Fourth, in the 1980s, Pyongyang suffered “Olympic envy” when South Korea successfully hosted the Games. In response, the regime launched mega projects, including a luxury hotel in Pyongyang that is still not occupied and is “a towering monument to economic failure.”
Fifth, in the 1990s and beyond, North Korea has experienced crippling shortages of energy, massive floods, a refusal to reform and diversions of food and funds to the armed forces. Foreign aid workers delivering food have been lied to constantly, which has led to “donor fatigue” and the departure of all but a few Chinese and South Koreans.
Maybe a sixth bad choice should be added, which is Kim Jong-un having North Korea line up with Syria. It has been accused of turning chemical weapons on its own people in violation of a slew of international agreements and standards.
Richard Halloran is a commentator in Hawaii.