The Problem with Group Think

It is probable that through informal channels progressives in South Korea had been communicating a certain progressive victory to contacts in Pyongyang prior to this election. In turn, this feedback loop might have convinced Pyongyang to up the propaganda against president-elect Park Geun Hye. Given the bad relations with Lee Myung Bak and Saenuri over the past few years, this is understandable from Pyongyang’s perspective if tragic. It is tragic because Pyongyang will now have to deal with a conservative presidency for another 5 years - a presidency it has aggressively attacked over the past few months. This is a presidency that has at least in words (but not yet in actions) promised to resume some form of engagement. As opinion polls showed a narrowed gap, Pyongyang’s message clearly responded to this by moderating its tone. But a potentially better strategy at the start would have been for Pyongyang to hedge its bet against either outcome given how close the race was.

An interesting question to ponder is whether group-think and a self-reinforcing feedback loop might have led those analyzing the situation in Pyongyang to assume that a progressive victory was all but guaranteed (assuming that Moon and Ahn did not split the vote). And the more interesting question is how Pyongyang will respond to the new President-elect.