The New Yorker: The Critics: Books
I have posted about this lengthy review of a couple of books on North Korea before, but Blogger search seems to no longer work properly here.
Anyway, it is worth remembering just how crazy North Korea is when thinking about what to do with a (possibly) nuclear armed North Korea.
Also, a few months back I heard Phillip Adams interview one of the very, very few academic semi-apologists for modern North Korea. That's how I read the conversation with Gavan McCormack anyway. Unfortunately, no transcript is available. However, look at what he writes in this article:
It scarcely needs to be said that the main victims of the DPRK state are, and have always been, the people of North Korea. There is general agreement on the basic facts. Approximately 200,000 people—just under 1 per cent of a population of around 23 million—are thought to be held in labour camps. Between one and two million—5 to 10 per cent—are estimated to have died of starvation, and hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled, mostly to China. Although the DPRK’s peculiar blend of terror, mobilization and seclusion has been slowly losing its coherence since the end of the Cold War, the system still stands, held together by the absolute authority of the ‘Dear Leader’, Kim Jong Il.
Yet set in a historical context, North Korea’s record on this score pales before the sum of suffering inflicted by Japan and the superpowers—not least the US—on the Korean people.
But : the difference is the current nightmare of North Korea is self imposed. It makes little sense to "put in context" a vicious and cruel government that lets ideology lead to mass starvation (see the New Yorker article above) by talking about how much it has suffered under Japan decades ago.
But he does criticise the USA, and that is always enough for someone to be a guest on Adam's show.
UPDATE: this commentary piece from The Times seems pretty well argued to me.