The death of the North Korean genocidal dictator Kim Jong Il should be a day of rejoicing, not because this man is now face to face with his creator finding out his eternal destination, but because you could hope that his passing would usher in a period of relief for the starving and impoverished people of this nation. Alas, that is not likely to be the case since his son, the next in line will probably try to prove himself sufficiently strong and worthy by cracking down harder on the people in the nation and neighboring countries.

Amidst all the press accounts of Kim Jong Il’s death and what a sharp and shrewd man he was, we would be remiss if we did not remember that he has been suspected of crimes against humanity (see article referenced above) and if we did not focus on the failings of this nation to provide for the well-being of their citizens.

What a stark contrast to the overwhelming wealth and freedom of its sister country to the South. The economy of South Korea is booming and is a tremendous success story that underlines how economic and political systems and even, by extension, how military might can help to alleviate poverty. The illustration is made even clearer when the economy of South Korea is compared with the economy of North Korea.  

Economy Watch says of South Korea:

Driven by aggressive manufacturing oriented towards exports, South Korea economy rose to become the world’s eighth biggest exporter of goods. Clearly considered an advanced economy by international bodies such as the IMF, CIA and World Bank, South Korea’s economic profile has won a string of plaudits, including:

  • World’s 8th largest exporter: Ahead of the UK, Russia and Canada.
  • World’s Trading Partner: 3rd largest trader with China and Japan, 7th with the US and 8th with the EU.
  • World’s largest shipbuilder: including world’s largest shipyard run by Hyundai Heavy Industries.
  • World’s 5th largest automobile manufacturer: including world’s largest automobile assembly plant (Hyundai Motors).
  • Asia’s largest oil exporter.
  • World’s highest internet connectivity or access with one of the fastest networks as well.
  • Worls’s largest manufacturer of screen displays (LCD, CRT, Plasma, etc.).
  • World’s fastest increase in patents registered.
  • World’s largest electronics manufacturing firm: Samsung Electronics.
  • World’s second largest steel maker: POSCO
  • World’s largest producer of computer memory chips. 

Of North Korea, the American Enterprise Institute says the following:

What then is the problem? Closer inspection strongly suggests that North Korea’s long-term economic failure is directly related to the policies and practices embraced and championed by the Pyongyang government. North Korea’s current “own style of socialism” [or Urisik Sahoejuui] is a grotesquely deformed mutation of the initial DPRK command planning system, from which it fatefully and increasingly devolved over time.

To be sure, AEI indicates that North Korea is worse than most of its socialist neighbors, but it is clear that the particular government is having a very deleterious effect on the population. Even if it were a more model centrally planned system, such as Russia or China, its standard of living would still be below that of South Korea.

I think that it is instructive that at a time when, in the Western world, we focus on the birth of our Savior and His command for us to care for the homeless, the orphan and the poor, we look to these two nation states and see how large of a job it is to do this in one nation and how relatively insignificant is that job in the other. It is not enough for us in the West to provide money and time to poor and underdeveloped countries to care for the poor. We can and should and must do these things, but that is not enough. We need to remember to focus on preserving in our own home the economic and political systems that allow for wealth and freedom to grow. By doing that we can ensure that our leaders will also press for these types of societies to thrive around the world, so that there are more South Korean success stories and fewer and fewer North Korean disasters.  

It is a fact that free market capitalism unleashed in our democratic republic has shown itself to be the greatest system created to remediate poverty in the world and could therefore be seen as the most effective way to fulfill the commands of Christ that we care for the poor. If, as I believe, this is so, efforts to preserve and extend this economic and political model around the world, is an effective and valid method of participating in the carrying out of our biblical mandate.