North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is known for governing with a tight grip over his citizens. However, a major foreign policy pundit has suggested the regime could end with a "spark" after the Hermit Kingdom is facing one of its worst crises in the past decade.
According to the Financial Times, Tae Yong-ho has warned that Kim's hold on power is more tenuous than it may appear. Tae is no stranger to North Korean politics; in fact, he used to serve as a diplomatic envoy for "three generations of Kim dynasty rulers." In 2016, he was serving as the deputy ambassador to the United Kingdom when he defected with his family. He is one of the most prominent North Korean defectors in the world and now is a strong critic of the government.
"A very small spark" is all that it would take, "like what happened at the Arab Spring," Tae said of a potential Kim downfall. He added should China enforce sanctions, the process would happen even faster.
The discussion occurs as Kim has come under fire for his nation's worsening crises. In fact, the leader recently made a rare display of publicly censuring his cabinet and firing a senior economic official he had appointed just a month ago, per the Associated Press. Kim said his team had failed to come up with a solution to the country's floundering economy.
The country's financial situation has been difficult after the United States imposed strict sanctions on the regime. In addition, natural disasters have caused food shortages -- with some citizens going months without receiving their rations. As was previously covered by The Inquisitr, Kim had attempted to solve the issue by ordering soldiers to breed rabbits that could be used as a source of protein.
The novel coronavirus pandemic also had serious consequences for a country that was already struggling against the consequences of decades of poor policy.
"The border closure caused trade volume with China, the main source of support for North Korea's economy, to drop by 75 percent in the first 10 months of the year. Raw materials shortages caused factory output to plunge to its lowest level since Kim took power in 2011, and prices of imported foods like sugar quadrupled," the AP summarized, also referring to the fact that the issues have triggered "public panic and unrest."
In January, Kim implemented a new five-year plan during the ruling Workers' Party congress, but it remains to be seen how many of those goals will be put into action following his recent displeasure with officials.