3 Reasons Why North Korea’s Strategy Resembles Amazon’s

by Warren Church

They’re both great at grabbing headlines – Mr. Kim alarming the world by launching his latest explosive toys with abandon*, Mr. Bezos for alarming the world of commerce with his disruptive experiments (spaceships, drones, Whole Foods, Wardrobe, etc.) – and certainly both of them have the world wondering what’s behind all the frenzy. But look deeper, and strange similarities emerge…


Similarity #1

For North Korea – and for Amazon, surely only vigorous testing/experimenting can advance their respective missions – in the case of Mr. Kim it’s the country’s missile program; for Mr. Bezos, it’s “the most (only?) consumer-centric company on Earth.” This ability to test and learn provides proof for their believers, and ensures the survival of both North Korea and Amazon.

Similarity #2

Both North Korea and Amazon know how to leverage the power of propaganda. Mr. Kim’s apocalyptic threats work hand-in-glove with his missile program. As recently as last month his party’s chief mouthpiece, the newspaper Rodong Sinmun, stated that “South Korea will be submerged in a sea of fire, Japan will be reduced to ashes and the US will collapse.” Change the names to WalMart, Macy’s and US Malls, and you have one of Amazon’s investor’s apocalyptic announcements. A result is that Mr. Kim and Mr. Bezos both enjoy a “savage” reputation often echoed in the press, stoking fearful questions of what might be next.

Similarity #3

For both Mr. Kim and Mr. Bezos, the moment of maximum advantage may be now. In North Korea, Mr. Kim’s recent activities may be designed to give him a better hand when China and America force him to the bargaining table. At Amazon, recent activities may be designed to take advantage of the lack of government interference with the disruptions of Mr. Bezos (or for that matter the other digital oligarchs: Alphabet, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft).

The interested reader may have more reasons that explain the connections between these two, and perhaps more will emerge as both Mr. Kim and Mr. Bezos continue to advance their respective ‘programs.’ Watch this space.


* I am indebted to The Economist Newspaper’s Banyan column, June 17 2017, for their coverage of Mr. Kim.Write here...

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