North Korea: A South Korean newspaper has alleged that North Korea publicly executed dozens of people across seven cities last week for charges including watching unsanctioned South Korean videos, distributing pornography, and being in possession of a bible. The report was confirmed by the North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity, a group of defectors from North Korea.
Comment: All the stated actions are crimes in North Korea because they are counter-revolutionary behaviors. However, enforcement and punishment are variable. The most important consideration is the interests of the Party and, secondarily, the state. For example, punishment is almost never enforced against the children of the Party elite who engage in such behaviors.
Capital punishment for these crimes is a symptom of larger concerns about stability and discipline. Stern measures to guard against disloyalty and flagging revolutionary fervor have become signature features of Kim Jong Un's management style.
China: On 12 November, the Third plenary meeting of the 18 Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party concluded its four days of deliberations and issued a communique.
Many analysts and commentators have published their views of the meaning and implications of the many topics covered in the communique. The more superficial have focused on language in the communique that discusses reform and market economics.
One fine commentary from the University of Sydney, Australia, notes that the key theme is continuity of the policies that have helped transform the Chinese economy since 1978. The argument is that the leaders and managers of the second largest economy cannot risk dramatic changes and are more interested in maintaining steady growth.
Observers looking for political changes or reforms will find none in the guidance issued by the Third Plenum. Economic changes concern allocation of resources and economic growth strategies. Social changes in urban-rural relations in Chinese society promise to be the most important innovations, provided economic growth remains steady.
Excerpts from the communique follow.
"Faced with the new situation and new tasks and in order to complete the building of a well-off society in an all-round way thereby completing the building of a prosperous, strong, democratic, civilized, and harmonious modernized socialist country and achieving the Chinese Dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, we must comprehensively deepen reform from the new historical starting point."
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