North Korea’s Crumbling Facade & Imploding China Relations

Jang Song Taek formerly, Kim Jong Un's Uncle

Jang Song Taek
formerly, Kim Jong Un’s Uncle

 The execution of the No. 2 leader in North Korea, Kim Jong Un’s Uncle Jang Song Taek, was beyond brutal–savage by any account. At the time that this broadcast was made, it was believed that Jang’s execution was by machine gunning him down while tied to a stake (this was the fate of Kim Jong Un’s former girlfriend). Some hours after the show was taped, we learned of an even more savage execution from the Singapore Straits Times (http://www.straitstimes.com/the-big-story/asia-report/china/story/jangs-execution-bodes-ill-china-20131224 )

“According to the report, unlike previous executions of political prisoners which were carried out by firing squads with machine guns, Jang was stripped naked and thrown into a cage, along with his five closest aides. Then 120 hounds, starved for three days, were allowed to prey on them until they were completely eaten up. This is called “quan jue”, or execution by dogs.

Military_dog_barking

The report said the entire process lasted for an hour, with Mr Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader in North Korea, supervising it along with 300 senior officials.

The horrifying report vividly depicted the brutality of the young North Korean leader. The fact that it appeared in a Beijing- controlled newspaper showed that China no longer cares about its relations with the Kim regime.”

It is hard to imagine such savagery which puts it on a scale rivaled perhaps only by Pol Pot’s genocide, the Holocaust, and others of similar ilk. Whether or not the report is true, we shall have to wait and see but whether Jang was e executed by machine gun or by dogs, the result is the same–the former is less sensational.*

Jang’s execution means what for North Korea? Was there, in reality, a coup d’état or an attemped one?  Was the Jang execution a good or bad? Was it necessary?  

Patrick Border Citizen Diplomat Veteran North Korea Visitor

Patrick Border
Citizen Diplomat
Veteran North Korea Visitor

The North Korea policy wonks and observers are all over the map as to why this has happened and what it means for the future of the Hermit Kingdom. We turned to the fascinating perspective of an American who has recently returned from yet another trip to North Korea to understand what is actually going on on the ground. Patrick Border is an American citizen diplomat and veteran Hawaii North Korea traveler. We had an unusual conversation with Mr. Border as to the real “why” behind recent events in North Korea (Kenneth Bae, Merrill Newman and Dennis Rodman’s NBA exhibition game tryouts) and, in particular, Uncle Jang’s execution and its future implications.  

 

During this interview, Mr. Border discusses the armed conflict within North Korea between the respective factions of economic reformer Jang and the North Korean military, with officers of military being killed. He talks about the instability of the Regime, the “overreaching” that Jang’s execution signals as well as the potential for steps towards a “People’s Power” tipping point in North Korea. Mr. Border emphasizes that Jang was North Korea’s point man for its relations with China and that relationship is now bitterly shattered and he reveals just what he has seen in Pyongyang that proves this. He left us with the ominous perspective that North Korean Regime is now isolated–even more than ever with its old mentor and protector, China, shut out–and that the shabby facade that the Regime holds up to the global community is crumbling, its dirty linen has been aired like never before, and there are now clear factions in North Korea with people forced to choose sides.

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* On this particular point, you might be interested in a related piece on this website called, “Execution by dogs or machine guns: ‘What difference does it make?’” here. 


 

 

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Russia’s Asia “Pivot” with Focus on Energy

     In this broadcast,“Asia-in- Review” Host Hong Jiang explores Russia’s recent foreign policy and geopolitical shifts into Asia followed by its fascinating energy moves into the Region with international business lawyer & professor,  David Day.

     The program starts with the recent Russian foreign policy moves into the Middle East after the U.S. Syria debacle, followed by the new Russian military arms sales to Egypt, and some discussion of Russia’s client nuclear state, Iran. The Russian geopolitical moves into Asia are next, as Hong Jiang discusses with Mr. Day, Putin’s recent trip to Vietnam, along with Russia’s  (1) Kilo class submarine sales to Vietnam,(2)  mutual defense pact, and then (3), new joint venture operations between Vietnam’s PetroVietnam and Russian energy companies for joint oil & gas exploration efforts in both the South China (“East Sea” in Vietnam) and the Artic Seas.

     Next, the conversation turns to the critical and fascinating energy “pivot” that Russia is now engaged in, shifting its focus from its former European gas and oil pipeline customers to new pipeline developments with Japan, South Korea, and yes, even North Korea.

     Russia’s foreign policy regarding The Korean Peninsula is also probed.

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American Eyes Inside North Korea’s Nuclear Facilities and Others

Nicole FinnemanFormerly, Korea Economic Institute, Washington, D.C.

Nicole Finneman
Formerly, Korea Economic Institute,
Washington, D.C

 

 

 

Hosted by David Day, this television program aired statewide in Hawaii and features, as its special guest, Ms. Nicole Finneman, formerly with the Korea Economic Institute in Washington, D.C.  Ms. Finneman, an American eyewitness inside North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear facility and other fascinating facilities and locations throughout the country, talks about those experiences.

The conversation turns from the Yongbyon visit to the potential business and commerce development in North Korea and references American firms now lining up to do business in North Korea in the future, including the Korean-American-owned, Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (a private university).

Ms. Finneman talks about her visits to various commercial enterprises, the Koryolink mobile phone explosion in the country, and the market/commercial developments within the country. (Koryolink, a joint venture between the Egyptian company Orascom Telecom Holdings and the state-owned Korea Post and Telecommunications Corporation, is North Korea’s only 3G mobile operator.)

Nicole also discusses  her visit to the digital libraries at Kim Il Sung University and their remarkable high tech facilities which many universities in the U.S. currently do not have…but only connected to an intranet–no internet.

Finally, Ms. Finneman and David Day talk about the infrastructure for commerce and foreign investment that is now being put into place in North Korea and her crystal-ball view of the potential for change in that country.

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Eastern Europe & Stability on the Korean Peninsula

A provocative discussion on North Korea’s relationship with the former Soviet Eastern-Block countries and their impact upon the stability on the Korean Peninsula. This interesting conversation examines the diplomatic history, the current ongoing trade and aid relationships, and examines the soft power that these Eastern European nations now have with North Korea and how that soft power might be utilized to assist North Korea to navigate a path of economic reform.

This program also proves the viewer with an unusual glimpse of recent European private sector company investments in North Korea.

This television show , aired statewide in Hawaii, features as its special guest, Petra Dunne, a Kelly Fellow at Pacific Forum CSIS and a former member of the Czech Republic delegation to the UN. The show is hosted by David Day.

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Confrontation in the Koreas: Where is the Solution?

This is Part 2 of the television series of discussions between Pacific Forum, CSIS’s Dr. Kevin Shepard and international Lawyer David F.Day on the complex issues behind the confrontation between the Koreas. This in-depth discussion includes and examination of the humanitarian crisis facing the international community should North Korea collapse, China’s 3 province economic policy and its impact on China’s view of North Korea, and the beginnings of private sector investment in North Korea.

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The Secrets Behind the Military Confrontation in the Koreas

Dr. Kevin Shepard of the Pacific Forum CSIS and international lawyer David F. Day discuss the secrets behind the military confrontation in the Koreas and the shelling of Yeongpyong Island, South Korea.

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