The sweeping changes in Eastern Europe since 1989 have had no counterpart in the Asia-Pacific region. In particular, the North Korean leadership downplays the impact of these changes on their country. North Korea is not about to abandon socialism. Nevertheless, the North is on the defensive, for the gap in national strength between North and South is widening as never before. North Korea is finally attempting to improve its people's standard of living while calling for unification with the South through a confederation. Under these circumstances, it seems best for Japan, South Korea, and the West to adopt a policy of accommodation toward the North, encouraging peaceful change there, improving relations with Pyongyang, and hoping that North Korea will open itself to the outside world.