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(LEAD) Obama: North Korea is bound to collapse

2015/01/24 04:23

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said he believes North Korea will ultimately collapse, but a military solution is not the answer to handling the communist nation armed with nuclear technologies and missiles.

Obama made the remark in an interview on Youtube on Thursday, stressing that the Internet will ultimately find its way into the isolated totalitarian nation and spread information that will undercut the authoritarian regime.

Obama called the North "the most isolated, the most sanctioned, the most cut-off nation on Earth."

   "The kind of authoritarianism that exists there, you almost can't duplicate anywhere else. It's brutal and it's oppressive and as a consequence, the country can't really even feed its own people," Obama said. "Over time, you will see a regime like this collapse."

   Obama emphasized that the U.S. capacity to effect change in North Korea is limited because the communist nation has a 1-million-strong military as well as nuclear technologies and missiles. Moreover, South Korea would be "severely affected" if war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula, he said.

"So the answer is not going to be a military solution. We will keep on ratcheting the pressure, but part of what's happening is that the environment that we're speaking in today, the Internet, over time is going to be penetrating this country," Obama said.

"And it is very hard to sustain that kind of brutal authoritarian regime in this modern world. Information ends up seeping in over time and bringing about change, and that's something that we are constantly looking for ways to accelerate," he added.

Obama made no mention of North Korea in his State of the Union address, though he vowed to make sure that "no foreign nation" will disrupt American computer networks in apparent reference to the North's alleged hack on Sony Pictures.

After the FBI determined the North was responsible for the hack on Sony, Obama strongly condemned the attack and vowed to respond proportionally. Early this month, Obama authorized fresh sanctions on North Korean entities and officials, including the General Reconnaissance Bureau, Pyongyang's top spy agency.

Many analysts agree that North Korea stands low in the U.S. priority list and that the Obama administration has little interest in resuming nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang. The U.S. has demanded Pyongyang take concrete steps demonstrating its denuclearization commitments before nuclear talks reopen.

jschang@yna.co.kr

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