Thu, Dec 09, 2004 - Page 5 News List

N Korea in new crackdown on dissent

REGIME CHANGE New laws increasing prison terms for dissidents and 'rebels' are leading observers to wonder if Kim Jong-il's regime is beginning to fray at the edges

AP , SEOUL

"This doesn't help resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis and it's our task how to coordinate the views," he said.

Paek Sung-joo, an analyst at Seoul's Korea Institute for Defense Analysis, said that he expected no significant change in Pyongyang but that Kim's goal was to avoid the fate of Nicolae Ceausescu, the Romanian communist dictator toppled by a bloody popular revolt in 1989.

Still, loyalty to the government may be fraying after economic reforms last year that virtually ended the state ration system, causing food prices to soar.

"We see signs of a subtle shaking in people's loyalty to Kim Jong-il," Paek said.

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