Posts Tagged Korea
Stay Cool. Call North Korea’s Bluff.
By ANDREI LANKOV
Published: April 9, 2013
SEOUL, South Korea
NORTH KOREA is a tiny dictatorship with a bankrupt economy, but its leaders are remarkably adept at manipulating global public opinion. In recent weeks, we have been exposed to yet another brilliant example of their skill.
Scores of foreign journalists have been dispatched to Seoul to report on the growing tensions between the two Koreas and the possibility of war. Upon arrival, though, it is difficult for them to find any South Koreans who are panic-stricken. In fact, most people in Seoul don’t care about the North’s belligerent statements: the farther one is from the Korean Peninsula, the more one will find people worried about the recent developments here.
The average South Korean’s calm indifference is understandable: he or she has been through similar “crises” many times. By now South Koreans understand Pyongyang’s logic and know North Korea is highly unlikely to make good on its gothic threats.
People who talk about an imminent possibility of war seldom pose this question: What would North Korea’s leadership get from unleashing a war that they are likely to lose in weeks, if not days? Even if they managed to strike Japan, the United States or South Korea with nuclear weapons — a big if, given that they do not have a reliable delivery system — they could not save themselves from ultimate defeat. On the contrary, the use of nuclear or other terror weapons would be certain to invite overwhelming retaliation, delivering North Korea’s decision makers to a fiery oblivion.
Suggestions that those leaders are irrational and their decisions unfathomable are remarkably shallow. North Korea is not a theocracy led by zealots who preach the rewards of the afterlife.
In fact, there are no good reasons to think that Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s young dictator, would want to commit suicide; he is known for his love of basketball, pizza and other pleasures of being alive. The same logic applies to his advisers, old survivors in the byzantine world of North Korean politics who love expensive cars and good brandy.
Moreover, there is almost nothing particularly unusual in the recent developments. In the last two decades, North Korea has on various occasions conducted highly provocative missile and nuclear tests and promised to turn Seoul into a sea of fire. Now it has declared its withdrawal from the 1953 armistice agreement that ended fighting in the Korean War but not the war itself. It has denounced American and South Korean military exercises as an act of war. And on Tuesday, North Korea told foreigners in the South to look for shelter or consider evacuating because the Korean Peninsula could soon be engulfed in nuclear war. This time, the tune is being played louder, but that is the only real change.
A closer look at North Korean history reveals what Pyongyang’s leaders really want their near-farcical belligerence to achieve — a reminder to the world that North Korea exists, and an impression abroad that its leaders are irrational and unpredictable. The scary impressions are important to North Korea because for the last two decades its policy has been, above all, a brilliant exercise in diplomatic blackmail. And blackmail usually works better when the practitioners are seen as irrational and unpredictable.
Put bluntly, North Korea’s government hopes to squeeze more aid from the outside world. Of late, it has become very dependent on Chinese aid, and it wants other sponsors as well.
The leaders in Pyongyang read their history books. In 1994, after a year of tension over North Korea’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, the United States agreed to provide North Korea with oil shipments and light water reactors in exchange for the North’s promise to halt its weapons program. Then, in 2002, a clandestine North Korean uranium enrichment program was unmasked, and for the next four years North Korea could not get much American aid. But after it conducted a nuclear test in October 2006, the United States promised significant concessions, in hopes that new negotiations could halt the North’s weapons program after all. They did not.
If history is any guide, in a few weeks’ time things will calm down. North Korea’s media will tell its people that the might of the People’s Army and the strategic genius of their new young leader made the terrified American imperialists cancel their plans to invade the North. Meanwhile, North Korea’s diplomats will approach their international counterparts and start probing for aid and political concessions.
In other words, it is business as usual on the Korean Peninsula. Perhaps, when the atmosphere cools down, an argument can be made for giving North Korea’s leaders some of the assistance they want, if they are willing to make concessions of their own.
But it does not make sense to credulously take their fake belligerence at face value and give them the attention they want now. It would be better if people in Washington and New York took a lesson from the people of Seoul.
- North Korea Urges Foreigners to Vacate South Korea (abcnews.go.com)
- North Korea urges foreigners to vacate South Korea, says nuclear war imminent (vancouversun.com)
- North Korea tells foreigners in South to consider evacuation (newsinfo.inquirer.net)
- South Korea: ‘Indication’ North Korea prepping for nuke test (metronews.ca)
- North Korea tells foreigners to leave the South as a nuclear war is imminent (mirror.co.uk)
- North Korea Urges Foreigners To Vacate South Korea (huffingtonpost.com)
- South Korea says North Korea behind computer crash in March (technology.inquirer.net)
- South Korea says North Korea behind computer crash in March (foxnews.com)
- Seoul’s Nukes (carnegieendowment.org)
- North Korea urges foreigners to vacate South Korea (foxnews.com)
North Korea Expelled from Axis of Evil
Ahmadinejad Cites ‘Lack of Evil’
PYONGYANG (The Borowitz Report ) – Just hours after an embarrassing launch of a rocket that crashed to the ground in a little over a minute, North Korea suffered another blow to its prestige as it was expelled from the Axis of Evil.
The decision was announced by the presiding Chairman of the Axis of Evil, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who cited as the reason for the expulsion North Korea’s evident “lack of evil.”
“There are a lot of evil countries out there, Iran for one, who are trying to terrify the world by developing nuclear weapons,” he said. “When North Korea launches a so-called ‘rocket’ and it goes about twenty feet before blowing up, that just makes it harder for the rest of us.”
A spokesman for the erstwhile evil nation objected strongly to Mr. Ahmadinejad’s statement, saying it was “totally unfair to judge how evil a country is based on one crappy rocket.”
For a rogue nation that prides itself on threatening the world community, membership in the Axis of Evil is considered essential, which makes North Korea’s expulsion from the group a particularly damaging setback.
“The rocket thing is hurting our credibility, evil-wise, no question about it,” one aide to North Korean President Kim Jong-un said today. “This afternoon we tried to threaten Japan and it went straight to voicemail.”
In a possible sign of newly reduced ambitions, North Korea today hurled a roll of toilet paper over the border at South Korea.
Mr. Ahmadinejad offered no comment about the latest incident on the Korean Peninsula, other than to say, “Really, the whole thing is kind of sad.”
- Borowitz Report – Whitney Houston (mbcalyn.com)
- Failed North Korean Launch a Setback for Kim Jong-un – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)
- North Korean Rocket Said to Fail Moments After Liftoff – NYTimes.com (mbcalyn.com)
- Report: North Korea Rocket Broke Apart (news.antiwar.com)
- Attempted North Korean Rocket Launch a Failure (jdjournal.com)
- North Korea “Blew It” Badly! Do We Wait For Them “Blow It” Rightly? (neosecularist.com)
- North Korea has defied International pressure and launched a rocket (luvsiesous.com)
- North Korea’s long range rocket crashes into sea (uwtreasures.wordpress.com)
- Analyst: North Korea’s Failed Rocket Launch May Undermine New Leader (revolutioninmedia.com)
- Analyst: North Korea’s Failed Rocket Launch May Undermine New Leader (voanews.com)
POSTED DECEMBER 19, 2011
Trump to Run for President of North Korea
Promises Continuity of Leadership
PYONGYANG (The Borowitz Report) – Within hours of the death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il, real estate mogul Donald Trump roiled the political situation in that Stalinist country by announcing that he would run for its presidency.
“Kim Jong-Il ruled North Korea as the egomaniacal leader of a personality cult,” Mr. Trump told reporters en route to Pyongyang. “I can offer continuity of leadership.”
But Mr. Trump’s bid may be complicated by reports that, despite his death, the mercurial Kim plans to remain in power until 2024.
“He intended to rule North Korea until 2028,” said one North Korean government source. “His death moves up that timetable a bit.”
In Pyongyang, North Koreans officially marked the death of Kim by having their first meal in thirty years.
Officials said that in accordance with the dictator’s wishes, Kim will be strapped to a nuclear weapon and buried in South Korea.
- President Monitoring Reports From North Korea (abcnews.go.com)
- North Koreans Told to Back Kim’s Son (newser.com)
- North Korea mourns Kim Jong Il; son is ‘successor’ (newsok.com)
- Kim Death: US Monitors ‘Uncertain’ North (news.sky.com)
- North Korea mourns Kim Jong Il; son is ‘successor’ (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- North Korea mourns Kim Jong Il; son is ‘successor’ (mercurynews.com)
- North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il Has Died (time.com)
- Video: North Korea after Kim Jong Il (cbsnews.com)
- North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il Has Died (time.com)
- North Korean Leader Kim Jong Il, 69, Has Died (time.com)