(CNN) -- One question that policymakers might have overlooked in trying to come up with a long-term strategy toward North Korea is this: Could the Hermit Kingdom be the next Myanmar?
Myanmar, widely known by its former name of Burma, was once a pariah, but it has surprised almost everyone by becoming a Western investor's dream. While there are significant differences between Myanmar and North Korea, there are similarities that prompt the same Southeast Asian investors who correctly predicted Myanmar's turnaround to be optimistic about North Korea's future.
Until recently, Myanmar's only ally was China. For over a decade, the international community placed sanctions on Myanmar for its human rights violations, including the house arrest of the prominent activist Aung San Suu Kyi. But the junta drastically changed direction and endorsed a U.S. road map for reform -- a process that led to the U.S. lifting its export ban in September. Today, an emancipated Suu Kyi is working with the new government on reforms, and Westerners carrying suitcases of cash (sometimes literally) are looking to invest in the country ...