The U.S. State Department’s effort to portray North Korean migrant labor in Russia as slavery is misguided; working abroad is one of the only ways for North Koreans to climb the social ladder and provide their families with a modicum of financial stability.
Under Kim Jong-un, the repressions against the North Korean elite have reached unprecedented levels since the times of the inter-faction strife of the 1950’s. Such methods of shoring up one’s power may backfire
Kim Jong-un eagerly and easily communicates with foreigners, but at the same time avoids meeting foreign heads of state. After three years in power he has never once met with a single one of his foreign colleagues.
Unlike Tehran, Pyongyang fears external threats more than internal ones and may at most agree to freeze its nuclear program. Though this scenario is arguably the best one imaginable, political considerations in Washington make it all but impossible.
Due to his age, young Kim Jong-un cannot afford to rule the way his aged father did. The old system will not guarantee him another 40—50 years in power. Therefore, he is forced to change it, however risky these changes might be.