Why there won't be a "North Korean Spring"

Moreover, nothing suggests that the amazing resilience of the North’s communist monarchy is about to give way. Indeed, the elite, at least, is doing better than in years past. European consultant Glyn Ford argued that Pyongyang’s “citizens have never had it so good. The change is both quantitative and qualitative.”

People in the countryside still suffer, but they are not likely to start a revolution. Many observers have waited a long time for regime collapse in the North. They probably will have to wait a lot longer.

In fact, given the DPRK’s history and Kim’s age, he could rule for another 30 or 40 years. And so far, he doesn’t appear to be much interested in reform, either economic or political. There’s talk of economic change, but not much evidence of it in practice. He obviously has his father’s and grandfather’s antipathy to political pluralism.

If anything, he appears to be more committed to his government’s nuclear weapons program and confrontational foreign policy than were his predecessors. Whatever he gained from his education in Switzerland, it was not a belief in diplomatic nuance.