Archive for Korea

Top Chef: Pyonyang

You always knew Kim Jong Un was a jokester, if only from his haircut and his lineage. But a cooking contest in the PRK? Don’t you need food first, you wackadoodle?

Kim Jong-Un has chosen to hold a competition on state TV to find the nation’s top cooks a la “Master Chef,” even as two-thirds of his country’s 27 million citizens are starving on minimal food rations.

Kim went to school in Switzerland where he became fond of European cheeses and wines, reports The Sun on Friday, although in the TV show the hefty despot was served terrapin stew and grey mullet fish soup.

“The festival was comprised of the exhibitions of gastrological (sic) hits, famous and local special dishes and compulsory dishes and the technical contest and demonstration of top chefs and waiters and waitresses,” reported the Pyongyang Times, noting over 1,000 people took part in the contest.

“The participants presented famous local and foreign dishes and specialties of their units and local areas,” added the report.

Not all the dishes consisted of terrapins and grey mullet fish however, as pizza and spaghetti were also on the menu, as was a five-pheasant dish and “broccoli five ways.”

Kim, 33, is said to have health problems due to his weight, and he is thought to have gout as recently he began walking with a limp.

His indulgences and recent food flaunting on state TV come even as Amnesty International reports food rations have been reduced, and those reductions have “severely threatened” the chances of citizens getting adequate food.

In December 2014 the UN voted to try Kim for crimes against humanity over his abuse of his own people, after a UN report earlier in the year detailed atrocities committed by Kim’s regime against his own people that were “strikingly similar” to those committed by the genocidal Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler in World War II.

Kim’s abuse of the North Koreans has also involved forcing them to get his bizarre haircut, and likewise he has shown an increasingly overt hostile stance towards the world with his nuclear arsenal.

How much sleep do you think Un has lost after being charged with crimes against humanity by the UN? It certainly hasn’t affected his appetite. His starving subjects can chew on the indictment if nothing else.

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Poor Guy

North Korea has just sentenced a U. of Virginia student to fifteen years of hard labor.

I think that the Obama administration will have to give them what they want in order to get this kid back.

North Korea has sentenced an American student to 15 years hard labour for crimes against the state after he tearfully admitted that he tried to steal a propaganda banner from a hotel.

Otto Warmbier was arrested as he attempted to leave the country in January and later made a televised “confession” saying that he had taken the sign to bring back a “trophy”.

North Korean state news agency KCNA said the 21-year-old’s offence was “pursuant to the US government’s hostile policy” and that he was convicted under an article of the criminal code dealing with subversion.
The University of Virginia student. who had visited the isolated state as a tourist, had said during his confession that he had tried to steal the banner for an acquaintance who wanted to hang it in her church.

Foreigners are often detained in North Korea, where they are used by Pyongyang to exert diplomatic pressure.
Imprisoning US nationals has also helped secure high-profile visits for the regime, with former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton negotiating releases.

North Korea has been ratcheting up tensions following its nuclear test in January, which was followed by a rocket launch last month. South Korea and the US are currently carrying out joint-military manoeuvres.
The lengthy term handed to Mr Warmbler, who is from Wyoming, Ohio, was likely a measure of the growing antagonism from Pyongyang towards its adversaries.

Believe it or not, I have a lot of sympathy for this kid. First of all, our generation raised our children to be risk-takers, and many of them have gone into Iran, N. Korea, Gaza, etc., doing student journalism, “peace work”, or for other silly reasons. At 21, the brain is still adolescent, and his judgement is surely impaired. As a U of Virginia student, he is bright. What a waste of a life. I hope that something can be done to help him. His parents and sibs must be absolutely flipping out.

– Aggie

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Tibor Rubin

An amazing life amazingly lived:

Tibor Rubin was a teenager when he was deported in 1944 to Mauthausen, the Nazi concentration camp complex in Austria. A Hungarian-born Jew, he was orphaned in the war and developed a keen survival instinct. He stole food, raided garbage and learned improvised medical techniques, like maggot therapy for gangrene. He called himself, with pride, the “Little Rat.”

He was a disease-ridden skeleton when American troops liberated Mauthausen. But for the first time in 14 months, he was free. He vowed, he later said in broken English, “If the Lord have me, if I ever go to America, I gonna become a GI Joe.”

He did just that, cheating his way into the Army, he said, by cribbing the entrance exam and landing on the front lines as the Korean War began. His sergeant, by many accounts a sadist and anti-Semite, repeatedly sent him on seemingly certain-death assignments.

In summer 1950, Mr. Rubin was “volunteered” to defend a strategic hill while the rest of his company withdrew to safety near the Pusan Perimeter amid an onslaught by North Korean troops. He armed himself with grenades and guns and waited, knowing the sergeant had no intention of relieving him, ever.

The enemy attack began at dawn, and Mr. Rubin said he became “hysterical” as they swarmed the hill “like ants.”

He fired helter-skelter, lobbing grenade after grenade to create the impression of more than one man. “Pull the pin, boom, pull the pin, boom,” he said. Unable to see through the resulting smoke, he kept up the defense for a full day, defending his post until American-manned Corsairs repelled the remaining North Koreans from the air.

“He inflicted a staggering number of casualties on the attacking force during his personal 24-hour battle, single-handedly slowing the enemy advance and allowing the 8th Cavalry Regiment to complete its withdrawal successfully,” read his citation for the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest award for valor.

President George W. Bush bestowed the award on Mr. Rubin in a 2005 White House ceremony, part of a congressionally mandated effort to identify veterans who might have been overlooked for the medal in earlier decades because of racial, ethnic or religious discrimination.

Mr. Rubin, the only Holocaust survivor to receive the Medal of Honor, died Dec. 5 at a hospice center near his home in Garden Grove, Calif. He was 86. The death, of unspecified causes, was confirmed by Daniel M. Cohen, a filmmaker who wrote a biography of Mr. Rubin, “Single Handed,” that was published this year.

Mr. Rubin said that after the battle, he staggered down the hill and saw in the daylight countless maimed and lifeless bodies. He heard agonized screams in Korean from the wounded.

“I had the guilt feeling what I did here,” he later told an interviewer with the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center in Philadelphia. “I killed even the enemy but I killed somebody’s father, brother, and all that. .?.?. But then again, the truth is that if I don’t kill him, he kill me and vice versa. It’s war. War is hell.”

Tibor Rubin was born in Paszto, a Hungarian town with a small Jewish community, on June 18, 1929. His father, a shoemaker, was a tyrant at home, according to Cohen, frequently belittling his son for being a slow learner in school.

The elder Rubin, Ferenc, had been shaped by tragic times. He and a twin brother served in the Austro-Hungarian military in World War I and were captured by the Russians. Both were sent to a labor camp in Siberia, but only Ferenc made it out alive. He walked the entire distance home to discover that his wife, the mother of his four children, had remarried in his years-long absence and presumed death.

Ferenc married twice more and raised two children, Tibor and a daughter. They spent part of their childhood in a home that Ferenc eventually opened to Polish refugees escaping the Nazi threat.

In spring of 1944, it was decided that Tibor would accompany a small group of Poles making their way to neutral Switzerland. They were caught and handed over to the Gestapo. He would never again see his father, stepmother or younger sister, all of whom died in the war.

After Mauthausen was liberated in May 1945, Mr. Rubin spent three years in a displaced persons camp in Pocking, Germany, before reuniting with older half-siblings, who had long before settled in the United States. While working as a shoemaker and butcher, he twice failed the U.S. Army entrance examination because of the language barrier.

Cohen said Mr. Rubin’s determination, as well as the Army’s need for troops amid hostilities in Korea, won over the recruiter, who advised him to steal glances at the paperwork of other test takers.

After the events for which he received the Medal of Honor, Mr. Rubin continued to be thrown into danger by his sergeant.

Following initial setbacks to the Communist forces, Mr. Rubin’s 8th Cavalry Regiment was part of a massive counteroffensive that pushed deep into North Korea. The regiment came under fierce attack in October 1950 by the Chinese, who had crossed the Yalu River en masse and overwhelmed Mr. Rubin’s thinly stretched unit near Unsan.

Many in his group were killed over days of fighting, but Mr. Rubin was credited with slowing the advance with a machine gun. By the time he was taken prisoner by the Chinese, he had been wounded by shrapnel in his hand, chest and leg.

His captors repeatedly offered to repatriate him to Hungary, but he declined. Instead he stayed on in the isolated camp that the Americans called “Death Valley.” Unlike many young American GIs, Mr. Rubin could draw on the experience of wartime adversity to survive. He sneaked out repeatedly and brought back food stolen from local farms and storehouses.

He did his best to raise morale when other soldiers were paralyzed by fear or freezing weather during the brutal winter of 1950 and 1951.

“Some of them gave up, and some of them prayed to be taken,” Mr. Rubin later told Soldiers magazine. He did his best to rally them, reminding them of relatives praying for their safe return home.

Decades later, fellow POW Leo A. Cormier Jr. told interviewers that Mr. Rubin carried sick men to the latrine and spent hours picking lice from the hair of listless soldiers.

“He did many good deeds, which he told us were mitzvahs in the Jewish tradition,” Cormier noted. “He was a very religious Jew and helping his fellow men was the most important thing to him.”

In April 1953, Mr. Rubin was suddenly returned to the United States in an exchange of sick and wounded prisoners, and he settled with his half-siblings in Southern California.

He wanted to get on with his life. He became a U.S. citizen and then a partner in a family-run liquor store. In 1963, he married Yvonne Meijers, a Holocaust survivor from the Netherlands whom he met at a dance for Jewish singles.

Besides his wife, of Garden Grove, survivors include their two children, Frank Rubin and Rosalyn Rubin, both of Orange County, Calif.

“Teddy” Rubin, as Tibor became known, largely avoided talking about World War II and Korea. But in the 1980s, he attended a reunion of veterans, where he reconnected with members of his unit. They expressed shock that he had not received the Medal of Honor.

He was told that he had been nominated four times by his grateful comrades — efforts, it emerged, that had been blocked by the sergeant. Mr. Rubin had received two awards of the Purple Heart, but he was the “least assimilated of all his relatives,” said Cohen, and probably knew and cared little about medals.

The Jewish War Veterans of the United States began lobbying in the late 1980s for recognition of Mr. Rubin’s wartime heroism. In 2001, when Congress ordered the Defense Department to review the war records of Jewish and Latino servicemen who might have been unfairly denied the Medal of Honor, Mr. Rubin headed the list. In his citation, he was credited with saving as many as 40 of his fellow prisoners.

“I waited 55 years,” he later said of the ceremony at which he was saluted by generals and other potentates. “I said listen, yesterday I was just a schmuck. Today, they call me, ‘Sir.’ … How I made it, the Lord don’t even know. I don’t even know because I was so many times supposed to die over there, but I’m still here.”

I printed the whole thing—how could I not?—and highlighted only one thing that made me cry.

You can read more:

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Bi Bim BOP!

They would have called themselves the B52s, but for the unfortunate connotaions:

An all-female pop group from North Korea has ended its goodwill tour of China – before it even began.

Members of the Moranbong band unexpectedly turned up at Beijing’s main airport just hours before their first concert and flew back to Pyongyang.

They were due to play three shows to help improve ties between China and North Korea.
It is not yet clear why the performances were cancelled.

Moranbong is one of North Korea’s most popular bands. Its members were reportedly handpicked by the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, himself.

If you hit a wrong note in the audition, does he blow you away with an anti-aircraft gun?

At least it’s easy to keep your girlish figure over there. The only fat commie Korean is Kim himself, the whale. When he cuts himself shaving, gravy comes out.

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Which Worries You More?

A hot war on the Korean peninsula?

South Korea fired tens of artillery rounds toward North Korea on Thursday after the North launched shells to protest South Korea’s anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts along the border, as tension escalated on the peninsula.

North Korea did not return fire but later warned Seoul in a letter that it would take military action if the South did not stop the loudspeaker broadcasts within 48 hours, the South’s defense ministry said.

Or an economic collapse in China?

China’s aura of strength, growth and shrewdness is giving way to the reality of a developing country (albeit huge) suffering growing pains and the excesses borne from overconfidence and misplaced optimism. Unfortunately, there is only one cure: A retrenchment back to a sensible base (economic, financial and political), accompanied by a return of natural humbleness by businesses, investors and government leaders.

The Chinese government is aggravating the problems by attempting market-overriding cures long proven to be harmful in the developed world: mainly, capital controls (including in the stock market), banking controls and (continuing) exchange rate controls. This combination of controls has broad, adverse effects that spurs skeptical parties, including the rest of the world, to act so as to avoid being trapped in a losing situation.

There follows a readable and informative detailed analysis which I recommend. To conclude:

The bottom line

The Chinese leaders’ policies and actions are intensifying and prolonging the country’s economic and financial problems. Moreover, the fallout extends well into the rest of the world, adversely affecting both emerging and developed countries. With the return of global recession risk, the best investment approach appears to be (1) holding limited or no Chinese and emerging market securities, and (2) building cash reserves for both protection and potential opportunities.

To wit:

Disclosure: Author holds 100% in cash reserves

Let the Koreans incinerate each other (not really). But China is big enough to take us all down, hard. Straight cash, homie, as Randy Moss once said.

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The Second-Stupidest Award Ever

And it’s not even close:

Kim Jong-un has been awarded a prize for global statesmanship.

The North Korean dictator is to receive the award from the Bali-based Sukarno Centre. The news was announced by the daughter of Indonesia’s founding president, after whom the award is named.

Rachmawati Soekarnoputri said: “We will give the award to President Kim Jong-un because he has been consistent in carrying out the ideals of the great leader, Kim Il Sung, which is to fight imperialism.

“So this will be a sequel, where we give the award to Kim Jong-un for his persistence in fighting neo-colonialism.”

Other previous recipients of the award have included Mahatma Gandhi and Aung San Suu Kyi.

What next, the Humane Society gives a prize to the dentist who shot Cecil?

I wrote this was the second-stupidest prize ever awarded. In case you forgot:

The gold medal for stupidest award has been retired. Everyone else plays for silver. And even that may be beyond reach.

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Walk a Mile in Their Jimmy Choos

One small step for a washed-up feminist, one giant waste of time for womankind:

In the end, the march across a demilitarised zone strewn with more than a million land mines lacked a little of the drama that Gloria Steinem and her group of “citizen diplomats” may have hoped for.

The “WomenCrossDMZ” team, marching for peace across one of the world’s most dangerous territories, hardly set any precedents by entering South Korea by bus on a well-travelled road through the DMZ. Indeed, they were processed through South Korean immigration like ordinary tourists.

They said it couldn’t be done, but you showed ’em, Gloria. Atta girl!

Effervescent and ebullient at 81, Ms Steinem did the talking for the group as they huddled in South Korea’s immigration transit centre. They had nothing but superlatives for “all that we accomplished”. She said they had had “frank conversations” with North Korean women, away from officials; that they had broken through “artificial barriers”.

It was a real “triumph”, Ms Steinem said, to get an allusion to human rights included in a statement released before they began the 124-mile journey from Pyongyang to the DMZ. Befitting the occasion, they all were dressed in white with rainbow-coloured scarves and shawls symbolising their search for peace.

Fetching!

Some of her colleagues shrank back, avoiding mention of their disappointment over having to enter via the western corridor beside an unused rail line, past the Korean Economic Complex just inside North Korea. Scores of South Koreans travel every day to the complex, boarding buses and vans at the same transit centre.

Although the women could not actually walk from North to South Korea as they had hoped, they went on brief “walks for peace” in Pyongyang on Saturday and again after leaving the transit zone and going by bus to the Tongil or Unification Bridge.

Walk for peace—how pleasant sounding! Like a stroll for armistice, perhaps, or a saunter for ceasefire.

But something tells me these dames don’t get out much:

“We have had a wonderful visit in North Korea,” Ms Maguire said. “The saddest thing was leaving the men and women in North Korea and having to say good-bye to them.”

Ms Gbowee appeared relieved and overjoyed to have made it across the DMZ. “This has been an incredible journey,” she said. “We didn’t think it would be possible to cross the DMZ. We’ve done it. We had conversations. We were able to observe the life of women in North Korea.” And, “most important for anyone,” she said, “we came to end the war”.

North Korean men and women are that outgoing? Some of them, maybe, but I have to think the overwhelming majority are, shall we say, restrained.

Needless to say, there are always doubters:

As they walked, however, the women were blissfully unaware of the shrill protests staged by demonstrators who had been waiting for them in the hot sun all day. Hundreds of policemen barred the protesters from getting anywhere near the women, who were ushered on to one side of a large open-air stage at the peace park.

If they had been able to see the protesters, they would have seen signs in English saying, “Return to” – with an image of the North Korean flag – and “Executioner” – with an image of Kim Jong-un. “Don’t deceive the world,” said another sign. “You are unqualified.”

Sexist pigs.

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RPG RIP

This hardly feels appropriate for the Memorial Day holiday, but we can’t order news a al carte:

No longer content with executing their prisoners with knives and guns, Islamic State militants have ratcheted up their savagery by blasting a man to death with a bazooka.

Shocking video emerged today showing the captive exploding into a ball of flames after being shot with a rocket-propelled grenade that is designed to take out tanks and aircraft.

Amid sickening whoops of joy and shouts of ‘Allah is greatest’, the barbaric jihadis continue to fire their rifles at the dead man as they move in and surround his body.

I’ve suggested that ISIS and Boko Haram were in a competition to to out-horror each other. They sure seem to be in a headless-to-headless competition.

But in this case, ISIS was responding to another competitor:

North Korea has publicly executed the country’s defense minister after the regime accused him of treason, according to reports from South Korea on Tuesday.

Hyon Yong Chol was killed by fire from an anti-aircraft gun at a military school in front of hundreds of people in Pyongyang, the South Korean Intelligence Service (NIS) was reported to have told parliament members in a closed door session.

Hyon was executed because he expressed discontent towards leader Kim Jong Un, and failed to follow Kim’s orders on several occasions, according to Kim Gwang-lim, chairman of the National Assembly Intelligence Committee and a lawmaker with the Saenuri Party who attended the briefing.

Nice world you have there. Keep it up.

PS: With the capture of Palmyra, reportedly the beheadings have already begun. So, too, presumably, has the destruction of the ruins.

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Why Does Pyonyang Sound Like a Bad Word?

Always wondered.

Anyway, Gloria Steinem is going to march there.

I wonder which outfit she’ll wear?

Gloria Steinem is among 30 women activists marching from Beijing through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea in a call for peace next Sunday. The event marks the International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament.

The 81-year-old activist told Reuters that “it seems to me that the past of no contact has not worked,” invoking former President Ronald Reagan’s call to tear down the Berlin Wall.

“We are saying: ‘Take down this isolation,’” she said, according to the report, which also notes that the organizers will meet with North Korean women and tour a maternity hospital, a women’s factory in Pyongyang and a preschool.

Both countries have approved the rare crossing of the DMZ, a rare event that has generated criticism among those who say the event could be used as propaganda by the North.

Everyone’s a cynic. Who wouldn’t want to meet North Korean women?

Well, some women:

I’d work on the slogan, though. “Take down this isolation” is pretty lame.

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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.

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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?

Sir?

Sir?!!

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).

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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.

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