<That's all true, Charles, but that still doesn't make NK a very admirable model of anything.>
What's your (or anyone's) socialist alternative for North Korea? Keep in mind that, first of all, North Korea has no oil & little arable land; it lost socialist trade partners; it has been under economic sanctions, so few chances of hi-tech transfer; the combined annual U.S.-South Korean military expenditure is at least $16.03 billion (a conservative estimate that doesn't count the U.S. military presence in Japan, etc. & that excludes the costs of American weapons development, intelligence gathering, etc.). The domestic and international conditions have been terrible (even without counting recent floods & droughts, to say nothing of the Korean War). I'm afraid you probably wouldn't do much better were you in charge of North Korean economic development.
With the recent "Sunshine" policy of Kim Dae Jung, North Korea might be going the way of ex-East Germany: reunification on the South Korean terms, followed by a high level of unemployment. Even without the "Sunshine" policy, North Korea has been tentatively moving toward economic liberalization (following China, Vietnam, etc.).
Don't tell me you propose that we send them Lou Reed cassettes & giant puppets made by Art & Revolution!
I wish that U.S. leftists took seriously the necessity of removing the American military presence from the Asia-Pacific theatre (which would help North Koreans _a lot_), but I'm afraid anti-militarism & anti-imperialism in America are practically dead. The American left is no model for leftists anywhere.