Open Sources, Jan. 17, 2012

NORTH KOREA PERESTROIKA WATCH:  First it was lipstick, now it’s bicycles.  Where are Christine Ahn and Christine Hong to defend North Korean women against sexism?

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I’VE HAD A LOT TO SAY ABOUT NORTH KOREA’S METH PROBLEM, but this article on North Koreans smoking pot was interesting.  You wouldn’t think pot would catch on in a place without freely available snacks, and where being mellow is strictly forbidden.

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SOME TEA-LEAF-READERS made a really big deal out of Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s speech, and some language in it that they interpreted as conciliatory.  I found those interpretations to be rather strained, and I wonder what they have to say about this exceptionally long and hostile KNCA missive about the U.N. Command, “south Korea,” and alleged Yankee imperialist plans to dominate Asia.  It ends with a definitive statement that North Korea will never give up its “deterrence against all forms of war,” which tea-leaf-readers usually interpret to mean nuclear weapons programs.

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PRESIDENT OBAMA SIGNS BILL to help North Korean kids.  The bill, as you recall, drew fierce opposition from Christine Ahn’s comrades in the struggle, Jennifer Kwon Dobbs and Christine Hong, the latter writing just about the most rambling, disingenuous, and poorly sourced thing 38 North has ever stooped to publish.  (I wove my response into my review of “Escape from North Korea.”)  Congratulations to Young Kim of Rep. Ed Royce’s staff for spearheading this, and to Rep. Royce for showing, so early in his tenure as Chairman of House Foreign Affairs, what an effective champion he could yet become.

Reuters offers this must-read profile of Royce, who certainly didn’t strike me as especially low key in the February 2007 hearing where Chris Hill did his Joe Isuzu act to sell Agreed Framework II to a skeptical House Foreign Affairs Committee.  According to the Reuters piece, Royce intends to make Iran sanctions his number one priority, but in this blog post, Royce appears to advocate the same approach to North Korea.

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NEW NORTH KOREAN SLOGAN:  “Let us live not merely for today but for tomorrow!”  But doesn’t that imply that North Korea is less than an earthly paradise today?  In America, we have Grass Roots who tell you to live for today.  In North Korea, grass roots are something you eat while you’re living for a tomorrow you may not have.

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