We’re in the money: Daily NK published a story recounting opposition lawmaker Oh Young Sik of the Trade, Industry and Energy Committee flogging previously published reports that North Korea has more than $6 trillion in minerals under the ground. (Maybe he missed the story that put it at $10 trillion.) Anyway, according to the report these include “large deposits of crystalline graphite (2nd in the world), zinc, lead, tungsten, magnesite (3rd in the world), silver (10th the world) and iron ore (11th in the world).” The subtext is that 8 out of 9 foreign mining firms operating in the North are Chinese, and if South Korea doesn't get cracking it will be shut out of the bonanza. My guess is that there are a lot of valuable minerals under North Korea; the problem is that mining involves large upfront sunk cost which makes a particularly inviting candidate for expropriation, as the Chinese have discovered (see, Xiyang). What matters is the North Korean policy environment. Potential investors in oil refineries beware.
We didn't do it: North Korea has denied that it is sending helicopter pilots or artillery officers to Syria. Didn’t mention gas masks or nuclear reactors. “This is nothing but part of the foolish plots of the hostile forces to tarnish the image of the peace-loving DPRK and cover up their criminal acts of blocking the peaceful settlement of the Syrian situation,” said KCNA.
And what do we do with this big Japanese dude: Antonio Inoki (the Dennis Rodman of Japan) who finished up his unauthorized trip to North Korea by meeting with Jang Sung Taek? Wow. Mongolian president Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj only got to meet with Kim Yong-nam. Neither got the full Rodman. But then President Elbegdorj did give a speech at Kim Il-Sung University which contains the following passage:
"Mongolia is a country respecting human rights and freedoms, upholding rule of law and pursuing open policies. Mongolia holds dear the fundamental human rights – freedom of expression, right to assembly and the right to live by his or her own choice.
I believe in the power of freedom. Freedom is an asset bestowed upon every single man and woman. Freedom enables every human to discover and realize his or her opportunities and chances for development. This leads a human society to progress and prosperity. Free people look for solutions in themselves. And those without freedom search for the sources of their miseries from outside. Mongols say, “better to live by your own choice however bitter it is, than to live by other’s choice, however sweet”.
No tyranny lasts for ever. It is the desire of the people to live free that is the eternal power. In 1990 Mongolia made a dual political and economic transition, concurrently, without shattering a single window and shedding a single drop of blood. Let me draw just one example. Over twenty years ago, the sheer share of the private sector in Mongolia’s GDP was less than 10%, whereas today it accounts for over 80%. So, a free society is a path to go, a way to live, rather than a goal to accomplish.
Strengthening a free society and transitioning to it is not easy. It is a daily task, a grueling mundane routine to clean our free society from ills and dirt, just like parents change the diapers of their babies every morning.
These days Mongolia is paying a concerted attention to judicial reform. Corruption is a mortal enemy on our way to development. Mongolia strives to implement a policy of zero-tolerance to corruption.
We do not hide our shadow. Our mistakes and our lessons are open. Freedom is a system where one can make a mistake, and also learn from the mistake. The path a free and open society walks on is a learning process itself. I am a learning man as well. I was born to a herders’ family. I am the youngest of a couple with 8 sons. And I am very happy for the chance given by the free choice of my people, to serve the common interests of my people."
Double wow. And to top is all off, the President's website contains the following note: The topic of the lecture was proposed by the DPRK side. The President was advised not to use the words “democracy, market economy” in his lecture.
And what would we do with these two drunk guys if this were on our turf: President Park's visit to Washington earlier this year was marred by an alleged sexual assault by her drunken press spokesman, Yoon Chang-jung, who skipped the country. The Yoon incident occurred amid growing furor over alleged laxity of treatment of sex crimes within the US military, and the same week, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, in charge of the Air Force’s program to prevent sexual assaults, was arrested for the same thing: getting drunk and assaulting a woman. The Pentagon tried to take the case away from the civilian authorities but the Arlington County, Virginia county attorney insisted it was her jurisdiction. This week Krusinski was tried and acquitted on a charge of simple assault. From press reports, it sounds as the witnesses were all drunk and it was hard for the jury to sort out who did what to whom. I wonder what happened to Yoon? I wonder what would have happened if he had stayed and faced the music--Krusinski was found not guilty.
Lastly, my post on Sunday has generated more intense reaction than I had expected from a humor piece. Chad O'Carroll in particular was upset that I did not know he had stopped using his aliases. My confusion stemmed from the fact that when he first introduced himself while working as an IT specialist for the German Marshall Fund, he introduced himself as Tad Farrell, and that is how he is listed in my contacts. Now that I know that he now exclusively Chad O'Carroll, that will be his appellation moving forward. Sorry for giving offense, my remarks were intended in jest. The other comments on the post, including the one from Robin Tudge, require more extensive response which I will provide once I have more reliable internet access.