The commentary from Kim Myong Chol published in the Asia Times Online on Oct 6 is puzzling. As the Asia Times explains,
Kim Myong-chol is author of a number of books and papers in Korean, Japanese and English on North Korea. He is executive director of the Centre for Korean-American Peace. He has a PhD from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s Academy of Social Sciences and is often called an “unofficial” spokesman of Kim Jong-il and North Korea.
The Asia Times did a profile of the author in January last year, here. He sort of sounds like a responsible citizen:
“When I go to Pyongyang, I am spokesman for America,” the engaging Kim told Asia Times Online with a laugh. “But in Washington, I am a spokesman for North Korea.” His business cards show US and North Korean flags. Some people call him a traitor.
The commentary from two weeks ago, in part, sounds like the standard DPRK party line. But I sincerely hope that his spokesmanship is unofficial, because some of the claims he makes go way beyond what I’ve seen come out of the KCNA. The piece is called SPEAKING FREELY – Kim’s message: War is coming to US soil. Here are some extracts:
Unlike all the previous wars Korea fought, a next war will be better called the American War or the DPRK-US War because the main theatre will be the continental US, with major cities transformed into towering infernos. The DPRK is now the fourth-most powerful nuclear weapons state just after the US, Russia, and China.
The DPRK has all types of nuclear bombs and warheads, atomic, hydrogen and neutron, and the means of delivery, short-range, medium-range and long-range, putting the whole of the continental US within effective range. The Korean People’s Army also is capable of knocking hostile satellites out of action.
All the past Korean heroes let the Land of Morning Calm be reduced to smoking ruins as the wars were fought on its soil, even though they repelled the invaders. One of the two major aspirations of the Korean people has been the build-up of military capability enough to turn enemy land into the war theatre. Kim has splendidly achieved this aspiration.
The article is worth reading in its entirety, if only to try to work out which bits truly reflect DPRK policy and which bits are (hopefully) fantasy.
Jimmy Carter turns up in the pages of the New York Times this morning to pat himself on the back for having “solved” the NorKo nuclear crisis back in 1994. Of course, Carter implies that the whole thing is George W. Bush’s fault for having called the Norks bad names (“axis of evil”). It is a classic example of Carter’s delusional state of mind.
Just deconstruct this graph, for example:
“Responding to an invitation from President Kim Il-sung of North Korea, and with the approval of President Bill Clinton, I went to Pyongyang and negotiated an agreement under which North Korea would cease its nuclear program at Yongbyon and permit inspectors from the atomic agency to return to the site to assure that the spent fuel was not reprocessed. It was also agreed that direct talks would be held between the two Koreas”
Where to start. “an invitation from Kim Il Sung.” Yes, and why do you suppose he wanted Carter so badly? “. . . with the approval of Bill Clinton. . .” Accuracy demands that it read “with the reluctant approval of Bill Clinton.” Carter actually presented Clinton with a fait accompli — Carter told the White House was going to go hold hands with the Norks whether Clinton approved or not. Clinton, by the way, was furious with the outcome, which Carter announced on CNN before he told the White House. Clinton told Warren Christopher that Carter was to be stopped from making any further freelance trips of this kind. “It was also agreed that direct talks be held between the two Koreas.” The Norks demanded a multi-million dollar payment from the South Koreans just to show up for the talks. In other words, the Norks turned it into a Jesse Jackson-style shakedown operation.
But remember: Jimmy is our best ex-president ever.
David Frum, also in the National Review on Oct 11, begged to differ:
Bush critics and Clinton defenders (not always the same thing) argue that the US had achieved an agreement with North Korea back in 1994. And so it had. The North Koreans did not honor the agreement but, hey, they signed it.
And after all, is this not exactly the same issue as that which divided hawks from doves during the Carter administration? Back then it was the Soviets who cheated – and every time they were caught, the doves of those days argued that the failure of one agreement only proved the need for another.
Thanks as ever to Tom Coyner for his diligent filtering of the deluge of material out there.
On a different note, Richard Lloyd Parry from the (London) Times has been spending his paper’s money on a trip to Mt Kumgang. There was a double page spread, with photos, in Saturday’s Times, and very beautiful it looked too (apart from all the ajummas in plastic macs – left; one day I’ll buy myself a proper scanner instead of using a camera…). The text of the article is here.
The Chosun has an article on the amount that the My Kumgang tourism project contributes to the North’s economy.