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Vietnam Model Not Applicable for North Korea

Any policy changes would present huge risks to North Korea given its unique political circumstances

By Han Bingbin Updated Jul.12

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has reportedly called for North Korea to learn from Vietnam and seek a new relationship with the US for the sake of its future prosperity.   

Pompeo wants the North to denuclearize and change its policies, but the proposed Vietnam model is not applicable for North Korea, said Fang Ning, head of political studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Science, interviewed by Guancha.cn, an opinion site.  

Pompeo’s remark suggests the US’s wish for North Korea to turn into an open country and market economy, and as Vietnam did, end the hostility against the US and act as a balance between the US and China, according to Fang.  

Political changes are very likely if North Korea denuclearizes and the US lifts its blockade and sanctions, believes Fang. But unlike Vietnam, any policy change would mean a huge risk to North Korea given its unique political circumstances.   

The country still suffers from general poverty. Domestic conflicts still loom large. And the North Korean public knows little about the outside world. This means that any change in policy would be a blow to North Korean society. Even the act of denuclearization is full of risks, Fang said. Even so, Pompeo has little idea about what huge pressures and risks the North Korean regime is undergoing.