PRESIDENT OBAMA, in a joint news conference with the visiting Prime Minister of Japan, says North Korea’s provocation are a sign of weakness, and this:
“The old pattern of provocation that then gets attention and somehow insists on the world purchasing good behavior from them, that pattern is broken,” Obama said in a joint news conference with Noda at the White House.
Let’s check back on that after November, when Wendy Sherman runs to the Oval Office with the blueprint for Agreed Framework III. In any event, the President is right that North Korea’s pattern isn’t so much a function of what we do; it’s a more a function of China’s pattern of supporting new sanctions one minute, and then violating them to arm and prop up North Korea the next minute. The relative bargaining power should shift as the U.S. economy continues is sluggish recovery and the indications about China’s economy grow increasingly alarming. But will we leverage that?
I CERTAINLY DON’T DEPRECATE the importance of mobilizing popular opposition to China’s brutal treatment of North Korean refugees. The modest-yet-impressive protests at the Chinese Embassy in Seoul inserted those issues into South Korea’s public consciousness, and may constrain future Chinese actions, if only slightly, because China doesn’t want this movement to grow, or to influence the South’s next election. But to claim victory because four refugees were saved while dozens of others were shipped to the slaughterhouse is claiming too much. Don’t confuse this with advocacy — because it isn’t — but China won’t be swayed by any form of protest or resistance until it becomes violent, by which I mean at least as violent as the protests the Chinese government organized in Seoul in 2008.
FIGHTERS FOR A FREE NORTH KOREA commemorates North Korea Freedom Week with a balloon launch condemning rule by “family dynasty:”
A group of former North Korean refugees on Saturday released 200,000 leaflets along with 1,000 U.S. one-dollar bills by air balloons toward North Korea from a northwestern South Korean border town. [….]
The organizers released the balloons from Imjingak, a “freedom” park built on the banks of the Imjin river in the border city of Paju close to the demilitarized zone dividing the North and the South. The balloons also carried 300 DVDs calling for an improvement of human rights in North Korea.
SOUTH KOREA’S HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION has come a long way from the days when it was a playground for the hard left and a global laughingstock:
The Commission’s report contains testimony from a woman who transported the bodies of massacre victims in Jeunggsan camp in South Pyongan Province. She testified that 3,721 people were killed from January to June of 2005, seeing the tag “No. 3,721” on a body being shipped off on an ox cart in June. The number tags for dead bodies start from Jan. 1 of each year.
I’ve been looking for that camp for about two years now.
PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN: The Chosun Ilbo says that Jang Song Thaek now controls Kim Jong Un’s bodyguard corps. Say it with me: this report could not be verified independently.
MARCUS NOLAND PREDICTS that nothing good will come of North Korea’s efforts to put more domestically produced products on the shelves where its elite go shopping.
THIS POST FROM WALTER RUSSELL MEAD is the most interesting thing I’ve read about China and U.S. policy toward it all year. No, this isn’t a China blog, but don’t miss this one.
GREAT MOMENTS IN SOFT POWER: Geez. Did you really have to beat up the blind dissident’s wife and daughter, too? I have to wonder if Tom Friedman would still write this column today, even if he could edit out the passages about China’s bullet trains. (Dropped calls are still far better than dropped trains.)
LiNK HAS A BLOG, and it looks good. The layout in particular makes me envious, as I grow tired of my own. Guys, get yourselves an RSS and I’ll put a feed on my sidebar.