In fact, Pyongyang is resisting administration demands because Kim believes they are not his nation’s, or at least his regime’s, interest. From the beginning the DPRK has resolutely resisted foreign pressure. Long ago even the PRC discovered the limits of its influence in the North.
Beijing wants a stable, docile, non-nuclear Korean buffer state. That would enhance China’s regional influence, prevent the peninsula from being used as a tool of containment, spark allied requests for Chinese help to “manage” the North, and preserve a relationship with both historical and ideological significance. In contrast, a nuclear DPRK ensures Pyongyang’s independence, including from the PRC, and generates American complications.
Unfortunately for Beijing, its buffer state was always unruly and recently went nuclear. Until recently, at least, the Chinese leadership decided that buffer took precedence over nuclear. Especially since the PRC’s influence in the North was substantially more limited some observers assumed. The Beijing-Pyongyang relationship was not unlike America’s support for brutally repressive regimes—think Egypt or Saudi Arabia today—which nevertheless were believed to advance other U.S. interests.