Archive for Korea

It Looks Good on You

At the risk of starting WWIII—Kim, what the hell were you thinking?

His jowls are getting jowlier, his eyebrows have shrunk to hyphens and his haircut is a unique swept-back bouffant that emerges at an interesting angle from the shaved patches above his ears.

Kim Jong-un looks to have taken his image to a whole new level.

The North Korean leader appeared at a meeting of the political bureau of the central committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea on Wednesday in the tightly buttoned grey tunic that has become a trademark, but it was his ongoing personal grooming battle that attracted the headlines.

Tweets mocked Mr Kim as he “unveils sculpted eyebrow work and defined hair”, although CNN described the hair-do as a “power haircut”.

New York magazine tried not to offend the North Korean leader by describing it as “ambitious”, but The New York Daily News declined to beat around the bush and said it was “barbarous”.

Staff at M&M Hair Academy in South Ealing, west London, put up a poster with “Bad Hair Day?” emblazoned across a picture of Kim Jong-un, with details of a special offer on men’s haircuts.

“Power haircut”, CNN? Typical of their flattery toward dictators. Remember Eason Jordan and Saddam Hussein?

This man has his hand on the nuclear button. Be afraid.


Lying Cuz He Feels Like It

President Obama thinks Sony “acted stupidly” in pulling The Interview from distribution.

Wonder where they got the idea?

[Sony Pictures CEO Michael] Lynton reacted to Obama’s comment that he wished Sony had reached out to them. “We definitely spoke to a senior advisor in the White House to talk about the situation. The fact is, did we talk to the president himself? … The White House was certainly aware of the situation.”

A simple misunderstanding, I’m sure. Perhaps a follow-up question to clear things up, Mr. President?



Vacationing in Hawaii, where the president was born and spent much of his childhood, has been a tradition every year that Obama has been in the White House. This year, the trip comes as Obama closes out a chaotic sixth year in office on something of a high note.

Lofty aspirations to overhaul immigration laws, early childhood education and U.S. wages were scuttled by stubborn opposition to Obama’s agenda in Congress, and on his watch, Democrats took a drubbing in the midterm elections that will relegate them to the minority in Congress for Obama’s last two years. Crises erupted in Ukraine, the Middle East and West Africa, diverting Obama’s attention time and again.

Yet as Obama packed his bags for Hawaii, he appeared buoyed by what he had managed to accomplish on other fronts, including the resumption of relations with Cuba last week after a half-century of antagonism. In his year-end news conference Friday, Obama said he felt energized, citing signs of major progress in the economic recovery and his recent executive actions on immigration and climate change.

A high note? An unlawful amnesty and a fraudulent “climate” “treaty” are hardly high notes. Discordant more like. A pity about those pesky crises diverting Obama’s attention time and again. You try sinking a six-foot, right-to-left breaking putt with the Crimea under the Russian boot.

As for Cuba, I’m pleased Alan Gross is a free man, but at the cost of several prisoners of our own and diplomatic recognition, just don’t tell me we don’t negotiate with terrorists when we just did. And lost the deal.

That would just be another in a long, long, long line of lies from this most corrupt of administrations (see above).


As Others See Us

Say what you will about the North Koreans, they will say what they will about us:

In its latest personal attack on a prominent official from a rival country, North Korea on Wednesday called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a wolf with a “hideous lantern jaw.”

North Korea has unleashed a slew of crude insults against leaders in Washington and Seoul this year, calling President Barack Obama a monkey and South Korean President Park Geun-hye a prostitute.

I don’t know about the prostitute bit, but I condemn the overt racism in the monkey comment. We don’t like him either, Kim Jong Pork Pie, but we don’t stoop to low-rent, classless hate speech. Go to hell—oh wait, you already are.

As for ol’ “”hideous lantern jaw”, however, you may have a point:

You could hang that hideous lantern jaw in the Old North Church and Paul Revere wouldn’t need to saddle his horse. They could see it all the way from Lexington.

The North Korean spokesman also criticized Kerry’s comments on North Korea’s human rights record and weapons programs.

“His behavior fully revealed once again the U.S. inveterate nature as a hypocrite who has deceived and mocked mankind with all sorts of gimmicks,” the spokesman said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

I wonder if they mean the Benghazi cover-up, the VA scandal, the IRS scandal, the foreign policy blunders and disasters, etc., etc.? Again, they may have a point.

In their own words:

Kerry was so shameless as to appear at a university seminar in Hawaii and claim that the U.S. has a “willingness to ease” the strained DPRK-U.S. relations.

Kerry “congratulated” the Koreans on this seven decade- long history of shame and tragedy. Can there be more unbearable mockery and insult to the Korean nation than this?

All of a sudden, these aggressors are waving olive branches with the veil of “protecting peace” in a bid to conceal their despicable true colors.

The U.S. poor position reminds one of the Roman Empire which fell while seeking prosperity through aggression and war and was buried into oblivion.

The U.S. is running helter-skelter, with its future remaining gloomy.

Again, their rhetoric is a little overheated, but they have a point.


Funny, They Didn’t Look Jewish

This is something perhaps which Israel would rather not share with the world:

Salafi jihadist terrorists based in Sinai struck again on Sunday, but unlike most of their recent targets, this time it was foreign tourists who were at the receiving end of their fanatical violence.

The attack represents an attempt by Sinai terrorists to damage Egypt’s troubled tourist industry, which is making modest attempts at recovery this year following a long period of upheaval.

It is safe to assume that soon after the smoke cleared from the wrecked tour bus at Taba, the Egyptian General Intelligence Service launched an intensive investigation to track down the identity of the culprits.

It is also reasonable to assume that the Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis organization is a prime suspect.

It, like other Salafi jihadist groups in Sinai, is inspired by al-Qaida, and is made up of a mix of radicalized Beduin, residents of Egypt proper and a growing number of foreign volunteers.

The victims were South Korean Christians touring the Holy Land. From al Qaeda’s perspective, they had it coming. It’s not like the Islamofascists in Egypt haven’t been consistent:

The Luxor Massacre refers to the killing of 62 people, mostly tourists, that took place on 17 November 1997, at Deir el-Bahri, an archaeological site and major tourist attraction located across the Nile River from Luxor in Egypt.

That massacre was the event that penetrated my thick skull with the truth that Muslim terrorists meant bloody business. I can only apologize for my earlier ignorance, in all the senses of the word. We all start in ignorance; it’s how long it takes us to acknowledge and share the truth that excuses or condemns us.


Breaking News From Pyonyang!

Are you sitting down? Okay.

They torture people!

I kid you not:

After a year of public hearings, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea will paint a detailed, damning picture of the country.

“For the first time, the magnitude of what’s going on inside North Korea is coming to light,” says Lillian Lee, an officer for the Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights, a nongovernmental organization based in Seoul. Ms. Lee, who testified before the U.N. commission last year, said the report, by laying out details on labor camps, torture and inhuman treatment, will force the world to confront the issue.

“For the first time”? That must be a translation error. Haven’t we known about this for… oh, let me see… decades???

Good for the UN and all (the one and only time I’ll ever write those words), but this news is only slightly fresher than the sinking of the Titanic.

What, pray tell, do they hope to accomplish with this “scoop”?

[W]ill it make much of a difference to North Korea’s regime, or to its people?

On one level, probably not. The report, due for release later Monday in Geneva, will include the commission’s conclusions about human-rights violations and possible crimes against humanity in North Korea. But China, a longtime ally of Pyongyang, holds a veto in the U.N. Security Council—enough to prevent a referral to the International Criminal Court.

“We think that it will not contribute to improving a country’s human-rights situation by resorting to the International Criminal Court to address the human-rights issue,” Chinese foreign-ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Monday. She added that China’s deputy foreign affairs minister, Liu Zhenmin, is in North Korea this week for what she called a routine visit.

On a larger scale, however, government officials and human-rights activists argue, the commission’s findings could prove a breakthrough, increasing international pressure on North Korea’s leadership while laying the groundwork for eventual legal proceedings.

Nonsense. Poppycock. Balderdash. Don’t waste our time. North Korea in court? What are you smoking?

What do you think, honey?

I would ask if the cat had her tongue, but she already skinned and ate the cat (and swallowed her tongue).

PS: As disturbing an image as this young woman makes, I use her as my face of starvation in NK out of kindness to our readers. There are worse.

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Swiss Mister

They say Kim Jong Junior was educated in Switzerland. Maybe that’s where he learned this trick:

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un sentenced his uncle to be eaten alive by a pack of 120 wild dogs in a savage punishment for treachery, it has been claimed.

Jang Song-Thaek, 67, along with five close aides, was stripped naked and thrown into a cage of hounds which had been starved for three days, according to new details emerging from China.

The pack of animals spent more than an hour mauling the group in a punishment called ‘quan jue’, or execution by dogs, a report in Chinese newspaper Wen Wei Po said.

The fact details of the barbaric punishment emerged in a newspaper, viewed as Beijing Government’s official mouthpiece, in Hong Kong, has been seen as another signal of China’s authorities losing patience with its wayward neighbour, according to The Straits Times.

Don’t be rash, China! Act in haste, repent in leisure.

But can you imagine such cruelty? Starving dogs for three days—bestial!


Of Moguls and Moguls

Maybe this is why Kim Jong Junior bumped off his uncle.

The old man had a better downhill time:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited a newly completed ski resort on Tuesday and ordered officials to open his pet project to the public as soon as possible, state media reported.

Kim took a test ride on a ski lift at the Masik Pass Ski Resort, which he said during a visit two weeks ago was “at the centre of the world’s attention”, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

He noted “with great satisfaction” that everything was “impeccable” and gave instructions to serve the people well so that visitors may “keenly feel the loving care of the party”.

Kim, who was educated in Switzerland, told officials to hold the opening ceremony at the earliest possible date, KCNA said.

Hey Lindsay Vonn, if your thing with Tiger Woods doesn’t work out (why would I think that?), you do worse than to ski into the short, pudgy arms of a real man.

The Masik Pass Ski Resort made headlines in August when Switzerland blocked a US$7.6 million sale of ski lifts to Pyongyang, calling it a “propaganda project” for the impoverished Stalinist regime.

Featuring 110 kilometres of multi-level ski runs, a hotel, heliport and cable cars, the resort has been heavily promoted since Kim visited it in June and called for construction to be completed by the end of the year.

The young leader has shown a fondness for expensive, high-profile leisure projects in and around the showpiece capital Pyongyang including a massive new water park, an amusement park and a luxury horseback riding club.

Don’t overdo it on the gravel, honey, you’re the perfect weight for a jockey.


Hamhung Hamlet

Say what you will about the portly patricidist, Kim Jong Un, he was wise enough to wait until after Thanksgiving before greasing his tiresome uncle. Sure, the old man’s bitching and moaning may have been hard to take over the mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce (gravel and peat moss for most Koreans), but imagine how awkward it would have been had his chair been empty instead? He never would have head the end of it from his Aunt Millie.

Who has been taken care of, you may be sure:

A senior North Korean official said Sunday that the execution of leader Kim Jong Un’s once-powerful uncle will not lead to changes in economic policies and vowed that the nation would push ahead with an ambitious plan to develop new economic zones to attract foreign investment.

Jang Song Thaek’s wife, meanwhile, has been named to an ad-hoc state committee, the country’s official media reported, an indication that Jang’s execution has not immediately diminished her influence.

Kim Jong Don Corleone: “Don’t ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever.”

The execution Friday of Jang, considered to be North Korea’s second most powerful man and a key architect of the country’s economic policies, should not be taken as a sign that the North will change its economic course or its efforts to lure foreign investment, Yun Yong Sok, a senior official in the State Economic Development Committee, said in an interview with The Associated Press in Pyongyang.

“Even though Jang Song Thaek’s group caused great harm to our economy, there will be no change at all in the economic policy of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” Yun said.

What a relief! What a novel concept even to have an economic policy. Will they call their economic zone Kimchi Valley?


Say Uncle

I’ve been justly critical of President Obama’s attitude toward his extended family (boy, is it ever!).

He’s got an illegal aunt and illegal uncle living in the Boston area (illegal no more, nudge-nudge, wink-wink), the aunt in public housing, various half-brothers scattered over the globe (one in a Kenyan hut), and a white grandmother with a tarnished reputation.

But he hasn’t done this:

An uncle of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been executed for trying to overthrow the government, the Korean Central News Agency reported early Friday.

“Traitor Jang Song Thaek Executed” blared the headline posted by the state-run news agency about the man who, until recently, had been regarded as the nation’s second-most powerful figure.

The story said that a special military tribunal had been held Thursday against the “traitor for all ages,” who was accused of having attempted to overthrow the state “by all sorts of intrigues and despicable methods.”

It added, “All the crimes committed by the accused were proved in the course of hearing and were admitted by him.”
Once his guilt was established, Jang was immediately executed, it said.

The KCNA report described Jang as “despicable human scum” and “worse than a dog,” and said he had betrayed his party and leader.

Leave dogs out of it! I’d be hard pressed to think of a single Korean who was better than a dog. Well, maybe a few.

Still, if you’re going to be a traitor, best to be a “traitor for all ages”.

Kim accused Jang and his allies of double-dealing behind the scene, “dreaming different dreams” and selling the country’s resources at cheap prices, thereby threatening North Korea’s economic development, according to a KCNA statement this week.

“Jang desperately worked to form a faction within the party by creating illusion about him and winning those weak in faith and flatterers to his side,” the statement said.

The public document scolded Jang for improper relations with several women, drug use, gambling, eating at expensive restaurants and getting medical treatment in a foreign country.

Crikey, Aggie, that sounds like me! Don’t get any ideas. No purges in Bloodthirstan!


Tomorrow is More Than a Day Away

These kids show us that when life gives you garbage, make ashcan art:

The tragic story of this group of youngsters aged between 15 and 23 takes us back a few years when one by one they managed to cross the heavily-guarded border from North Korea into China to search for food. Most of them were orphans, while others had a parent unable or unwilling to look after them.

A South Korean missionary living in China, known only as M.J. to protect his identity, tried to help the youngsters and has broken his silence to CNN.

“This one child used to live with his father,” he explained. “One day his father went into a North Korean military base trying to find food but was caught and beaten to death on the spot. The child witnessed this … his mother then told him not to come home and threw rocks at him to keep him away.”

The youngsters survived by foraging for scraps in trashcans. Fish bones and discarded rice were mixed to make a porridge, while rodents were considered a luxury. When M.J. first met some of them in December 2009, they had frostbite on their hands and toes from living in an old abandoned building where temperatures plummeted to as low as minus 30 degrees Celsius. Some of them had injuries from beatings by security guards and merchants when they were caught stealing food.

One of the nine, a 20-year-old man, told M.J. he wanted to live in China as “even beggars in China do not go hungry.”

“These kids were suffering from malnutrition and disease,” recalled M.J. “They had been living in quarters with bad sanitation … also they all seemed to have suffered in one form or another from tuberculosis. Because they were suffering from malnutrition, their growth was stunted.”

But wait. As another little moppet taught us, the sunwill come out tomorrow:

The nine lived with the couple and several other North Korean defectors in China for almost two years in constant fear of being discovered by the authorities. They could never leave the house during this time. China doesn’t treat North Koreans in its territory as refugees and usually sends them back across the border.

“As we lived with these children, I saw them change,” M.J.’s wife, who also asked not to be identified, said. “They started having hopes, they started dreaming and I know they were happier. I was overjoyed to have done something worthwhile.”

Another blog would leave it there, would leave you with the hope, however false, that the story ended happily. This is not that sort of blog because this is not that sort of world:

On May 27, the Laos authorities told the youngsters to pack as they were being sent to South Korea. M.J. said they were so happy they all shouted for joy. Years in hiding seemed to finally be over. But the bitter truth of the situation soon became clear.

The missionary couple was prevented from following the children and instead locked in a room at the immigration offices for two hours. The United Nations’ refugee agency, UNHCR, said the group had been sent back to North Korea via China.

Human rights groups were shocked. The missionaries were devastated.

“In these children’s minds, they were going to South Korea,” said M.J.’s wife. “They never imagined after crossing the border to Laos they would be sent back to North Korea.”

Doubtless these innocents don’t read BTL—China wields a force of two million Internet cops—else they would have guessed what was up. They would have twigged to the certainty that the problems of nine little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.

A twisted coda to a twisted story:

The children have since been used for propaganda purposes in Pyongyang, appearing on state-run television in June claiming they had been tricked into leaving North Korea and expressing thanks to leader Kim Jong Un for saving them and bringing them back.

“What I am concerned about is what is going to happen after the propaganda is gone and the rhetoric is over,” said M.J. “If we don’t pay attention, if we don’t keep asking where these children are, then these children will be lost forever and we will never know what happened to them.”

Good luck with that.

You could have gone about your business today without knowing the betrayal of these kids. But you wouldn’t know the betrayal of humanity that this story also lays bare. There are many guilty parties, but I hold China distinctly responsible. (Of course you do, BTL.) Unlike Laos, it would have cost China nothing to save these nine souls.

But that’s not how China (spring) rolls. From the macro (Internet snoops, choking smog, myriad human rights abuses) to the micro (forced late-term abortions), the China state doesn’t “get” the rights of the individual. Like the concept of hope for these hopeless kids, the concept of human liberty is without meaning. I bet there’s not even a character for for the idea.

For some orphans, the sun will never come up again.


A Country Everyone Should Want to Bomb

If President Obama can’t rally the country to bomb this hell-hole to kingdom come, he couldn’t lead his way out of a paper bag:

A mother forced to drown her own baby and a prison camp inmate compelled to eat rodents and lizards just to survive — these are some of the horrific experiences documented by a United Nations inquiry into human rights violations in North Korea.

According to the man who headed up the study, examples of “unspeakable atrocities” collected to date suggest widespread abuses on a scale requiring an international response.

“What we have seen and heard so far — the specificity, detail and shocking character of the personal testimony — appears without doubt to demand follow-up action by the world community, and accountability on behalf of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” Michael Kirby, chair of the three-member commission of inquiry, told the U.N.’s Human Rights Council Tuesday.

Ah, the UN HRC. A guarantee that nothing will happen:

“The individual testimonies emerging from the public hearings, of which these are just instances, do not represent isolated cases,” he said. “They are representative of large-scale patterns that may constitute systematic and gross human rights violations.”

Kirby said the inquiry had heard “from ordinary people who faced torture and imprisonment for doing nothing more than watching foreign soap operas or holding a religious belief.” One woman had given an account of witnessing a female inmate forced to drown her own baby in a bucket, while a man had spoken of being forced to burn the corpses of many prisoners who had died of starvation, before scattering their remains on crops.

“The commission listened to political prison camp survivors who suffered through childhoods of starvation and unspeakable atrocities, as a product of the ‘guilt by association’ practice, punishing other generations for a family member’s perceived views or affiliation,” he said, referring to the account of Shin Dong-hyuk, the high-profile North Korean defector whose horrific experiences were documented in the biography “Escape from Camp 14.

Imprisoned from birth, he said, Shin had eaten “rodents, lizards and grass to survive, and witness(ed) the public execution of his mother and brother.”

Kirby also referred to the testimony given by the parents of Megumi Yokota, a 13-year-old Japanese girl who was abducted by North Korean agents on her way home from school in 1977. Yokota was one of 13 Japanese kidnapped by North Korea and held in a North Korean facility as a way of training spies; the regime has said that she and seven others are dead.

President Obama likes to speak of “international norms”; Syria’s crime was to violate “international norms”.


North Korea has been behaving this way for decades. I guess that make forcing a mother to drown her baby in a bucket an international norm.

Thanks for the update, UN. It’s so nice to be reminded how useless international norms are.


What, No “Shot Across the Bow”?

Thousand of innocents die.

A country held hostage by a madman.

Tyranny, famine, unimaginable brutality.

How could we not heed our president’s call to action?

Sir…? Mr. President…? That’s your cue!

Thousands of North Korean inmates of Camp No 22, one of Kim Jong-un’s most brutal labour camps, have disappeared according to a human rights group.

There are fears that up to 20,000 may have been allowed to die of disease or starvation in the run-up to the closure of the camp at the end of last year.

The suspicion has emerged from a newly-released report by the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) detailing the situation in penal colonies as Kim Jong-un consolidated his power after taking over as leader from his father, Kim Jong-il who died in 2011. Now the group that is demanding an inquiry into their fate.

The Washington-based organisation gleans information from defectors from the North, including former guards and the occasional survivor of a prison camp, as well as examining satellite imagery.

It focused much of its attention on Camp 22, a vast compound that sprawled across more than 770 square miles, making it larger than London.

But not as crowded, thank goodness! Try getting to your West End theatre with only minutes before curtain. No such worries in NorKor.

Anyhow, more proof that our outrage is selective. And politically, not militarily, motivated.


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