North Korea says no way to opening up, or reform

SEOUL Tue Aug 9, 2011 8:39am EDT

Cargo ship Tu Man Gang flying a North Korean flag is seen at Sint-oh-tan jetty, downtown Yangon, Myanmar, August 9, 2011. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

Cargo ship Tu Man Gang flying a North Korean flag is seen at Sint-oh-tan jetty, downtown Yangon, Myanmar, August 9, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun

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SEOUL (Reuters) - The world's most closed country North Korea has nothing to reform or open up, the ruling party's newspaper reported on Tuesday, accusing the United States of trying to impose its own ways to stifle socialism.

But in a rare concession, the Worker's Party official Rodong Sinmun newspaper, indirectly admitted something the rest of the world has been saying for decades: its economy is in trouble.

"'Reform' and 'opening' much touted by the imperialists and reactionaries are not 'a remedy' for the DPRK to weather its economic difficulties or to revitalize its economy," the paper said, referring to the North by its acronym.

The North's centrally-planned economy, which only a few decades ago was stronger than its southern neighbor, has gone downhill after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Yet, the North has steadfastly stood by its policy of juche, or self-reliance, even as the rest of the communist world bowed to capitalism.

Juche was the brainchild of the state's founder Kim Il-sung who pressed ahead with his ideology from the 1950s espousing "the ability to act independently without regard to outside interference."

Further isolating the North, the outside world has imposed economic sanctions for its pursuit of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.

But the United States and South Korea are not alone in calling for the North to change its economic ways. Its main benefactor, and only powerful friend, China also wants the North to open up.

China, which has surged to become the world's second largest economy after adopting "socialism with Chinese characteristics," or controlled capitalism, wants the North to do the same.

There have been signs that change is in the air, with the North pressing on this year with the creation of special economic zones to attract foreign investment and boost trade. [ID:nL3E7J203K]

But the Stalinist state insists it won't be pressured into change by the capitalists from Washington, who themselves have endured a wobbly past few years with the 2008 financial crisis and this year's debt crunch.

"The imperialists do not want to change their system but work hard to pressurize others to change their systems as dictated by them," Rodong Sinmun said.

"This is an arbitrary and high-handed practice intolerable in the international community.

"Their escalating moves to force 'reform' and 'opening' on the DPRK are a wanton infringement on its sovereignty, shameless interference in its internal affairs and a blatant violation of international law on relations among countries."

(Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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