By Alistair Law

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The general consensus since the 1950s, after the tragic Korean War, was to take down the Kim family by imposing sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. With the US starting in 1950, and ramping up sanctions during the early 2000s, the UN and many other countries have decided to punish the nuclear testing nation with more and more sanctions. However, with the nation willing to stop missile testing, and Kim Jong-Un looking to open up to the South, as well as with the US, things were looking on the up after the Twitter feud between Trump and Kim in 2018.

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Despite this progress, the breakdown in talks between the two leaders in Hanoi was down to sanctions. Kim wanted all sanctions on the state to be lifted, but Trump ‘couldn’t do that’, and stated, “Sometimes you have to walk and this was one of those times.” Why Kim felt like he could call for a lift in sanctions is questionable, maybe to fund his $128,000 alcohol and $921,712 coffee drinking habits, or to actually help the people of North Korea who survive on less than $2 a day.

How to take down the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea? This question has troubled many US presidents, and undoubtedly many others. The most obvious is to simply assassinate Kim, and has been popularized in media, for example by ‘The Interview’.  Whether this move would take down the dictatorial regime is questionable, as close allies in Kim’s entourage will likely step in to take control of the ensuing chaos, and would undoubtedly trigger the start of a war, which could end in nuclear action. And of course, this plan has its obvious ethical concerns. Hence, people have tried to come up with other ways to take down the regime without ending the world and here is one way.

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Bomb North Korea. Not with explosives, but with money. But how would this work? Despite the continuous sanctions on the state, this has negatively affected the people of North Korea, and not Kim, or the regime. Hence, dropping money from the skies would then help the North Koreans, rather than the regime. By dropping millions of counterfeit North Korean Wons, the people could gather this up, and then spend on the goods they need to survive, like food, clothes and water. This sharp rise in demand would cause significant inflation. The supply of goods is limited, and so if demand rises, prices rise to filter out excess demand. As prices rise, people spend quicker as they anticipate higher prices. Also, by increasing the supply of money in the economy, then that currency becomes worth less. This was seen especially in the Weimar Republic (now Germany) in 1921-1923. This means the items North Korea imports (like petroleum and textiles) become much more expensive, causing prices to go up further and this would cause prices of other goods to soar, creating hyper-inflation. During times of hyper-inflation, people become more aggressive, and this can translate into revolutions. Look at Venezuela. With inflation predicted to hit 1,000,000%, people were outraged and took to the streets to oust the current leader Maduro. This could happen to North Korea, and the toppling of the authoritarian regime through a simple economic concept.

However, the key word is ‘could’. With all strategies planned, there is always an element of failure. If a Western plane entered North Korean airspace, it is extremely likely to be shot down. Printing the money itself costs money. With each note costing around 10 cents to produce, producing enough to cause hyperinflation (around 1 billion notes) would cost around $100 million to print; a high price tag for a risky strategy. Once the notes are delivered then will people react as expected? Will counterfeits be easily distinguished? How with the Kim regime respond? Will people rise up in protest or will they be subject to the scare tactics of the Authoritarian government? If the government is overthrown, then who will fill in the power vacuum, an even more vicious leader?

All of these questions beg the ultimate question: is it all worth it? With North Korea still looking to have some form of cooperation with the West, and major steps towards a possible united Korean Peninsula, the likes that have not been seen for 50 years, all add to the idea that maybe North Korea should be left alone, and let time destroy the Kim Regime, as with any authoritarian state. With so many uncertainties, this kind of action is simply not viable.

As many things, in theory, this sounds great, but the complications of the real world mean that we may never see money rain from the skies.