The Kind of Comedy That Makes for Cynicism

Brian Fung’s attention to the Korean peninsula is welcome, but not if crackpot campaigns, like a “Peace Forest” in the DMZ is all he can find to report about.

A 13-year-old American plans to visit North Korea this week and perhaps meet leader Kim Jong Il to pitch his idea for a “children’s peace forest” in the demilitarized zone.


Supporting Seoul’s Need to Reprocess Nuclear Fuel

Seoul and Washington are kicking the nuclear reprocessing can down the hill – until this autumn.

Korea and the United States have agreed to start talks about the revision of a bilateral atomic energy agreement this fall, it emerged on Monday. Seoul is keen to reprocess its own spent fuel rods, which it is barred from doing under the agreement, but Washington has so far been reluctant to permit it since the process results in the production of weapons-grade plutonium.

But in a meeting Monday with senior Foreign Ministry officials in Seoul, Robert Einhorn, the U.S. State Department’s special advisor for non-proliferation and arms control, apparently signaled willingness to consider Seoul’s proposal to use a process known as pyroprocessing, which does not produce plutonium that is pure enough for nuclear weapons.

Arirang Love (Video)

Although I don’t quite understand why the spectacle of Nuremberg-like mass formations at the Arirang Games are any different from the bloated spectacles at the Olympics, I reserve a special revulsion for the North Korean variant. But, who could ridicule pandas?

North Korea’s Arirang mass games opened Monday evening in Pyongyang, with about 100,000 people, ranging from schoolchildren to professional artists, taking part in the gymnastics and artistic spectacle.

A new part dubbed “Friendship Arirang” was added to the performance, stressing Pyongyang’s friendly ties with China following leader Kim Jong Il’s visit to the country in May.

Box Mines Highlight Public Safety, Not Invasion Fears

North Korean invasion by box mine?

A 45-year old South Korean man was killed Saturday (31 July) and his 25-year old companion was injured when a wooden box land mine they found while fishing exploded. The box land mines were part of a cache of about 36 discovered by ROK authorities near the Imjin River, at the DPRK-ROK border. Box land mines were also discovered by local citizens on nearby islands. It is currently believed that the mines made their way south due to heavy rains inundating Kaesong and its surrounding areas in the DPRK.

It’s Hard to Believe in the Lee Administration

Thermal image of Cheonan sinkingErich Weingartner underscores the most annoying aspects of the Cheonan disaster: the Lee administration and the ROK military establishment keep doubt alive with their ham-fisted performances.

No Money Backing the Stakes in the Koreas

Using foreigners as political foils resonates politically in the Koreas, where no one really takes the expressions to task. Case in point: ROK Foreign Minister Yu Myunghwan’s “Dear Leader-ing threat to South Korean dissenters. I agree with Yuna, that Minister Yu should keep his job. But, he needs to apologize and refrain from associating dissent with treason.

But, in the Koreas, it’s the leftists who are the real xenophobes.

The JSDF [Japanese Self-Defense Forces] observation will take place in the midst of China’s sensitive response to the joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises in the East Sea. Japan’s role is likely to add to existing tensions on the Korean Peninsula if China and North Korea issue unfavorable responses.

With Friends Like New Delhi

Brian Fung is rightly bewildered by the DPRK’s barter trade with India for oil, but a mere $2 million in another category is enough to wreck a friendship.

Perhaps a little more attention is in order since India is selling more than mere oil to North Korea. Last year, according to Indian trade data, India also exported $2 million in goods in a category called “nuclear reactors, boilers, machinery and mechanical appliances”–most likely water pumps, computer data storage units, ball bearings and machine tools. Could they be used to maintain a nuke plant in some way? Maybe.

If the ROK-US Alliance Were a Picture…

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, center, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, second from right, are briefed at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas. (Pool photo by Paul J. Richards)…it would look spruce. But, really, this looks like damage control.

U.S. officials said they expect an announcement Wednesday of “country-specific sanctions” against North Korea. One official described them as “strong,” and said they would target banks and other institutions but declined to be more specific.

What to Do about North Korea? (Video)

Here’s an impressive panel of Korean experts discussing the “North Korean problem”.

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The Power of One Poster

“Ready to crush any attack with a single blow!”It’s a bizarre way to prove if the DPRK really did sink the Cheonan, a propaganda poster spotted by a Chinese businessman in the DPRK has become the latest argument for North Korean culpability.

Radio Free Asia based its report on an interview with the businessman, who took the photo of the poster on a recent trip to North Korea. The poster is shown on the RFA Korean Web site. The RFA did not specify the date the photo was taken but, citing unnamed sources, said it was likely the poster was made after the Cheonan sinking to encourage military heroism among North Korean soldiers.

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