Search results for October 11, 2008 discuss needle

Anju Links for 8 July 2008

NOT-VERY-FAMOUS LAST WORDS: 

Most observers now rate the 100,000-man South Korean army as the best of its size in Asia. Its fast-moving columns have mopped up all but a few of the Communist guerrilla bands. And no one now believes that the Russian-trained North Korean army could pull off a quick, successful invasion of the South without heavy reinforcements. [Time, June 5, 1950]  

MAD SHEEP DISEASE UPDATES: In a fine example of the unrealized expectations of government-funded media, KBS draws a strained comparison between the Mad Cow protests, which are largely based on distortions, on pro-democracy protests in the 1980′s. I don’t agree with censoring irresponsible and inaccurate media outlets, but I just as strenuously disagree with subsidizing them. But of course, that’s only the beginning of the problem:

Other illogical propaganda slogans include the allegation that of about 5 million American patients with Alzheimer’s disease, 250,000-650,000, or 5-13 percent, are presumed to have been infected with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of BSE. A spoof Korean movie title “Many Holes in Your Brain” has also been successful in linking Alzheimer’s disease with mad cow disease.

Sensitive children and students have responded to the slogan, “You can die if you eat 0.01g of American beef” — referring to the scrapie prion protein (PrPsc), the substance that causes BSE. Others say even vegetarians can die from cosmetics or instant noodle soup containing beef byproducts. Although these products have nothing to do with mad cow disease, the allegations are effective in exaggerating a vague sense of danger. [Chosun Ilbo]

So what do we do about the fact that distortions own the public debate and truth can’t get in a word edgewise? The answer: nothing. It’s called national Darwinism. A free, prosperous society that becomes anarchic and ungovernable upon contact with urban legends will not long remain so. The inevitable consequences of South Korea’s voluntary secession from reason do not implicate America’s vital interests unless we have troops there.

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, PT 1: From then-ACLU Director Roger Baldwin after a 1947 visit to Korea, these prophetic words:

The small intellectual elite that runs Korean politics tends to be either Communist or reactionary. “In Korea,” said Baldwin, “the middle of the road is conspicuous by its absence. We were unable to find a democratic center.” One result is continuous political violence. Korean politicians are hardly safe in their homes. [Time]

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, PT. 2: South Korean Communists “spread rumors that the U.S. authorities had confiscated all rice for shipment to Japan and the U.S.”

A VICIOUS ANTI-CHINESE POGROM in Korea in 1931 killed hundreds of Chinese.

A CHARITABLE VIEW OF THE RUSSIAN OCCUPATION of North Korea, circa October 1945: “Their attitude toward civilians is: ‘Give us what we want and keep the hell out of our way.’ They brought fine weapons but few supplies, and they are living off the country. That probably stimulates the impression of widespread looting.”

BUSH GOES TO THE G-8 and seeks to calm down our “upset” Japanese allies with words that now seem strikingly insincere:

As a condition for sending aid and improving relations with the impoverished North, Japan long has pushed for the resolution of the issue of the abductions.

Bush recalled a White House meeting a few years ago with Sakie Yokota, the mother of a 13-year-old Japanese girl kidnapped by North Koreans agents on her way home from school in 1977. “As a father of little girls, I can’t imagine what it would be like to have my daughter just disappear,” Bush said at the news conference. “So, Mr. Prime Minister, as I told you on the phone when I talked to you and in the past, the United States will not abandon you on this issue.” [AP]

HAS AL QAEDA BEEN DRIVEN from its last urban redoubt in Mosul? My gut tells me that this much-discussed report from the Times of London is a bit ahead of itself — “being driven from” would probably be more accurate, as many cadres have no doubt gone to ground. This doesn’t mean that the trends in the wars against both al Qaeda and Sadr aren’t highly positive; it just means that the best indicator to watch isn’t usually a short-term decline in attacks or casualties, it’s weapons cache seizures.

BELOW THE FOLD TODAY: Human Rights Without Frontiers passes along the story of a North Korean defector who recently went to the Hague to meet with Dutch parliamentarians.
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Happy New Year, Now Pay Up

Those who read only headlines will believe that Kim Jong Un has declared peace with South Korea. Those who read on, and who know anything of the background to the story, will see that Kim Jong Un’s New Year’s Speech is a demand for Park Geun-Hye to resume massive financial aid and make territorial concessions to the North, in line with what Roh Moo-Hyun agreed in his 2007 going-out-of-business summit.

It’s debatable whether the message was really all that conciliatory.  Kim, whose country has launched two major military attacks and multiple terrorist attacks against South Korea since 2010, called on “anti-reunification forces” in South Korea to cease their hostility toward the North.  Good to know.  As Reuters’s Jack Kim notes, any mention of North Korea’s nuclear programs was “conspicuously absent” from the speech.  In fact, the speech is more demand than offer:

Kim on Tuesday asked for a détente — but with prerequisites that the conservative Park will be reluctant to agree to. To promote inter-Korean relations and hasten unification, Kim said, both sides must implement joint agreements signed off years ago by liberal, pro-engagement presidents in Seoul. Those agreements call for, among other things, economic cooperation between the countries, high-level government dialogue, and the creation of a special “cooperation” zone in the Yellow Sea, where the North and South spar over a maritime border.

Park, who takes office next month, has said she’ll resume humanitarian exchanges and small-scale economic projects with the North — efforts that were shuttered under outgoing hard-liner Lee Myung-bak. But Park promises to hold off on major economic cooperation unless the North disassembles its nuclear weapons program, something Pyongyang says it will never do.  [WaPo, Chico Harlan]

The terms ostensibly agreed in 2007 are worth rereading, if only to remind yourself just how dangerously naive Roh was, and to take stock of how many of the terms the North has since violated.  But what did Roh actually give up?  During South Korea’s most recent presidential election, there were persistent reports that Roh (perhaps with opposition candidate and former Roh aid Moon Jae-In’s knowledge) compromised the integrity of the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime extension of the DMZ in the Yellow Sea.  The fact that the conservative press pushed the story is suspect, but part of the reason it became a major issue is that it rings true.  Roh’s associates deny that they agreed to give up the NLL, but concede that they discussed creating a “a peace zone in the West (Yellow) Sea,” under which North Korea would have gained access to most of the disputed waters south of the NLL and west of Incheon, plus the Han Estuary.

Oddly enough, Roh’s people say there are no records of exactly what they discussed with the North Koreans in that regard, and Roh himself wasn’t immediately available for comment, so the precise meaning of “peace zone” will now be open to different interpretations.  Even if Park knew what this North Korean demand meant, she could never accede to it.  It would mean giving up South Korea’s control over some of its most important fishing waters, and one of its more important sea lanes. As a general matter, Park supports aid and expanding trade with the North, but not without certain preconditions.  The North will not compromise its demand or accept preconditions.  So far, in other words, events are unfolding just about the way I’d expected.

And of course, as Sung Yoon Lee points out, none of this means the North isn’t about to do something nasty.  Some analysts continue to speculate that North Korea is about to test a nuke.  Their evidence looks a little flimsy to me, but with the U.N. still failing to agree on any reaction whatsoever to North Korea’s missile test — defenders of Susan Rice, take note — the North may see this as the perfect moment to continue perfecting better and smaller nukes.

Done Your Christmas Shopping Yet?

Here’s the perfect gift for that hard-to-please someone who needs to assassinate a few meddlesome dissidents, defectors, and human rights activists. Made in North Korea, and probably not available on Amazon:

Background on North Korea’s poison needle attacks here and here. (But really, they just want to be loved.)

North Korea was removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism on October 11, 2008. Discuss among yourselves.

Bad assassin! Bad, bad, bad!

The man at the center of a Cold War-style plot to kill a prominent defector with a poisoned needle was jailed for four years by a South Korean court today.

The man, a defector named Ahn, was found guilty of plotting to murder a second defector, Park Sang Hak, in September last year. Park, who heads Fighters for Free North Korea, is one of the leading lights in the floating of anti-Kim regime leaflets across the DMZ by balloon.

“Severe punishment is needed for crimes that can threaten the safety and very existence of the Republic of Korea,” the judge from Seoul Central District Court commented in the ruling.

Does anyone know what the maximum punishment is for breaking out in uncontrollable laughter in a South Korean courtroom? Because if I ever do that for any reason, I want to be sentenced by this guy.

Ahn was also ordered to pay in fines approximately the amount he received from North Korea, $10,400.

Ahn, who originally defected to South Korea in 1995, allegedly came into contact with a North Korean agent in 2010 while working on inter-Korean economic projects in Mongolia, and it was then that he was ordered to carry out the killing of Park. [Daily NK]

North Korea was removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism on October 11, 2008. Discuss among yourselves.