For well over a decade, the South Korean street and government have let China get away with murder — literally — of North Korean refugees, and South Korean POW’s and their families. Koreans quickly forgot their anger after hundreds of Chinese “students” rioted in downtown Seoul and beat and kicked Korean citizens (but, said the Chinese government that bused the mobs in, they really meant well).
But for once, I’m gratified to see South Koreans sharing my sense of outrage about something: China’s decision to roll out the red carpet for Kim Jong Il not even a week after South Korea buried 40 of the 46 sailors who were probably killed by a deliberate North Korean attack on one of their warships. This time, South Korea’s government has informally protested the Kim Jong Il visit and called in the new Chinese Ambassador for a chat. Is the teflon off the wok at last?
China is the world’s second-largest economy. It must think carefully about the damage to its international image if it continues to sponsor the North Korean regime. After all, North Korea is deeply involved in terrorism, drug and counterfeit money production and kidnapping. It operates scores of concentration camps where horrible human rights abuses take place. Before they meet Kim Jong-il face to face, China’s leaders must think hard whether it is better to prop up his benighted regime or change it. [Chosun Ilbo]
Conventional analysis, via the Korea Times, agrees that for China, it’s still business as usual. China doesn’t really give a damn about the deaths of the Cheonan crew and certainly didn’t give a damn about all those North Korean refugees it sent back to gulag. But aside from more moral pressure that China probably doesn’t care about anyway, no one seems able to imagine how to impose tangible security consequences on China for its behavior. More to follow on that another day.
It isn’t just the timing of this visit. It’s how obscenely ostentatious it all is, beginning with The Little One’s crossing of the border in his personal train, which is described as one rolling episode of Cribs: North Korea. Reporters photographed it as it crossed the border:
Fittingly enough, Kim Jong Il’s ride is a Maybach, a brand whose name hadn’t been heard much in the 50-year interlude after it was best known for making panzerkampfwagen engines:
The Chinese authoritarians went so far as to clean out an entire downtown luxury hotel for Kim Jong Il’s exclusive use. Then there was the arrival of the
pleasure squad dance troupe as it changed trains in China:
Presumably, they’re on their way to perform for a banquet to honor the assembled ChiCom and North Korean thugs:
When North Korean leader Kim Jong-il arrives in Beijing on Tuesday or Wednesday, he will be treated to a state banquet commemorating the 60th anniversary of China’s participation in the Korean War attended by the host country’s most illustrious officials.
Members of the Communist Party’s politburo line up to greet the visiting leader of North Korea in a tradition that dates back to the days of former North Korean leader Kim Il-sung. If a summit is difficult to schedule, top Chinese officials at least attend an official banquet in honor of the North Korean leader. [Chosun Ilbo]
One unintended consequence of Kim Jong Il’s high profile — I use the term figuratively, of course — is that video taken of him indicates that his left arm and left leg remain partially paralyzed from his 2008 stroke, as well as a degree of hair loss that fuels rumors that he’s on kidney dialysis … or off his Rogaine.
North Korea’s purpose for this obnoxious display may have been to show that Kim Jong Il is firmly in charge, but the effect is a Chinese-sponsored slap in the face to grieving South Koreans and starving North Koreans. Indeed, it may well be that a secondary purpose of the North Koreans is to create tension between China and South Korea. Here’s hoping that the balloon people will put every one of these pictures on a leaflet and shower them all over the monstrous veal pen The Little One rules.