Terrorism (NK)

North Korea and terrorism, a response to Micah Zenko

Zenko, who is a made member of the Council on Foreign Relations, has written an article for Foreign Policy with the headline, “Sorry, But North Korea Isn’t a State Sponsor of Terrorism.” I tried to post a comment, but because FP‘s user-unfriendly website prevents that, I’ll just post that comment here.

I wish Mr. Zenko knew enough about his subject matter to question the State Department’s assertion that North Korea hasn’t sponsored any acts of terrorism since 1987. In fact, it has done so repeatedly and recently.

Around the time Mr. Zenko published his article, North Korean agents attempted to murder a North Korean refugee in Denmark. A few months before that, regime agents attempted to kidnap a North Korean student in Paris.

In December, a federal appeals court allowed a suit by the family of a U.S. lawful permanent resident to proceed against the North Korean government for his alleged abduction and murder. This year, a federal district court judge ruled that North Korea has supported Hezbollah attacks against Israeli civilians.

Last July, “Western diplomats” told The Telegraph that North Korea had struck a deal to sell rockets to Hamas. Let’s also talk about the North Korean arms shipments to Hamas and Hezbollah that featured in these recent U.N. panel of experts reports.

Let’s also talk about the poison needle assassination campaign against emigres and human rights activists, resulting in convictions of North Korean agents in South Korean courts. Or Pyongyang’s repeated threats against civilian targets in South Korea, Japan, and the United States.

The State Department’s refusal to acknowledge the overwhelming evidence of North Korea’s sponsorship of terrorism is obtuse and mendacious. State denies these things to support policy decisions it has made for other reasons. That doesn’t make the assertion (and consequently, Zenko’s article) factually true.


  1. Mr. Zenko also made no mention in the article about the Yeonpyeong Island shelling that killed South Korean civilians. Arguably one of the reasons for the attack was to send a message to South Korean civilians that if they did not reign in the Lee government’s tough NK stance at the time that they could be next to be shelled.

    As far as the Cheonan sinking not being terrorism, would the attack on the USS Cole not be terrorism as well using Mr. Zenko’s logic? What about the Beirut Marine barracks bombing? These were all soft military targets that were attacked without being provoked.



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