors, are just about as dissatisfied with the current regime as anyone) and would make it increasingly difficult for Jong-un not only to maintain control of his senior leadership but also continue his nuclear ambitions. It’s certainly a better plan than trying to persuade Kim that he’ll be safe and secure in Switzerland or wherever, and more palatable than giving billions of dollars away as a personal reward to a murderous despot.

There is an Ezra Klein interview from late last year with Barbara Demick, former Los Angeles Times bureau chief in Seoul and Beijing, about life in North Korea, and the view of Koreans on both sides about military intervention by the US and the recent squabbling between Kim and Trump. It is her surmise that all Trump is going by insulting Kim Jung-un (calling him “Little Rocket Man” and so forth) is giving the Kim regime a legitimate adversary is desperately needs to maintain legitimacy in the eyes of its citizenry, and if the US would have continued on the path of normalizing relations with North Korea instead of branding the country part of the “Axis of Evil” during the Bush 43 administration, the regime would have collapsed by now though fiscal and political insolvency. As it is, the North Koreans are afraid what will happen to them after Kim is overthrown and so are entrenched in supporting the regime despite it being a losing proposition. If they felt there were a path to normalization and reunification that wouldn’t result in North Korea just becoming a puppet state to the South, and the middle and senior leadership being imprisioned or executed en masse, Kim Jung-un would find himself being measured for a coffin.


US allowed Marcos to go to Hawaii after he was forced out of the Philippines , he was alleged to have stolen billions while he was president.

The United States has long had strategic and economic alliance with the Philippines, and the Central Intelligence Agency provided assistance to the Marcos regime, including purportedly stopping FBI investigations into Filipino agents operating in the United States to intimidate emigres, and according to some, arranging many of the loans to the country that Marcos used to enrich his family. The United States had incentive to protect Marcos and maintain a stable relationship with the Philippines that absolutely does not apply to Kim Jong-un and North Korea.


It has been reported that a similar deal was offered to Saddam Hussein ($1 billion and excite) and that he was interested.

And how did that work out for him?


I think it is safe to say he’d have been better off had he taken it.

Actually making this happen in practice has all sorts of difficulties…but it is also IMO the way to bring the situation to a conclusion with the least likelihood of catastrophic side effects.

The other potential way for the situation to end favorably is an internal coup, but that could also make things even worse. And the world has been waiting for it fruitlessly for a long time.

‘Taking out’ the regime from the outside could at some point (not now necessarily) become the least worst option but it could be a very, very bad ‘least worst’.

And the NK program itself can be seen in part as aimed at cushioning the worst case (for the Kim’s) to this sort of outcome. A highly US-politics or anti-US oriented outlook IMO mistakenly assesses the Kim nuke ICBM program as just defensive against a US attack. But this ignores the basic historic backdrop of NK successfully deterring a US attack without nukes for decades. And without arousing the world into imposing serious sanctions either. The nuke program is a bargaining chip which only starts at preventing an attack on NK. It goes on to making it more worthwhile to some day buy out the Kim dynasty in a major way (not the penny ante payoffs of Clinton/Bush/Obama years). Or beyond that as a way to lever the US off the peninsula and negotiate not for just a $ payoff but a political position in the unified Korea, even perhaps a dominant one.

‘Why should the US risk a nuclear strike on its homeland to prevent NK perfecting its ICBM capability?’ logically becomes ‘why should the US risk a nuclear strike on its homeland to prevent a coequal or even North-dominated reunification of Korea brokered by China?’ once the capability is perfected.

IOW the giant bribe would be a reasonable idea assuming the Kim dynasty views itself in a relatively weak position. But who say it does?

Instead, he got hung out to dry.

My thought about beating Iraq was similar. The war was estimated from the start (by rational observers) to cost about a trillion dollars , and the actual numbers are beginning to come in at $5-trillion. Say there were 10-million households in Iraq. Drive in in rental vans from Kuwait and hand out $50,000 to each head of household. All the hearts and minds clutching at our hems, for a mere half a trillion. Ten cents on the dollar.

For $50,000, would you accept Russia as the ruler of your country? That’s akin to what you’re suggesting here.

Sure. How would it really be any different? Russia is a decent country to live in, I could certainly live there, although I wouldn’t like the climate all that much. They have a constitution pretty much like ours, courts that impose compliance, and the people are basically just as free as Americans are. They have free elections, and their current president has amazing approval ratings, probably the highest of any elected head of state in the world.

I’m not offering to pay the Iraqis to accept the US puppet ruler, but only to accept the US as a friend with their hearts and minds, which was the object of the gruesome exercise as we staged it. They would spend nearly all the money importing US exports. $50K would have been 5-10 years wages for most Iraqi workers.

A megalomaniacal narcissist like Un is far more in love with the power than he is with the money. Retiring to Switzerland and becoming an ordinary citizen would drive him crazy no matter how much money he had.