Anju Links for 3/24: Another Stolen Life, More Measles in N. Korea, Cowardly Capital, and the Diplomacy of Blame

*   Doina Bumbea, artist, 1950-1997.    From this photo, it’s  almost as if she could foresee the tragedy of her own  life.


The circumstantial proof seems strong, though  not conclusive, that the  North Koreans lured  Doina from  Bucharest  to Japan and kidnapped her for the use of U.S. Army deserter James Dresnok,  who by all accounts is an utterly comtemptible person.  But  Doina’s family, which didn’t know what happened to her for all these years, seems convinced.  And there’s a pattern here.

Representatives from the National Association for the Rescue of Japanese Kidnapped by North Korea testified in the U.S. Congress last year. They said North Korea abducted at least 523 people from 12 countries around the world since the Korea War broke out in 1950 — 485 South Koreans, 16 Japanese, four Lebanese, four Malaysians, three French, three Italians, two Chinese, two Dutch, and one each from Thailand, Romania, Singapore and Jordan.   

[Update:   For anyone who has seen the film showing Dresnok’s son, I’d be interested in knowing about how old he appeared to be.   I wonder about the factual consistency between (a) Ms. Bumbea’s death in 1997, (b) the movie being brand-new, and (c) the son, as I recall reading, being about 10 years old.  Yes, women can have children at that age, but I’m just interested in putting those details together accurately.  And of course, if the boy isn’t Ms. Bumbea’s son, it’s still quite a coincidence that Charles Jenkins remembers that Dresnok had a Romanian wife named “Doina.”]

*   Measles Outbreak Continues.   There have been numerous reports of outbreaks of disease in North Korea recently, as I noted here:

Reports have noted outbreaks of scarlet fever, then typhoid, paratyphoid, and typhus.  Now thousands are infected with measles, and four have died.

The Scotsman, quoting the Red Cross,  reports that a total of 3,600 people have now been sickened with measles, but so far, the death toll is thankfully low, at just four.  I don’t know the extent to which the Red Cross is relying on government figures. 

I didn’t see many, perhaps any, such reports until late last year.  Maybe the general health of the population really is declining, and then again, maybe the borders have become porous enough so that we’re finding out about things that have been happening all along.

*   The Persistent Cowardice of Capital.  It might even  save us from the cowardice of our diplomats:

A government official said yesterday that the Bank of China, which is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, has foreign shareholders and is not willing to risk alienating itself from the international financial community by associating itself with money branded illicit by Washington. [Joongang Ilbo]

Like I said, it’s not about the $25 million, it’s about the money the $25 million dams up behind it.  If we could give them the $25 million without compromising our positions on (1) the principle that a deal is a deal, (2) counterfeiting and money laundering in general, and (3) enforcing UNSCR 1718 and 1695, I’d call $25 a small price to pay for enabling North Korea’s own self-demonization.  The fact that even the Bank of China doesn’t want to touch North Korean money, even under these extraordinarily political circumstances,  is a very good sign. 

“Any bank will think that there could be problems with its credit rating when dealing with money stamped illicit by Washington,” the official said. “Finding a bank to receive the money will be a difficult task.

Cowardly capital will has an absolute phobia of Kim Jong Il, and not even Condi Rice can change that now.

*   Another AF 2.0 skeptic,  career Foreign Service Officer David Straub,  speaks up to depress our expectations.  I don’t really know much about  Straub,  but nothing in  his bio or anything else I found suggests that he has a particularly strong ideological affiliation. 

“North Korea’s attitude in the most recent talks was just another indication that it is not prepared to fully give up its nuclear programs,” said Straub.

Pyongyang’s attitude also makes unlikely a full diplomatic normalization with Washington, he said.  [….]

“Direct, higher-level official talks are certainly possible and probably will occur,” Straub said.

“But a summit is extremely unlikely, and full normalization of relations appears very unlikely, given North Korea’s intentions and its attitude toward the six-party talks.”  [Yonhap]

What will Kim Jong Il have to do  for North Korea to become the villain of this circus in the eyes of  most journalists, diplomats,  and left-of-center politicians?  (OK, you’re already thinking, he could register as a Republican.)    Assuming their patience is exhaustible, will they support a stronger policy now that so many variations on the same old, weak one have failed?  It’s one thing to  bail on AF 2.0 as soon as its failure becomes manifest; they’re not invested in Bush’s success, after all.  But that doesn’t mean  they’ll be any less opposed to  a policy of increasing pressure, much less  strangulation. 

Example:  Nick Kristof, a strong defender of AF 1.0,  concedes  that North Korea had a uranium program in  violation of  AF 1.0 … and that we should have just ignored it.  I don’t even know how to argue with ideas like  that. 


  1. Information has been out there for years (as the movie was in the research and pre production stages). I did years of independant research and at the time of the documentary release Gabi Dresnok was a college student at the “prestigious” foreign language college in Pyongyang. Safely assuming Gabi (who was also Doina’s brother’s name) was between 18-20 (the movie was filming in 2006) so that would put Gabi’s year of birth circa 1988-1990 when Doina was approx. 36-37 years old (totally possible). Surprised to see there was not any other information about Doina’s parents as I remember finding some information that her father was possibly Russian and in the military. Regardless, the story is true but the spotlight has not been strong enough. The (4) defectors all married abductees. Jenkins – Hitoma Soga (Japan), Abshier – Anocha Panjoy (Thailand), Dresnok – Doina Bumbea (Romania), and Parrish – Siham Shraiteh (Lebanon). My only personal thoughts is once the women had children they were compelled to stay (what mother would leave their children). The (4) defectors tried to leave via the Soviet Embassy in 67 but they were rejected (communism). The Romanian embassy in Pyongyang was not too far away from the foriegner’s compound in the capital. Siham has traveled a few times outside DPRK to visit her mom and even taking one of her son’s but she always returned and was always under tight surveillance. Film was purchased for a US release so its a matter of time to see it for ourselves.