“We find your lack of sincerity disturbing, comrade”

January 13, 2012

Well, now we know why North Koreans were crying so hysterically at the death of psychotic brandy-swilling midget Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il last month. As I wrote at the time:

Some of it may be genuine fear for the future, and I’m sure some of it is also fear of what happens if they don’t perform on cue.

Turns out I was right:

Following the mourning period for former leader Kim Jong Il, North Korean authorities have begun to punish citizens who did not display enough sadness at his death, The Daily NK reported Wednesday.

The Daily NK, an online newspaper based in South Korea and run by opponents of the North Korean government, said it had learned from a source in North Hamkyung Province that, “The authorities are handing down at least six months in a labor-training camp to anybody who didn’t participate in the organized gatherings during the mourning period, or who did participate but didn’t cry and didn’t seem genuine.”

You also get imprisonment or internal exile for daring to question the dynastic succession that gave the throne of the world’s largest prison camp masquerading as a real nation to Dear Leader’s son, Kim Jong-Un.

And people wonder why so many of us are suspicious of government having too much power.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Nauseating spectacle at the United Nations

December 23, 2011

The UN honors one of its own

A moment of silence in memory of Kim Jong-Il? Seriously?

What’s next? A birthday party for Robert Mugabe? Memorial days for Pol Pot and Josef Stalin?

I’m sure the millions of victims of the Kim family’s Stalinist monarchy are grateful for the remembrance.

Someone pull the plug on the UN, please.


North Korea: mourning for a dead God-King

December 19, 2011

When you’re told every hour of every day of your existence that only one brilliant man stands between you and disaster, this kind of reaction to news of his death is expected:

Kim, his father, and their cronies made these people’s lives a Hell on Earth since 1945, a nightmare existence perhaps second only to being stuck in Zimbabwe, and yet they weep and beat their fists on the ground for him. Some of it may be genuine fear for the future, and I’m sure some of it is also fear of what happens if they don’t perform on cue.

And some fools think Orwell wrote fiction.

via Big Journalism

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Up-twinkles for Dear Leader: an Occupier eulogizes Kim Jong-Il’s North Korea

December 19, 2011

Ah, Dear Leader, Sun of Socialism, Great Man Who Descended From Heaven!! (1) How it must warm the cockles of your Stalinist heart to see how your juche message of “more brandy,” kidnapping filmmakers to make movies for you, drug smuggling, and counterfeiting resonates with the followers you left behind… especially in Occupy Wall Street.

While the following video was taken last October, it’s yet a fitting tribute to the memory of the sociopathic midget visionary leader whose objectives meshed so well with those of the Occupiers… so far as they can articulate them or even figure out what they are.

In it, a man who lived a large part of his life in Soviet Russia asks a couple of Occu-dolts what the difference between North and South Korea is. Their answer? There’s no unemployment and everyone is paid a fair wage in the North! Income equality! Yes!

These, my friends, are the fighters for the ninety-nine percent:

Of course, it’s easy to have full employment when everyone is a slave of the state given a job by the government, and there’s no doubt that those “fair wages” enabled everyone in the DPRK to knock down $700,000 of cognac per year. Such is the nature of the worker’s paradise. Pay no attention to the narrator’s mention of cannibalism, or the vicious imperialist rumors of mass starvation (which may be happening again). A vast gulag of prison camps that hold multiple generations of whole families? LIES!!

Because, like, you know… Dude! Socialism is just fairer. Okay?

Of course, we shouldn’t be surprised at these useful idiots; the phenomenon isn’t new. Many progressives in 1920s and 1930s America thought Bolshevism and Italian Fascism offered useful lessons that could be applied in America to make a better society (2). Walter Duranty won a Pulitzer for his fawning coverage of Stalin’s Russia. The 1960s anti-war movement and the 1980s “nuclear freeze” campaign were nurtured and used by the KGB and allied intelligence agencies. And in the current war with jihadist Islam, way too many people think they’re serving a noble cause by siding with the enemy.

So, don’t be surprised; stupid often covers for evil.

via Will Heaven

Footnotes:
(1) Really, you have to look at the list of titles bestowed on Kim Jong-Il. What it says about Kim’s egomania is both  screamingly funny and pathetic. I’m sure our fourth-greatest president has it bookmarked for future reference. (h/t J.S. Treviño)
(2) And not just low-level flunkies. General Hugh S. Johnson, a member of FDR’s “brain trust” and the head of the National Recovery Administration, so admired Mussolini and Italian fascism that he asked that copies of a tract by Benito’s favorite economist be distributed to the Cabinet.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


This just in: Kim Jong Il no longer “ronery”

December 18, 2011

Because he will have plenty of company in Hell:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il died of a heart attack while on a train trip, state media reported Monday, sparking immediate concern over who is in control of the reclusive state and its nuclear program.

A tearful television announcer dressed in black said the 69-year old had died Saturday of physical and mental over-work on his way to give “field guidance.”

He had suffered a stroke in 2008, but appeared to have recovered. North Korea’s official KCNA news agency said he died at 8:30 a.m. Saturday (6:30 p.m. EST on Friday) after “an advanced acute myocardial infarction, complicated with a serious heart shock.”

South Korea, still technically at war with the North, placed its troops and all government workers on emergency alert, Yonhap news agency reported. But Seoul’s Defense Ministry said there were no signs of any unusual North Korean troop movements.

Probably because the sub-chieftains of that bandit state, the world’s largest prison camp masquerading as a nation, were busy plotting against each other.

This could get very interesting –in the “everything goes south” sense– very fast. Kim’s designated successor is on of his sons, a man in his 20s, and one has to wonder if he has the authority and skill need to run the world’s only Stalinist monarchy, or will his courtiers sideline or even eliminate him for one reason or another? Or would the people finally rise against their oppressors?

North Korea is such a closed, paranoid system that there is no real way to tell what is going on in Pyongyang right now.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


North Korea: Bandit King backs down

December 20, 2010

He's just ronery

I’ve written before that North Korea can be reasonably described as a mountain bandit state, a kingdom of bullies that extorts what it needs to survive from its neighbors by threatening to do something violent, no matter how crazy it looks. And they keep doing it because it works. Time and again since the accession of North Korean mutant psycho-dwarf dictator Kim Jong-Il, North Korea has threatened war and devastation. Then, afraid North Korea might really start a huge conflagration (and most everyone admits that a renewed war on the Korean peninsula would be a bloodbath), concerned nations rush into give Kim everything he wants while pretending to be firm with him, in return for promises not to do whatever it was again. North Korea then breaks these promises, gets more stuff it can’t produce on its own, and the whole farcical ballet starts again. Rinse and repeat.

The thing to remember about bullies and bandits is that they rely on you being afraid of them. Call their bluff, and they often back down. The current case in point being North Korea’s threat to “retaliate” if South Korea carried through with a live-fire exercise on Yeonpyeong island, a recent target of a North Korean artillery barrage. Instead of backing down, the South Koreans flipped a large finger toward the North and went ahead with the exercise.

Guess who backed down?

NORTH Korea’s leader Kim Jong-il offered up a major last-minute nuclear concession and was forced last night to turn the other cheek.

This came after the South refused to cancel a live-fire artillery drill near their maritime border.

The North Korean Supreme Military Command said last night it would not retaliate for the South’s 90-minute artillery exercise, saying it was not worthy of a response.

Despite the nuclear inspections breakthrough offered to US envoy Bill Richardson in Pyongyang, the South launched the drill at 2.30pm (4.30pm AEDT) – on Yeonpyeong Island – the scene of North Korea’s deadly artillery attack last month – in spite of threats of retaliation and even nuclear war from the North.

South Korean fighter jets armed with guided missiles streaked through the air above Yeonpyeong and warships cruised the area to silence any response from the North as the test shelling began.

The North last night called the drills a “reckless military provocation” but said it was holding its fire because Seoul had changed its firing zones.

The official Korean Central News Agency statement suggested that the North viewed yesterday’s drills differently from the ones last month because South Korean shells landed farther south of the North’s shores.

Given that the North claims the waters far to the south of the island, at face value their retreat is vindication of the resolve of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

Pyongyang had apparently offered before the live-fire exercise to allow nuclear inspections to resume — in return for cash. Thus they were starting the bandit-ballet again. Only, this time, South Korea called them on it. Good for Seoul and President Lee Myung-Bak. Let’s hope this heralds the start of a new, fear-free, and tougher line toward North Korea and its bandit king, Kim Jong-Il.

via Roy Medcalf

UPDATE 12/22/2010: At Pajamas Media, Claudia Rosett thinks this is all part of the same charade, too, and that Kimm has hung out his Christmas stocking for Obama to fill.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Want to make Kim Jong-Il soil himself?

November 30, 2010

I can't trust anyone these days!

Just whisper in his ears the magic words, “China is willing to sell you out.” From the The Guardian:

China’s moves to distance itself from Kim are revealed in the latest tranche of leaked US embassy cables published by the Guardian and four international newspapers. Tonight, the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said the US “deeply regrets” the release of the material by WikiLeaks. They were an “attack on the international community”, she said. “It puts people’s lives in danger, threatens our national security and undermines efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems,” she told reporters at the state department.

The leaked North Korea dispatches detail how:

  • South Korea’s vice-foreign minister said he was told by two named senior Chinese officials that they believed Korea should be reunified under Seoul’s control, and that this view was gaining ground with the leadership in Beijing.
  • China’s vice-foreign minister told US officials that Pyongyang was behaving like a “spoiled child” to get Washington’s attention in April 2009 by carrying out missile tests.
  • A Chinese ambassador warned that North Korean nuclear activity was “a threat to the whole world’s security”.
  • Chinese officials assessed that it could cope with an influx of 300,000 North Koreans in the event of serious instability, according to a representative of an international agency, but might need to use the military to seal the border.

In highly sensitive discussions in February this year, the-then South Korean vice-foreign minister, Chun Yung-woo, told a US ambassador, Kathleen Stephens, that younger generation Chinese Communist party leaders no longer regarded North Korea as a useful or reliable ally and would not risk renewed armed conflict on the peninsula, according to a secret cable to Washington.

China has also said that it would not intervene militarily in the event of a North Korean collapse, and that a unified Korea ruled from Seoul could remain a US ally as long as American troops did not cross north of the DMZ; China sees its interests in trade with the US, South Korea, and Japan, not in propping up an increasingly unstable client that doesn’t even serve anymore as a useful buffer.

That, my friends, is the core of a deal that would have cynical power-players like Metternich and Kissinger drooling with anticipation. The only reason North Korea survives is through the shipment of cheap fuel and food across the Yalu river border. If China were to decide that its interests were better served by a reunified and stable Korean trading partner, even if a US ally, then all it has to do is turn off the drip-feed and… Bye-bye bandit kingdom.

While Kim Jong Il is desperately trying to secure the succession for his son, Kim Jong Un, one can see this playing out like the East German collapse and German reunification in 1989-90: the old regime dies off, the new rulers haven’t the skill or will (or both) to maintain control of a failing state, and the regime collapses of exhaustion to be absorbed by its democratic cousin.

The question is what will Kim Jong Il and his military do. As the cables hint, they were probably the only ones among the concerned powers (the US, China, South Korea, and Japan) who had no inkling of China’s real feelings.  Will this knowledge lead Kim to moderate his behavior or the military to remove him, so China doesn’t pull the plug? Will they keep pushing the limits under the assumption that China, in the end, won’t cut them loose? Or, as Allahpundit fears, will they decide to go out in a blaze of glory?

My own guess is that Kim will try to make nice with Beijing and not do anything more provocative than he already has and mollifying them with vague promises of reform, while continuing to secure the throne for his son. Then, when Dear Leader passes on, a transitional regime —with or without Kim Jong Un— will oversee an East German-style endgame.

At least, that’s what I hope. This still has every chance of blowing up in all our faces, mostly due to the unpredictability of those running the world’s largest prison camp masquerading as a state.

POSTSCRIPT: Regarding the Wikileaks release, I have three observations

  1. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange needs to meet a bad end, soon. He is harming my country in a time of war; he shouldn’t have gotten this far.
  2. The real fallout of these documents isn’t what they reveal (and much of that validates the Right’s views), but that we look like such idiots when it comes to security that few will be willing to talk confidentially with us for quite a long time.
  3. While the security weaknesses revealed in this scandal reach back at least several years, the response to the Wikileaks revelations has shown the Obama administration as weak and incompetent — and a danger to our national security.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


North Korea: When tiny dictators attack

November 23, 2010

He’s just ronery

North Korea’s Psychotic in Chief Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il has thrown another temper tantrum and, just as with the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan, this one has turned deadly:

North Korea launched a massive artillery barrage on a South Korean island Tuesday, killing two South Korean marines, wounding at least 19 other people and setting more than 60 buildings ablaze in the most serious confrontation since the North’s sinking of a South Korean warship in March.

South Korea immediately responded with its own artillery fire and put its fighter jets on high alert, bringing the two sides – which technically have remained in a state of war since the Korean armistice in 1953 – close to the brink of a major conflagration.

(…)

South Korea called the shelling of the civilian-inhabited island of Yeonpyeong, which lies near the disputed maritime border separating North and South Korea, a breach of the 57-year-old armistice that halted the Korean War without a peace agreement.

The North fired an estimated 200 artillery shells onto the island, and the South returned fire with about 80 shells from its own howitzers. The attack began just after 2:30 p.m.

Naturally, the usual suspects around the world have condemned the attack with the usual words, from President Obama to the Secretary-General of the United Nations to Kim’s patrons in Beijing. And, like all the other times he’s acted out, nothing will be done other than perhaps a sternly worded expression of concern and maybe a meaningless sanction or two — followed by offers of foreign aid.

Despite the breathless invocation of a “major conflagration” in the Post article, what this is not is a restart of the Korean War. Artillery exchanges aside, there have been no major troop movements in the North (which would be very hard to hide in this day and age) or any other observable preparations to invade the South.  And, were this the start of an invasion, the North would certainly open up with the thousands of artillery tubes they have pointed squarely at South Korea’s capital, Seoul. And, if the first goal of any regime is survival, then invading a country guarded by 28,000 US soldiers is tantamount to suicide, even under a President as weak as Barack Obama. So, no, this is not the start of round two.

But, if not, then what is it?

The first key to understanding North Korea is the aforementioned survival imperative and the need for dynastic continuation. Kim not only wants to ensure that his regime survives, but, like any good monarch (even if dressed in Stalinist clothes), he wants to pass it along to his son and heir, Kim Jong-Eun. Since a democratic opening, market economy, free trade, and the attendant prosperity is out of the question for the proprietor of the worlds largest prison camp disguised as a nation, how else does Pyongyang go about meeting these two goals?

That brings us to the second key, the nature of the regime itself: North Korea is best described as a mountain-bandit state, extorting what it can from the world by occasionally acting crazy and scaring everyone else with the prospect of devastation if the bandits are not appeased.  It’s all an incredibly cynical act, put on because North Korea simply cannot produce what it needs to survive. As Aidan Foster-Carter wrote in a great article at the Asia Times:

Importantly, “mountain bandit” is not just an insult (like James Cagney saying “you doity rat”). Rather, like “guerrilla” or “partisan”, it’s a concept – but a different and less forgiving one. Whereas the guerrilla may have had a noble cause, bandits are cynics: they’re just in it for the money. And they are parasites: unable to produce anything of their own, they prey instead upon the productive and law-abiding.

This, I must say, seems a highly apt analogy for North Korea today. Pyongyang’s militant mendicancy over its nuclear and missile activities is basically bandit behavior, demanding money with menaces. Pay up, or else: that’s the subtext. (The unspoken rider: And we’ll be back for more in due course.)

And, sure enough, they’re back. Consider what’s happened in recent months:

  • The sinking of the Cheonan.
  • Kim’s illness and the need to assure his son’s ascension to the throne.
  • Barack Obama’s humiliating performance at the G-20 summit and the bilateral trade negotiations with South Korea.
  • The sudden revelation of North Korea’s new nuclear facility, which should have surprised no one. (“North Korea? Cheating? No way!”)
  • And now the artillery barrage on Yeonpyeong island.

All this is standard operating procedure for bandits: they need goods other people have, and the great protector of those people (the USA) is in a weakened state, averse to actually taking strong action. Time to rattle some sabers and demand tribute.

So, the combat at Yeonpyeong has two purposes: first, to scare the rest of the world into giving North Korea what it needs to survive, food and fuel. Second, the threat of war with America keeps Kim’s generals busy, so they don’t have as much time to plot an “unfortunate accident” for the Dear Leader’s heir apparent. Kim may be powerful, but other players in the regime are surely not happy with his family’s apparent lock on the top job.

So, what should Seoul, Washington, Tokyo, Beijing, and other concerned parties do? The Chinese, naturally, want a return to the six-party talks that, so far, have produced nothing. The last thing they want is for the West to take actions that might finally precipitate their ally’s collapse, with the inevitable political, security, and humanitarian crises.

On the other hand, doing nothing (or issuing statements of concern that would amount to the same thing) will only lead to further obstreperous behavior, as the Bandit King turns the screws a bit more to get what he wants. Kim and his buddies have to be shown there is a price, and not just another round of meaningless sanctions. Whether this means a retaliatory attack on North Korean military assets, a full-scale blockade, or something else, I don’t know. It’s possible that any action would trigger the war everyone wants to avoid – or the regime failure so many fear. Yet passively submitting to Kim’s aggressions, whether by ignoring them or giving him what he wants, seems unacceptable, too.

As with anything dealing with North Korea, it seems the only choices are bad ones.

LINKS: More from Claudia Rosett, who writes about Pyongyang’s extortionate diplomacy. Richard Fernandez reminds us of Secretary Clinton’s meaningless stern warning  during the Cheonan incident. Hot Air, where Ed also thinks this does not mean war (we hope). I wrote earlier about the Korea problem. Allahpundit muses on the risk of war. Finally, if war is afoot, would Dear Leader really be touring a soy sauce factory?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


I guess the soccer team was lucky

July 21, 2010

Don't let me down!

All that happened to them for a humiliating loss in the World Cup was a trip to the mines. Now, with Pyongyang’s attempts to extort bribes at rapprochement with South Korea in tatters over the sinking of the Cheonan (Come on, what’s an act of war among friends?), the official in charge of negotiations with the South has been shot:

North Korea executed a former Cabinet official who was in charge of talks with South Korea, a news report said Tuesday, the latest reported death sentence for a North Korean official over policy failures.

Kwon Ho Ung — Pyongyang’s chief delegate from 2004 to 2007 for ministerial talks with the South’s then liberal government — was executed by firing squad, Seoul’s mass-circulation Dong-a Ilbo newspaper said, citing an unidentified source in Beijing knowledgeable about the North.

Calls to South Korea’s intelligence agency and the Unification Ministry, which handles relations with North Korea, seeking comment went unanswered.

The reported execution comes as tensions between the two Koreas simmer over the March sinking of a South Korean warship that has been blamed on North Korea. North Korea has denied involvement in the sinking, which killed 46 South Korean sailors.

Relations between the Koreas have been particularly rocky since a pro-U.S., conservative government took office in Seoul in early 2008 with a tough policy on Pyongyang.

The newspaper report said it had not confirmed when and where Kwon was executed. The allegation follows other reported executions of North Korean officials for policy blunders.

Since all policy originates with the Kim Jong-Il, shouldn’t he have himself shot for these failures?

The world should be so lucky.

(via The Jawa Report)

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


North Korea: Dear Leader’s army crumbling?

July 15, 2010

North Korean defectors aren’t exactly unusual: many people try to escape their nightmare lives in the world’s largest prison camp. Most go through China; the lucky ones get to stay there, and the luckiest make it to South Korea. The unlucky, on the other hand, are caught before they can escape or are sent home by the Chinese, which usually means execution at the hands of the North Korean security forces.

So it can’t be a good sign for the regime of psychotic dictator Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il when those defectors include more and more of his own security forces:

North Korean soldiers defect to China fuelling fears of imminent military clash

An upsurge in the number of North Korean soldiers defecting into China fuelled fears of food shortages and an imminent military clash.

Previously considered to be among the regime’s most important assets, the North Korean People’s Army has always been well provisioned in order to ensure the troops remain loyal.

But a poor harvest and the disastrous revaluation of the North Korean currency in November of last year has worsened the nation’s already dire economic straits.

Defectors have claimed that they were required to survive on noodles made of ground corn and that meat or fish were a luxury, a journalist for Japan’s Asahi Shimbun reported from the Chinese  city of Shenyang.

On one stretch of the border, Chinese troops apprehended five North Korean soldiers in May alone. Prior to the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan in March, allegedly by a torpedo fired from a North Korean submarine, it was rare for troops to be taken into custody on the Chinese side of the Yalu River.

The defectors have claimed that senior members of the party and the armed forces were stockpiling provisions, another indication that the regime is steeling itself for a military confrontation.

Of course, a few grunts crossing the line does not mean the regime is about to fall at any moment, but the increasing tempo of defections and the tales the defectors tell of the woes suffered by civilians now spreading to the military do indicate a trend that should have that insane dwarf Kim and his henchmen worried. Indeed, if the reports of stockpiling are true, they see the signs, too.

On his deathbed, Roman Emperor Septimius Severus reportedly told his children:

Be harmonious, enrich the soldiers, and scorn all other men.

The Emperor’s advice was sound for, at that point in Roman history, a ruler’s survival depended on the loyalty of the army. It appears Kim and his flunkies in the North Korean leadership have forgotten that middle part and are now scorning even the soldiers, not just the common folks.

That could well be their last, fatal mistake.

(via The Jawa Report)

RELATED: Or maybe the defections are inspired by fear of South Korea’s killer robots? (via McKittrick)


At least they weren’t shot?

July 5, 2010

One does not disappoint Dear Leader:

North Korean team will be sent to coal mines as punishment, reports say

MORE than one disgraced national team has been heckled by angry fans on returning home – but North Korea’s misfiring stars reportedly face a much harsher punishment.

Unfortunately, crazed dictator Kim Jong-il chose the 7-0 mauling at the hands of Portugal to be the first football game ever broadcast in the impoverished communist nation.

“The Portuguese won the game and now have four points,” the Korean Central Broadcasting commentator said at the conclusion of the match. “We are ending our live broadcast now.” It then cut to factory workers and engineers praising the Dear Leader.

Seems the result may not have tallied too well with Kim Jong-il’s narrative that North Korea is a socialist paradise populated by athletic supermen.

Given the realities of life in North Korea, aka “The world’s biggest prison camp,” I’m not so sure being spared the firing squad was a boon.

The Queen of Hearts has nothing on the King of Heartless.


Your Wednesday midday North Korean weirdness

June 8, 2010

Steve at Pax Parabellum says this is a North Korean tourism video (as does the original poster at YouTube). I’m not so sure (Would Kim Jong-Il be my host? Eww…), but it does have a catchy beat:

It’s a 24-by-7 party in old NoKo, y’know?

Meanwhile, Pyongyang adds another item to the “Are they trying to commit national suicide?” list, this time by ticking off their sole protectors:

North Korean border guard ‘shoots three Chinese dead’

China says a North Korean border guard shot and killed three people near the countries’ border last week.

A fourth person was reportedly injured in the incident near the north-eastern border town of Dandong.

China has made a formal complaint to North Korea, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry said.

The two countries are considered to be close allies and Beijing rarely makes any public criticism of its isolated neighbour.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a regular news conference in Beijing that the four residents of Dandong, in Liaoning province, had been shot “on suspicion of crossing the border for trade activities”.

“China attaches great importance to that and has immediately raised a solemn representation with the DPRK,” he said, using North Korea’s full name (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea).

Right. So, you’re North Korea and you know that a) China supplies 90% of your energy needs and b) is the only thing keeping your loony bin of a nation afloat. You’ve already caused them a major headache by sinking a naval vessel belonging to South Korea, so, what do you do?

Easy! You just gun down some of their citizens, too!*

It’s Bedlam, and the worst psychos are in charge.

*(Wouldn’t it have been easier to arrest and deport them? I’m just sayin’…)

(via The Jawa Report)


What’s “gird your loins” in Korean?

April 22, 2010

I haven’t written about the sinking last month of the South Korean naval corvette Cheonan, because, while it looked and smelled like something North Korea would do to provoke an incident and grab the world’s attention, the South Korean and US militaries were being very cautious. Besides, I just couldn’t imagine that even Kim Jong-Il, dictator of the world’s largest prison camp, could be this crazy.

I may have been wrong:

South Korean ship sunk by crack squad of ‘human torpedoes’

A South Korean warship was destroyed by an elite North Korean suicide squad of ‘human torpedoes’ on the express orders of the regime’s leader, Kim Jong-il, according to military intelligence reports.

The attack on the 1,220-ton Cheonan, which sank on March 26 with the loss of 46 of its 104 crew, was carried out in retaliation for a skirmish between warships of the two nations’ navies in November of last year, South Korea claims.

The South Korean government has refused to comment officially on the reports but Defence Minister Kim Tae Young told a parliamentary session that the military believed that the sinking was a deliberate act by North Korea.

Officials in military intelligence say they warned the government earlier this year that North Korea was preparing a suicide-squad submarine attack on a South Korean ship.

“Military intelligence made the report to the Blue House [the presidential office] and to the Defence Ministry immediately after the sinking of the Cheonan that it was clearly the work of North Korea’s military,” a military source said.

According to the article, this may have been a suicide mission launched by commandos in specially modified midget submarines, rather than from a leftover naval mine from the Korean War. The explosion clearly took place outside the vessel’s hull.

Whether it was an attack by a normal torpedo or the human kind, this puts both Seoul and Washington in a very difficult situation. Lee Myung Bak, the South Korean president, was elected on a platform that included getting tough with North Korea and ending the accomodationist policies of his predecessor. Now that it’s clear that one of his country’s naval ships was sunk and sailors killed in an act of war, he can’t do nothing for fear of appearing craven and pusillanimous, something sure to weaken him at home and encourage a psychotic predator like L’il Kim. Yet, striking back too hard risks full-scale war; South Korea’s capital, Seoul, is near the border and very exposed to the thousands of artillery pieces the North has placed there.

For President Obama, this could turn into a nightmare. Already under heavy (and deserved) criticism for a weak foreign policy of appeasement, pressuring our allies in Seoul to overlook this, or worse, equivocate in our support of Seoul, would invite a furious political assault. Yet a reopening of the Korean War would be a huge expense on top of all the debt he’s accumulated already, not to mention the strain it would put on the military both from likely heavy casualties and from being stretched thin already.

(And, don’t forget: much of the Obama debt is funded by China, North Korea’s patron. This is a good example of how massive foreign debt limits our actions and makes us vulnerable.)

So, what to do? Contra the analysts quoted in the article, President Bak almost has to retaliate, but he cannot go overboard. My guess would be some sort of forward mobilization near the DMZ as a sign of resolve toward the North and the eventual sinking of a North Korean vessel in a tit-for-tat response. Economic punishment is possible, too, but the loss of life aboard the ship makes it difficult to present that to the South Korean public as sufficient.

The other question is why would Kim do something so mad, so rife with potentially disastrous consequences? The Telegraph article speculates that this was payback for an earlier skirmish in which a North Korean boat was sunk, but there’s another possibility: there are signs of growing unrest in North Korean, and Pyongyang’s grip may be slipping. Could it be that Kim ordered this to scare his population into obedience by the threat of war with the “hated imperialist aggressors?” Or maybe he’s just ronery?

Who knows what goes on in that warped little man’s mind?

LINKS: More from Hot Air and the Times.

POSTSCRIPT: To answer the question in the subject line, Joe Biden’s warning to “gird your loins” renders in Korean as, according to Google Translate, Jolong saengsig!


Monstrous, one in a series

July 31, 2009

One of the darkest aspects of Stalinist Russia was its willingness to punish not only those who had offended it, but their friends and families, too. Otherwise brave men and women were coerced into obedience and false confession for fear that their children or grandchildren would suffer Stalin’s anger.

Well, Stalin lives on in the form of the wretched little man who rules North Korea and the loathsome toadies who serve him. Not only can one be sent to the gulag for the most capricious reasons, but they’ll get your family, too:

Kim Young Soon, once a dancer in Pyongyang, said she spent eight years in Camp 15 during the 1970s. Under the guilt-by-association rule, she said, her four children and her parents were also sentenced to hard labor there.

At the camp, she said, her parents starved to death and her eldest son drowned. Around the time of her arrest, her husband was shot for trying to flee the country, as was her youngest son after his release from the camp.

It was not until 1989, more than a decade after her release, that she found out why she had been imprisoned. A security official told her then that she was punished because she had been a friend of Kim Jong Il’s first wife and that she would “never be forgiven again” if the state suspected that she had gossiped about the Dear Leader.

She escaped to China in 2000 and now lives in Seoul. At 73, she said she is furious that the outside world doesn’t take more interest in the camps. “I had a friend who loved Kim Jong Il, and for that the government killed my family,” she said. “How can it be justified?”

And yet time and again America has naively tried to appease Pyongyang’s rulers, both under administrations Republican and Democratic. That makes us complicit in this nightmare, too.

(hat tip: Weekly Standard)