Thursday, December 27, 2012

NEW SEC DEF?

Rosa Parks thinks it should be Michelle Flournoy. Having been quite impressed by Flournoy at her fairly recent visit to BYU, I think I would concur.

UNDER THE RADAR

is most of the work by NGOs like Global Resource Services.
GRS has worked all over North Korea, in cities and villages, in nine of its ten provinces. GRS professional staff and volunteers—all Americans—have carried out roughly 200 development projects in agriculture, health, and education and cultural exchange. That adds up to almost 1,100 individual visits by Americans to North Korea since 1997. And North Koreans have made about 200 individual return visits to the U.S.
Interesting.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

BACK TO BLOGGING?

Perhaps. If so, what better place to start with than an interesting article on the well-known militarization of North Korean society? A few anecdotes from a DPRK comic book aimed at 5-year-olds:
" ... Young guerrilla girl Kumsuni delivers letters to comrades, and one day is caught by the police. When the policemen demand the girl disclose information about the guerillas, she spits into the faces of her interrogators. As the policemen drag Kumsuni to her execution, the heroic girl cries out 'Long Live General Kim Il Sung!'"

...Pre-teen boy Ri Kwang-ch'un is a member of a secret anti-Japanese children's organization. Along with others, he helps the "Red Guard uncles". However, one day policemen apprehend the boy. When the "bastards" torture the young patriot, Ri cuts off his own tongue in defiance. His last words are "Long Live the Korean Revolution!"
I am just beginning to read Steven Pinker's fascinating The Better Angels of our Nature. If Pinker's somewhat counter-intuitive argument about the general decline in violence and the glorification of violence is valid, then North Korea stands as a troubling, reactionary counter-example.

I suspect that the author of the article about the DPRK, Tatiana Gabroussenko, makes a bit too much of the supposed difference between the gentle, Confucian, pacifist South Koreans (who just elected the daughter of a brutal military dictator to the ROK Presidency) and the blood-thirty, martial North Koreans. However, her final question is worth considering:
My concern, however, is whether South Korean society can afford to bring up it's offspring in a similarly pacifist and cotton-wool way. After all, Korea is still technically at war, with all capable men to be enlisted at the time of conflict. There is no doubt that logistically and economically the South Korean military is strong enough to defend itself. However, wars are won not only with good equipment, but with appropriate spirit and psychological preparedness as well.

In combat with the North Korean army, the South Korea would face foes who have been taught since kindergarten not to be too squeamish about crushing the heads of the enemy with a club and to be prepared to cut off their own tongues in case of danger for their comrades.

Monday, July 9, 2012

P'YŎNGYANGOLOGY AT ITS FINEST

Who is the mystery woman at Kim Jong Un's side? A sister? Wife? Mistress of the moment?

What do we make of the appearance of Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Mickey Mouse et al at a Kim Jong Un-attended performance? A subtle sign of warming toward the U.S.? Or were the panda bear costumes (taken by some as a sign of respect/affection for China) all at the cleaners? I will go out on a limb and directly address the last line of the Telegraph article:
"It was unclear whether the Disney characters were officially licensed."
I'm going to guess that they weren't.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

P'YŎNGYANG SPRING?

if one looks at women now being allowed to wear pants and an increased availability of pizza and choco pies, perhaps.

On the other hand...
The ‘Dear Leader’ Kim Jong Il’s sudden death in December of last year brought a tighter grip across the border. Going even further, Kim Jong Un ordered a “guilt by association” system, which is a collective execution system which aims to terminate the entire family of anyone who has attempted defection. Also, 20,000 additional soldiers were dispatched along the border region to tighten security in the area. Immediate execution of anyone caught attempting to defect was ordered as well. On December 31st, 3 men crossing the river in Hyesan, Yanggang province were executed by firing squad and a couple in their 40s attempting defection in Hoiryoung, Hamkyung Buk-do were executed as well.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

MILESTONE

A bit bigger than anything Asian: the first man-made object (Voyager 1) to ever reach the edge of the solar system and (perhaps soon) enter interstellar space. Not quite as dramatic as "a small step for [a] man" but still an important and notable accomplishment.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

"A pundit embed in the Northeast Corridor"

Dan Drezner rides the Acela and channels his inner Tom Friedman.
8:35 AM: I get to Union Station to find much of it being renovated. There are cranes and construction equipment everywhere! What is [t]his, Shanghai?! Of course, in the Far East, they're just building new things, whereas here in the decaying United States, we're trying to preserve our crumbling monuments to modernity [Oh, that is Pulitzer GOLD, baby!!--ed.]
Good for a few chuckles.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

SAMSUNG IS #1

in the U.S. and Europe:
Consumers in the US and Europe have named South Korean brand Samsung their favorite consumer electronics brand. Samsung was favored over other well known consumer electronics (CE) companies including Apple, Sony HP, Nokia, LG, Panasonic, Toshiba and Dell according to an index released by Strategy Analytics on June 6. "Samsung has made a remarkable journey from no-name brand to global leader in less than 15 years," says David Mercer, principal analyst at Strategy Analytics and the report’s author. "
Kudos.

Monday, June 4, 2012

"THE CAR HIT CHEESE BACON MUSHROOM FACE"

Makes sense.

Translating is often difficult.

TIANANMEN NUMEROLOGY

from the New York Times.
[The Shanghai Stock exchange]... index fell 64.89 points on Monday, a figure that looks like June 4, 1989. In yet another unusual development, the index opened on Monday at 2346.98 — a figure that looks like the date of the crackdown written backward, followed by the 23rd anniversary.

Chinese censors, showing characteristic heavy-handedness, especially on anniversaries of Tiananmen Square, began blocking searches for “stock market,” “Shanghai stock” and “Shanghai stock market” and started deleting large numbers of microblog postings about the numerical fluke.
Those that read any real cosmic significance into the numbers probably misunderstand the nature of numbers. Given the limited number of likely possibilities for the Shanghai Stock Exchange numbers, the likelihood of something echoing Tiananmen occurring is probably much higher than most of us would guess.

Still, I can only imagine how exhausting it must be to be a PRC internet censor. Always on the watch for the latest subversive or dangerous idea no matter how outlandish it may be. Always being outpaced by at least a few tech-savvy netizens. Always hoping that the status quo can be maintained no matter the cost. I get tired just thinking about it.

Friday, June 1, 2012

CHINA IN THE NEWS

Growing concern about "left-behind children" (liushou ertong) whose parents migrate to cities to work leaving the children to be raised by grandparents or other relatives.
Nearly 58 million children, almost all in the countryside, are growing up without one – or, often, both – parents, according to state-run media, citing a 2010 survey by the All-China Women’s Federation. Nearly 80 percent are cared for by grandparents, while some are simply left to fend for themselves — 4.2 million, the survey found.
Growing concern about the ongoing disputes over the South China Sea, this time between the PRC and the Philippines.
“We’re just pawns,” said Roberto Romulo, a former foreign secretary of the Philippines who argues that China is flexing its muscles in a bid to gain unimpeded access to vast reserves of natural gas and oil believed to be buried under the South China Sea. “China is testing the United States, that’s all it is. And China is eating America’s lunch in Southeast Asia.” More recently, a senior Chinese military officer even dismissed any legitimate role for the United States in the South China Sea. “The South China issue is not America’s business,” Gen. Ma Xiaotian, the deputy chief of general staff of the People’s Liberation Army, said in an interview broadcast Monday by Phoenix TV in Hong Kong. “It’s between China and its neighbors.”
And Google decides to alert Chinese users when they use a search term that is likely to be blocked in China. Not sure who consequential this will be since most Chinese netizens probably use Baidu anyway.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

MERITOCRACY? WHAT MERITOCRACY?

So writes Pei Minxin of today's China.
Contrary to the prevailing perception in the West (especially among business leaders), the current Chinese government is riddled with clever apparatchiks like Bo who have acquired their positions through cheating, corruption, patronage, and manipulation.
Worth considering.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

PEOPLE IN GLASS HOUSES ...

better watch out!
China's first buildings to feature glass curtain walls will reach the end of their design life in the next few years, prompting experts to call for better maintenance of the structures to prevent accidents.

Glass curtain walls, in which a building's facade is made of sheet glass held in place by framework, began to appear in Chinese blueprints in 1984, and have an average design life of 25 years.

The durability of supporting parts, such as bolts and sealant, is generally 10 to 15 years.
In Shanghai, about 900 of at least 4,000 such buildings are more than 15 years old.
...
In Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, a 20-year-old woman was hit by shards of glass from a window that burst in a glass facade as she walked down the street on July 8. Part of her left leg had to be amputated.

A month later in Yiwu, Zhejiang province, a 20-meter-high glass ceiling in a garment market came crashing down, injuring several children, one seriously.
I wonder what the situation is in other parts of the world. Similar?

Friday, April 27, 2012

HONEY HUNTERS OF NEPAL

I can't look at these photos and not conclude that I have lived a soft life.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

BAD BLOOD

One aspect of the DPRK under Kim Jong Un that is becoming increasingly apparent is a rather nasty and direct tone. No one has ever accused the DPRK of being terribly diplomatic in its propaganda with epithets such as "human scum" and "reptile historians" abounding in the KCNA reports. However, this seems rather tame to the banner that presently sits atop the KCNA website: "Let us cut off the windpipes of the Lee Myung Bak-led swarm of rats" In addition, the KCNA has helpfully included eight cartoons with a common theme. An example:
Add to this another KCNA declaration that singled out not only Lee Myunng-bak but also South Korean media outlets such as the Dong-a Ilbo and promised:
Once the above-said special actions kick off, they will reduce all the rat-like groups and the bases for provocations to ashes in three or four minutes, in much shorter time, by unprecedented peculiar means and methods of our own style.
The sum total is somewhat troubling.

Monday, April 23, 2012

DPRK INSIDE BASEBALL

Fascinating stuff from the ever-reliable Aidan Foster-Carter here. Leadership re-shuffling, reading the sartorial tea-leaves (why does Kim Jong Un wear a Western-style suit on occasion?), and this thought-provoking observation:
Observing this, one can only wonder if the hereditary principle is being expanded out from the Kims alone to solidify a wider yangban class in Pyongyang. In the 21st century, on the world’s most dynamic continent, a reactionary reversion to bloodlines in what is supposedly a socialist and meritocratic regime gives scant hope of change, much less progress.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

KIM JONG UN'S APRIL 15 SPEECH

In one fell swoop, Kim Jong Un probably uttered more words in public than his father ever did (English transcript of the speech here).

Two things jump out at me:

1) Ever more emphasis on the importance of the leaders:

Comrades, the great 100-year history of the Kim Il Sung nation is a history that proves the iron truth that dignity and great prosperity of a country and nation exist only when an excellent leader is served.
...
Holding aloft the banner of death-defying defense of the leader before everything else and resolutely defending the lifeline of the chuch’e revolution at the forefront in days of honor and in days of ordeal as well is the greatest exploit of all the exploits that our people’s army has made before the revolution.

2) A celebration of nuclear weapons as the final step in Korea's efforts to be autonomous and independent:

While prided itself on a 5,000-year-old long history and brilliant culture, because it was not under correct leadership and lacked the power to defend itself, the very appearance of our nation a century ago was a small and weak, pitiful colonial nation that had to endure flunkeyism and national ruin as its fate.

However, the 100-year history of the Kim Il Sung nation put a permanent end to the stormy history of suffering, and lifted the dignity of our country and people to the highest state in the history of the nation.

Then or now, there is no change in the geopolitical position of the nation, but the small and weak nation of yesterday – which had been mercilessly trampled upon at each festival scene of the powers – has today changed into a dignified political and military power and our people are displaying dignity as independent people who can never be toyed with by anybody.
...
Military technological supremacy is not a monopoly of imperialists any more, and the time has gone forever when the enemies threatened and intimidated us with atomic bombs.
It is difficult to read such sentiments and not come to the conclusion that the likelihood of a negotiated "solution" to North Korea's nuclear weapons program is rather low.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

FAIL?!?

Apparently that is what the North Korean rocket launch did. Sigh.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

BIRDS OF A FEATHER?


Details on the photo and photographer here.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

PRUDENT CAUTIONS

from Marcus Noland who, in "The black hole of North Korea," reveals that what we think we know about the DPRK economy is most likely based on less than solid foundations. A couple of interesting snippets:
The most widely cited source on North Korean trade, the South Korean government agency KOTRA, carefully screens the mirror data for such obvious anomalies. But KOTRA excludes the North's trade with South Korea on the constitutional grounds that inter-Korean trade is domestic. Because of budget cuts, or a desire to downplay North Korea's Middle East connections, KOTRA also ignores trade with many Middle Eastern countries like Algeria and Saudi Arabia, both of which report trade with North Korea to the U.N. statistical agencies. As a result, KOTRA greatly exaggerates the prominence of the trade partners that it does record, with important geopolitical implications. The New York Times and the Washington Post, for example, have both reported that China accounts for about 80 percent of North Korea's trade. The actual figure is roughly half as much, which means North Korea is a lot less economically dependent on China than those figures imply.

...
Sadly, we don't even know how many North Koreans there are, how many serve in the armed forces, how many died in the famine, or how many have fled their country. For some purposes this is fine -- we can count their tanks even if we don't know how they pay for them. But for others -- how much aid should we provide, are sanctions likely to work, and ultimately, is time on our side or theirs -- we would be wise to ask the questions "what do we know" and "how do we know it" when formulating policy on North Korea.
The whole thing is worth a read.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

NOW TELL US WHAT YOU REALLY THINK

The homepage of the KCNA includes an interesting declaration (hat tip to NKNews):

"Anyone hurting the dignity of the DPRK supreme leadership will find no breathing spell in this land and sky"

(click to enlarge)

Consider yourself warned.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

WOW!



Who knew that Vladimir Putin is all that stands between Russia and (if I am following this very entertaining video correctly) social dissolution and chaos, hyperinflation (and not very appetizing loaves of bread), domination by foreign business interests, domination by Western powers (U.S., France, and Germany), attacks by Islamic terrorists and separatists, and, my favorite, attacks by Asian powers, China and (if I saw the flag posted in the Russian Maritime Province correctly) Japan?!?

This makes me reconsider my perceptions of negative ads in the U.S.!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

"HOW I'LL RESPOND TO CHINA'S RISING POWER"

If I found Mr. Li's analysis of China's superiority to be a bit simplistic and wanting, the same must be said of Mitt Romney's latest in the Wall Street JournalWhile an op-ed isn't necessarily the place for detailed nuance, this one doesn't even come close to being consistent or demonstrating any sort of clear path to get to Romney's stated goals. Examples:
--Blame Obama for the fiscal crisis and government debt but insist on greater military spending to counteract China's rising might.
--Criticize Obama for resorting to "empty pomp and ceremony" but promise to designate China a currency manipulator, an empty ceremonial declaration if there ever was one.
--Criticize the "pivot to Asia" but then promise even more pivoting.
--Raise the perennial (and very real) issue of human rights in China but provide no workable solution save from yelling at the Chinese about the issue.

I could go on but this will suffice for now.

Nearly every U.S. presidential candidate talks tough on China on the campaign trail but most find it prudent to be much more realistic when actually in office. One can only hope that a President Romney will do the same.

Friday, February 17, 2012

'WHY CHINA'S POLITICAL MODEL IS SUPERIOR"

is explained by Eric X. Li a venture capitalist from Shanghai in the New York Times.

Li engages in some pretty simplistic invocation of a monolithic "China" that can "see" things and move on a path predicated by "larger national ends" (who defines these ends? are the terms of this debate any less elite dominated than the money-dominated democracies that Li is so quick to castigate?) and can't avoid the temptation of comparing the relatively short-lived democracies of Greece and the West with what he sees as the broad unbroken continuity that is "China." Of course in such a comparison, the West comes off as "far more ephemeral than all but a handful of China’s dynasties." I expected him to trot out the Zhou Enlai "too soon to tell" canard next.

Nonetheless, Li raises some interesting questions and issues. He cogently points out some of the shortcomings of a representative system, particularly one in which money can wield so much power and in which all too many people clamor for benefits without cost. He also correctly notes that the Western faith in democracy as the be all and end all of human existence can hardly be said to be rooted in long-term experience. It may very well be the case that humans will look back in a century our two on our time as a brief, atypical one in which the Enlightenment-inspired democratic experiment turned out to be a short-lived success or perhaps even an out and out failure.

But at this point I remain unconvinced that the PRC's track record is any better of an indication of the "superior" model, whether one limits one focus to China alone or considers the issue more broadly. Li praises the stability and growth of the last two decades:
The resulting stability ushered in a generation of growth and prosperity that propelled China’s economy to its position as the second largest in the world.
Fair enough (and it should be noted that Li does acknowledge Tiananmen Square and appears to conclude that it was a high but justified price to pay for the ensuing stability and growth).

But Li, the putative Oriental who takes the long view, appears to have suffered from some short-term historical amnesia and neglects to consider the disastrous Great Leap Forward (which, if Frank Dikotter's recent book is to be considered, was even worse than we thought it was) or the Cultural Revolution. Where was the far-seeing, national-interest promoting Chinese nation during the early PRC? Perhaps 200+ dead in and around Tiananmen might be, in a cold realpolitik sort of way, an accetpable price to pay for the next two decades of growth and development. But forty million dying of famine? Not to mention hundreds of millions brutalized and dehumanized with almost nothing to show for it.

Many in the PRC (not to mention on the op-ed pages of the NYT) favor an authoritarian system that can make the tough decisions and get things done. Perhaps, but without the Enlightenment-based checks on the power of the state, the possibility of Mao-era madness seems much greater, at least to me.

My last, off the cuff, thought on this op-ed is the observation that Mr. Li surely feels much more secure and confident in his ability to publicly criticize the democratic system of the West without any fear of punishment or repercussion than he would if he were to level a similar criticism of his own system. If the marketplace of ideas has any relevance or salience in the world (and perhaps Li would dismiss this too as a parochial, fleeting Western chimera) then a system that accepts and even encourages disagreement, criticism, and dissent will likely end up faring better than its closed counterpart.

Time will tell.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

CELL PHONES IN THE DPRK


Perhaps you might think that a totalitarian (or Stalinist, or despotic, or insert your favorite adjective here) regime such as North Korea's wouldn't tolerate difficult to control individual media devices like cell phones. Well, think again.
Smuggled mobiles have been used on Chinese networks near the border for years, but now business is booming for Koryolink, the North’s only official cellular network, based in the capital, Pyongyang.

The service—75%-owned by Orascom, an Egyptian firm, and 25%-owned by the North Korean state—has gone from 300,000 to 1m subscribers in 18 months.

Of course the state does try to limit the potentially liberating nature of cell phones:
Koryolink is a walled garden: users are not able to make or receive international calls, and there is no internet access. It would be hard to imagine that calls and text messages are not monitored. As in China, the network is even becoming a means by which the state disseminates propaganda. Rodong Shinmun, the government mouthpiece, sends out text messages that relay the latest news to phone subscribers.
North Korea will likely be an interesting case study for the ongoing debate about whether information/communication and the technology that increases one's access to it is inherently liberating or whether the same technologies can be used to monitor and control.

GLOBALIZATION

in action. Today's exhibit: Valentine's cards in India.

Interesting images.

STATUES


Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, both on horseback, now up in P'yôngyang.
Coat flying open, reins in hand, Kim Jong Il is depicted astride a galloping horse in a larger-than-life statue unveiled Tuesday as part of birthday celebrations for the late North Korean leader.

The statue is the first bronze casting of Kim, who during his lifetime shunned proposals to erect a bronze like the massive statue of his father, North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, that towers over downtown Pyongyang.

UPDATE: Video here.

Monday, February 13, 2012

"NO WINDOW"

declares James Church of The Orphan Master's Son, a work of fiction set in North Korea that has attracted some significant media attention of late (note the "opens a frightening window on the mysterious kingdom of North Korea" line at the end of the NYT review).

One might blithely accuse Church of jealousy, as he has dominated the fiction set in the DPRK scene for any number of years. But I think Church is spot on in his observations:
We might begin with a simple fact. The author of the book admits he knows next to nothing about North Korea. That would be the end of the problem, except he doesn’t follow through and simply clam up on the subject in his public remarks. How could he set a book in North Korea and say nothing about the country in all the interviews and book tour appearances? That’s a dilemma, but solving it by letting North Korea be the sizzle for the book isn’t the answer.
As Church cogently concludes, simply because we don't know much about the DPRK (and I would add that "we" actually know more, or at least can know more, than we think) doesn't mean that we can inscribe on the blank slate of our ignorance whatever we think, hope, wish, or fear about the North Korean "other."

There is, I think, a larger problem at work here: The book is presently #15 on the NYT bestseller list. This means that many (thousands? millions?) will read the book and at least think they know something about the DPRK when in reality what they really know something about is the mind of the author, Adam Johnson.

The sad reality is that fiction (and movies, and video games etc.) often does far more to shape our understandings of other places and peoples than the more careful, sober scholarship and analyses that are usually still trying to lace up their boots while millions of copies of the fiction flit around the world at the speed of light. Sigh.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

CONCERN ABOUT IMMIGRATION

isn't just for Arizona any more.
At least some folks in Hong Kong seem as exercised about the threat posed by migrating "others" as some folks on the southern border of the U.S. seem to be.

"UNCERTAIN BUT MORE HOPEFUL"

The Anglosphere's favorite Chinese North Korea expert, Shen Dingli, weighs in on the DPRK. Some snippets:
A month after the demise of Kim Jong-il, the DPRK seems internally stable, which should come as no surprise. Domestically, elites in North Korea benefit from sustaining the regime, despite the change of a specific leader.
...
Given all of the difficulties the DPRK has faced, expecting it to have a hard-landing is unrealistic. Ever since the end of the Cold War, the DPRK has disappointed those who wish or expect it to collapse. Instead, it has succeeded in conducting two nuclear tests without bogging down its economy. The DPRK today is less likely to face a preemptive attack. Reasonably, the leadership in Pyongyang could be expected to continue its current style, running both a shabby economy and a rudimentary nuclear deterrent.
Fairly conventional but worth reading nonetheless.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

YOU'VE COME A LONG WAY?

Overall rates of cigarette smoking in the U.S. are down. Most of us look at ads like these and at least cringe a bit.


It appears that the PRC might still be closer to the halcyon days of tobacco use and status in society than it is to the present-day U.S. mood on the matter


China's anti-smoking lobby is fuming over the recent appointment to the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) of a scientist who works for the tobacco industry.
...
Xie's research focused on adding traditional Chinese herbal medicines to cigarettes in an attempt to reduce the harmful effects of smoking, according to recent media reports.

"NEW POSTER PRODUCED IN DPRK"

So reads the headline from the KCNA website.


Apparently, the DPRK is working toward a future in which North Korean women have plenty of paper towels.

Friday, January 27, 2012

ANOTHER WATERSHED MOMENT?

Japan experiences its first trade deficit in decades.
Analysts warned the combination of these factors was hurting Japan's exporters as rivals from South Korea and other Asian nations compete in markets which Japanese companies had previously dominated.

"It reflects fundamental changes in Japan's economy, particularly among manufacturers," said Hideki Matsumura of Japan Research Institute.

"Japan is losing its competitiveness to produce domestically."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

YEAR OF THE DRAGON STAMPS

in all their diversity and glory here.

I quite like the North Korean ones:

Of course postage stamps are rapidly on their way to becoming obsolete. What, if anything, will replace them as widely circulated commemorative images?

Friday, January 20, 2012

SWEET

North Korean defectors are seeking to bring about change in North Korea using Choco Pies.
A group of North Korean defectors launched balloons carrying chocolate-covered snack cakes into the communist state Friday, as they wished their compatriots well ahead of the Lunar New Year's holidays.

More than 20 members of various defector groups filled 20 large balloons with 100 kilograms of Choco Pies on Ganghwa Island, west of Seoul, and launched them into the air from two separate locations.

An interesting idea. But haven't they watched JSA?
Lee Byung-hyun: Hyeong…

Song Kang-ho: Thing is, I don’t understand why we can’t make stuff like this in our country.

LBH: Hyeong… hey, you don’t want to go down South? I mean, you could stuff yourself full of choco-pies.

[uncomfortable silence]

LBH: Geez, forget it then.

SKH: Listen, you little bastard, I’m just going to say this once so listen good. I dream of a day when our country will make cookies that taste a thousand times better than South Korean cookies. Got it? But until then, I have no choice but to dream about these cookies.

LBH: Ah, let’s forget about it. You’re all talk anyway…

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

WATERSHED MOMENT?

More people in today's PRC live in cities than in the countryside.

Monday, January 9, 2012

HOUR-LONG DPRK DOCUMENTARY

on Kim Jong Un can be viewed on Youtube.

So far I've managed to make it through only about ten minutes of it. Highlights:
--A majestic Kim Jong Un on horseback
--Many scenes of enthusiastic crowds literally jumping for joy
--Weapons, weapons, and more weapons
--Sober written works most of which expound on the centrality of the military and/or how the military should be emphasized even more (clearly Kim Jong Un knows which side his bread is buttered on)
--Scenes of Kim Jong Un's father and grandfather (with the facial resemblance of grandfather and grandson so obvious as to not merit much direct commentary)
--On the spot guidance (mostly with soldiers and officers).

Happy viewing!

UPDATE: A much more detailed summary available here.

Friday, January 6, 2012

UNBELIEVABLE



A video put together by some putative supporters of Ron Paul (though both Paul and his campaign have disavowed the video).

What, exactly, is suspect or un-American about being able to speak another language (albeit not with the greatest of fluency) or adopting children from another country? Seriously?

In my usual try-to-think-the-best-of-everyone mode, I suppose one could chalk this up as a false flag operation deliberately intended to hurt Ron Paul's credibility (as if he needs much help in that department). But if someone actually believes this stuff and/or thought that broadcasting it would sway the minds of other Americans...

Sigh.

TEN PEOPLE TO KNOW

to understand the DPRK leadership transition (courtesy of the good folks at KEI).

I'm happy to report that I know (or at least know of since I don't really know any of them) all but #7.

A query: Does anyone know what happened to the "other" Kim Yong-il (not #10 but Kim Jong Il's half brother)?

UPDATE: A handy chart of DPRK leadership here.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

P'YÔNGYANGOLOGY

Done well (at least within the limits of the genre). This time by "James Church." A snippet:
Anything that sticks out so far? Well, yes, one thing perhaps. In the nasty, but not overly threatening, NDC statement on Friday, there is a formulation that begs for clarification. “Upon the joint authorization of our party, state, army, and people.” These are not normal times, and that is decidedly not the normal formulation. Normally, No. 1 is cited (or implied) as doing the authorizing. Now, suddenly, it is “joint?” If we see it again, there will be grist for many mills.

And, done amusingly: everyone, it seems, is fascinated by the appearance of a giant among the crowds mourning Kim Jong Il's passing.

Monday, January 2, 2012

KIM JONG UN

looking at things.


Many more similar pics here.

Like father, like son?