Leaked Chinese documents show planning for a North Korean collapse

May 6, 2014
"I've got some bad news, boss..."

“I’ve got some bad news, boss…”

To paraphrase Whoopie Goldberg, I’m pretty sure these weren’t “leaked-leaked,” so much as deliberately slipped to the Japanese, knowing they’d go public. It’s a not-so-subtle to warning to Dear Leader III: “If things fall apart, don’t count on us to bail you out:”

China has drawn up detailed contingency plans for the collapse of the North Korean government, suggesting that Beijing has little faith in the longevity of Kim Jong-un’s regime.

Documents drawn up by planners from China’s People’s Liberation Army that were leaked to Japanese media include proposals for detaining key North Korean leaders and the creation of refugee camps on the Chinese side of the frontier in the event of an outbreak of civil unrest in the secretive state.

The report calls for stepping up monitoring of China’s 879-mile border with North Korea.

Any senior North Korean military or political leaders who could be the target of either rival factions or another “military power,” thought to be a reference to the United States, should be given protection, the documents state.

According to Kyodo News, the Chinese report says key North Korean leaders should be detained in special camps where they can be monitored, but also prevented from directing further military operations or taking part in actions that could be damaging to China’s national interest.

The report suggests “foreign forces” could be involved in an incident that leads to the collapse of internal controls in North Korea, resulting to millions of refugees attempting to flee. The only route to safety the vast majority would have would be over the border into China.

“Foreign forces,” of course, being the United States and South Korea. Kim Jong Un’s behavior since taking power, from hysterical rhetoric to live-fire artillery drills in sensitive areas to his penchant for executing rivals in various psychopathic creative ways, and especially his continued pursuit of nuclear weapons, has to worry governments with security interests in Northeast Asia. And the last thing anyone wants is a Korean conflict that might again force Beijing to come to Pyongyang’s aid and place Chinese forces in combat against Americans. North Korea’s behavior has become unpredictable since L’il Kim took power, and a lack of predictability in Great Power relations makes everyone nervous. Hence a the message to Kim that’s about as subtle as a gun to the face: instead of helping you, we may put you in a camp, instead.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this Chinese report comes out at just about the same time we learn of credible reports that North Korea has developed nuclear warheads that can fit on an ICBM. Missiles that can reach the United States:

According to the 16-page report, “The North Korean Nuclear Threat to the United States,” the Defense Intelligence Agency stated in an unclassified assessment made public a year ago that “DIA assesses with moderate confidence the North [Korean government] currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles.”

“This is disturbing news,” the report says. “The North Korean regime is one of the most fanatic, paranoid, and militaristic dictatorships on the planet. … While North Korea has long made occasional nuclear attack threats, the scope, magnitude, and frequency of these threats have vastly increased in 2013.”

North Korea has in the recent months issued provocative threats to carry out nuclear strikes on U.S. cities and against American allies.

By the way, the Obama administration is trying to deny the conclusions in this report, because it doesn’t fit with their diplomacy. Feel reassured.

Anyway, back to Chinese planning for a North Korean collapse, one has to wonder if the Chinese haven’t seen the same information as DIA (they have much better contacts than we with the regime, though they’ve worsened in recent years) and decided to let Pyongyang know that no help would be coming their way if they decided to play a game of nuclear chicken with us. Quite the contrary, in fact. In that case, it might even be in China’s interests to euthanize its ally before it could push us over the edge. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out they have a North Korean general on tap for a convenient coup, or that they were prepared to invade, themselves. For fraternal, humanitarian reasons, of course.

And let’s keep in mind that a military crisis might not be the catalyst for a North Korean state failure: East Germany fell apart after the Soviets left from sheer exhaustion, and the Soviet Union just sort of twitched and dissolved without us having to fire a shot. North Korea is subject to periodic severe famines, and the economy can’t produce what the people need. They’re only held in line through terror and constant propaganda — what if that suddenly stops working? Or what if some general decides he doesn’t want to be the next to go up against the wall? Rather than a military confrontation, Beijing might find itself dealing with hundreds of thousands of starving Koreans looking for food. Better to use the People’s Liberation Army to “restore order” south of the Yalu and keep those people from overwhelming the neighboring regions of Manchuria.

It’s a lot of speculation, I realize, which is all we have when dealing with a black box like North Korea. But, that the Chinese are taking the possibility of sudden regime collapse so seriously (and this isn’t the first time they’ve warned Pyongyang) means we should, too.

via Walter Russell Mead

RELATED: Earlier posts on North Korea.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


North Korea: the nightmare of living under a god

April 11, 2014

North Korea Yeonmi Park

There’s an interesting and frightening interview posted to Business Insider today with Yeonmi Park, a woman who escaped from North Korea with her family as a teenager, but needed years to get over the brainwashing she endured there. An indoctrination so intense, she believed the late Kim Jong Il could read her mind:

Yeonmi Park grew up in North Korea, under the watchful eye of then-leader Kim Jong-il.

Though she escaped with her family when she was 15, it took her years to get over the intense brainwashing she experienced. In a recent interview with Australian public broadcasting channel SBS, Park went into unbelievable detail about growing up in the totalitarian state.

Growing up in North Korea, according to Park, was like “living in hell.” She describes constant power outages, no transportation, and watching classmates and friends disappear without a trace. While that may be unsurprising, the most interesting part of Park’s experience is her admission that she believed Kim Jong-il to be “a god” who could literally read her mind.

“I had to be careful of my thoughts because I believed Kim Jong-il could read my mind. Every couple of days someone would disappear,” Park said.

Ms. Park’s story is part of a larger program on mind-control shown by SBS, the Australian public broadcaster.  The whole show is worth watching.

In an article at SBS, she tells more of her own story:

I lived in North Korea for the first 15 years of my life, believing Kim Jong-il was a God. I never doubted it because I didn’t know anything else. I could not even imagine life outside of the regime.

It was like living in hell. There were constant power outages, so everything was dark. There was no transportation – everyone had to walk everywhere. It was very dirty and no one could eat anything.

It was not the right conditions for human life, but you couldn’t think about it, let alone complain about it. Even though you were suffering, you had to worship the regime every day.

I had to be careful of my thoughts because I believed Kim Jong-il could read my mind. Every couple of days someone would disappear. A classmate’s mother was punished in a public execution that I was made to attend. I had no choice – there were spies in the neighbourhood.

George Orwell’s 1984 depicts the UK after an atomic war and a Socialist revolution. Big Brother is a de facto god to the people: his every word the undeniable truth, no matter how it contradicted what he might have said just the day before. Your innermost thoughts known to him, and he held the power to make you willing to accept your own death and the deaths of those close to you as just. His Animal Farm is a parable of a just revolution hijacked by an anti-democratic cadre, who maintain power by turning the other animals against each other and all into slaves. Both are taught as works of fiction, but Yeonmi Park’s story reminds us that they were more like docu-dramas and that the story hasn’t come to an end.

It reminds me of a saying of John Adams:

“It is weakness rather than wickedness which renders men unfit to be trusted with unlimited power”

Our second president was right, but left something out: it’s not just that Mankind is too morally weak for any one person to hold absolute power, but there is also the weakness that makes us willing to surrender our responsibilities as citizens and entrust a small group of people or a single person with unlimited power. It is dangerous because, eventually and inevitably, that power will fall into the hands of evil men.

And then what is to stop them from proclaiming themselves gods?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


North Korea: Kim III orders execution by flamethrower

April 10, 2014
"I've got some bad news, boss..."

“Really? Let’s hold a BBQ…”

Sometimes I wonder if Kim Jong Un, a reputed heavy drinker, doesn’t sit around late at night nursing a bottle of scotch and fantasizing about the various outré ways he can whack people who have ticked him off:

A senior North Korean official has been executed with a flamethrower after Kim Jong-un branded him an ‘enemy of the state’, it has been claimed.

O Sang-hon is said to have been brutally killed for his close ties to the communist leader’s uncle Jang Song-taek, who was himself publicly tried and executed in December after being found guilty of corruption and ‘counter revolutionary’ activities.

Mr O is thought to be the latest of 11 senior Workers Party figures to have been executed this year over their links to Mr Jang, with South Korean media reporting that Kim Jong-un has plans to execute or imprison hundreds more of his supporters and extended family members.

Mr O had been Mr Jang’s deputy at North Korea’s ministry of public security, and his execution by flamethrower took place after being found guilty of helping his boss turn the state department into a personal security division and hide corruption, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported.

The ministry of public security has since been closed, with all 11 of the most senior officials said to have been either executed or sent to one of Kim Jong-un’s concentration camps in a second wave of vengeance following conviction of Mr Jang.

I’m not so sure a life sentence in in the North Korean gulag is much better than death, in fact I’m certain it’s in many ways worse, but execution by flamethrower? Mind you, that’s after we’ve had reports of execution by mortar and by being thrown to the dogs.

Use of a flamethrower brings a whole new meaning to “firing squad.”

Take this news with the usual caveats about “if it’s true,” but, regardless of its verity and in spite of its egregiousness, Kim’s savage, quixotic tyranny is a “teachable moment” for advocates for advocates of limited government, because it shows quite clearly the dangers posed when government is not restrained and its powers are not carefully limited. And when the Rule of Man replaces the Rule of Law, no one’s life, rights, or property is safe.

No need for flamethrowers to prove it: just ask the Sacketts of Idaho.

PS: I fully expect Kim to up his game — the next execution just has to be by tac-nuke.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


North Korea: all men must now wear Kim Jong Un’s hairstyle?

March 26, 2014
x

Bah! You call that a “haircut?”

When you’re the boy god-king of the world’s largest prison camp masquerading as a nation, you can get away with weird, petty stuff like this:

If you are a man in North Korea, we sincerely hope you have a round face. It’s the shape that will work with your new haircut.

That new haircut is reportedly called the “Dear Leader Kim Jong Un,” modeled after—you guessed it—North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s impenetrable block of black hair atop his chubby cheeks. The style reportedly became a state-mandated guideline about two weeks ago, though experts familiar with the country have said there’s no evidence a new hairstyle rule has gone into effect.

According to the article, this isn’t something new for North Korea: Kim’s father, the late, demented Kim Jong Il, launched a state campaign against long hair on the grounds that it sucked the nutrients from one’s brain.

Really.

Anyway, a TV campaign was launched and “journalists” would go to people’s homes to confront them about their overly lengthy locks. This being North Korea, I suppose they were lucky not to be shot or fed to the dogs.

Back to Kim III, and regardless of whether this is true, it’s another illustration of why limited, constitutional government is best; when there are no limits to the powers of the rulers, there are also no limits to what they will do the the ruled. North Korea is just the extreme example that clarifies the point.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Four must-reads on North Korea

December 20, 2011

Busy day today, but I wanted to share with you four articles on the world’s largest prison camp masquerading as a nation, aka “North Korea,” and its uncertain future. Each has something worth your attention:

Writing from Tokyo, the New York Times’ Martin Fackler interview Korea “experts” (as if anyone can be a true expert on what goes on in a closed, paranoid land) whose general consensus is that the new dictator, twenty-something Kim Jong-Un, and the factions surrounding him will likely see a period of consolidation and reduced tension with the US, as the country sorts out its leadership and deals with crushing internal problems:

Masao Okonogi, a specialist on North Korea at Keio University in Tokyo, said that during the new leader’s first few years, North Korea would most likely avoid confrontation with the United States and its allies, like South Korea.

That was the route taken by Kim Jong-il after his father’s death, said Mr. Okonogi, and he seemed to hold out an olive branch by observing a 1994 deal negotiated by his father to freeze construction of two reactors suspected of use in North Korea’s covert atomic weapons program. North Korea eventually suspended the deal in 2003, three years before testing its first nuclear weapon.

“Look for Kim Jong-un to make some offer, like to restart the six-party talks,” Mr. Okonogi said, referring to stalled multilateral negotiations on dismantling the North’s nuclear weapons. “He’ll need to reduce tensions with the United States in order to buy time.”

Some analysts said the new leader would probably use this time to try to fulfill his father’s promise to turn North Korea into a “strong and prosperous” country by 2012. To do that, he must revive a moribund economy that ranks near the bottom of the world in many measures, including per capita gross domestic product of $1,800 per year, versus $30,000 in technologically advanced South Korea. The North’s unwillingness to forsake the centrally planned economic system, its severe isolation and its utter reliance on food and fuel handouts from China and international aid groups have perpetuated or deepened the crisis.

That would be wonderful, presuming the North Korean leadership was rational and motivated by national self-interest. But, if US intelligence is right, the new Kim on the block may be even more deranged than his father:

“It’s been only about a year and three months since Kim Jong Eun was officially tapped, so it would be very difficult for him to effectively seize power within the old guard in the party as well as the military,” said Yoo Dong-ryul, a researcher at the Police Science Institute in South Korea. “I think whether Kim Jong Eun succeeds will ultimately depend on the role by Jang Song Thaek.”

The portrait of Kim Jong Eun that emerges in his U.S. profile is that of a young man who, despite years of education in the West, is steeped in his father’s cult of personality and may be even more mercurial and merciless, officials said.

A senior U.S. official said intelligence analysts believe, for instance, that Kim Jung Eun “tortured small animals” when he was a youth. “He has a violent streak and that’s worrisome,” a senior U.S. official said, summing up the U.S. assessments.

Great. Just what we need: a potential serial killer in charge of nuclear weapons.

One of the great questions is what China will do. As revealed in the Wikileaks cables, China regards North Korea as a pain in the rice bowl and rather an embarrassment, particularly for a nation trying to establish itself as as global superpower. (Kind of like a gangster trying to be “respectable” and not wanting to be seen with his crazy friend from the old neighborhood.) There have even been preliminary feelers about the conditions under which China would accept Korean reunification. My own opinion is that China would like to see a stable, less embarrassing North Korea survive, if for nothing else than the prestige hit it would take from an ally falling apart. Failing that, reunification with the South would be acceptable — provided it did not mean American troops on or near the Yalu river border. In that case, China would want to see some sort of disengagement of the currently tight relationship between Washington and Seoul.

But there’s another possibility: a North Korean descent into chaos that leaves outside powers no choice but to intervene. Back at the NYT, Victor Cha wonders if North Korea won’t wind up as China’s newest province:

The allies’ best move, then, is to wait and see what China does. Among China’s core foreign-policy principles is the maintenance of a divided Korean Peninsula, and so Beijing’s statements about preserving continuity of North Korea’s leadership should come as no surprise. Since 2008 it has drawn closer to the regime, publicly defending its leaders and investing heavily in the mineral mines on the Chinese-North Korean border.

But even as Beijing sticks close to its little Communist brother, there are intense debates within its leadership about whether the North is a strategic liability. It was one thing to back a hermetic but stable regime under Kim Jong-il; it will be harder to underwrite an untested leadership. For Xi Jinping, expected to become China’s president over the next year, the first major foreign policy decision will be whether to shed North Korea or effectively adopt it as a province.

In other words, China may feel it has no choice other than to quietly take North Korea over.

Like Mr. Cha, former American Ambassador to the UN John Bolton sees great danger in a North Korea that slips into instability or outright chaos, to the point that US and South Korean forces might themselves have to intervene on a moment’s notice to secure the nukes:

While an authoritarian DPRK state, armed with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, is a threat regionally and globally, a fractured DPRK, leaderless and perhaps descending into civil war, is an even greater threat. The prospect of conflict among various military and other security forces, which like the Kim family also have everything on the line, is real. Control over the weapons of mass destruction and other key assets (missile launch sites and storage facilities, communications facilities, the loyalty of major military formations such as the artillery, and armor massed near the borders) will be essential.

Moreover, North Korea’s civilians are not, despite decades of effort by Pyongyang, totally ignorant about conditions outside the hermetic state. Already desperately impoverished and hungry, they may well decide at the first signs of regime collapse, or even before, that their moment is at hand. Aided by South Korean activists, they could begin moving north toward the Yalu River border with China or south to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which has divided North from South since the 1953 Korean War Armistice Agreement.

South Korean authorities, together with the nearly 30,000 U.S. forces there, have long prepared for the contingency of massive refugee flows toward the DMZ. They also have plans for entering North Korea in force on extremely short notice, to prevent massive instability, to secure the nuclear weapons, and to control the DMZ.

The last thing we need is for the North’s destructive weapons (or other elements of its nuclear program) to be used during internal conflict, or auctioned off to foreign states or terrorists by military factions desperate for hard currency to continue their struggle or flee the country. But while we believe that large stocks of chemical and biological weapons are located near the DMZ, we have very little knowledge of where the nuclear weapons actually are. If South Korean and U.S. forces have to enter the North, time will be short, the dangers high, and the odds long.

Bolton is highly critical of what he sees as almost nonexistent efforts by the Obama administration to get clear information from Beijing and coordinate with them over a possible Korean crisis. If Cha is right and China decides it needs to “put North Korea under new management,” and if those efforts fail and the US and South Korea decide they have to intervene, the potential for an accidental clash that reignites the Korean War gets white-hot.

Which makes me feel so good about having Team Smart Power in charge.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Canada stands on principle; Obama goes “meh.”

July 13, 2011

A couple of weeks ago I could barely contain my disgust over the appointment of North Korea as head of the UN Conference on Disarmament. It seems I wasn’t the only one, and it’s great to see a liberal democracy refuse to participate in this disgraceful sham.

Good for you, Canada:

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird is set to announce Monday that Canada is boycotting the United Nations Conference on Disarmament over North Korea’s involvement, a senior government source told Postmedia News.

So Se Pyong, North Korea’s ambassador, was last week named chair of the Geneva-based group dedicated to promoting global nuclear disarmament.

“North Korea is simply not a credible chair of this UN body as its leaders are working in the exact opposite direction,” the source told Postmedia News on Sunday evening.

“Our government feels this undermines not only the Conference on Disarmament, but the UN itself. And Canada will not be party to that . . . Our government received a strong mandate to advance Canada’s values — freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law — on the world stage.”

During North Korea’s term as chair, Canada will not “engage” in the conference, the source said Baird will announce Monday.

Meanwhile for the Obama administration, it’s no “big deal:

The Obama administration will not follow Canada’s lead and boycott a session of the U.N.-linked Conference on Disarmament to protest North Korea’s appointment to the body’s rotating presidency.

“We have chosen not to make a big deal out of this because it’s a relatively low-level, inconsequential event,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Monday.

In one sense, Nuland is right; UN conferences often aren’t “big deals,” serving as little more than occasions to pad a resume, collect a per diem, and shop for things not available in your own country.

On the other hand, if the United States won’t defend the principles on which the commission and the larger UN were founded in the little, easy instances such as this, who should believe we would care in the big instances? By assenting to North Korea’s chairmanship of the conference and lending that act our prestige by our participation, we also say that North Korea’s serial illegal arms-trafficking is “no big deal” and encourage them (and others) to do even more. It’s an example of the broken-windows theory to international relations.

Canada and the Harper cabinet are right in this case, while the Obama administration again shows its casual, amateurish approach to foreign affairs.

via The Jawa Report and Weasel Zippers

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The UN takes “farce” to a whole new level

June 30, 2011

Really, I thought they couldn’t get any more ridiculous than naming Iran, a Sharia-enforcing fascist state, to the Commission on the Status of Women, but they did it. Meet the new President of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament:

North Korea

Despite numerous breaches of arms embargoes and continued threats to expand its nuclear weapons program, North Korea has assumed the presidency of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament. In a speech to the 65-nation arms control forum in Geneva, the newly-appointed president, North Korean Ambassador So Se Pyong, said he was “very much committed to the Conference.”

Appointing a North Korean to chair the UN’s only multilateral disarmament forum is like “asking the fox to guard the chickens,” says Hillel Neuer, of the UN watchdog organization UN Watch. Neuer is calling on the U.S. and European governments to protest the appointment, which he says, “damages the UN’s credibility.”

When asked about the controversy over North Korea’s new leadership role, UN spokesman Farhan Haq pointed out that the head of the Conference on Disarmament is selected by the member states that sit on the conference, not the UN secretary general.

Haq added that when Secretary General Ban Ki-moon spoke at the Conference on Disarmament this January, he urged the states who sit on the conference to do more to advance its work, so that it “does not become irrelevant.”Aware that many nations see the Conference on Disarmament as a place of talk rather than a forum that does substantive work, Secretary General Ban warned: “The very credibility of this body is at risk.”

“At risk?” I’d say whatever credibility the conference still had has been taken out back and shot.

Claudia Rosett is appalled. After rattling off the serial illicit arms-dealing (including passing nuclear tech) that makes this appointment a joke, she explains the real harm this does:

Except, it isn’t harmless. It gives the lie to everything the UN pretends to stand for, and emboldens North Korea’s regime to believe that monstrous misconduct, at home and abroad, is actually no bar to a seat at the table with civilized governments. The UN promotes itself as a defender of world peace and security, a champion of human dignity. Under the banner of such promises, the UN enjoys billions in funding from the world’s leading democracies — especially the United States, which for the entire UN system foots roughly one-quarter of the bill for all 192 member states. And with the facilities thus lavished upon it, the UN then hands North Korea the presidency of its Conference on Disarmament.

Worse, scroll down past the UN press release, to the statements of member states upon the handover of this presidency to North Korea. There you can peruse the praise and good wishes for North Korea of China, Nigeria, and — yes — Portugal, whose envoy is “looking forward” to working with North Korea in coming weeks. Worse still, is what the world’s governments, including the US. administration, are not saying. Apparently, diplomatic politesse is more important than speaking out to protest the monstrosities that should be obvious here to anyone with an ounce of integrity or sense. Where’s the outrage?

Dead, I imagine, along with the pretense that the United Nations does anything worthwhile.

By the way, a couple of weeks ago the US intercepted a ship suspected of carrying contraband missile technology to the tyrants who rule Burma.

A ship from North Korea, the new President of the UN Disarmament Conference.

Memo to Congress: If you’re looking for ways to cut the budget, let me make a suggestion

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


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