Friday, October 18, 2002

Another prediction, this time from James Lileks:

it is not a matter of if, but when someone blames North Korea’s pullout of the agreement on the Bush Administration’s withdrawal from the ABM treaty. Just you wait. Fisk? Scheer? Pilger? MoDo? Gentlepersons of the press: start your Yugos.

Not so bold prediciton: whatever the outcome of the current DPRK nuclear crisis, look for renewed calls for national missile defense (NMD) to appear in the near future.

The rumors fly: an unidentified Bush Administraiton official claims that the DPRK now has two nuclear bombs. Never mind that the text of the story implies that the official was more confident about the possession of "sufficient plutonium for one or two nuclear weapons" than about the actual possession of said weapons.

Here's a switch: North Korea is said to have acquired nuclear technology from Pakistan. This after years of warnings about how the DPRK was exporting dangerous stuff to the rest of the world (Note: I am fully aware of the functional difference between missile technology (which the DPRK has been known to export) and the technology needed to create nuclear weapons to put on top of the missiles). What will this mean for the war on terror in which Pakistan has been an unexpectedly close ally?

Andrew Sullivan points fingers about North Korea in a rather predictable fashion. (scroll down). Personally, I am less interested in placing blame than in determining what should happen next.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

James Lileks offers an evaluation of who is to blame for the bombings in Bali.

Update: related article on North Korean nukes here and here (NYT. Free Registration required).

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Hot off the presses: the DPRK admits to having a clandestine nuclear program. Watch the hawks pounce on this one.

It could happen!

Here's a fad that didn't seem to get off the ground.

Latest on bin Laden: Israeli intelligence says he's dead. Of course we all know where he really is (and who he's with).

The following story is listed on the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) website under the headline:
Gift to Kim Jong Il from British political party

Pyongyang, October 15 (KCNA) -- Kim Jong Il received a gift from the visiting delegation of the People's United Democracy-Left Wing of Italy. The gift was handed to an official concerned by Michele Capuano, general secretary of the party who is heading the delegation.

Perhaps the North Koreans know something about Britain and Italy that I don't.

A nice wrap-up of recent activities centered around Tan'gun (Dangun), offspring of a deity and a bear-woman, the mythical founder of Korea. It claims that "Dangun's grave does exist and this is no myth. It was restored after centuries of neglect. Dangun's remains do exist and have been scientifically identified." That a grave exists is probably beyond question. How one "scientifically" identities it as Tan'gun is beyond me.

Presidential hopeful Chung Mong Joon has officially started his own party. Officially known as "National Unity 21" the party promises to 'bring about "revolutionary change in Korean politics,' national unity, the end of 'emperor style rule,' the separation of the powers of the presidency, peaceful unification, and an end to corruption." What's not to like?

The Choson Ilbo (English Edition) reports that Kim Jong-il’s first wife died in Russia:

A high-ranking government official confirmed Wednesday the death of Sung Hye-rim, ex-wife of Kim Jong Il and mother of Kim Jong Nam. According to the official, Sung Hye Rim died in July in Moscow, Russia due to chronic diseases, adding no special envoy from Pyongyang visited her funeral ceremony. Another official mentioned, she suffered cardiopathology, diabetes and mental depression and a complication of these killed her.

The article goes on to describe how Sung left the Dear Leader because she was “tired of Kim Jong Il's adultery”; it also offers juicy tidbits concerning the Dear Leader’s son, Kim Jong Nam who last made headlines trying to sneak into Tokyo Disneyland with a fake passport. The fun never ends.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

New batch of North Korean asylum seekers make it to Seoul

Twenty DPRK who had sought asylum in the ROK's consulate in Beijing left the PRC on Friday and flew to Manila on their way to Seoul. "The 20 DPRK asylum-seekers departed this afternoon via a third country to the Republic of Korea," an ROK diplomat in Beijing said. Reporters in the Philippine capital later saw the group, which included 13 women and some teenagers, being taken to a transit lounge at Manila airport. The group was the latest in a steady flow of refugees who have sneaked into the PRC and sought
passage to Seoul via diplomatic compounds. They bring to about 140 the number the PRC has allowed to leave. It was not immediately clear how or when they had entered the ROK diplomatic compound.

Phillip Morris begins production in Korea. The money graf (as they say in the business) is this:

South Korea is the eighth-largest cigarette market in the world. More than a quarter of the population, 13 million out of 48 million people, are smokers, and they consume approximately 100 billion cigarettes a year, about 20 percent of them imports.

As things get tighter for big tobacco in the states, it can expand abroad. Go Marlboro Man!

Japanese abductees return to Japan (NYTimes, free registration required). The abductees, many of whom were kidnapped in 1978, proved reluctant to speak about their kidnapping. Many apologized for the troubles and anxiety they have caused their families (as if being snatched from a Japanese beach by North Korean spies were their fault). Most have family members in North Korea and plan to return sooner rather than later. The New York Times piece stresses the Rip Van Winkle aspect of their return to Japan:

Arriving here today, five survivors learned of births of nieces and nephews, babies who are now college students. In coming days, they are to discover a Japan where eight-track tapes have given way to compact disks, where black hair and green tea have given way to dyed hair and gourmet coffee, where social lives revolve around cell phones and the Internet, and where 14 prime ministers have spun in and out of government since 1978.

Sunday, October 13, 2002

Latest rumor on the proposed Special Administrative Region in Sinuiju. A South Korean newspaper is reporting that former South Korean Prime Minister Park Tae-joon (Pak T'ae-jun) has been asked by the DPRK to manage the region. A former president of POSCO, Park would seem to be in some ways a more sensible choice than the now discredited Yang Bin. On the other hand, a South Korean industrialist and politician running an operation in North Korea? Who would have thought?

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?