Even by China's standards, North Korea is a hideous place.
Why does China keep it going then? Is it merely for cheap labor? A way to keep America busy? Fear that a free North Korea would inspire the Chinese people?
Or do China's rulers have another game in mind ...
... It quickly became apparent, however, that the government had underestimated South Koreans’ misgivings about cooperating militarily with Japan. Mr. Lee’s political opponents quickly seized on that disquiet to begin an election-year offensive, accusing Mr. Lee of kowtowing to Washington and, with various civic groups, likening the conservative governing camp to the past Korean “traitors” who secretly cooperated with Japan’s annexation of the Korean Peninsula in 1910...
... he could not withstand the furor over reports that he played an important role in negotiating the pact with Japan, a country most South Koreans still view with animosity because of its often-brutal colonial rule in the early 20th century and its territorial claim to a set of islets administered by South Korea.
After the Lee government announced the deal last Thursday, accusations flew that the government was “pro-Japanese,” a far worse charge in South Korea than being “pro-North Korean.” ...
Hmm. Sounds like a country that could be turned.
Perhaps the prize in this game is separating South Korea from the West, either as a democracy or as an authoritarian oligarchy. Preferably the latter.
The prize for neutrality, or for alliance, would be unification on South Korean terms.
I wonder if NK's military leaders think this too. I doubt they like the idea. They should be working hard to keep South Korea allied with the US.