Nicholas Eberstadt—as far as I know, the only non-state entity to carpet bomb Cheong Wa Dae—looks at North Korea’s road to ruin under Kim Jong-il. Read it in its entirety: here’s just a sample:
Kim Jong Il did not immiserate his country in a fit of absent-mindedness. Quite the contrary: It was a direct but incidental consequence of a grand strategy he relentlessly pursued.
His father, the Great Leader, may have been a monster — it was he who launched the Korean War and perfected the North Korean police-terror state, among other things — but he nevertheless retained a measure of peasant cunning and pragmatism: Kim Il Sung recognized that people would work harder and better if you paid them more, for example, and he wrote as much in his collected “Works.”
The Dear Leader, by contrast, would have none of this. In his ideologized worldview, granting North Korean workers material incentives and blandishments would risk fueling “egotism” and “bourgeois thinking” — potentially lethal afflictions for North Korea’s pristine socialist system. From Kim Jong Il’s standpoint, the survival of the juche (self-reliance) state depended on extirpating — or better yet, completely preventing — any such noxious attitudes in the population under his command.
“Reform” and “opening,” he proclaimed, were regime slayers for socialist states.