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Author Topic: North and South Korea  (Read 14370 times)
DougMacG
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« Reply #50 on: December 20, 2011, 10:12:26 AM »

"North Korea now endorsed by Al Gore!"

Seems like a joke or an opposition gotcha, but yes in fact N.K. peasants are the closest model available to the lifestyle they think we should adopt.  Don't fly, don't drive, don't heat your home, don't cook your food, don't light your house after dark. 

We keep getting more efficient but we never break the correlation between prosperity and energy use.

The other perfect part about the so-called communist model is that the rulers are not subject to the same restrictions as the peasants.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #51 on: December 22, 2011, 09:55:18 AM »

This could go under Glibness but are we not going to send the N. Korean people our condolences at their time of grieving?  Have we no manners or are we run by right wing zealots?  And what about adding a stop on the Presidential apology tour - I wonder what role our crippling sanctions played in his demise.

The administration caught reading the forum.  Right as we found out that Jimmy Carter's 'private' mission on behalf of Pres. Bill Clinton was not so private, the not so private citizen Jimmy Carter has extended our condolences not? on behalf of the Obama administration:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/inside-politics/2011/dec/21/ex-president-carter-sends-condolences-kim-jong-un/

Former President Jimmy Carter has sent North Korea a message of condolence over the death of Kim Jong-il and wished "every success" to the man expected to take over as dictator, according to the communist country's state-run news agency.

A dispatch from the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Mr. Carter sent the message to Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il's son and heir apparent.

"In the message Jimmy Carter extended condolences to Kim Jong Un and the Korean people over the demise of leader Kim Jong Il. He wished Kim Jong Un every success as he assumes his new responsibility of leadership, looking forward to another visit to [North Korea] in the future," the KCNA dispatch read.

When contacted by The Washington Times for comment, the Carter Center provided an email contact to a spokeswoman who is out of the office until the New Year.
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G M
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« Reply #52 on: December 26, 2011, 11:18:19 AM »

http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/12/21/was-kim-jong-il-murdered-in-power-struggle-with-north-koreas-military/

Was Kim Jong-il murdered in power struggle with North Korean military?

Peter Goodspeed Dec 21, 2011 – 6:00 AM ET | Last Updated: Dec 21, 2011 1:20 PM ET

 


REUTERS/Kyodo

Mourning period: North Koreans gather to make a call of condolence for deceased leader Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang Wednesday
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Suspicion of North Korea runs deep in South Korea, so it wasn’t a surprise that within hours of the announcement of Kim Jong-il’s death Monday, some South Korean newspapers were asking if the Dear Leader had been murdered.
 
While North Korea’s Central News Agency reported Monday that Mr. Kim died of a heart attack last Saturday on a train while heading to an unidentified destination, Seoul’s Korea Times newspaper ran a headline, “Suspicions arise over cause of death”.
 
According to the newspaper, North Korean defectors doubt Pyongyang’s state-controlled media reports of Mr. Kim’s death. They cautiously suggested the dictator may have been murdered.
 



Related

Mysterious uncle key to Kim Jong-un’s power in North Korea


Peter Goodspeed: Kim arrived on a rainbow, leaves behind starving country


Inside North Korea: Peter Goodspeed recalls the grey, empty streets of the Hermit Kingdom

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REUTERS/Yonhap

South Korean soldiers patrol along the military fence near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Yeoncheon, northeast of Seoul Wednesday
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A political scientist, An Chan-il, was quoted as saying Mr. Kim may have been killed by elements within the North Korean government who disagreed with his policies.
 
“After his third son Jung-un was named for a dynastic leadership succession, many military officers, especially those in their 50s, were dismissed,” Mr. An told the Korea Times. “I think these people could have held deep resentment about Kim and North Korea’s next leader.
 
“A rumor is circulating that earlier a high-ranking North Korean official was shot dead,” he said. “This has yet to be confirmed, but such talk is evidence that discontent was brewing among some people in the North.”
 
Mr. An speculated hardline elements in the military may have also resented recent policy changes introduced by Mr. Kim.
 
“As their vested interests were hurt due to Kim Jong-il, I would not rule out the possibility that some military officers, who believed their clout and influence had been damaged, could have played a role in his death,” he said.
 
The newspaper said Chun Yo-ok, a member of South Korea’s National Assembly from the ruling Grand National Party also raised the possibility Mr. Kim might have been killed as a result of a power struggle.
 
Several years ago, a Japanese professor wrote a book arguing that Kim Jong-il died in 2003 and had been represented by body doubles ever since.
 
The latest conspiracy theories gained life from the fact that just hours before officials announced Mr. Kim’s death, U.S. officials were leaking news that they had negotiated a breakthrough deal to have North Korea suspend uranium enrichment in exchange for a resumption of food aid from Washington.
 
Late Sunday, officials in Washington warned several news organizations that the White House was about to announce it would provide North Korea with 240,000 tons of high protein biscuits and vitamins over the next year.
 




KCNA/Reuters

Kim Jong-il (wearing sunglasses) and his son Kim Jong-un (in black suit second from left) pose in October 2010 with soldiers at an undisclosed location in North Korea.
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The United States suspended food aid to North Korea in 2009 when Pyongyang resumed its nuclear weapons program and exploded a nuclear device. Talks to resume the aid, in exchange for North Korea’s return to Six Party Talks had dragged on for years as Pyongyang repeatedly placed demands on how any aid might be delivered.
 




KNS/AFP/Getty Images

Kim Jong-Il lies in state at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang Tuesday
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Washington insisted it should be allowed to monitor food distribution to ensure donations did not go to North Korea’s military.
 
Just before Kim Jong-il died, North Korea was said to have caved in and handed Washington a diplomatic coup by agreeing to accept U.S. aid and U.S. conditions.
 
U.S. officials said that within days of announcing the resumption of food deliveries, North Korea was going to announce a suspension of its uranium enrichment program and a return to the Six Party talks in Beijing.
 
Kim’s death has now delayed both countries’ announcements indefinitely.
 

More from the Post’s Peter Goodspeed
 
Kim Jong-un stepped forward to bow before his father’s flower-banked bier, there was a dark-suited man standing behind him, in a long line of uniformed generals, who stood out.
 
Jang Song-thaek, Mr. Kim’s 65-year-old uncle, may be the North Korean equivalent of former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping — a career technocrat, who was mysteriously purged from power in 2004 only to return 18 months later to become the second-most powerful man in North Korea.
 
For months, Mr. Jang has been described by many analysts as the power behind the throne in North Korea and designated as a potential regent and political mentor for the young Mr. Kim.
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China knew early of Kim Jong-il’s death: reports
 
North Korea’s primary ally, learned on Saturday Mr. Kim had died that day, two days before Pyongyang’s official announcement, a leading South Korean newspaper reported Wednesday.
 
JoongAng Ilbo quoted an unidentified source in Beijing as saying the Chinese ambassador to North Korea had obtained intelligence of Kim’s death and reported it to the capital on Dec. 17, the day Kim died of an apparent heart attack while on a train.
 
“North Korean informed China of Kim’s death through diplomatic channels on the following day,” the source was quoted as saying.
 
South Korea’s foreign ministry told a press briefing on Tuesday that China did not know of the death in advance of North Korea’s official announcement.
 
“We heard several times that (China) did not find out (Kim’s death) beforehand,” said the ministry’s spokesman Cho Byung-jae.
 
Top South Korean intelligence and military officials have come under criticism for failing to learn of Kim’s death before the official announcement by Pyongyang.
 
When South Korean President Lee Myung-bak left on a state visit for Japan last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il had been dead for about four hours, indicating that neither Seoul nor Tokyo — or Washington — had any inkling of his death.
 
South Korea’s National Intelligence Service chief Won Sei-hoon told lawmakers that China might have detected some signals earlier but he could not verify it, according to media reports.
 
China has given no official comment or even hints suggesting it was told of Kim’s death before the public announcement. But Beijing has in the past been give advance notice from North Korea of major events, diplomats have said. In 2006, North Korea told China 20 minutes or more beforehand that it would hold its first nuclear test blast, they said.
 
REUTERS
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #53 on: April 01, 2012, 07:41:52 AM »




By George Friedman

After U.S. President Barack Obama visited the Korean Demilitarized Zone on March 25 during his trip to South Korea for a nuclear security summit, he made the obligatory presidential remarks warning North Korea against continued provocations. He also praised the strength of U.S.-South Korean relations and commended the 28,500 U.S. troops stationed there. Obama's visit itself is of little importance, but it is an opportunity to ask just what Washington's strategy is in Korea and how the countries around North Korea (China, Russia, South Korea and Japan) view the region. As always, any understanding of current strategy requires a consideration of the history of that strategy.

The Korean War and the U.S. Proto-Strategy
Korea became a key part of U.S. Cold War-era containment strategy almost by accident. Washington, having deployed forces in China during World War II and thus aware of the demographic and geographic problems of operating on the Asian mainland, envisioned a maritime strategy based on the island chains running from the Aleutians to Java. The Americans would use the islands and the 7th Fleet to contain both the Soviets and the Chinese on the mainland.

Korea conceptually lay outside this framework. The peninsula was not regarded by the United States as central to its strategy even after the victory of the communists in the Chinese civil war. After World War II, the Korean Peninsula, which had been occupied by the Japanese since the early 1900s, was divided into two zones. The North came under the control of communists, the South under the control of a pro-American regime. Soviet troops withdrew from the North in 1948 and U.S. troops pulled out of the South the following year, despite some calls to keep them in place to dissuade communist aggression. The actual U.S. policy toward an invasion of the South by the North is still being debated, but a U.S. intervention on the Korean Peninsula clearly violated Washington's core strategic principle of avoiding mainland operations and maintaining a strategic naval blockade.

U.S. strategy changed in 1950, when the North Koreans invaded the South, sparking the Korean War. Pyongyang's motives remain unclear, as do the roles of Moscow and Beijing in the decision. Obviously, Pyongyang wanted to unite the peninsula under communist control, and obviously, it did not carry out its invasion against Chinese and Russian wishes, but it appears all involved estimated the operation was within the capabilities of the North Korean army. Had the North Korean military faced only South Korean forces, they would have been right. They clearly miscalculated the American intent to intervene, though it is not clear that even the Americans understood their intent prior to the intervention. However, once the North Koreans moved south, President Harry Truman decided to intervene. His reasoning had less to do with Korea than with the impact of a communist military success on coalition partners elsewhere. The U.S. global strategy depended on Washington's ability to convince its partners that it would come to their aid if they were invaded. Strategic considerations aside, not intervening would have created a crisis of confidence, or so was the concern. Therefore, the United States intervened.

After serious difficulties, the United States managed to push the North Korean forces back into the North and pursue them almost to the Yalu River, which divides Korea and China. This forced a strategic decision on China. The Chinese were unclear on the American intent but did not underestimate American power. North Korea had represented a buffer between U.S. allies and northeastern China (and a similar buffer for the Soviets to protect their maritime territories). The Chinese intervened in the war, pushing the Americans back from the Yalu and suffering huge casualties in the process. The Americans regrouped, pushed back and a stalemate was achieved roughly along the former border and the current Demilitarized Zone. The truce was negotiated and the United States left forces in Korea, the successors of which President Obama addressed during his visit.

North Korea: The Weak, Fearsome Lunatic
The great mystery of the post-Cold War world is the survival of the North Korean regime. With a dynamic South, a non-Communist Russia and a China committed to good economic relations with the West, it would appear that the North Korean regime would have found it difficult to survive. This was compounded by severe economic problems (precipitated by the withdrawal of economic support from the Chinese and the Russians) and reported famines in the 1990s. But survive it did, and that survival is rooted in the geopolitics of the Cold War.

From the Chinese point of view, North Korea served the same function in the 1990s as it did in 1950: It was a buffer zone between the now economically powerful South Koreans (and the U.S. military) and Manchuria. The Russians were, as during the Korean War, interested in but not obsessed by the Korean situation, the more so as Russia shifted most of its attention west. The United States was concerned that a collapse in North Korea would trigger tensions with the Chinese and undermine the stability of its ally, South Korea. And the South Koreans were hesitant to undertake any actions that might trigger a response from North Korean artillery within range of Seoul, where a large portion of South Korea's population, government, industry and financial interests reside. In addition, they were concerned that a collapsing North would create a massive economic crisis in the South, having watched the difficulties of German integration and recognizing the even wider economic and social gap between the two Koreas.

In a real sense, no one outside of North Korea was interested in changing the borders of the peninsula. The same calculations that had created the division in the first place and maintained it during and after the Korean War remained intact. Everyone either had a reason to want to maintain an independent North Korea (even with a communist regime) or was not eager to risk a change in the status quo.

The most difficult question to answer is not how the United States viewed the potential destabilization of North Korea but rather its willingness to maintain a significant troop level in South Korea. The reason for intervening in the first place was murky. The U.S. military presence between 1953 and 1991 was intended to maintain the status quo during the Cold War. The willingness to remain beyond that is more complex.

Part of it simply had to do with inertia. Just as U.S. troops remain in Germany a generation after the end of the Cold War, it was easier not to reconsider U.S. strategy in Korea than to endure the internal stress of reconsidering it. Obviously, the United States did not want tensions between South Korea and North Korea, or to have the North Koreans misunderstand a withdrawal as an invitation to try another military move on the South, however unlikely. The Japanese saw Korean unification as problematic to their interests, since it could create a nearby industrial economic power of more than 70 million people and rekindle old rivalries. And North Korea, it would seem, actually welcomes the American presence, believing it limits South Korean adventurism. Between inertia and what we will call a proto-strategy, the United States remains.

With the loss of its Cold War patrons and the changing dynamic of the post-Cold War world, the North Koreans developed a survival strategy that Stratfor identified in the 1990s. The Koreans' intention was to appear -- simultaneously -- weak, fearsome and crazy. This was not an easy strategy to carry out, but they have carried it out well. First, they made certain that they were perceived to be always on the verge of internal collapse and thus not a direct threat to anyone but themselves. They went out of their way to emphasize their economic problems, particularly the famines in the 1990s. They wanted no one to think they were intent on being an aggressor unless provoked severely.

Second, they wanted to appear to be fearsome. This would at first blush seem to contradict the impression of weakness, but they managed it brilliantly by perpetually reminding the world that they were close to developing nuclear weapons and longer-range missiles. Recognizing that the Americans and Japanese had a reflexive obsession with nuclear weapons, Pyongyang constantly made it appear that they were capable of developing nuclear weapons but were not yet there. Not being there yet meant that no one had to do something about the weapons. Being close to developing them meant that it was dangerous to provoke them. Even North Korea's two nuclear tests have, intentionally or incidentally, appeared sub-par, leaving its neighbors able to doubt the technological prowess of the "Hermit Kingdom."

The final piece was to appear crazy, or crazy enough that when pressed, they would choose the suicide option of striking with a nuclear weapon, if they had one. This was critical because a rational actor possessing one or a few weapons would not think of striking its neighbors, since the U.S. counterstrike would annihilate the North Korean regime. The threat wouldn't work if North Korea was considered rational, but, if it was irrational, the North Korean deterrence strategy could work. It would force everyone to be ultra-cautious in dealing with North Korea, lest North Korea do something quite mad. South Korean and U.S. propaganda did more for North Korea's image of unpredictability than the North could have hoped.

North Korea, then, has spent more than two decades cultivating the image to the outside world of a nation on the verge of internal economic collapse (even while internally emphasizing its strength in the face of external threats). At the same time, the country has appeared to be on the verge of being a nuclear power -- one ruled by potential lunatics. The net result was that the major powers, particularly South Korea, the United States and Japan, went out of their way to avoid provoking the North. In addition, these three powers were prepared to bribe North Korea to stop undertaking nuclear and missile development. Several times, they bribed the North with money or food to stop building weapons, and each time the North took the money and then resumed their program, quite ostentatiously, so as to cause maximum notice and restore the vision of the weak, fearsome lunatic.

The North was so good at playing this game that it maneuvered itself into a position in which it sat as an equal with the United States, Japan, Russia, China and South Korea -- and it would frequently refuse to attend the six-party talks. The ability to maneuver itself into a position equal to these powers was North Korea's greatest achievement, and it had a tremendous effect on stabilizing the regime by reinforcing its legitimacy internally and its power externally. Underneath this was the fact that no one was all that eager to see North Korea collapse, particularly since it was crazy and might have nuclear weapons. North Korea created a superb strategy for regime preservation in a very hostile region -- or one that appeared hostile to the North Koreans.

Crucially for Pyongyang, North Korea was of tremendous use to one power: China. Even more than North Korea's role as a buffer state, its antics allowed China to emerge as mediator between the inscrutable Pyongyang and the frustrated United States. As China's economy grew, its political and military interests and reach expanded, leading to numerous tensions with the United States. But Beijing recognized that North Korea was a particular obsession of the United States because of its potential nuclear weapons and American sensitivity to weapons of mass destruction. Whenever North Korea did something outrageous, the United States would turn to China to address the problem. Having solved it, it was then inappropriate for Washington to press China on any other issue, at least for a while. Therefore, North Korea was a superb mechanism for the Chinese to deflect U.S. pressure on other issues.

For all of their occasional provocations, the North Koreans have been careful never to cross a line with conventional or nuclear power to compel a response from the South or the United States. Their ability to calibrate their provocations has been striking, even as their actions have escalated through nuclear tests to military action against South Korean ships and islands in the West Sea. Also striking is the manner in which those provocations have increased China's leverage with the United States.

The Difficulty of Extrication
At this point, it would be difficult for the United States to withdraw from South Korea. The North Korean nuclear threat fixes the situation in place, even for troops that aren't relevant to that threat. The troops could be withdrawn, but they won't be because the inertia of the situation makes it easier to leave them there than withdraw. As for the South Koreans, they simultaneously dislike the American presence and want it there, since it ensures U.S. military involvement in any crisis.

While the U.S. troop presence in Korea may not make the most sense in a global U.S. military strategy, it ironically seems to fit, at least for now, the interests of the Chinese, South Koreans and Japanese, and even in some sense the North Koreans. The United States, as the global power, therefore is locked into a deployment that does not match the regional requirements, requires endless explanation and is the source of frequent political complications. What we are left with is a U.S. strategy not based necessarily on the current situation but one tied to a historical legacy, left in place by inertia and held in place by the North Korean nuclear "threat."


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Read more: The United States in Korea: A Strategy of Inertia | Stratfor
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #54 on: April 09, 2012, 05:15:49 PM »

Looks like we are going to do nothing to stop the Norks from testing what appears to be an ICBM , , ,
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G M
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« Reply #55 on: April 09, 2012, 05:36:52 PM »

Looks like we are going to do nothing to stop the Norks from testing what appears to be an ICBM , , ,

It's ok, Obama has a gift.....
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JDN
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« Reply #56 on: April 10, 2012, 09:18:01 AM »

Looks like we are going to do nothing to stop the Norks from testing what appears to be an ICBM , , ,

And what do you suggest we do?   huh

I'm sure Romney would solve the problem.   rolleyes
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G M
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« Reply #57 on: April 10, 2012, 09:50:05 AM »

Looks like we are going to do nothing to stop the Norks from testing what appears to be an ICBM , , ,

And what do you suggest we do?   huh

I'm sure Romney would solve the problem.   rolleyes

Perhaps having a president that doesn't bow and grovel would help?

No worries, Japan has been nuked before. They'll get over it.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #58 on: April 10, 2012, 11:28:36 AM »

Japan has made noise about shooting it down should it go over Japan.  At the very least we should issue a statement in support, but we don't do even that.  That said the correct answer is that WE should shoot it down.

THANK GOD, and President Reagan, we have something of a Star Wars capability!

To let the NORK whackos develop the capabiity to reach the US with a nuclear missile is stupid, naive, and profoundly weak.   Of such weakness, terrible things arisse.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #59 on: May 02, 2012, 10:53:34 AM »

I enjoyed this opinion piece by former NY Times Editor Bill Keller.  I like things that indicate the end of something unimaginably evil is either possible or inevitable, like the PRC and the DPRK.  He is saying we should be preparing now for the aftermath of the regime.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/30/opinion/keller-the-day-after.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2    Excerpt:

"The big question we should be asking is: What about the Day After? If the regime’s days are numbered, the end is likely to be messier than anything we’ve seen in the Arab Spring. Why aren’t we sitting down with the Chinese, South Koreans, Japanese and Russians and making a plan to prevent nuclear material from being sold to the Russian mafia or the Chinese triads; to keep some panicky general from incinerating Seoul (minutes away as the artillery shell flies); to dissuade China or Russia from sending in troops to take advantage; to prevent Nuremberg-minded prison commandants from bulldozing the evidence into mass graves; to fend off an even more monumental human calamity than the famine of the mid-90s? Then, how do we reunify Korea without bankrupting the South? "
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bigdog
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« Reply #60 on: May 02, 2012, 12:45:58 PM »

An extremely thoughtful piece, Doug.  Thank you for bringing it to my attention.  I also think the "day after" discussion is key.  A mini-Marshall plan (for lack of a better term) is probably needed, not to mention the discussion about nukes brought by the author (and the need to educate an entire people about liberty, free thought, agriculture, technology and gods only know what else).
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #61 on: May 02, 2012, 01:07:46 PM »

Ditto.
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bigdog
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« Reply #62 on: July 10, 2012, 12:29:25 PM »

Kim Jong Un and a mystery woman clap as they watch a performance by North Korea's new Moranbong band, July 6, 2012. …
Who is she?
That's what people around the world want to know about a mysterious young woman who appeared with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a pair of events over the weekend.
The woman first appeared with Kim on North Korean state television on Sunday at a ceremony marking the 18th anniversary of his grandfather and North Korea founder Kim Il Sung's death. She is believed to be the same woman shown in a photograph released by the Korea News Service on Monday showing Kim and others clapping during a July 6 performance by new Moranbong band in Pyongyang. (The unusual performance included appearances by Disney characters—including Mickie Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Winnie the Pooh—not often seen in North Korea, which traditionally shuns entertainment of the West.)
The mystery woman sparked a crush of media coverage in South Korea, where some speculate that she could be Kim's younger sister or wife. No official details about her identity have been released.
According to London's Telegraph, "South Korean intelligence sources" say the woman is Hyon Song Wol, a singer "who used to front the Bochonbo Electronic Music Band" and "responsible for a string of hits that included 'Footsteps of Soldiers,' 'I Love Pyongyang,' 'She is a Discharged Soldier' and 'We are Troops of the Party.'"
Her popularity "peaked in 2005 with the song 'Excellent Horse-Like Lady,'" the Telegraph said, adding:
Hyon subsequently disappeared from public view at the time that Kim emerged as the heir-apparent to his father, Kim Jong Il.
There are reports that 28-year-old Kim Jong Un was ordered to break off his relationship with Hyon by his father and that she later married an officer in the North Korean army with whom she has a baby.
The North Korean government is notoriously secretive when it comes to its leaders. It took more than a day to announce the death of Kim Jong Il in December. And as the Associated Press points out, little personal information is known about Kim himself, though he is thought to be in his late 20s. Kim's younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, was born in 1987, the AP said.
 
 
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bigdog
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« Reply #63 on: July 30, 2012, 06:15:55 AM »

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/07/26/north_korea_s_extreme_makeover
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #64 on: October 12, 2012, 07:51:21 PM »

http://blog.skepticaldoctor.com/2010...erpt-1991.aspx

I went several times during the festival to Pyongyang Department Store Number 1. This is in the very centre of the city. Its shelves and counters were groaning with locally produced goods, piled into impressive pyramids or in fan-like displays, perfectly arranged, throughout the several floors of the building. On the ground floor was a wide variety of tinned foods, hardware and alcoholic drinks, including a strong Korean liqueur with a whole snake pickled or marinated in the bottle, presumably as an aphrodisiac. Everything glittered with perfection, the tidiness was remarkable.

It didn't take long to discover that this was no ordinary department store. It was filled with thousands of people, going up and down the escalators, standing at the corners, going in and out of the front entrance in a constant stream both ways - yet nothing was being bought or sold. I checked this by standing at the entrance for half an hour. The people coming out were carrying no more than the people entering. Their shopping bags contained as much, or as little, when they left as when they entered. In some cases, I recognised people coming out as those who had gone in a few minutes before, only to see them re-entering the store almost immediately. And I watched a hardware counter for fifteen minutes. There were perhaps twenty people standing at it; there were two assistants behind the counter, but they paid no attention to the 'customers'. The latter and the assistants stared past each other in a straight line, neither moving nor speaking.

Eventually, they grew uncomfortably aware that they were under my observation. They began to shuffle their feet and wriggle, as if my regard pinned them like live insects to a board. The assistants too became restless and began to wonder what to do in these unforeseen circumstances. They decided that there was nothing for it but to distribute something under the eyes of this inquisitive foreigner. And so, all of a sudden, they started to hand out plastic wash bowls to the twenty 'customers', who took them (without any pretence of payment). Was it their good luck, then? Had they received something for nothing? No, their problems had just begun. What were they to do with their plastic wash bowls? (All of them were brown incidentally, for the assistants did not have sufficient initiative to distribute a variety of goods to give verisimilitude to the performance, not even to the extent of giving out differently coloured bowls.)

............(more in between)

I also followed a few people around at random, as discreetly as I could. Some were occupied in ceaselessly going up and down the escalators; others wandered from counter to counter, spending a few minutes at each before moving on. They did not inspect the merchandise; they moved as listlessly as illiterates might, condemned to spend the day among the shelves of a library. I did not know whether to laugh or explode with anger or weep. But I knew I was seeing one of the most extraordinary sights of the twentieth century.

I decided to buy something - a fountain pen. I went to the counter where pens were displayed like the fan of a peacock's tail. They were no more for sale than the Eiffel Tower. As I handed over my money, a crowd gathered round, for once showing signs of animation. I knew, of course, that I could not be refused: if I were, the game would be given away completely. And so the crowd watched goggle-eyed and disbelieving as this astonishing transaction took place: I gave the assistant a piece of paper and she gave me a pen.

....rest at the link:

http://blog.skepticaldoctor.com/2010...erpt-1991.aspx
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #65 on: October 29, 2012, 08:07:47 AM »

North Korea's Destiny
 

October 23, 2012 | 0902 GMT


Stratfor
 
By Robert D. Kaplan and Rodger Baker
 
As we have pointed out previously, in the principal divided-country scenarios of the second half of the 20th century -- North and South Vietnam, East and West Germany, North and South Yemen -- reunification was thought of for decades as only a remote possibility, before it suddenly occurred in a tumultuous, fast-moving fashion, in a way few of the experts had predicted, making a mockery of so many policy papers written on the subject. The current division of the Korean Peninsula should be seen in this light. Not only is the collapse of the regime in the northern half of the peninsula possible, but if and when it does occur, the process might be quicker than many suspect.
 
In a century of seamless digital communications that are remaking world politics, the survival of such a hermetic regime as North Korea, built on information control, certainly appears problematic. Behind the weird artificiality of the regime itself lies something quite ancient: The very concept of a leader in his mid- or late-20s, with no experience, made a four-star general and hailed as the "brilliant comrade" harks back to bizarre descriptions of ceremonial politics associated with the deep past. How much longer can such a situation go on?
 
To gauge the expiration date of the regime, it helps to describe its various stages of life, which one can divide into three generations of leadership. The first generation was the authentic revolutionaries and fighters: those of the anti-Japanese guerrilla struggle during World War II and of the struggle against American-supported South Korea during the Korean War. North Korea's ruler for the first half-century of its existence, Kim Il Sung, was the towering rock of this generation. This generation had immense stores of credibility encapsulated in Kim Il Sung's very charisma, comparable to that enjoyed by the Yugoslav and Albanian World War II communist guerrilla leaders and Cold War-era strongmen, Josip Broz Tito and Enver Hoxha, who did not rely on the Soviet Red Army for their countries' liberation from Nazi rule.
 
The second generation was the sons and daughters of those hardened fighters. This was a generation of privilege, of those who had accomplished nothing on their own, and thus had no inherent credibility. What's more, they had little intellectually to offer their countrymen, educated as they were in the Soviet Union, Mao Zedong's China and Communist Eastern Europe. And so the members of this generation harbored little or no real-world knowledge. This generation was represented by Kim Il Sung's son, Kim Jong Il, who simply had no ability to foster change. The relative prosperity of the elder Kim's North Korea -- in the late 1950s it actually was richer than South Korea -- further undermined this younger generation, which governed at a time of extreme poverty and occasional famine and thus had little to rely on but repression in order to stay in power.
 
The third generation, typified by the current ruler, Kim Jong Un, has possibilities, however. This generation, brought up after the collapse of communism as a world movement and geopolitical force, was sent to study in places like the United Kingdom, Austria and Switzerland and thus has gained more exposure to the West, however limited and pampered their individual experiences abroad might have been. Moreover, this third generation is not necessarily tied to the second generation's grim militarism -- to wit, the North Korean submarine infiltrations of South Korea and Japan during the 1980s. As for the North's sinking of the South Korean corvette in 2010, that was not something that a 20-something-year-old like Kim Jong Un decided upon on his own; such a decision was made by members of the second generation in order to ensure their own survival and that of the new third generation in power. Members of this third generation, which is only now starting to fill leadership positions in the bureaucracy, might -- because of their Western exposure and their own relative lack of political baggage -- actually be the ones to sell the country out by becoming power brokers in their own right for the economic exploitation of the country.
 
Much of North Korea's natural resources, such as coal, oil, lead and tungsten, lie in the northern two-fifths of the country, where much of the factories and population are also located -- in other words, close to China. China has detailed knowledge of North Korean companies -- something that the West totally lacks. Thus, a third generation sellout of its own country could take the form of an enhanced economic opening to China -- a quasi-liberalization of sorts, which would move North Korea away from Stalinism toward being a reform-Communist buffer state between China and South Korea, modeled in Beijing's own image. Of course, this implies a gradual change played out over years in order to stave off regime collapse, with the third generation all the while getting rich by off-loading the assets of the state to China and maybe some other countries.
 
But what if this process fails? What if a sell-off of state assets leads to economic changes that trigger political ones? Remember, the more oppressive and artificial a regime is, the more sudden can be its implosion. It may be that North Korea's eventual transition to a more normal state simply cannot be managed from the top.
 
If that is the case, then the next question is: How does one define collapse? The loss of central authority in the capital of Pyongyang, while fast-moving in a historical sense, might nevertheless play out over weeks rather than days. So at what point does China move forces across the Yalu and Tumen rivers to prevent a massive flight of refugees northward? At what point does the South Korean military act? Because North Korea is a heavily militarized state, the direction in which its commanders decide to defect -- to Beijing or to Seoul -- will be critical.
 
As we have previously written, there is, concomitantly, the strong likelihood of the mother of all humanitarian interventions in the event of a regime collapse. This is a country of 24.3 million people, many of whom subsist in utter poverty on the brink of starvation, and the responsibility for their welfare presently rests with the regime in Pyongyang. But if central authority disintegrates, the population will instantly become the responsibility of the so-called international community, which in this case means the militaries of the United States, South Korea and China.
 
In a fast-moving crisis, regional power balances for years and decades to come can be decided upon by crucial decisions made over hours or days. Such decisions may determine whether regime collapse leads to a veritable Beijing-run protectorate in the northern half of the peninsula or the eventual unification of the two Koreas. A reunified Greater Korea would perforce be run from Seoul, as South Korea's population of 48.5 million is twice the size of North Korea's, and its economy by some estimates is 37 times as large. And remember, Beijing is Seoul's largest trading partner. That means that even in the case of a Communist collapse in the North, China's very economic heft and geographical proximity will allow it to find a way to take advantage of any new political reality. Conversely, Japan, particularly because of the bad memories associated with the 1910-1945 occupation, may find it hard to have as close relations with a new Korean super-state as China.
 
Nevertheless, a unified Korea would be very nervous about ending up overly dependent upon China, given its size, proximity and history of periodic domination over the peninsula. It is likely that a Greater Korean state would, with the help of the United States and maybe Russia, seek to balance China and Japan against each other.
 
The key realization is that Asian geopolitics may in future years shift enormously, depending on the internal dynamics of one backbreakingly poor and diplomatically isolated state.
.

Read more: North Korea's Destiny | Stratfor
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« Reply #66 on: December 12, 2012, 11:19:09 AM »

Q. Why did the United States stop after spring 1951 at the 38th Parallel, thereby ensuring a subsequent sixty-year Cold War and resulting in chronic worries about a North Korea armed with nuclear weapons and poised to invade its neighbor to the south?
 
A. Americans were haunted by the nightmare of November 1950 to February 1951. After the brilliant Inchon invasion, and MacArthur’s inspired rapid advance to the Yalu River and the Chinese border, the sudden entrance of an initial quarter-million Chinese Red Army troops, with hundreds of thousands to follow, had sent the Americans reeling hundreds of miles to the south (in the longest retreat in American military history), back across the 38th Parallel, with Seoul soon being lost to the communists yet again. Matthew Ridgway had arrived in December 1950 to try to save the war, and had done just that by April 1951, when he was replaced as senior ground commander by Gen. Van Fleet and in turn took over the theater command from the relieved MacArthur. But the Americans had been permanently traumatized by the Chinese entry and the North Korean recovery after the all-but-declared American victory of October 1950.
 
Ridgway, after the UN forces’ amazing recovery in early 1951, was in no mood to go much farther across the 38th Parallel. From his study of MacArthur’s debacle in Fall 1950, he knew well that the peninsula in the north became more rugged and expansive and would swallow thousands of troops as they neared the Chinese and Russian borders, and had to be supplied from hundreds of miles to the rear. Such a second advance through North Korea was felt, accurately or not, to risk a regional nuclear war with the Soviet Union, to draw in hundreds of thousands more Chinese Red Army troops, and to ensure another year or two of war at a time when the American public was thoroughly tired of this new concept of a “police action” and an “accordion war.” And while critics railed at silly political restraints on U.S. airpower that might have destroyed Chinese or Russian staging areas across the border, they did not appreciate that such attacks might also have prompted similar enemy attention on U.S. supply centers in Japan.
 
Moreover, the UN coalition had been created under quasi-coercive premises in Fall 1950. The war was seen as about over, and allied deployment might well amount to only garrison duty. European participation in Korea was also predicated on ensuring an American commitment to keeping the Soviets out of Western Europe. But by the time UN troops arrived in Korea, the Chinese were invading and slaughtering the coalition in the retreat to the south. Most European participants simply wanted a truce at any cost and an end to the war.
 
Further, the U.S. had been drawn into a depressing propaganda war. We were responsible for rebirthing Japan, Italy, and Germany as pro-Western democracies, while Russian and Chinese communists posed as the true allies of the war’s victims that were continuing their war against fascism, against a capitalist American Empire that had joined the old Axis. In the case of Korea, Americans took over constabulary duties from Japanese militarists and supported South Korean authoritarians, while Soviet and Chinese-backed hardened communists in the North posed as agrarian reformers — or so the global leftist narrative went. For many Americans, the thought of fighting a nearly endless civil war was less desirable than an armistice and an end to the hostilities, even though after three years of fighting and 36,000 American dead (and over a million Koreans lost), the borders remained almost unchanged.
 
Was that stalemate wise, given the later trajectory of North Korea to the present insanity? Perhaps not — but the American effort nonetheless jumpstarted the South, which eventually evolved into a nation with consensual government and the world free-market powerhouse of today.
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« Reply #67 on: December 13, 2012, 04:11:02 PM »




North Korea put a satellite into orbit for the first time Wednesday, and in the process successfully tested a three-stage, intercontinental ballistic missile. Pyongyang had told the world that the launch would be delayed for technical reasons, but that now looks like a head fake.

If so, it was a classic North Korean maneuver that shows Kim Jong Eun is a successor in the mold of his father and grandfather. Both the U.S. and China tried to convince the young dictator to give up the test. His defiance will reinforce the internal North Korean mythology of foreigners supplicating at the feet of the Great Leader, who resists their blandishments. Conducting such ostensibly heroic acts is a means to solidify control over the military leadership, which he has been purging.

The North Korean people are being told to celebrate, but their leaders' victories have brought them nothing but misery. South Korea estimates that the missile program that culminated in Wednesday's launch has cost $1.3 billion, enough to feed the country's entire population for years. They continue to go hungry for the sake of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them against Japan and the United States.

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A screen at the General Satellite Control and Command Center shows the moment North Korea's Unha-3 rocket is launched in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012.
.The missile program does bring significant benefits to the Kim family and cronies. They make money exporting missile technology to rogue states, especially Iran, and South Korean media are reporting that Iranian scientists were present at the launch. So the world-wide press attention to the North's triumph is free advertising for proliferation.

If the past is any guide, this is the beginning of another round of nuclear blackmail. After Pyongyang first tested a nuclear device in October 2006, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice rushed to cut a deal that traded energy aid and other benefits for the disabling of the main nuclear facilities. Two years later, the Bush Administration removed North Korea from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism in return for a verbal agreement to accept a verification regime. The North reneged on that in two months.

The North has since acknowledged that, in addition to its plutonium program, it is also enriching uranium as a path to making more bombs. The West has no way of knowing how many centrifuge facilities are hidden in caves and tunnels. According to North Korean logic, another nuclear test now would add to the pressure on the West to provide more aid.

Beijing wants to make sure that the young Kim's regime is secure, and it only acts against the North when it fears Washington might be on the verge of taking punitive action. China's own leadership transition is also incomplete, with key appointments for foreign policy posts still to be announced. For now State Councilor Dai Bingguo, a strong defender of Pyongyang, remains in charge of foreign policy, meaning only light measures can be expected from the United Nations. Likewise, South Korea and Japan are about to hold elections that will likely bring in new administrations.

The Obama Administration is also in flux, but with four years left to run it has an incentive to stop pretending it can buy off the Kim regime. The North Korean nuclear threat to U.S. security is no longer theoretical, even if it will still take time for Pyongyang to build a warhead small enough to fit on its new missile. The only way to prevent a Korean nuclear threat to American territory is by working toward regime change, not another short-lived deal with the North.
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« Reply #68 on: January 02, 2013, 01:28:01 PM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/02/world/asia/north-koreas-leader-kim-jong-un-makes-overture-to-south.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130102
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« Reply #69 on: January 18, 2013, 08:15:06 AM »



Movement of Missiles by North Korea Worries U.S.
 
By THOM SHANKER and DAVID E. SANGER
 
Published: January 17, 2013


WASHINGTON — The discovery by American intelligence agencies that North Korea is moving mobile missile launchers around the country, some carrying a new generation of powerful rocket, has spurred new assessments of the intentions of the country’s young new leader, Kim Jong-un, who has talked about economic change but appears to be accelerating the country’s ability to attack American allies or forces in Asia, and ultimately to strike across the Pacific.
 

The new mobile missile, called the KN-08, has not yet been operationally deployed, and American officials say it may not be ready for some time. But the discovery that the mobile units have already been dispersed around the country, where they can be easily hidden, has prompted the White House, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies to reassess whether North Korea’s missile capabilities are improving at a pace that poses a new challenge to American defenses.

On Thursday, speaking in Italy, the departing defense secretary, Leon E. Panetta, broke from the usual Obama administration script — which is to write off North Korea as a broke and desperate country — and told American troops that he was increasingly worried about another, longer-range North Korean missile, one that was successfully tested last month and reached as far as the Philippines, and could lob a warhead much farther.

“Who the hell knows what they’re going to do from day to day?” Mr. Panetta said. “And right now, you know, North Korea just fired a missile. It’s an intercontinental ballistic missile, for God sakes. That means they have the capability to strike the United States.”

After he spoke, Pentagon officials said Mr. Panetta did not mean to imply that North Korea could now hit the continental United States, although intelligence and military assessments have said that Hawaii is within range. But the North has made progress toward its goal of fielding a missile that could cross the Pacific, a goal the previous defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, warned at the end of his time in office could be fulfilled by 2016.

An intensive study of the long-range missile test-flight conducted by North Korea last month, one administration official said, found that it was “largely a success, if you define success as showing that they could drop a warhead a lot of places in Asia.”

The more immediate mystery for the administration, however, is what North Korea may intend with the intermediate-range KN-08, which was first shown off by the North in a military parade last April. At the time, many analysts dismissed it as a mock-up. In fact, it has never been test-flown. But parts, including the rocket motors, have been tested separately, according to officials familiar with the intelligence reports, who described the missile developments on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the assessments.

Officials familiar with North Korean missile technology say the KN-08 weapon is designed with a range capable of striking South Korea, Japan and parts of Southeast Asia — although with uncertain accuracy.

North Korea is aware that it is a focus of American spy satellites, so the decision to roll the missile around the country to potential deployment sites might well have been partly motivated by a desire to send a message to the United States, or at least to get Washington’s attention — which it did. Officials said that North Korea’s advancements in missile technology were among the most significant reasons that Mr. Panetta, as he approached the end of his tenure, had spent so much time in Asia. Much of his effort has been aimed at spurring the development of a regional missile defense system to be deployed with allies, particularly Japan and South Korea.

There is no evidence that the KN-08 has been fitted with a nuclear warhead. While North Korea conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and in 2009 — just months after President Obama took office — American intelligence officials have said that the North has not miniaturized a nuclear device small enough to be fitted as a warhead atop its missiles. Some believe that may be the goal of its next test — and perhaps, some intelligence reports speculate, of continuing cooperation on missile design between Iran and North Korea. The Iranians, one official noted, “are grappling with the same issues.”

In fact, much remains uncertain about North Korea’s new missile. There was no question where the mobile launching trucks that carried the missile came from: they are Chinese, and almost certainly imported in violation of United Nations sanctions against the North. The new missile, like most in the North Korean arsenal, appeared to be based on Russian technology.

The missile developments are among a number of steps that have convinced American officials that, a year after his ascension as the third generation to inherit the role as North Korea’s dictator, Mr. Kim is proving as confrontational with the West as his father and grandfather. American specialists also warn of the prospect of a third nuclear test, for which preparations are evident.

For the Obama administration, whose last diplomatic effort with the North ended in failure nearly a year ago, the steps are reminders that everything they have tried in the past four years to lure the country out of isolation — or at least contain its nuclear and missile programs — has largely failed.

If nothing else, however, the missile efforts in the North have spurred American efforts to build a network of antimissile capabilities across Northeast Asia. Japan already has one American X-band radar, officially known as the AN/TPY-2, which is a central element in a complex technical architecture for identifying ballistic missiles and coordinating a response by interceptors. And last September, during his travels in the region, Mr. Panetta and his Japanese hosts announced a major agreement to deploy a second advanced missile-defense radar on Japanese territory.
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« Reply #70 on: February 13, 2013, 11:22:42 AM »

http://live.wsj.com/video/opinion-north-korea-ticking-time-bomb/700BFBD7-C102-45BF-B992-E0C5F9C0F65B.html?mod=opinion_video_newsreel#!700BFBD7-C102-45BF-B992-E0C5F9C0F65B
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« Reply #71 on: March 04, 2013, 06:19:40 AM »

http://espn.go.com/nba/story/_/id/9009814/dennis-rodman-north-korea-kim-jong-un-wants-barack-obama-call

Is basketball the key to diplomacy?
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« Reply #72 on: March 10, 2013, 09:24:29 PM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/11/world/asia/as-north-korea-blusters-south-breaks-taboo-on-nuclear-talk.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&smid=fb-share

From the article:

Adding to South Koreans’ worries, the North and its nuclear arsenal are in the hands of a young new leader, Kim Jong-un, whose brinkmanship appears to be an effort to ensure the support of his nation’s powerful military.

The South also has a new president, Park Geun-hye, the daughter of a military strongman who stood firm against North Korea, who herself also faces pressure to stand fast against the North. Just two weeks after her inauguration, Ms. Park faces a crisis as the North makes vague threats interpreted by many South Koreans as the precursor to some sort of limited, conventional military provocation. Ms. Park has promised to retaliate if her nation is attacked, aware of the public anger directed at her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, when he showed restraint after the North shelled a South Korean island in 2010, killing four people.

That kind of limited skirmish is more likely than a nuclear attack, but such an episode could quickly inflame tensions and escalate out of control. Over the years, North Korea has sent armed spies across the border, dug invasion tunnels under it and infiltrated South Korean waters with submarines
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« Reply #73 on: March 10, 2013, 10:37:21 PM »

Why not?

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/11/world/asia/as-north-korea-blusters-south-breaks-taboo-on-nuclear-talk.html?pagewanted=1&_r=0&smid=fb-share

From the article:

Adding to South Koreans’ worries, the North and its nuclear arsenal are in the hands of a young new leader, Kim Jong-un, whose brinkmanship appears to be an effort to ensure the support of his nation’s powerful military.

The South also has a new president, Park Geun-hye, the daughter of a military strongman who stood firm against North Korea, who herself also faces pressure to stand fast against the North. Just two weeks after her inauguration, Ms. Park faces a crisis as the North makes vague threats interpreted by many South Koreans as the precursor to some sort of limited, conventional military provocation. Ms. Park has promised to retaliate if her nation is attacked, aware of the public anger directed at her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, when he showed restraint after the North shelled a South Korean island in 2010, killing four people.

That kind of limited skirmish is more likely than a nuclear attack, but such an episode could quickly inflame tensions and escalate out of control. Over the years, North Korea has sent armed spies across the border, dug invasion tunnels under it and infiltrated South Korean waters with submarines

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« Reply #74 on: March 11, 2013, 07:29:41 AM »

http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/11/world/asia/north-korea-armistice/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

 angry angry
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« Reply #75 on: March 11, 2013, 08:14:52 AM »


The good news is Dennis Rodman can't do any worse than Buraq or his foreign policy team.
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« Reply #76 on: March 11, 2013, 08:49:26 AM »


The good news is Dennis Rodman can't do any worse than Buraq or his foreign policy team.

That cracked me up.
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« Reply #77 on: March 12, 2013, 07:23:44 PM »

By George Friedman
Founder and Chairman
 
On Jan. 29, I wrote a piece that described North Korea's strategy as a combination of ferocious, weak and crazy. In the weeks since then, three events have exemplified each facet of that strategy. Pyongyang showed its ferocity Feb. 12, when it detonated a nuclear device underground. The country's only significant ally, China, voted against Pyongyang in the U.N. Security Council on March 7, demonstrating North Korea's weakness. Finally, Pyongyang announced it would suspend the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953, implying that that war would resume and that U.S. cities would be turned into "seas of fire." To me, that fulfills the crazy element.
 
My argument was that the three tenets -- ferocity, weakness and insanity -- form a coherent strategy. North Korea's primary goal is regime preservation. Demonstrating ferocity -- appearing to be close to being nuclear capable -- makes other countries cautious. Weakness, such as being completely isolated from the world generally and from China particularly, prevents other countries from taking drastic action if they believe North Korea will soon fall. The pretense of insanity -- threatening to attack the United States, for example -- makes North Korea appear completely unpredictable, forcing everyone to be cautious. The three work together to limit the actions of other nations.
 
Untested Assumptions
 
So far, North Korea is acting well within the parameters of this strategy. It has detonated nuclear devices before. It has appeared to disgust China before, and it has threatened to suspend the cease-fire. Even more severe past actions, such as sinking a South Korean ship in 2010, were not altogether inconsistent with its strategy. As provocative as that incident was, it did not change the strategic balance in any meaningful way.
 
Normally North Korea has a reason for instigating such a crisis. One reason for the current provocation is that it has a new leader, Kim Jong Un. The son of former leader Kim Jong Il and the grandson of North Korea's founder Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Un is only 30 years old, and many outside North Korea doubt his ability to lead (many inside North Korea may doubt his ability, too). One way to announce his presence with authority is to orchestrate an international crisis that draws the United States, Japan, China, Russia and South Korea into negotiations with North Korea -- especially negotiations that Pyongyang can walk away from.
 
The North Korean regime understands the limits of its strategy and has been very sure-footed in exercising it. Moreover, despite the fact that a 30-year-old formally rules the country, the regime is a complex collection of institutions and individuals -- the ruling party and the military -- that presumably has the ability to shape and control the leader's behavior.
 
It follows that little will change. U.S. analysts of North Korea will emphasize the potential ferocity and the need for extreme vigilance. The Chinese will understand that the North Koreans are weak and will signal, as their foreign minister did March 9, that in spite of their vote at the United Nations, they remain committed to North Korea's survival. And most people will disregard Pyongyang's threat to resume the Korean War.
 
Indeed, resuming the Korean War probably is not something that anyone really wants. But because there are some analysts who think that such a resumption is plausible, I think it is worth considering the possibility that Pyongyang does want to restart the war. It is always worth examining an analysis based on the assumption that a given framework will not hold. For the record, I think the framework will hold, but I am simply examining the following hypothetical: This time, North Korea is serious.
 
To assess Pyongyang's sincerity, let's begin with two untested assumptions. First, assume North Korea has determined that it is unable to develop a deliverable nuclear weapon within a meaningful time frame. Either there are problems with constructing the device or its missiles are unreliable. Alternatively, assume it has decided that any further development of weapons will likely lead to attacks by the United States against its nuclear facilities. In other words, assume it expects to lose its nuclear capability because it cannot move forward or because moving forward will invite attacks against nuclear facilities.
 
The second assumption, more likely accurate, is that North Korea has realized that the strategy it has followed since the 1990s is no longer working. The strategy has lost its effectiveness, and North Korean ferocity, weakness and insanity no longer impress anyone. Rather than generating financial and other concessions, the strategy has simply marginalized North Korea, so that apart from sanctions, there will be no talks, no frightened neighbors, no U.S. threats. Kim Jong Un would not announce himself with authority, but with a whimper.
 
An Unlikely Scenario
 
Taken together, these assumptions constitute a threat to regime survival. Unless its neighbors bought into the three premises of its strategy, North Korea could be susceptible to covert or overt foreign involvement, which would put the regime on the defensive and reveal its weakness. For the regime, this would be a direct threat, one that would require pre-emptive action.
 
It would be a worst-case scenario for Pyongyang. We consider it highly unlikely. But assume North Korea deems it more likely than we do, or assume that, despite the scenario's improbability, the consequences would be so devastating that the risk could not be borne.
 
It is a scenario that could take form if the North Korean nuclear threat were no longer effective in establishing the country's ferocity. It would also take form if North Korea's occasional and incomprehensible attacks were no longer unpredictable and thus were no longer effective in establishing the country's insanity. In this scenario, Pyongyang would have to re-establish credibility and unpredictability by taking concrete steps.
 
These concrete steps would represent a dramatic departure from the framework under which North Korea has long operated. They would obviously involve demands for a cease-fire from all players. There would have to be a cease-fire before major force could be brought to bear on North Korea. Last, they would have to involve the assumption that the United States would at least take the opportunity to bomb North Korean nuclear facilities -- which is why the assumptions on its nuclear capability are critical for this to work. Airstrikes against other targets in North Korea would be likely. Therefore, the key would be an action so severe that everyone would accept a rapid cease-fire and would limit counteraction against North Korea to targets that the North Koreans were prepared to sacrifice.
 
The obvious move by North Korea would be the one that has been historically regarded as the likeliest scenario: massive artillery fire on Seoul, the capital of South Korea. The assumption has always been that over a longer period of time, U.S. air power would devastate North Korean artillery. But Seoul would meanwhile be damaged severely, something South Korea would not tolerate. Therefore, North Korea would bet that South Korea would demand a cease-fire, thereby bringing the United States along in its demand, before U.S. airstrikes could inflict overwhelming damage on North Korea and silence its guns. This would take a few days.
 
Under this scenario, North Korea would be in a position to demand compensation that South Korea would be willing to pay in order to save its capital. It could rely on South Korea to restrain further retaliations by the United States, and China would be prepared to negotiate another armistice. North Korea would have re-established its credibility, redefined the terms of the North-South relationship and, perhaps having lost its dubious nuclear deterrent, gained a significant conventional deterrent that no one thought it would ever use.
 
I think the risks are too great for this scenario to play out. The North would have to assume that its plans were unknown by Western intelligence agencies. It would also have to assume that South Korea would rather risk severe damage to its capital as it dealt with North Korea once and for all than continue to live under the constant North Korean threat. Moreover, North Korea's artillery could prove ineffective, and it risks entering a war it couldn't win, resulting in total isolation.
 
The scenario laid out is therefore a consideration of what it might mean if the North Koreans were actually wild gamblers, rather than the careful manipulators they have been since 1991. It assumes that the new leader is able to override older and more cautious heads and that he would see this as serving both a strategic and domestic purpose. It would entail North Korea risking it all, and for that to happen, Pyongyang would have to believe that everything was already at risk. Because Pyongyang doesn't believe that, I think this scenario is unlikely.
 
It is, however, a necessary exercise for an analyst to find fault with his analysis by identifying alternative assumptions that lead to very different outcomes. At Stratfor, we normally keep those in-house, but in this case it appeared useful to think out loud, as it were.
 
We'd welcome well-thought-out alternatives. With so many emails, we can't promise to answer them all, but we make it a practice to read them all.


Read more: Considering a Departure in North Korea's Strategy | Stratfor
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« Reply #78 on: March 12, 2013, 07:27:21 PM »

My money is on China using the usual "Good totalitarian, bad totalitarian" game on the rest of the world.
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« Reply #79 on: March 22, 2013, 01:28:58 PM »

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/03/21/who_is_whois?page=0,0

From the article:

Determining who is responsible for an attack often depends on asking "cui bono?" -- who benefits? In attacks on South Korea, the North is always the lead suspect, but the target set for this attack apparently included no South Korean or U.S. government agencies. Most attacks focus on extracting money or valuable information, but that did not happen in this case. Nor did the attacker try to disrupt critical infrastructure and services. What is left is political motivation. Cyberattacks are a new and attractive form of protest and coercion. The Russians used them against Estonia; the Iranians used them against the United States. In such company, North Korea would feel right at home.

But governments are not the only ones to use these new tools. Political groups like Anonymous routinely hack websites or launch denial of service attacks (essentially, flooding the target network with traffic so that it is knocked offline). If North Korea is a suspect, so are political activists, perhaps hacktivists from China or South Korea's thriving Internet community. At the same time, the fact that a new, unknown group calling itself "Whois Team" has claimed credit means little. They could be the authors of the attack, they could be an outside group that is simply taking credit, or they could be a cover for state-sponsored efforts.
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« Reply #80 on: March 28, 2013, 08:39:23 AM »

Top news: North Korea severed its only line of communication with the South Korean military on Wednesday, saying that north-south military communication is unnecessary when "a war may break out at any moment." The announcement, carried by the official news agency, comes only one day after Pyongyang ordered its rocket and artillery units to be combat ready, targeting U.S. bases on the mainland, Hawaii, and Guam.
North Korea previously cut off communications with the Red Cross and the U.S. military over the international response to its third nuclear test in February. According to the New York Times, however, the joint industrial park at Kaesong remains open, with workers and trucks continuing to cross the border.
"There do not exist any dialogue channel and communications means between the DPRK and the U.S. and between the north and the south," said the statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency. "Not words but only arms will work on the U.S. and the South Korean puppet forces."
North Korea last severed all military communication in 2009, when the United States and South Korea conducted joint military drills.
United Nations: The final draft of an U.N. arms trade treaty was sent to member governments Wednesday, bringing the goal of an international treaty regulating conventional weapons sales one step closer to fruition. According to analysts, however, several countries may still block approval by consensus, in which case negotiators would most likely seek two-thirds majority approval in the General Assembly next week.
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« Reply #81 on: March 30, 2013, 12:17:33 PM »

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/aggressive-talk-from-north-korea-concerns-us-leaders/2013/03/29/85dec134-989c-11e2-814b-063623d80a60_story.html?hpid=z1

From the article:

Behind the sudden decision to strengthen mainland American defenses against North Korean missiles is a fear that Pyongyang’s biggest benefactor, China, may no longer be able to act as a guarantor of baseline stability on the Korean Peninsula.

In the past month, North Korea has ignored Chinese warnings by threatening a nuclear strike on the United States and renouncing the 60-year armistice with South Korea. The rhetorical escalation followed advances in missile technology and a nuclear weapons test that China had opposed.
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« Reply #82 on: April 02, 2013, 05:31:11 AM »

http://rt.com/news/chinese-military-korea-alert-184/
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« Reply #83 on: April 02, 2013, 11:40:34 AM »


Others believe openly that the US strategy is geared not towards the destabilization of North Korea, but that of China. Li Jie, an expert with a Chinese navy research institution, has told Reuters that “the ultimate strategic aim is to contain and blockade China, to distract China's attention and slow its development. What the US is most worried about is the further development of China's economy and military strength."

They are greatly overestimating our current leadership.
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« Reply #84 on: April 02, 2013, 11:46:14 AM »

See my post of a few hours ago on the US-Russia thread  cheesy rolleyes cry
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« Reply #85 on: April 09, 2013, 09:50:48 AM »

By George Friedman
Founder and Chairman
 
Editor's Note: George Friedman originally wrote this Geopolitical Weekly on North Korea's nuclear strategy on Jan. 29. More than two months later, the geopolitical contours of the still-evolving crisis have become more clear, so we believe it important to once again share with readers the fundamentals outlined in this earlier forecast.
 
North Korea's state-run media reported Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered the country's top security officials to take "substantial and high-profile important state measures," which has been widely interpreted to mean that North Korea is planning its third nuclear test. Kim said the orders were retaliation for the U.S.-led push to tighten U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang following North Korea's missile test in October. A few days before Kim's statement emerged, the North Koreans said future tests would target the United States, which North Korea regards as its key adversary along with Washington's tool, South Korea.
 
North Korea has been using the threat of tests and the tests themselves as weapons against its neighbors and the United States for years. On the surface, threatening to test weapons does not appear particularly sensible. If the test fails, you look weak. If it succeeds, you look dangerous without actually having a deliverable weapon. And the closer you come to having a weapon, the more likely someone is to attack you so you don't succeed in actually getting one. Developing a weapon in absolute secret would seem to make more sense. When the weapon is ready, you display it, and you have something solid to threaten enemies with.
 
North Korea, of course, has been doing this for years and doing it successfully, so what appears absurd on the surface quite obviously isn't. On the contrary, it has proved to be a very effective maneuver. North Korea is estimated to have a gross domestic product of about $28 billion, about the same as Latvia or Turkmenistan. Yet it has maneuvered itself into a situation where the United States, Japan, China, Russia and South Korea have sat down with it at the negotiating table in a bid to persuade it not to build weapons. Sometimes, the great powers give North Korea money and food to persuade it not to develop weapons. It sometimes agrees to a halt, but then resumes its nuclear activities. It never completes a weapon, but it frequently threatens to test one. And when it carries out such tests, it claims its tests are directed at the United States and South Korea, as if the test itself were a threat.
 
There is brilliance in North Korea's strategy. When the Soviet Union collapsed, North Korea was left in dire economic straits. There were reasonable expectations that its government would soon collapse, leading to the unification of the Korean Peninsula. Naturally, the goal of the North Korean government was regime survival, so it was terrified that outside powers would invade or support an uprising against it. It needed a strategy that would dissuade anyone from trying that. Being weak in every sense, this wasn't going to be easy, but the North Koreans developed a strategy that we described more than 10 years ago as ferocious, weak and crazy. North Korea has pursued this course since the 1990s, and the latest manifestation of this strategy was on display last week. The strategy has worked marvelously and is still working.
 
A Three-Part Strategy
 
First, the North Koreans positioned themselves as ferocious by appearing to have, or to be on the verge of having, devastating power. Second, they positioned themselves as being weak such that no matter how ferocious they are, there would be no point in pushing them because they are going to collapse anyway. And third, they positioned themselves as crazy, meaning pushing them would be dangerous since they were liable to engage in the greatest risks imaginable at the slightest provocation.
 
In the beginning, Pyongyang's ability to appear ferocious was limited to the North Korean army's power to shell Seoul. It had massed artillery along the border and could theoretically devastate the southern capital, assuming the North had enough ammunition, its artillery worked and air power didn't lay waste to its massed artillery. The point was not that it was going to level Seoul but that it had the ability to do so. There were benefits to outsiders in destabilizing the northern regime, but Pyongyang's ferocity -- uncertain though its capabilities were -- was enough to dissuade South Korea and its allies from trying to undermine the regime. Its later move to develop missiles and nuclear weapons followed from the strategy of ferocity -- since nothing was worth a nuclear war, enraging the regime by trying to undermine it wasn't worth the risk.
 
Many nations have tried to play the ferocity game, but the North Koreans added a brilliant and subtle twist to it: being weak. The North Koreans advertised the weakness of their economy, particularly its food insecurity, by various means. This was not done overtly, but by allowing glimpses of its weakness. Given the weakness of its economy and the difficulty of life in North Korea, there was no need to risk trying to undermine the North. It would collapse from its own defects.
 
This was a double inoculation. The North Koreans' ferocity with weapons whose effectiveness might be questionable, but still pose an unquantifiable threat, caused its enemies to tread carefully. Why risk unleashing its ferocity when its weakness would bring it down? Indeed, a constant debate among Western analysts over the North's power versus its weakness combines to paralyze policymakers.
 
The North Koreans added a third layer to perfect all of this. They portrayed themselves as crazy, working to appear unpredictable, given to extravagant threats and seeming to welcome a war. Sometimes, they reaffirmed they were crazy via steps like sinking South Korean ships for no apparent reason. As in poker, so with the North: You can play against many sorts of players, from those who truly understand the odds to those who are just playing for fun, but never, ever play poker against a nut. He is totally unpredictable, can't be gamed, and if you play with his head you don't know what will happen. 
 
So long as the North Koreans remained ferocious, weak and crazy, the best thing to do was not irritate them too much and not to worry what kind of government they had. But being weak and crazy was the easy part for the North; maintaining its appearance of ferocity was more challenging. Not only did the North Koreans have to keep increasing their ferocity, they had to avoid increasing it so much that it overpowered the deterrent effect of their weakness and craziness. 
 
A Cautious Nuclear Program
 
Hence, we have North Korea's eternal nuclear program. It never quite produces a weapon, but no one can be sure whether a weapon might be produced. Due to widespread perceptions that the North Koreans are crazy, it is widely believed they might rush to complete their weapon and go to war at the slightest provocation. The result is the United States, Russia, China, Japan and South Korea holding meetings with North Korea to try to persuade it not to do something crazy.
 
Interestingly, North Korea never does anything significant and dangerous, or at least not dangerous enough to break the pattern. Since the Korean War, North Korea has carefully calculated its actions, timing them to avoid any move that could force a major reaction. We see this caution built into its nuclear program. After more than a decade of very public ferocity, the North Koreans have not come close to a deliverable weapon. But since if you upset them, they just might, the best bet has been to tread lightly and see if you can gently persuade them not to do something insane.
 
The North's positioning is superb: Minimal risky action sufficient to lend credibility to its ferocity and craziness plus endless rhetorical threats maneuvers North Korea into being a major global threat in the eyes of the great powers. Having won themselves this position, the North Koreans are not about to risk it, even if a 20-something leader is hurling threats.
 
The China Angle and the Iranian Pupil
 
There is, however, a somewhat more interesting dimension emerging. Over the years, the United States, Japan and South Korea have looked to the Chinese to intercede and persuade the North Koreans not to do anything rash. This diplomatic pattern has established itself so firmly that we wonder what the actual Chinese role is in all this. China is currently engaged in territorial disputes with U.S. allies in the South and East China seas. Whether anyone would or could go to war over islands in these waters is dubious, but the situation is still worth noting.
 
The Chinese and the Japanese have been particularly hostile toward one another in recent weeks in terms of rhetoric and moving their ships around. A crisis in North Korea, particularly one in which the North tested a nuclear weapon, would inevitably initiate the diplomatic dance whereby the Americans and Japanese ask the Chinese to intercede with the North Koreans. The Chinese would oblige. This is not a great effort for them, since having detonated a nuclear device, the North isn't interested in doing much more. In fact, Pyongyang will be drawing on the test's proverbial fallout for some time. The Chinese are calling in no chits with the North Koreans, and the Americans and Japanese -- terribly afraid of what the ferocious, weak, crazy North Koreans will do next -- will be grateful to China for defusing the "crisis." And who could be so churlish as to raise issues on trade or minor islands when China has used its power to force North Korea to step down?
 
It is impossible for us to know what the Chinese are thinking, and we have no overt basis for assuming the Chinese and North Koreans are collaborating, but we do note that China has taken an increasing interest in stabilizing North Korea. For its part, North Korea has tended to stage these crises -- and their subsequent Chinese interventions -- at quite useful times for Beijing.
 
It should also be noted that other countries have learned the ferocious, weak, crazy maneuver from North Korea. Iran is the best pupil. It has convincingly portrayed itself as ferocious via its nuclear program, endlessly and quite publicly pursuing its program without ever quite succeeding. It is also persistently seen as weak, perpetually facing economic crises and wrathful mobs of iPod-wielding youths. Whether Iran can play the weakness card as skillfully as North Korea remains unclear -- Iran just doesn't have the famines North Korea has.
 
Additionally, Iran's rhetoric at times can certainly be considered crazy: Tehran has carefully cultivated perceptions that it would wage nuclear war even if this meant the death of all Iranians. Like North Korea, Iran also has managed to retain its form of government and its national sovereignty. Endless predictions of the fall of the Islamic republic to a rising generation have proved false.
 
I do not mean to appear to be criticizing the "ferocious, weak and crazy" strategy. When you are playing a weak hand, such a strategy can yield demonstrable benefits. It preserves regimes, centers one as a major international player and can wring concessions out of major powers. It can be pushed too far, however, when the fear of ferocity and craziness undermines the solace your opponents find in your weakness.
 
Diplomacy is the art of nations achieving their ends without resorting to war. It is particularly important for small, isolated nations to survive without going to war. As in many things, the paradox of appearing willing to go to war in spite of all rational calculations can be the foundation for avoiding war. It is a sound strategy, and for North Korea and Iran, for the time being at least, it has worked.


Read more: Ferocious, Weak and Crazy: The North Korean Strategy | Stratfor
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« Reply #86 on: April 14, 2013, 02:04:50 PM »



http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/14/world/asia/kerry-in-china-seeking-help-on-north-korea.html?partner=MYWAY&ei=5065&_r=1
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« Reply #87 on: April 15, 2013, 11:58:28 AM »

North Korea and Intelligence
U.S. officials keep underestimating the nuclear threat..
 
Secretary of State John Kerry visited Beijing on the weekend, with no discernible progress in persuading China to drop its support for its North Korean clients. That's a familiar China bites U.S. story. The more important—and disquieting—news is the dispute over the North Korean threat among U.S. intelligence agencies.

The dispute broke into public view on Thursday when Congressman Doug Lamborn (R., Colo.) read an unclassified sentence from a new assessment by the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency. The DIA has concluded with "moderate confidence" that North Korea may have a nuclear warhead small enough to be placed on a ballistic missile. This judgment arrives two months after North Korea tested a nuclear device—its third—and when another test missile launch is expected any day.

That news produced a scramble inside the Obama Administration, with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issuing a statement telling everyone not to worry. Mr. Clapper quoted a separate Pentagon statement that "it would be inaccurate to suggest that the North Korean regime has fully developed and tested the kinds of nuclear weapons referenced in the passage." And in any case, Mr. Clapper added, "the statement read by the Member is not an Intelligence Community assessment" (his emphasis).

Neither of these not-to-worry statements is reassuring, especially given the U.S. intelligence track record on North Korea. Even if Pyongyang hasn't so far "fully developed" a missile that can nuke Los Angeles, the point is that it is making major progress. It's also important to understand that an "intelligence community assessment" is a lowest-common denominator bureaucratic consensus that is often wrong.

U.S. illusions about North Korea's nuclear threat go back two decades to the Clinton Administration's claim that it had stopped North Korea's plutonium-weapons program. The 1994 Agreed Framework supposedly froze the North's nuclear programs in exchange for food and energy aid.

The North kept making plutonium even as it was also developing a secret uranium-enrichment program, which it finally admitted to State Department official James Kelly in October 2002. The North later denied it had ever made such an admission, and the U.S. foreign policy elite proceeded to blame John Bolton and other Bush officials for supposedly lying about the uranium-enrichment intelligence.

Kim Jong Il, father of current dictator Kim Jong Eun, tested the North's first nuclear device in 2006. Prodded by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her emissary Chris Hill, President Bush proceeded to cut his own nuclear deal with the North, this time writing uranium enrichment out of the script. In 2007, an intelligence official told the Senate that the U.S. no longer had "high confidence" that such a facility existed.

It would have to wait until 2010 for Mr. Bolton to be proved right. That November, Siegfried Hecker, a former director at Los Alamos, was given a tour by North Korea of a state-of-the-art enrichment facility, which he described as "stunning."

Mr. Hecker suspects that the North also has a second covert facility to produce highly enriched, bomb-grade uranium, which may have been the fissile material used in its latest nuclear test in February. Mr. Hecker notes that tests are essential for the North to master the miniaturization technology it needs to put a warhead on a missile.

As for those missiles, the North has also been making notable strides. In December it successfully placed a satellite in orbit using a three-stage missile. The smaller Musudan missile that it may soon launch is modeled on a Soviet submarine-launched missile and may be able to reach as far away as Guam, where the U.S. has a military base.

Even normally cautious analysts are alarmed. "We have assessed for some time that North Korea likely has the capability to mount a plutonium-based nuclear warhead on the shorter range Nodong missile, which has a range of about 800 miles," writes David Albright of the centrist Institute for Science and International Security.

Estimating the North's capabilities is always going to be tricky given the country's totalitarian secrecy. A degree of uncertainty is inherent in any intelligence assessment, but that uncertainty applies as much to understating the threat as to overstating it.

In 1962 the consensus of the U.S. intelligence community was that Russia wouldn't dare field missiles in Cuba. In 1990 U.S. intelligence grossly underestimated Saddam Hussein's WMD programs, before overstating them in 2003. A notorious national intelligence estimate in 2007 claimed that Iran had halted its nuclear-weapons work.

For two decades U.S. officials have pretended that Pyongyang will give up its weapons and that its technological progress is too slow to pose a real threat. Now we're learning the opposite is closer to the truth. A wiser policy begins by recognizing that no negotiation is going to end what will sooner or later become the North's ability to kill millions of Americans. The only way to end the threat is a new policy aimed at ending the regime.
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« Reply #88 on: April 16, 2013, 07:15:24 AM »

Does China Really Want a Nuclear Japan and South Korea?
The potential for an atomic arms race in East Asia is real. Beijing must realize this..
By Senator BOB CORKER

North Korea's increased belligerence has alarmed the U.S. and its allies and heightened tensions in the Asian-Pacific region. As usual, though, the hand-wringing in Washington, Tokyo, Beijing and Seoul isn't accompanied by any new ideas on what to do to solve the perennial problem of Pyongyang and its illicit nuclear weapons program.

Most problematic, perhaps, is that nothing has altered the strategic calculus of China—the most influential player with respect to North Korea, and the one without which it is hard to see a resolution.

North Korea was high on the agenda during my recent visit to Northeast Asia, but the reaction in Beijing to Pyongyang's bluster and threats was markedly different than in Tokyo or Seoul. Officials I met with in Japan and South Korea, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Park Gyun-hye, voiced similar concerns over North Korea's growing capabilities and the potential consequences of escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula.

In contrast, my Chinese interlocutors seemed rather nonplused by our allies' reaction to the prospect of an enduring "nuclear-armed" North Korea. China views North Korea as a nuisance—a distraction from the domestic challenges that Beijing must confront as it continues its remarkable economic growth and development.

Chinese officials are urging all parties to remain calm and avoid actions that could escalate tensions on the Korean peninsula. Yet one I met with went so far as to suggest that the U.S. routinely overstates the North Korean threat. This particular Chinese official's advice on dealing with North Korea: The U.S. should "just relax." That precise sentiment may not be shared by all Chinese officials, but it is emblematic of Beijing's overall laissez-faire approach to North Korea.

Telling the U.S. to relax is relatively easy for Beijing to do, as Pyongyang is a nominal "ally." Washington, Tokyo and Seoul don't have that luxury in the face of Pyongyang's continued threats, the possibility of pre-emptive nuclear strikes, and the North's maturing nuclear and missile capabilities. Indeed, most analysts believe that North Korea is pursuing the ability to mount a miniaturized nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile that could reach the continental U.S. As reports in recent days have noted, at least one U.S. intelligence agency has "moderate confidence the North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles."

The recent flight of two nuclear-capable B-52 bombers over South Korea was a welcome demonstration of U.S. security commitments to our allies in Tokyo and Seoul. But U.S. assurances may no longer be enough to maintain stability in the region. A number of Japanese and South Korean officials I met on my trip expressed genuine concerns over our ability to keep our security commitments to them given our worsening fiscal situation.

While the administration has repeatedly reaffirmed U.S. extended deterrence commitments to Japan and South Korea, there are growing voices in the region advocating greater national defense self-sufficiency and additional military capabilities. The Obama administration's recent decision to delay a long-scheduled Minuteman 3 missile test in order to avoid actions that might "exacerbate the current crisis with North Korea," according to a senior U.S. defense official, likely did nothing to assuage those regional allies.

Undoubtedly, these potential posture shifts are indicative of growing insecurity in Tokyo and Seoul. Tokyo is considering revising the way it interprets its constitution to enable the Japanese Self-Defense Forces to operate as a "normal" military. There is growing public sentiment in South Korea for developing its own nuclear deterrent—and if Seoul pursues such an approach, Tokyo likely won't be far behind. Japan already possesses the relevant technology, and South Korea is now seeking to develop additional civilian nuclear capabilities.

With the prospect of a nuclearized region, Beijing's relatively blasé attitude toward Pyongyang is all the more problematic. This attitude is seemingly driven by Chinese national interests, including a desire to maintain stability on the Korean peninsula and prevent a flood of refugees into China. Yet Beijing's reluctance to use its economic leverage and influence over Pyongyang could present a greater near-term challenge to its security than any perceived threat of refugees spilling across its border.

In recent weeks, former senior Obama administration officials have suggested that China is slowly shifting its stance on North Korea, pointing to Beijing's support for additional United Nations sanctions. Yet there is no tangible evidence that China has undertaken measures to attempt to modify North Korea's behavior. Food and fuel continue to flow across the Chinese border into North Korea. Chinese financial institutions reportedly continue to process North Korean transactions.

During Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Beijing over the weekend, Chinese officials merely reiterated the same tepid talking points urging "dialogue and consultation." According to Chinese state television, Premier Li Keqiang advised the U.S. to avoid actions that could provoke the North. "There's no need to pick up a stone and hurt your own foot," he reportedly told Mr. Kerry.

That attitude is unacceptable. China must understand that so long as North Korea remains a threat, the U.S. will pursue a deeper and more visible military presence in the region, and Washington will continue to showcase its military muscle in China's backyard. Moreover, Tokyo and Seoul will explore measures to strengthen their own defensive and offensive capabilities. The potential for a nuclear arms race in East Asia is real and not merely a theoretical exercise.

As successive administrations—Republican and Democratic—have discovered through trial and error, there is no easy solution on North Korea. However, if the policy objective remains the denuclearization of the North, then the U.S. must get serious with China and develop a tailored strategy to persuade Beijing that the costs of its continued support for Pyongyang far outweigh any perceived benefits. For starters, the U.S. should make clear that any financial institution that continues to handle tainted North Korean funds runs a reputational risk and potential blacklisting, particularly those seeking to gain a foothold in the global financial system.

The time is past due for Washington and Beijing to engage in an honest and frank dialogue on the future of the Korean peninsula. The status quo is no longer an option.

Mr. Corker, a U.S. senator from Tennessee, is the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
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« Reply #89 on: April 28, 2013, 05:16:00 AM »

http://trumanproject.org/doctrine-blog/north-korea-never-a-threat-to-take-lightly/

From the article:

I suspect what kept me up at night is still what keeps up whoever is in that job now.  Trash talk by North Korea is nothing new, but the focus is on what are they actually doing with their military forces.  Media reports government officials saying they have not seen signs of North Korea mobilizing its military forces.  I’d say that in and of itself means little.
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« Reply #90 on: May 27, 2013, 10:23:15 AM »

English version of Korean economic reporting

http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2013/04/16/2013041601219.html

Why Korea's Middle Class Is Collapsing

Global consulting firm McKinsey said in a report on Sunday that half of all middle-class Korean households risk falling into poverty as they are trapped by slow income growth and increased expenditures.

The proportion of middle-class households shrank from 75.4 percent in 1990 to 67.5 percent in 2010, and 55 percent of middle-class families are having a tough time making ends meet as they are burdened by debt, according to McKinsey.

The biggest reason for the decline of the middle class is a drop in the number of high-paying jobs with major business conglomerates, which led to a standstill in income growth. Productivity of major manufacturers increased 9.3 percent on average annually from 1995 to 2010, but their overseas production also rose from 6.7 percent in 2005 to 16.7 percent in 2010, resulting in an average 2 percent fall a year in domestic hiring.

Small- and mid-sized businesses, which account for 88 percent of domestic jobs, and the service sector, which accounts for 70 percent, are suffering from low productivity.

Productivity in SMEs plummeted from 49 percent of the level of major conglomerates in 1990 to 27 percent in 2010, while pay stands at half the amount of the conglomerates. In Germany, SMEs’ productivity stands at 62 percent of the level of big businesses, and salaries at 90 percent. In the service sector, productivity reaches 40 percent of the level of big companies.

But while incomes stagnate, the mortgage repayment burden is mounting, as is education spending for children. As a result, the household savings rate fell from 20 percent in 1994 to just 3 percent in 2012, the lowest in the OECD, while household debt surged.

The consulting firm pointed out that Korea has the world’s highest suicide rate and is seeing a surge in divorces and a low birthrate, all of which also contribute to the decline of the middle class. At this rate, the Korean economy would be "unable to continue growth," it added.

If the Korea is to obtain a new growth engines, it must boost the competitiveness and efficiency of small businesses and the service sector. This solution is nothing new, but no concrete measures have been put into practice so far.

In order for the economy to gain momentum again and to create high-quality jobs, businesses wallowing in low productivity must be left to fail according to the principles of the free market and their workers must shift to new and efficient industries. That is the only way to improve productivity across the board, restore the middle class and enhance the quality of life.
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« Reply #91 on: July 16, 2013, 04:40:47 PM »

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/07/16/panama-north-korean-ship/2520109/
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« Reply #92 on: August 29, 2013, 08:13:54 AM »


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/northkorea/10272953/Kim-Jong-uns-ex-lover-executed-by-firing-squad.html
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« Reply #93 on: November 04, 2013, 12:02:34 PM »

 South Korea Focuses on a Blue-Water Navy
Analysis
October 30, 2013 | 0835 Print Text Size
South Korea Focuses on a Blue-Water Navy
A helicopter leaves South Korea's Choe Yeong destroyer during drills in 2010. (LEE JIN-MAN-POOL/Getty Images)
Summary

Recent reports of South Korean shipbuilding and naval plans demonstrate that the country's maritime ambitions are far greater than simply focusing on the threat from North Korea. According to a Defense News report that cited a South Korean navy source, as well as recent comments by Rep. Chung Hee Soo of the ruling Saenuri Party, Seoul is seriously considering greatly expanding its blue-water maritime capabilities. Several challenges lie ahead -- difficulties developing or acquiring needed technology, the ever-present danger from North Korea and fiscal constraints -- but South Korea's long-term interests are closely linked to the sea.
Analysis

The South Korean navy already had plans to commission three more highly capable destroyers by 2023 and to greatly enhance its subsurface fleet with larger, more powerful submarines. However, recent reports indicate that the South Koreans are also seeking to build the second ship of the Dokdo-class landing platform helicopter ship before 2019 with a ski ramp in order to launch fixed-wing aircraft. Furthermore, Seoul is exploring the possibility of building two 30,000-ton light aircraft carriers between 2028 and 2036.

Though the South Korean military remains fixated on the threat across the demilitarized zone, it is also increasingly pursuing ambitious maritime goals. It is important to remember that historically, forces emanating from China and Japan have threatened Korea. Indeed, the Koreans had to combat Japanese fleets during the Japanese invasions of Korea between 1592 and 1598. To that end, maintaining the maritime capability to prevent an amphibious landing on the Korean Peninsula is also a key mission of the South Korean military.

As the Chinese continue their extensive naval modernization and the Japanese pursue their military normalization, the South Koreans are determined not to be left behind. South Korea and Japan continue to be locked in a largely maritime territorial dispute over the Dokdo Islands (known as the Takeshima Islands in Japan). Furthermore, with explosive economic growth in the 1970s as well as its status as a peninsula with a virtually closed land border, South Korea is also currently entirely dependent on sea-lanes of trade and communication for its survival. And as a major trading power at a time when the United States is pursuing a closer military relationship with its regional maritime competitor, Japan, South Korea has further reason to bolster its naval capability.

Add the fact that South Korea's military superiority over the North is continuing to grow and it is easy to see why the South, part of a peninsular region that has historically prioritized the development of its land forces, is increasingly devoting resources to shipbuilding. That is not to say that the reported naval ships to be built cannot be useful against the North, but such expensive vessels are not the most efficient use of resources to be used against the North Korean threat. Already the South employs cruise missiles and fighter-bombers with the range to strike targets across the breadth and length of North Korea. In addition, the larger, 3,000-ton submarines the South Korean navy is building are better suited to blue-water operations than the 1,800-ton submarines currently in use.

For all South Korea's ambitious plans, significant obstacles remain. Increased tensions with North Korea could force Seoul to shift its focus and resources to its land and air forces. The South could also encounter problems in the development of the indigenous technologies it is pursuing to equip its future vessels, and it could face disagreements in negotiations with foreign partners, particularly the United States, in fielding the technologies Seoul does not plan to develop itself, such as improved Aegis radar and vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. However, the greatest obstacle remains the tight fiscal situation at a time of economic uncertainty. This is abundantly highlighted in the clash over the cost of a new fighter between the South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Agency and Finance Ministry on one side and the South Korean air force on the other.

While constraints may force the South Koreans to temporarily delay or moderate their maritime ambitions, South Korea remains a country whose fate and national interests are closely tied to the sea. Forced to disproportionately allocate resources to its land forces due to the crisis on the peninsula, the South Koreans will increasingly seek to strengthen their blue-water capabilities in response to the developing Chinese and Japanese naval programs.

Read more: South Korea Focuses on a Blue-Water Navy | Stratfor

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #94 on: November 18, 2013, 06:44:14 AM »



http://www.dickmorris.com/history-of-the-korean-war-dick-morris-tv-history-video/?utm_source=dmreports&utm_medium=dmreports&utm_campaign=dmreports
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ccp
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« Reply #95 on: January 03, 2014, 09:54:01 AM »

Let this be a lesson to the rest of you:

(the inhumanity of man to man just never ceases does it?  I wonder what Dennis Rodman will say. 

PS My Rodman story:
Katherine and I driving in a rental in our short stay in Los Angeles back around 1998 on hiatus to Hawaii.  I noticed a Rolls Royce.  Pulled up along side it and looked over.  The driver then looked back at me - it was Dennis.  In the passenger side was a comedian whose name I forever forget.  The comedian saw Katherine and jested that I roll down our window as he tapped Rodman on the shoulder.  I do not want to imagine what he was thinking.  Needless to say I didn't.   We pulled into the hotel and Rodman behind us.  I just remember thinking that he didn't look as wide as on TV.  Same impression I had when I saw Shaquille in Orlando airport in 1996.  They are huge of course and large shouldered.  But when they are that tall proportionately one just seems to notice the height.  I recall seeing Shaq get on an elevator suddenly and the shock on the faces of the people already standing in the elevator as he ducks to get inside.)

Back to a quick respite from evil:

Kim Jong Un fed his uncle to 120 starving dogs: report

Olivier Knox, Yahoo News
By Olivier Knox, Yahoo News 46 minutes ago
 
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (R), accompanied by his uncle Jang Song Thaek (L), waves as he inspects a parade of the Worker-Peasant Red Guards at Kim Il-Sung Square in Pyongyang, on September 9, 2013

Forget the hangman’s noose, the firing squad or lethal injection: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un executed his uncle and a handful of the man’s aides by feeding them to a horde of 120 starving dogs, according to a shocking account.

Jang Song Thaek, the former No. 2 official in the secretive regime, was stripped naked and tossed into a cage along with his five closest aides.

“Then 120 hounds, starved for three days, were allowed to prey on them until they were completely eaten up. This is called ‘quan jue’, or execution by dogs,” according to the Straits Times of Singapore. The daily relied on a description of the execution in a Hong Kong newspaper that serves as the official mouthpiece of China’s government.

“The entire process lasted for an hour, with Mr. Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader in North Korea, supervising it along with 300 senior officials,” the Straits Times said in a piece published Dec. 24, 2013, but only now getting traction in the United States. Two American national security officials contacted for comment said they had not heard that account, which first appeared in the Wen Wei Po newspaper on Dec. 12, 2013.

While China acts as North Korea’s patron, relations between the two have been strained. The United States wants Beijing to take a more active role in pressuring Kim’s Stalinist regime in Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons. The Straits Times suggested that China’s government leaked the account of the December execution to signal its anger at Kim’s government.

The United States has labored to get a grip on what kind of leader Kim Jong Un will be, amid worries in Washington that he is more reckless than his father, Kim Jong Il, whom he succeeded as supreme leader in December 2011.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #96 on: March 31, 2014, 10:10:11 AM »

http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/31/world/asia/north-korea-live-fire-exchange/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

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G M
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« Reply #97 on: March 31, 2014, 10:35:10 AM »


It seems like the world's thugs have figured out that they have no one to stop them.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #98 on: April 17, 2014, 10:08:19 AM »

APRIL 17, 2014 4:00 AM
New Spotlight on North Korea’s Horrors
A U.N report exposes gulags and systematic torture going back decades.
By Marco Rubio
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/375920/new-spotlight-north-koreas-horrors-marco-rubio

This week, Australian justice Michael Kirby, who led the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea, is briefing members of the U.N. Security Council regarding the widespread atrocities being committed on a daily basis against innocent people by one of the world’s most repressive regimes.

Given Russia’s recent actions in Ukraine and other global challenges, the report of this U.N. commission has not received the attention it deserves.
 
Under the dictatorship of Kim Jong Un, the North Korean regime routinely engages in torture, arbitrary detentions, indiscriminate disappearances, starvation, and executions. North Koreans who pay insufficient homage to the country’s deceased founder, Kim Il Sung, can be sent to prison along with their families. Prisoners are often subjected to human experiments, denied food, and essentially worked to death in North Korea’s network of infamous prison camps.
Pyongyang continues to isolate itself and its people from the rest of the world. There is no freedom of the press or access to the Internet. If you are one of the “lucky elite” in North Korea to have access to a radio, the simple act of tuning your dial to a foreign broadcast could result in your imprisonment or even execution. Similarly, there is no freedom of religion, and members of North Korea’s dwindling community of Christians face significant persecution.

The horrific, systematic violations of human rights in North Korea have been going on for many years. And for far too long, these abuses have taken a back seat to international concerns about North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program and other provocative behavior. Publicly and frequently documenting the widespread abuses and mistreatment of the North Korean people is an important step toward change and a potential deterrent to other would-be human-rights abusers.

This is exactly what the three-member United Nations Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Human Rights in North Korea did with their report, after spending a year looking into the North Koreans’ plight. During hearings in Seoul, Tokyo, London, and Washington, the commission heard firsthand accounts from individuals who fled torture and inhumane conditions in North Korea. Some of them will join Justice Kirby in briefing Security Council members this week.

Their report concludes that crimes against humanity were committed in North Korea over a multi-decade period “pursuant to policies established at the highest level of the state.”

North Korea, unsurprisingly, refused to cooperate with the COI investigation. Many countries in the region did support the commission — with the important exception of China, which refused to grant the commission access to its territory, raising concerns about Beijing’s ongoing support for Pyongyang.

Yet despite these attempts to withhold access, more information about the brutality of the Kim regime is emerging, as North Korean defectors courageously share their personal stories of deprivation and, ultimately, survival. I was honored to be able to meet with a number of North Korean defectors on a trip to South Korea earlier this year and to hear their stories firsthand. They told me that it is important to recognize that exposing the regime’s heinous crimes against humanity as often and as publicly as possible is one of our most powerful tools against the continued brutality of the North Korean regime.

I am under no illusion that this commission will profoundly alter the present-day horrific human-rights situation for the long-suffering North Korean people. But I do believe that the work of the Commission of Inquiry will raise — and, indeed, already has raised — public consciousness about the deplorable plight of the North Korean people.

When we look back at the Holocaust and the murders of millions of innocents in Europe during World War II, many ask why we didn’t do more to stop those atrocities until it was too late for so many who did not survive to see the day the camps were liberated. Some hide behind supposed lack of knowledge, but in this day and age, we have no excuse. Anyone with an Internet connection can use Google Earth to view the modern-day gulags in North Korea.

It is time for the United States and for all who cherish freedom to make it our common cause to pressure the regime to open these camps for international inspection and to make clear that those involved in these horrific crimes will one day be held accountable.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #99 on: April 17, 2014, 10:12:32 AM »

Amen to that!

In a not-unrelated vein, some analysts are wondering if the Norks are behind the mysterious explosion that suddenly sank a ferry yesterday or the day before with several hundred people on it.  It would not be the first time the Norks have done this.   Didn't they wipe out the Sork cabinet while in Thailand several years ago or something like that?
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