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ANOTHER APARTMENT BUILDING in Pyongyang is near collapse, according to the Chosun Ilbo. The report claims that the building’s foundation is settling into the ground, its walls are cracking, and residents are selling their apartments to other families and moving out (which tells you a lot about the state of civic ethics in Pyongyang). I think just about every news service except the AP has now reported something newsworthy about this story. (hat tip: GI Korea)
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LiNK SUMMIT: This is just about your last chance to register.
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EVENT IN SEOUL: “The Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) for Liberty cordially invites you to a special lecture on the Freedom barometer in Asia. It will take place at Soongmoon Alumni Building, 19:00, Monday, May 26.” It’s a five-minute walk from Daeheung Station, on the Number 6 Line.
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AS THE WORLD FOOD PROGRAM agonizes about whether it can afford to continue to feed poor North Koreans, rich North Koreans are stocking up on shark’s fins and digital televisions. No wonder the WFP’s donors are staying away in droves. And the WFP’s own failure to confront this contradiction, among others, has cost it much credibility.
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MICHAEL KIRBY ISN’T GOING QUIETLY INTO THE NIGHT. Speaking at Australia’s Lowy Institute, he called for North Korea’s leaders to be tried for crimes against humanity, saying:
After more than three decades as a judge, “I thought I was impervious to tears”, Kirby said in a lecture to Sydney’s Lowy Institute on Wednesday. But “hour after hour after hour” of testimony when he chaired a recent United Nations inquiry into human rights abuses in country wore him down, he said.
He also calls for Australians to “make a fuss” about North Korea:
“We should not simply sit quietly when great wrongs are being done. We should all be making a fuss,” he told AAP. “It’s hard to think of any other country in the world where the human rights situation is more dire. “I don’t regard it as a joke and I don’t think anyone else should.”
Michael Kirby deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for what he has done. Although that fact guarantees that he’ll never win one, I’d like to be the first — or among the first — to suggest we orchestrate a campaign to nominate him.
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IN THE WASHINGTON POST, North Korean refugee Yeon-Mi Park writes about North Korea’s black-market generation, and how it will change North Korea.
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THE KOREA HERALD FALLS FOR that biased, unscientific e-mail poll of North Korea “experts.” I guess it was just too good to check.
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HOW THE JAPANESE RED ARMY hijackers live in North Korea — a description and photo essay. North Korea was removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism on October 11, 2008. Discuss among yourselves.
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I DON’T OFTEN AGREE with Daniel Drezner, but his piece, “Five Myths About Sanctions,” is spot on. Frankly, I had planned to co-write something very similar to this, only with a North Korea focus. And the myths are persistent enough that I may still co-write it.
One point that I would emphasize in particular is that the widespread myth that sanctions don’t work derives from the ineffectiveness old-fashioned trade sanctions. Trade sanctions can be useful for limiting an opponent’s long-term capacity to build national power, but they aren’t particularly good at shocking a target into policy changes, focusing pressure on governments instead of populations, or working quickly.
Another point of agreement — the tools we might have used against Russia, financial sanctions seem particularly misdirected against a large and widely interconnected economy. This is a tool that’s easy to dull if you misuse it.
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OH, JESUS WEPT. Really?