Thursday, April 15, 2004
IF YOU HAVEN'T BEEN FOLLOWING FLYING YANGBAN'S COVERAGE OF THE ROK ELECTIONS
you have been missing a very impressive set of observations and summaries. Great work!
Wednesday, April 14, 2004
THE PRICE OF "PROGRESS"
Very interesting and post and photos on the establishment and subsequent destruction of Nan'gok, a squatter village in Sillim-dong, near Seoul National University. Definitely worth a look. Whatever the merits of the South Korean economic miracle (and there are many) folks like these are all too often ignored and forgotten.
END OF AN ERA?
KimcheeGI links to a story on the winding down of American patrols along the DMZ. When we look back on this period of history in twenty or forty years, this may be seen as a more significant development than it might appear to be right now.
ALL POLITICS IS LOCAL?
Joel explores the election campaign in Kunsan (and has pictures to boot).
JOHN PAUL CUPP, YOU HAVE A FRIEND.
Rebecca MacKinnon's North Korea Zone has come under criticism from one Alejandro Cao de Benos, Special Delegate to the Government of the DPR of Korea and President of the Korean Friendship Association (KFA). Ms. MacKinnon is perfectly capable of defending herself (I look forward to Kim Jong Il's first posting on NKZone). The only thing I would add is that the American who penned these immortal lines
Dear Leader, just a simple man,apparently has a Spanish soulmate
but a genius just the same.
Sun of Songun Marshal
Mt. Baekdu, your home.
Should a fascist clique,
try any aggressive tricks
We'll help you break their bones.
KIM JONG IL'S BROTHER-IN-LAW OUSTED?
(Hat tip to Rantburg)
The brother-in-law of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il no longer plays a key role in the communist regime's top ranks, a senior government official and North Korea experts in Seoul said yesterday.This is P'yongyangology at its finest.
Jang Song-thaek, 58, whose most recent post was the first vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party, was regarded as the second most powerful figure in North Korea's ruling party. The committee groups North Korea's power elite, and Mr. Jang was a policymaker on economic and personnel affairs at the highest level of government.
The Tokyo Shimbun reported yesterday that Mr. Jang was removed from the post after losing a power struggle with Pak Pong-ju, the North's prime minister. After repeatedly objecting to Mr. Pak's initiative to adopt more capitalist experiments in the famine-stricken communist country's economy, Mr. Jang was sent to the party's school to study economics, the report said.
And it isn't Kim Jong Il:
He has banned beards and listening to car radios, and instituted a national holiday in honour of a melon. Now the world’s craziest dictator has identified a new and pressing danger to his people: gold teeth. It was at one of the interminable events in his honour that the President of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov, turned to the young student from an agricultural university reading an address praising her President and told her to get her gold teeth removed and replaced with white ones. "Here’s the health minister, himself a dentist," he told the unfortunate woman. "He will give you white teeth."We report, you decide.
The great dictator did not stop there. He had some remarkable advice for the people of his former Soviet republic on how to avoid losing their teeth. "I watched young dogs when I was young," he said. "They were given bones to gnaw. Those of you whose teeth have fallen out did not gnaw on bones. This is my advice." Gold teeth are popular in the desert country where, despite the health minister’s credentials, dentistry standards are poor and many lose their teeth young. But they are expected to disappear in coming weeks: tips from Mr Niyazov are regarded as law.
This sort of eccentricity is becoming the norm under Mr Niyazov, who prefers to be known as Turkmenbashi, "Leader of the Turkmens". In many ways he is the classic dictator. Turkmenistan is littered with gold statues of him, including a giant revolving one in the capital, Ashgabat. He has appointed himself "president for life", and his rule is absolute. But in Mr Niyazov’s case this has meant his country of five million isforced to live under some of the weirdest laws of our times. Two months ago he used another television appearance to ban beards and long hair for men. Opera and ballet are not allowed, because Mr Niyazov decided they were unnecessary. He has changed street names in Ashgabat to numbers, and forced his ministers to take part in a 36km "health walk"...
SOMEONE'S FIRST IMPRESSION FROM BUSH'S PRESS CONFERENCE
The President needs a haircut. There can be only one Ted Koppel.
A.Q. KHAN AND DPRK NUKES
Parapundit has one of its typically thorough posts on the subject here. It makes one think twice about "outsourcing"
BLACKMAIL IS NOT ENOUGH
Good summary of a talk given by Sung-yoon Lee in Boston over at OxBlog. Lee argues, among other things, that what determines the DPRK policy on nukes is, first and foremost, domestic political imperatives:
the Pyongyang dictatorship considers the possession of nuclear weapons to be the only reliable guarantor of its existence. In the absence of a nuclear deterrent, it would only be a matter of time before the South Korean government destroyed its Northern counterpart by tempting its citizens with the prospect of prosperity and freedom Thus, there is no reason whatsoever to believe that Kim Jong Il will accept the verifiable dismantling of his nuclear program in exchange for economic aid, international legitimacy, a non-aggression pact with the United States or some combination of all three. Immoral or not, giving in to blackmail simply won't work.His conclusions are, unsurprisingly, rather pessimistic:
In spite of this bleak assessment of North Korean motives, is there any hope for change in the near future? Prof. Lee says 'no'. At the moment, there are no indications of factionalization within the North Korean military and thus no known prospects for a coup d'etat. While the North depends on China to provide much of its food and most of its fuel, China is in many ways the subordinate partner in the relationship. Knowing that a collapse of the North Korean regime would result in the arrival of millions upon millions of starving North Korean refugees in northern China, Beijing simply will not take any sort of action that endangers the existence of the Kim regime.We Americans don't like considering the idea that there may be nothing we can do (or nothing we might have done--cf the current ramblings of the 9/11 commission) to change things but perhaps there are some times in which that is actually the case.
In closing, Prof. Lee shared his expectation there will be no significant developments on the Peninsula before the US presidential election in November. Moreover, even if John Kerry takes the White House there is little reason to expect any substantive change in American policy. For as long as the imperative of survival governs the decision-making process in Pyongyang, the options available to the West will remain extremely restricted.
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
ACTUALLY, WE PREFER TO BE CALLED THE "SO KIND AND GENTLE WE WOULDN'T HURT A FLEA FLOWER ARRANGING SOCIETY"
Japan Today reports one possible snag in the release of Japanese hostages in Iraq: The group that is holding the hostages (and who has threatened to decapitate them if Japan does not withdraw its troops from Iraq) might take umbrage at being labeled a "terrorist group" by Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi.
The militant group holding three Japanese hostage in Iraq is delaying the hostages' release because it has been branded by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi as a 'terrorist" group, Radio France reported Tuesday, quoting a member of the Islamic Clerics Association.Well, not exactly:
The French public radio quoted Muhammad Ayash al-Kubaisi as making the remark. But his remarks were believed to be his personal observation rather than a statement he directly heard from the militant group.So the headline really should read: "Self-appointed spokesman of the militant group says that ...."