The friend of the World Jihad in Northeast Asia, namely North Korea, is (by many accounts) having a rough winter this year.
Apparently, it's so bad just 100km away from where I sit, that there are rumors that the (all but) inevitable DPRK collapse is coming sooner, rather than later. Now there's the 'weapon' the South Koreans and the Chinese truly fear--millions of North Koreans, starving and desperate, swarming over their pathetic excuse of a state's northern and southern borders. The Chinese fear the social instability those starving masses will bring to their country. And the South Koreans? They fear the enormous costs of being stuck indefinitely with taking care of legions of their impoverished Nork brothers, which could happen literally overnight.
Here's whats happening that is bring the DPRK ever closer to total collapse (all quotes below via StrategyPage):
While China is shipping the same amount of oil to North Korea, in 2006, as it did in 2005, food exports are down by about half (some 210,000 tons less). A lot less food is getting into North Korea, and because last years crops were below average, the population is expected to come through this Winter in very bad shape. Planners in South Korea now fear a flood of three million starving refugees (headed into China and South Korea), if the North Korean government collapses in the near future. Plans are being made on how to deal with such large numbers of malnourished refugees.
And the US is ratcheting up the pressure on the criminals (the government) in Pyongyang:
In response to U.S. accusations, the UN has halted transfers of hard currency to North Korea, and begun an audit of how UN aid money is spent in North Korea. The UN acted so promptly largely because North Korea has an extensive history of government sponsored, and directed, criminal behavior.
China is also not standing idly by and putting all their eggs in those useless "six-party talks".
There is increasing Chinese diplomatic and political activity inside North Korea, and many rumors that officers from the North Korean security forces, backed by China, are plotting to overthrow the government. Interestingly, even with all these stories going around, there have been no arrests in the north.There is, however, a growing unease on the streets, among the North Korean people.
Watch this space. It's going to get more interesting in this neck of the woods, one way or another.