* Cho Myong Rok, who is probably the second or third-most important North Korean official, is reported to be dying. Cho is the one Kim Jong Il designated to visit Washington and meet with President Clinton years ago.
Doctors expect the 79-year-old vice marshal to live another month or two, as he already had one of his kidneys removed 10 years ago, and has gone through treatment for cancer in his intestines, the organization said.
Here’s a brief Global Security profile. The report comes soon after word of the replacement of Premier Pak Pong Ju, another of the top echelon. One can hope that so many personnel changes at the top will start a new round of purging and backstabbing that will further sap the regime’s cohesion. He’ll be with Saddam soon enough.
* Projection, Perhaps? I wonder why a major South Korean paper would run with a piece of baseless and sensationlist garbage that stops just short of predicting an anti-Korean progrom in surburban Virginia because of the Virginia Tech murders. I see absolutely no sign of this here, and I question the judgment of people pulling their kids out of school or secluding themselves in their apartments. Could it be because they understand the temptation to project blame on entire nationalities just a little too well? In any event, the fears appear to be unsupported (and to me, deeply insulting).
* I’m not sure how meaningfully, but 31 nations have now taken at least some domestic measures to implement UNSCR 1718, which limits North Korea’s trade in WMD components, weapons, and luxury goods.
* One Man’s Story. I’m always interested in stories about how ordinary North Koreans live through hunger, and how they come to the decision to reject their government and leave.
At that time, the greatest obstacle to our play was hunger. When you run around and play, you need food to regain your energy. There were even times we had no strength to sit up and play. Rather we lay, slumped. During those times, we sat around day-dreaming. We would play truth or dare and pretend to smoke with cigarette butts we had secretly collected and talked nonsense while lamenting over our lives. [Daily NK]
It’s sad to think of kids having to grow up like this; at the same time, their resilience and the loyalty of their friendships strikes you.