Tag Archives: North Korea

Movie Doubles – ‘White House Down’ & ‘Olympus Has Fallen’

‘Die Hard’ In A Box

Way back in the late 1980s when action movies were hitting the new generation of incoherence-over-substance, ‘Die Hard’ set a new benchmark in action and incoherence-over-substance. It was a great formula. You get a lone hero who cowboys his way to victory in the confines of a building against a group of terrorists or bank thieves or whatever else that came handy as a group of bad guys.

The formula worked so well, they started making these Die-Hard-In-A-Something movies, quite apart from the sequel which was Die Hard in an Airport. Most of these copycats featured Seteven Seagal: ‘Under Siege’ was Die-Hard-On-A-Boat; ‘Under Siege II’ was Die-Hard-On-A-Train and ‘Executive decision’ was Die-Hard-On-A-Plane (although Steven Seagal’s character gets blown out of an airlock about 25minutes into the movie.) Telemovies were worse – they were making all kinds of Die-Hard-In-A-Something movies at an alarming clip, some of which were so unimaginative, they were actually Die-Hard-In-A-Building-But-With-Somebody-Not-Bruce-Willis.

I don’t know when the fad died out in Hollywood. Maybe it died out about the time ‘Die Hard 3: Die Hard With A Vengeance’ came out an that was not set in any kind of confined space, it was just all out action all over New York State. but on some level all this stuff lives on because they recently made the fifth ‘Die Hard’ movie. The concept itself obviously dies very hard.

Going on 25years, and yes, not one but two studios have imaginatively decided to make Die-Hard-In-The White-House.

Spoiler Alert. Although if you’ve seen ‘Die Hard’, then there really are no surprises.

How To Spin A Bad Moment

This is kind of weird, but these two films are actually quite politically loaded in how they couch the problem. ‘Olympus’ casts the bad guys as North Koreans. ‘WH Down’ thinks the likely culprits to take over the White House are domestic MIC operatives gone rogue. The Olympus President is a white guy. ‘WH Down’ has a black President. The hero in ‘Olympus’ is a grizzled, hardened vet. A former US Rangers and Special Forces guy. The elite amongst the elite and played by Gerard Butler who is dragging his cache as Leonidas from ‘300’ The hero in ‘WH Down’ is a blue collar guy who did serve in Afghanistan but he’s working for the police department and comes in for a job interview with the Secret Service wherein he’s told he just doesn’t make the grade.

As you can see, ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ is an out and out Republican sort of fantasy where the bad guys are foreign commies, the good guy is an elite killer and the President is a white man who is also capable of handling himself in combat. ‘White House Down’ is a Democrat fantasy where a black US President wants to defuse the tension in the Middle East by making peace offerings to the Iranians (!), and he wants to smoke out the Military Industry Complex and send them to prison. And dare I say, ‘White House Down’ is a slightly better film because not only does it look better, the drama plays better.

Fascism and Dufus Factor

The tenor of ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ is tinged with fascism once the violence starts. There is no tangible logic except to fulfill the conditions of a Die Hard plot which involves traveling in the interstitial spaces of a building and unleashing appropriate amounts of lethal violence in short bursts. These Die Hard plots done well usually involve the good guy hiding for long parts of the story only come out for a flurry of action while the bad guy hogs the screen and preens and pouts for the camera. It certainly worked for Steven Seagal.

In turn, it is necessary for the bad guys to be squabbling dufuses. They usually come in hard with their plan and shut down power and communications and then start sending out threats and ransom notes, but the moment something starts to go wrong, they start bickering at one another. This leads to the opportunity for the hero to pick them off in small numbers. In other words, the only way the Die Hard story works as a first order text is if the hero is a fascist and the bad guys are stupid.

Of course, ‘White House Down’ is more of a tongue-in-cheek second order text. It’s clear they know they’re doing Die Hard in the White House, so Channing Tatum is the lead, he spends a few scenes in a white singlet, Jamie Foxx loses his shoes in reference to the barefooted John McClane. It’s a stranger film than ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ because the film includes political commentary, political satire and a good dose of deference to the original Die Hard so the whole film proceeds with a disjointed irony, more than the po-faced assuredness of the other film.

The Veep Is Dead

Both films make the interesting manoeuvre of ridding themselves of the Vice President so they can get to the Speaker of the House as fill-in President to make executive decisions. I guess it’s  an interesting quirk of American democracy where there is a President who heads up the State but there is a Congress that functions mostly like a Parliament. So the King got swapped out for a popular President and you have a Vice President who is the backup guy in case the King goes down mid-term. The Speaker of the House in Parliamentary terms would be the equivalent position of a Prime Minister but you’d never guess that from the way the US Congress is condicted.

The designers of the United States Government clearly didn’t trust the Westminster system because they clearly felt the power should devolve from the President to another figure who was also elected by the people on a popular ticket. Yet both films spend a small time to get rid of the Vice President. It’s hard to figure why they both did this except to get the story into the hands of somebody of authority outside the White House and a Vice President would not have achieved that aim.

The power devolves to the Speaker in both films seem to betray the notion that the House Speaker is an under-recognised office in the US Government. The thought did occur to me during the recent spats between the Obama administration and the Republican led Congress. I could see the argument that Congress should have more power to set budgets as you could make the argument that John Boehner was technically a kind of Prime Minister of sorts with the US Congress having some sort of roots in the Westminster system of government. Not that I felt the current Republicans were a good agency to have such power but that in some ways it would simplify the problems pertaining to budget limits and so on if more responsibility could be sheeted home to members of Congress. Even if that were to happen, one imagines the President of the United States would have significant ‘reserve powers’ to govern.

In any case it’s interesting both films wanted to show this system. Even on this issue both films betray their underlying political leanings. ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ gives us Morgan Freeman as the House Speaker and he is clearly an oppositional (if deferential) political figure to the President. The House Speaker in ‘White House Down’ turns out to be the chief instigator and culprit of all the mayhem, and he is a wealthy white man who is clearly in opposition to the President’s agenda.

North Korea As Threat

It’s a good thing to see that at least parts of Hollywood still thinks of North Korea as a threat. It’s a mad place. It’s also a much longer shot than the threat of domestic radicalised militias and disgruntled elements.

I know the whole Dennis Rodman is weirding us all out, first of all, for getting on so well with Kim Jong-Un but also because he seems to take his self-appointed diplomatic role so seriously. It’s hard to see how North Korea could really win back the proper place of straight-faced menace in movies after ‘Team America’, but I guess we’re on to the next generation and it’s anybody’s guess as to just how weird Jong-Un is going to be. In that light, it’s vaguely plausible a crack unit of North Koreans might make a dash for the White House but it seems more likely they’ll make a beeline for the nearest burger joint given how impoverished and famished they’re meant to be. Still, it doesn’t get much better than having North Koreans as the bad guys because it squarely puts North Korea in the spotlight of our consciousness.

The Really Scary People Are Closer

Unlike the threat of North Koreans hell-bent on changing the world order, the possibly scarier people seem to be ex-special forces and ex-CIA, living with liberal amounts of guns and ammo. I know it’s a lifestyle choice in some parts of the USA, but the bottom line is that there have been more terror deaths thanks to domestic terrorism than the spectre of 9/11 foreign terrorists in America. What’s worse, there are conspiracy theories which suggest even 9/11 was an inside hatchet job, so the deaths there would go on the domestic terror victims’ list.

Not that one takes one’s political cues from movies in a big way, but ‘White House Down’ is a bit more pointed about what kind of extremism lurks in the American political psyche. ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ is more positive about this kind of loose cannon persona, armed to the hilt, doing the violent things they were trained to do. Some people might even call it blow-back, but who’s really counting?

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Grim Tales

Living The Orwellian Dream

Like most news coming out of North Korea, this business of Kim Jong-Un purging his uncle is more than a little grotesque. I guess it’s one thing to remove somebody you find threatening, it’s entirely another thing to execute them and make them an object lesson. Fortunately most of us don’t have to make such choices, but all the same, one is confronted by the very blood-thirsty nature of power plays in dictatorships.

Before his arrest Mr Jang sought foreign investment for a country that lacks hard currency, overseeing special economic zones near the border with China. Mr Jang represented a “China wing” of the leadership that was very close to Beijing, Professor Armstrong said.

Mr Jang’s crimes included “overtly and covertly standing in the way of settling the issue of succession” when Mr Kim was readying to take over from his father, longtime ruler Kim Jong-il, KCNA said, describing him as a traitor with a “dirty political ambition”.

“Despicable human scum Jang, who was worse than a dog, perpetrated thrice-cursed acts of treachery in betrayal of such profound trust and warmest paternal love shown by the party and the leader for him,” KCNA said.

There have been other news of people getting purged and executed by the new tyrant. None of this terribly comforting to read because in all honesty, this kind of institutionally violent human being is at the helm of a nation that wants to have nuclear weapons. A man ready and willing to be a kin-slayer in order to hold power is a very frightening man. The news sticks out because whatever you might think of the disputes between Japan, China and South Korea, North Korea remains the biggest joker in the pack. The speculation is that more purges are likely to follow.

The truly horrible thing about North Korean politics as it stands is that it exists not as an example of an Orwellian Dystopia, but it has gone beyond it to being a kind of parody of an Orwellian Dystopia. There, you would dare not bat an eyelid without it somehow being support of the regime, and Doublethink would be the only way to think. There is no rhyme or reason why the people in the countryside are starved to death while an army that never goes to war exploits the masses so vigorously. Despite sanctions and shaming and international pressure, the Kim regime keeps on going by selling arms and illicit drugs. It’s like n entire nation that has “broken bad”. Perhaps the best way to understand Kim Jong-Un is that he’s a kind of Jesse Pinkman, and he has finally killed his Walter White.

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News That’s Fit To Punt – 04/08/09

Is This Going To Be Futile Or What?

Former US President Bill Clinton is on a surprise trip to North Korea. Team America would probably warn him not to listen to Kim Jong-Il when he says, “Step a Rittre to your reft Prease!”

His mission, which he chose to accept, was trying to free a couple journalists who have been detained by the said regime, one of the axis of evil.

Former president Bill Clinton made a surprise trip to North Korea on Tuesday to try to bring home two jailed US reporters, in what was the highest-profile visit by an American to Pyongyang for nearly a decade.
The hardline communist state sent two senior officials and a schoolgirl with a floral bouquet to greet him at the capital’s Sunan airport.
Analysts said the reception may indicate Pyongyang is seeking better relations with its arch enemy Washington, after months of high tensions sparked by the North’s nuclear and missile tests and subsequent UN sanctions.
A US official travelling separately with the former president’s wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, confirmed he would seek the release of the female reporters detained during an assignment along the China border in March.
“Our interest is the successful completion of this issue and to confirm the safe return of the two journalists,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, quoting sources, said Clinton was expected to meet leader Kim Jong-Il later Tuesday and fly back on Wednesday with the journalists.

If this plan works, then they should send him to Tehran on the next leg to free those idiot American backpackers who wandered into Iran from Iraq and got captured.

UPDATE: And amazingly, Bill Clinton gets it done.



Bill Clinton brought some unusual strengths to a round of diplomacy that won the release of two US journalists on Tuesday: the cachet of a two-term presidency, a keen understanding of Asia, a history of North Korean outreach and smackdowns, and a gift for gab. Not to mention a wife who is secretary of state.

His drawbacks – that short fuse and oversized ego – were unlikely to be risks in this episode. In high-stakes diplomacy, some things are decided before anything is negotiated, and it was all but certain going in that Clinton would not be empty-handed coming out.

Old entanglements were in play. Clinton negotiated on behalf of journalists employed by Al Gore, his former vice president, in a media enterprise Gore started after losing a presidential election he might have won absent Clinton’s impeachment scandal.

He negotiated for the benefit of President Barack Obama, the man who dashed his wife’s White House hopes.

Clinton succeeded in the mission at hand: pardons for journalists sentenced to 12 years of hard labor for illegally entering North Korea. Clinton’s spokesman said on Wednesday the former president left North Korea with two American journalists who had been held hostage.

I don’t know what to make of ‘The Kim’ in his sudden benevolence. What is that? You can never tell in this world. Optimism springs eternal.

I think they should send him to Tehran too.

“Who Let Them Into The Country?” They’ll Ask

A terrorist plot has allegedly been foiled by the erstwhile AFP and state cops in NSW and Victoria.

El Sayed is charged with conspiring to do acts in preparation for a terrorist act, namely an armed attack on the Australian Army Base at Holsworthy, south-west of Sydney.

Earlier, the court heard that the suspected terrorists arrested today allegedly intended to become martyrs in an attack on the base.

The court heard police believed there was a conspiracy to use weapons to fire upon Australian military personnel.

Prosecutor Nick Robinson, SC, alleged the men intended to keep shooting until they were killed or arrested.

Mr Robinson agreed with the magistrate that their intention was to become martyrs.

The court heard only one man had been charged with terrorism-related offences while three other men remained in custody without charge.

Investigators are seeking a court order to extend their questioning of the men for eight hours.

One of the men, Saney Aweys, appeared in court handcuffed and flanked by two federal agents. He denied any connection with the men mentioned in court by Mr Robinson.

Aweys, who has not been charged and who was unrepresented, said he was a boilermaker and needed sleep after being awake for the past 30 hours.

He said the police had put him in a “small room [and] when I told them of my fatigue and tiredness they told me to have a nap with the lights on”.

“I want it to stop now,’’ he said. “I want to have a rest.’’

Ah, the good ol terror laws. Glad to see them in action, doing some evil. I ask, “but is the torture really necessary?” I guess they’ll get Dick Cheney on the line and ask his opinion.

Turnbull’s Regrets Over Utegate

KRuddie and Wayne Swann have been cleared.

“The variability in Treasury’s response did not reflect any instruction on the part of the Prime Minister or his office, the Treasurer or his office, or senior Treasury management that some representations were to receive more favourable treatment than others,” the report, from the Australian National Audit Office, said.

Godwin Grech has ‘fessed up to the fact that he made up the fake e-mail. Malcolm Turnbull is running in the other direction from Grech’s psych ward as fast as he can, but he did express his deep regret today.

“It is very regrettable that in doing so Mr Grech misled the Opposition, the Parliament and the Australian people,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Sydney.

“At all times the Opposition acted in good faith.”

Mr Turnbull countered suggestions in The Australian that Mr Grech was pressured by the Opposition to provide details, saying the public servant approached Senate deputy leader Eric Abetz.

“Mr Grech proposed a detailed list of questions be put to him relating to OzCar, including questions concerning Mr Grant and representations made on his behalf.”

Mr Turnbull has been under Government pressure to explain his role in the OzCar affair and his relationship with Mr Grech.

He faces accusations he met Mr Grech prior to the official giving evidence to a Senate inquiry linking Mr Rudd and Treasurer Wayne Swan to a request for special treatment be given to the car dealer seeking help under the $2 billion taxpayer-funded OzCar scheme.

The Auditor-General, in a report tabled today, has cleared both Mr Rudd and Mr Swan of making any inappropriate representations on behalf of the dealer.

Mr Turnbull rejected Mr Grech’s suggestions he wanted to co-operate with the Coalition to stop it from blocking the Government’s financing scheme for car dealerships.

“The suggestion that the Opposition was considering blocking the OzCar legislation is false,” he said.

“The legislation had the full support of the Opposition and this was publicly known long before Mr Grech drew Mr Grant to the attention of the Opposition.”

So that would make Godwin Grech the patsy. He’ll never eat lunch in Canberra again, so to speak.

I don’t think all this reflects well on the Leader of the Opposition. I’m still inclined to think this thing with Godwin Grech and the fake e-mail is going to keep yapping at his heel, making him far less effective.  in the long run, I suspect it’s going to kill Turnbull’s career in politics.

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Free Ute?

These Guys Got Expensive EuroCars!

I know one ute is causing so much ruckus in Australia’s political landscape, but spare a thought for what goes on in North Korea that passes for news.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has put his youngest son in charge of the country’s spy agency in a move aimed at handing the communist regime over to him, a news report said.

Kim visited the headquarters of the State Security Department in March, along with his 26-year-old third son, Kim Jong Un, and told agency leaders to “uphold” the son as head of the department, the Dong-a Ilbo newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing an unnamed source.

Kim also told department leaders to “safeguard comrade Kim Jong Un with (your) lives as you did for me in the past,” and gave them five foreign-made cars, each worth some $US80,000 ($A100,743), as gifts, the mass-market daily said.

Just in case you thought our politics in this country had hit rock bottom, I thought you should know that there is much earth and many layers of hell beneath that bottom of the barrel.

Who Is Godwin Grech

Yes, who is this weasely wretch, an ill-omen-ed fetch from the horrors most eldretch!

Here’s a sketch:

He likes advising younger colleagues on how to advance their careers, although some of his interlocutors regarded him as a little on the paternalistic side.

Mr Grech has spent most of his career in Treasury, the elite Canberra department that prides itself on the intellectual rigour of its analysis. He wears his economically rationalist heart on his sleeve, describing himself as a “believer in the positive power of the market”.

In the late 1990s Mr Grech had executive assignments in Treasury’s markets group dealing with financial institutions and systems and with competition and market access policy.

By 2003 he had risen to the senior position of general manager of Treasury’s competition and consumer policy division, according to Hansard records. The position put him just two levels below the Treasury secretary in the department’s organisational structure, but he held it for just a few months.

By early 2005 he had moved to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, working for three years in effect in a level below his position at Treasury.

After the change of government in 2007 Mr Grech may have spent a lot of time responding to requests for briefs from one Andrew Charlton in the Prime Minister’s office, an economist more than 10 years the public servant’s junior.

In the early months of the Labor Government Dr Charlton was Mr Rudd’s adviser on employment, business conditions, competition and consumer affairs. In a strange twist, the concocted email that has now involved Mr Grech was supposed to have been written by Dr Charlton.

Then, in June last year, Mr Grech was offered a position as a policy director in a strategic policy division set up for the Prime Minister.

A couple of months after that sideways shift, Mr Grech returned to Treasury as a principal adviser in its financial systems division.

Late last year he was given the huge project of pulling together the Government’s emergency response to the crisis in motor dealer finance. It was that assignment that inextricably involved him in the Ozcar affair.

Sounds like a careerist conservative weasel. Why is it that these rogue apparatchiks always find their way into the breach? It’s a mystery isn’t it? And what was the faked e-mail doing on his computer – and nowhere else legitimate in the system? Why, he’d fit right in in North Korea.

How Now Mr. Turnbull?

As I pointed out yesterday, I think it best if he turned bear and fled. The only reason he will still be Leader of the Opposition next month would be because the Libs have nobody better.

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Not How You Do It

Elections, Iranian Style

The country that offered up in no particular order, Ayatollah Khomeini; Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; Theocracy in the 21st Century;  the worst cuisine in the world; is undergoing elections. Of course, this being Iran, the news coming out is hilariously disjointed.

TEHRAN, Iran – Iran’s interior ministry said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took nearly 70 percent of the early votes counted, but his pro-reform rival countered that he was the clear victor and warned of possible fraud in the election.

The dispute rose up even before polls closed early Saturday, heightening tensions across the capital where emotions have been running at a fever pitch. Mir Hossein Mousavi, the reformist candidate, suggested he might challenge the results.

The messy and tense outcome capped a long day of voting — extended for six hours to accommodate a huge turnout. It raised worries that Iran’s Islamic establishment could use its vast powers to pressure backers of Mousavi.
During the voting, text messages were blocked — a key campaign tool for reformers — as well as some pro-Mousavi Web sites. Security officials warned they would not tolerate political gatherings or rallies before the final results were known.

Even before the first vote counts were released, Mousavi held a news conference to declare himself “definitely the winner” based on “all indications from all over Iran.” But he gave nothing more to back up his claim and alleged widespread voting irregularities without giving specifics — suggesting he was ready to challenge the final results.

Moments after Mousavi spoke, however, Iran’s state news agency reported that Ahmadinejad was the victor. The report by the Islamic Republic News Agency also gave no details.
With more than 15 million votes counted, Ahmadinejad had 67.7 percent and Mousavi had 30.3 percent, said Kamran Daneshjoo, a senior officials with the Interior Ministry, which oversees the voting.

It was not reported whether the results were from locations considered Ahmadinejad strongholds or where Mousavi hoped to make headway.

The turnout was not immediately known, but election officials had predicted a possible record among the 46.2 million eligible voters.

That’s a lot of voters. It’s always a bad sign when 2 candidates go to the polls and both claim victory. Reminds you of Al Gore and GWBush? Of course, this being Iran, the theocracy gets to have the final say and they will pick the Holocaust-denying Nuke-building demagogue that is Mr. Ahmadinejad.

I guess Iranian elections are much like their western counterparts, a kind of punch and judy show fronting for the industrial interests of their country.

Succession North Korean Style

Here’s an interesting column about the North Korean transfer of leadership from Kim Jong-Il to his 26year old son.

On June 2, it was reported that 26-year-old Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il’s youngest son, would succeed his father as North Korean leader, probably this fall at the end of a 150-day “struggle” period. Shortly before the “struggle” began, Pyongyang engaged in a series of provocative acts. On April 5, North Korea illegally launched a long range missile under the guise of a satellite test. On April 16, Pyongyang expelled United Nations nuclear inspectors before taking steps to begin processing uranium at the Yongbyon nuclear facility. On May 25, as the struggle period reportedly began, the North tested a nuclear weapon and test-fired three short-range, ground-to-air and ground-to-ship ballistic missiles.

This reminds us of the 70-day campaign Kim Jong-il directed in 1974 as part of his transition to senior leadership. The struggle then was economic, and it resulted in Kim Jong-il being awarded the title of Hero of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a glory that is likely to be seen in the younger Mr. Kim’s future. The recent provocative acts are no doubt tied to the transition as a means of solidifying support for the regime among the party apparatus and giving the young Mr. Kim some needed bona fides for assuming the top post.

I think they’re ripe for another parody by the South Park boys. The Axis of evil is more like the Axis of bad governments.

Here’s an interesting interview with one of Kim’s sons.  If you watch the video, it’s amazing how much of regular dude this son of Kim appears. Very disconcerting in that he at least has probably watched ‘Team America’ and understood it very well.

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“Die Hans Brix!”

Team North Korea

Every few years, North Korea surfaces from the sludge of international relations to rattle its sabre and detonate half baked nukes and fire inaccurate missile tests. It’s quite a joke really if it weren’t for the fact that Kim Jong-Il seems pretty serious about his threats and nobody is willing to march in to North Korea to get themselves some regime-change-a-la-Iraq.

Thus it’s always a bad time when North Korea decides to announce that it’s detonated its second nuclear test, total contravention of anything discussed in the Six Nations talk. The Six Nations which include the 2 Koreas, China, Russia America and Japan have so far pleaded and begged and bribed with North Korea to stop its nuclear weapons program, but when they go and set off a 20kiloton nuke in a test, it’s time for some diplomatic strife.

KoreaIlThese fireworks follow the launch in April of a three-stage rocket over Japan and the Pacific. Until that point, it was still possible to argue that increasingly belligerent rhetoric from Mr Kim’s regime was just his way of catching the attention of President Barack Obama’s new administration. The pariah state had long said it wanted an accommodation with the United States that guaranteed its security. But engagement with the outside world now looks near the bottom of its priorities.

North Korea also says it has torn up the truce that ended the Korean war in 1953. This was provoked, it says, by South Korea’s decision to join the American-led Proliferation Security Initiative, a group that aims to block shipments of weapons of mass destruction and related contraband. South Korea was reacting to Mr Kim’s nuclear test; North Korea accused it of a “declaration of war”. With American and South Korean troops put on a higher alert, some kind of military clash looks possible.

North Korea has also said it is restarting its plutonium reprocessing plant at Yongbyon, closed since 2007 as part of a disarmament deal negotiated with America, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia. International nuclear inspectors have been kicked out of the country. There is also concern that North Korea will resume selling nuclear technology abroad.

Earlier this month North Korea told South Korean managers at the Kaesong industrial complex, not long ago seen as a symbol of warming ties on the peninsula, that they must sign new, costlier contracts for North Korean workers, or pack up and go. The chief North Korean negotiator of closer relations between North and South, once a confidant of Mr Kim, is rumoured to have been sent to a labour camp and even shot, possibly for taking bribes.

It’s an ongoing joke. Like the warlords of Afghanistan, Kim Jong-Il makes his money dealing Heroin. They sell arms to dictators in Africa, they deal in black diamonds and whatever portable wealth while their population is starving. The regime is repressive to the point of cruelty, and the people are totally brain-washed in to supporting this system because dear leader allegedly makes it so good. It’s like a whole nation that’s been held captive by a cult of personality trying to build an on-going dynastic system like some medieval king. And the fact that the rest of the 21st Century world actually has to take this nation more seriously because of its serious nuclear ambition is truly pathetic.

But deal with them we must.

Nobody seems to have a plan on how to get North Korea to quit being North Korea as it were. Are they merely essentially fucked up? Or is it that they work hard to be so fucked up? Or is that they get immense help and encouragement to be so fucked up?

The Chinese are too invested in having the nation as a bulwark ally facing off the …err… capitalist West at the 38th Parallel instead of on its own borders. It’s not unlike the anxiety Russia has about the Ukraine wanting to join NATO. China doesn’t ant North Korea to be absorbed into South Korea because suddenly the running dogs of the Capitalist West would be at their doorstep across the Yalu River.

Remember Douglas MacArthur’s great plan to drop 8 nukes north of that river to create a no-mans land forever which would keep the Chinese out of the Korean peninsula? Yes, the plan that got him sacked by Truman. It sure looks prescient today, if only because dealing with the Kim Regime in both its generations has been like pulling teeth without anaesthetics – a medieval sort of problem. That’s the Yalu River for you.

Perhaps we’re lucky that Truman’s notion of no further nuclear wars prevailed. China and Russia are still talking to the rest of the world, if with their own strategic concerns being their bug bears. That being said, most of these strategic concerns are a bit silly if it means in the case of Russia, the Ukraines cannot get energy supplies and in the case of North Korea, it continues the aggravation of this nuclear threat. And seeing that the Cold War is long over, you wonder why they let these Cold War Era politics continue locally to the detriment of their own reputations. I guess you can put this down to bloody-mindedness.

If it ever comes down to a military solution, it’s going to have to be China that digs out the Kims from their bunkers, and not the USA or the West or their allies in the far east. If nukes ever get exchanged, then you’d have to say MacArthur had it right in 1951.

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