Execution by Dogs or Machine Guns: “What Difference Does it make?”

You might be asking yourself, “what difference does it make what the method of execution was for Uncle Jang Song Taek in North Korea?”

There is a distinction in the brutal savagery if, in fact, the dog-style execution was the case.  The difference in the way that Jang died says something about Kim Jong Un and his power faction.  It is one thing to be quickly snuffed by bullets while blindfolded at the stake, quite another to be torn apart rather more inhumanely, and probably more slowly, by vicious dogs. One says, “get rid of this threat to power, quickly and without remorse”. The latter says “eliminate this threat to power, with vengeance, delight in the human suffering, and provide a barbaric spectacle and lesson for others to witness and be intimidated by”.

Military_dog_barking

If, in fact, the Uncle Jang’s execution was by dogs, that type of savagery is likely to be a “bridge too far” for this regime to stand. It blows the whole lie of a “Worker’s Paradise” completely out of the water and shoves factions within the country much closer to a “Peoples’ Power” tipping point.

So there is a huge difference that the method of execution makes. If it is the dog version, we had better be ready for a regime collapse and a humanitarian crisis the likes of which the world has not seen in recent times.

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The Cheonan Sinking: Wounded Tiger vs. Crippled Child “

 

North Korea: “The Cheonan Sinking: Wounded Tiger vs. Crippled Child “

 

May 22, 2010.

On the receiving end of any spanking from Seoul and the U.S., North Korea actually has a split personality disorder. On the military side, it is like a wounded tiger. On the economic side, with an economy stumbling at roughly the Zimbawe level, North Korea is akin to a crippled, little child. Depending upon where you decide to spank, the policy types in Washington and Seoul get to choose between slapping the wounded tiger or kicking the already crippled, young child. They must understand clearly, if they choose to hit–the “where” and “how” have very different consequences and, like many North Korea issues, the correct strategy is not always obvious.  

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North Korea: “The Cheonan Was Bait for an Internal Propaganda Frenzy “

The Cheonan sinking is an important internal propaganda victory that Pyongyang  created. With the loss of 46 South Korean sailors, Washington and Seoul had no choice. They took the bait.  In so doing, they have predictably teed up the opportunity now for Kim Jong Il to do a little defense of the homeland frenzy. This internal, “Defense of the DPRK” propaganda barrage that now follows the Washington Seoul “spanking” is  extremely valuable to the regime to enhance its stability at this delicate and difficult time of transition. The Dear Leader and his elite, inner circle know full well that, given Kim Jong Il’s 2008 stoke, his clock is already in overtime.

While we may never know for sure, the sinking of the Cheonan appears to be part of a deliberate teasing to coax a limited military response out of Seoul and Washington. Given the sophisticated, Kasparov-like chessmaster moves made by Pyongyang (typically outgunning U.S. negotiators concentrating on their checkers board), the Cheonan incident is just one of several moves coming up. Brinksmanship?  Hardly.  Pyongyang knows full well that at worst it faces a limited spanking response like perhaps joint military exercises (for show) or perhaps beefed up security between U.S and ROK forces on the peninsula combined with some rhetoric. Nothing more. Should Seoul engage in even the most benign cross-border military skirmish, Kim Jong Il can  then get away with his slash back and propagandize that as blocking the aggressor from the South, no matter how minimal the “deterrent” response is from Washington and Seoul.

There is another piece to this already complicated puzzle. Kim Jong Il needs a leadership-anointing opportunity to assist his youngest son, the Swiss-educated  Jong-Eun, to obtain some kind of military leadership, albeit limited, in defense of the fatherland. He also needs to cinch down the military power base for Jong-Eun. So how would this work? Whip the country and the KPA into a war frenzy, organize rallies in Pyongyang, put the KPA on alert, cut off trade and communications with the South. Perhaps even give “Brilliant Comrade ” (Jong-Eun) a military leadership role in the slash back exercise which can then be internally propagandized and then jerk him back to safety once the slash back has been undertaken. Military anointment completed and the internal film and propaganda machinery can then be unleashed. But before “Brilliant Comrade” is placed in the limited line of fire, the Dear Leader needed to test the waters and set up the U.S. an South Korean response. Hence, the Cheonan incident. The timing of this Cheonan chess move is not coincidental—the DPRK Party Congress is set to meet in a few weeks and it is likely that Kim Jong il will confirm then that the baton will pass to Jong-Eun.

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A Different Focus on North Korea – Business Reunification Out Over the Horizon

 

A Different Focus on North Korea – Business Reunification Out Over the Horizon

May 31, 2009 by davidfday

Negotiating table for the 6 Party talks.

Negotiating table for the 6 Party talks.

 

This is what the real Six Party Talks looked like.

The recent nuclear and missile tests combined with threats bandied about by Pyongyang present an ominous, threatening view of attention-grabbing brinksmanship. It is worrisome, to be sure. Negotiations to handle North Korea, or get them back to the table at least, will be a new and different challenge for Special Envoy, Stephen Bosworth, who is no stranger to difficult negotiations—after all, as the America Ambassador in Manila in 1986, he was one of the principal players in successfully negotiating the Marcoses out of Malacanang Palace and eventually out of the country. Remember, the Philippine situation in the mid-1980’s was still a very touchy matter. There were a million people exposed in the streets sandwiched between the armed forces of Juan Ponce Enrile and General Ver. North Korea will be an entirely different ballgame for many reasons.

To be sure, there will be plenty of commentary about North Korea, its threats, and the destabilizing prospect it exhibits for Northeast Asia.

One thing is for sure. Beyond the nuclear tests, bellicose threats and serious potential for a regime implosion with its humanitarian crisis to follow, there are prospects for a stabilized and developing future for the country out over the horizon. We never hear much about this possibility. It is just that very few people focus on the opportunities that are coming as the country eventually stabilizes and begins to open up.

DHL is.

DHL Vans in service in Pyongyang

DHL Vans in Pyongyang

Given the current deteriorating health of the Dear Leader, we are now entering the transition period for the regime.

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3G Mobile Phones in Pyongyang?

3G Mobile Phones in Pyongyang?

February 3, 2010 by davidfday

Koryolink Mobile Advertisement in North Korea

Koryolink, the North Korean subsidiary of Egypt-based Orascom, claims it now has 100,000 subscribers in its first year and looks to add several million more over the next 5 years.  The extent of this initial, pre-paid 3G subscriber feast north of the DMZ is indicative of powerful mobile access beyond the elite military leadership. Currently, Koryolink only provides domestic voice and text messaging with no international call or roaming service. There are some reports that mobile customers within metropolitan Pyongyang also have mobile internet service.

Reportedly, Pyongyang is now laying fiber-optic cables in various provinces as a key component of IT infrastructure development looking toward the government’s stated goal of a “mighty and prosperous nation” by 2012.

These IT developments in North Korea follow last month’s announcement that Americans would now be allowed into the country as tourists.

Interestingly, North Korea’s business development moves contrast with harsh statements against the South Korean government for participating in the U.S. disaster preparedness contingency plan in the event of a Regime implosion in the North. The business moves also come at a time when North Korea is facing even harsher UN sanctions as a consequence of the nuclear issue. The business moves certainly look like the Regime is beginning to face the inevitable “opening up” required to move towards a more prosperous system. That “opening up,” whether by 3G networks, fiber optic cables,  or American tourists wandering around the country, will place new and more stressful challenges on Pyongyang to maintain Regime stability and continuity. One only needs to look to the instability created within the former Soviet Union created by information about the prosperity and freedom of the outside world made more available to the population at large in the 1980?s as a result of American & Western tourists, fax and telephone.

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The Real Nightmare of a North Korea Collapse & Implosion

The Real Nightmare of a North Korea Collapse & Implosion

June 1,  2010 by davidfday  

Some commentators suggest that this Cheonan incident may have created be the perfect storm to elbow the regime over the cliff. The consequences of such a “Diem” strategy towards the DPRK would be disastrous. Even without being elbowed, the regime is still going to implode. It is not a question of whether.  It is simply a question of when—and and serious economic sanctions run the terrible risk of shoving the DPRK right over the edge.

A DPRK implosion will cause a massive disaster crisis on a scale the likes of which the world has never seen before. On the human side, the disaster will involve hundreds of thousands of refugees seeking to breach the Chinese and Russian borders in the Northern part of the country and even greater numbers attempting to cross the heavily- mined DMZ to get to Seoul. There are multi-million numbers involved in human relief efforts that will have to be sustained for a lengthy period of time since there is no economy. Then there are the WMD weapons, expertise, nuclear materials, and rogue military issues also in the equation which will have to somehow be handled with lightening speed before being spirited away into undesirable hands. The current regime is already unstable and approaching a delicate leadership time—a collapse risks an implosion of epic proportions, making Haiti look like a garden party. Russia and China understand this and will not buy into any serious, biting economic sanctions that shove North Korea closer to the brink.

There are two critical points here. The first is that there can never be stability on the Korean peninsula until the DPRK can create a modicum of economic progress. Every day that the country can move a bit towards its 2012 economic goal of “A Mighty and Prosperous Nation” is a win and pushes the implosion nightmare back a notch or two. This will require heavier involvement of the private sector, not less. As a policy goal, Seoul and Washington must find ways to get more of the private sector underway in North Korea. The heroine for peninsula stability last year was Hyun Jung-Eun, chairwoman of South Korea’s Hyundai Group who successfully negotiated the reopening of North-South trade after the Dear Leader shut it down. Hyun Jung-Eun personifies the type of private sector leadership that can brunt or possibly block the implosion nightmare– if given enough time.

The second point is that the current disaster relief efforts in Haiti and the Gulf of Mexico do not even rise to the level of dress rehearsals for a collapse of North Korea. Seoul will have to bear the brunt of the implosion nightmare. Unless the Blue House is sufficiently satisfied watching Washington’s current response to the crises in Haiti and with the BP oil spill, and is convinced that Washington is fully capable of handling a multiple-fold Haiti with lightning speed and minimal hiccups, it would be well-advised to get a massive, DPRK disaster master plan in place yesterday. This means strategic disaster planning, the staging of huge amounts of supplies, disaster management training and development, and repeated, coordinating rehearsals. The response time will need to be in hours, not days or weeks and a blistering fast disaster response cannot be cobbled together on this massive scale when it occurs. It will be way too late.

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The Terrifying Connection Between the Boston Marathon Massacre and North Korea

Pressure cooker bomb

Pressure cooker bomb construction

It is not that the pressure cooker bombs used in Boston have North Korean fingerprints on them (although, at this writing, it is unclear whose fingerprints were on those devices).  There is another ominous linkage between the massacre in Boston and the current level of rhetoric and predicament that North Korea now finds itself in.

Over the past several weeks, Pyongyang had again captured the attention of the global media as the poster child for upcoming nuclear holocaust.  Effectively, this media coverage has been a 24/7 infomercial for North Korean arms sales, nuclear technology, as well as the techniques for bullet-proofing a rogue regime or organization against the developed powers. The “on” switch for the Yongbyon reactor was flipped to set up its re-sale (aid) shutdown in the future. Likewise, the “off” switch for the Kaesong Industrial Complex was hit to set-up its eventual re-sale (more aid) upon a future re-start.  Both switch flips added immeasurably to the rhetoric, tension, and propaganda value as Pyongyang successfully played the global media at a level that would make a New York public relations firm envious.  The entire scenario looks just like a spoiled kid doing the backstroke on the floor of a grocery store right in front of the cashier—having lost the heated argument with his mother over a check-out candy purchase.

Then along comes these horrific pressure cooker bombs in Boston and Pyongyang’s infomercial is preempted from its prime time status. If it is media and global attention that Pyongyang wants or needs, mere rhetoric on its part is not going to be enough anymore.  

North Korea is now forced to actually “do” something if it wants its prime time status restored. Saber-rattling rhetoric is no longer going to cut it. Now, without a “do” (meaning, taking some kind of overt action) Kim Jong Un relegates his country’s entire rhetoric campaign way down on the list of global attention and priorities. The “cry wolf” risk is raising its ugly head.

Therein lies the very dangerous link between the Boston massacre and the current situation in North Korea.  

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Chalk Up Yet Another Successful Round for North Korea

Kim Kyong Hui - The Auntie

Kim Kyong Hui – The Auntie

North Korea has done it again, but this time at the helm of its new, young leader, Kim Jong Un. Meaning what? The current round of enflamed bellicosity has served North Korea well. It has been a 24/7 infomercial for the country’s arms sales client states, including Iran and Syria, as well as other potential rogue countries and terrorist organizations. The infomercial continues to underscore the respect that the most developed nations in the world accord North Korean arms technology and weaponry. It also sends a strong message of encouragement for other would-be nuclear regimes to get into the nuclear club as quickly as possible (i.e. Syria and Iran) as a means of status, and more importantly, regime preservation.

            The nuclear option, North Korea teaches, makes even the most outrageous conduct acceptable and immunizes a regime from attack. It is a powerful message and demonstration by Pyongyang that does not serve the interests of peace and stability well. Secretary Kerry’s entreaty to North Korea that the U.S. is willing now to sit down and talk, provided Pyongyang will agree to give up the nuclear card is somewhere between silly and naive. Perhaps it is a good policy statement for the folks in Foggy Bottom, but it is just not going to happen.

            Despite another successful dictator encouragement/arms sales PR round, Pyongyang still needs the final offramp to get off the current bellicosity highway. The threatened missile test is one option—but a dangerous one. The rhetoric is been cranked up so high that a missile test will have to be executed in a direction certain not to arouse confusion or mistake and a possible retaliatory strike. Even a short range missile test is a risky move for Pyongyang under the current atmosphere that it has created. What then is the offramp option? Prepare for a second nuclear test. This will allow Pyongyang to pull off a move not likely to generate a retaliatory strike– plus it has the added propaganda and PR advantage of North Korea thumbing its nose to the United Nations, China and the U.S. in the face of the recent sanctions imposed on it for the country’s last nuclear test earlier this year.

            So when is such a test likely to occur? The best propaganda move for Pyongyang would be to execute the test on or around April 15, when a large celebration is planned for the country. April 15th is a significant date for North Korea. It is the birthdate of the current leader’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung. The deceased grandfather is known as North Korea’s “Eternal President” or “President for life.”

There is greater significance beyond just the office held between the former North Korean leader, Kim Il Sung, and their current leader Kim Jong Un. The link between the two comes by a rarely spoken of yet incredibly important female by name of Kim Kyong-hui.

Kim Kyong-hui is one of the last living “old guard” within North Korea’s communist dynasty. She is Kim Jong Un’s aunt and just so happens to be the daughter of North Korea’s “Eternal President.” Many intelligence analysts who focus on Asian affairs believe Kim Kyong-hui is the true leader in North Korea today as she is the one who specifically instructs Kim Jong Un on each decision he makes.

So how does all of this fit together? April 15, and the days around it, is the opportunity for Kim Jong Un to please his most important Aunt and mentor. He can do this with a major display of the country’s military might. A show of strength works wonders to show her that her father’s country is in strong, capable hands.

It all comes together in the coming hours and days. This round has been won and the offramps of a nuclear test and the more risky, missile test are in sight.

 

 

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