With China suffering natural disaster losses and with the Olympics ahead, while the Chinese leadership showed the image of directly jumping into the field in the face of a national calamity, the North Korean leadership has demonstrated a starkly contrasting posture.
The Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, immediately after a mass-scale earthquake hit Sichuan on the 12th, has been leading the recovery operation by the army on-site. When this image spread over the media, he has been praised among the civilians as a "hero."
Premier Wen, who is also called the "Premier of the Masses," immediately took a plane after the eruption of the earthquake and arrived at Dujiangyan, where the damage has especially been severe, via Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan. Upon arrival, he mobilized a countermeasure meeting at a temporary tent.
He delivered words of condolences to the citizens who wailed loudly in front of him and warmly explained the administration's emergency measure. He held onto a loudspeaker while standing in front of aid workers and urged the rescue of every single person everyone without wasting a second. At night, he wove his way through the site and deliberated rescue measures in the torrential rain.
But North Korea's top leader Kim Jong Il has never made an appearance at the accident site. During the march of starvation from 1995~1998 when several millions of people died from starvation or during the 2004 Yongcheon Station explosion incident, there were no news that Kim Jong Il visited the site.
When a mass-scale flood which submerged North Korea's capital Pyongyang last August, killing 454 people and resulting in 156 missing and 963,887 victims (announced by the Red Cross in North Korea), he never made an appearance.
This year, in the midst of the worsening food crisis due to the crop reduction which was affected by last year's flood, a portion of the regions was known to be hard-hit by the famine, but none of the media channels in North Korea relayed that Kim visited the actual sites to investigate the food shortage.
The same Kim Jong Il has demonstrated a dual-faced act of speedily relaying his condolence regarding the heavy earthquake which hit the entire Sichuan area through an autographed letter sent to the Chinese Premier on the 13th.
Lee Gi Dong, the researcher in charge at the Institute for National Security Strategy, said, "Since the South Korea-U.S. and the South Korean-Japan summits, three-fold cooperation has been strengthening. This is a reflection of an external change in the international environment."
Researcher Lee said, "With the worsening in North-South Korea relations and the worsening in food and economic aid to North Korea, the only country on which North Korea can depend is China. At the Six Party Talks which will be held shortly, China's earnestness in its role as an arbiter is being considered and the North seems to be trying to strength its relations with the nation."
In particular, with the deterioration of the food supply in North Korea, the South Korean administration has repeatedly expressed the position that as long as North Korea requests food aid, South Korea will actively assess a way to support humanitarian aid to the North. Despite this, however, North Korea has remained adamant against accepting aid from the South." Rather, it has only instigated anti-South Korean government war through its propagandistic channels and has not extended its hand at all.
The analysis of experts has been that this is not irrelevant to Kim Jong Il's style of ruling. Kim Jong Il's devotion to a policy to preserve the regime is essentially to regulate the power elite and the civilians in order to prevent "internal collapse. That is, the safety and lives of citizens is on the back burner.
Mr. Lee pointed out, "The abnormal form of Kim Jong Il's reign seems to be attributable to the 'General's infallibility,' which does not seem to want to admit any mistakes."
He analyzed, "Acknowledging that a huge internal disaster has occurred is acknowledging the General's mistakes. In particular, Kim Jong Il visiting disaster-hit areas is considered as a demonstration of Kim's mistake to the inside and outside world and damage to the leadership."
While Kim has never made an appearance in places inhabited by average civilians, he has exhibited flourishing activity in making site visits pertaining to the military since Kim Il Sung's death. Such visits took up 62.6 percent of Kim's visits. Of the 30 publicized visits this year, 16 were inspections of the army units."
Lee Gyo Deuk, a senior researcher at the Reunification Research Institute said, "The site visits have been used to spread Kim Jong Il's political energy and power." Huh Moon Young, also a senior research at the Institute gave the analysis, "The focus has been on planting Kim Jong Il's strong leadership quality through his visits to the military departments."