We noted surprise in an earlier post of Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell’s fulsome embrace of the Libya model for North Korea. Now the North Koreans have provided a predictably full-throated response:
“The U.S. launched a military attack on Libya in collusion with some Western countries on March 19.
It openly interfered in the internal affairs of Libya, sparking off a civil war, and then cooked up a deceptive resolution by abusing the authority of the UN Security Council…The DPRK strongly denounces this as a wanton violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of an independent state and a hideous crime against humanity in gross breach of the dignity of the Libyan people and their right to existence…. The world is witnessing almost everyday the miserable death of a great many peaceable citizens and unspeakable disasters caused by two wars launched by the U.S. in the new century.
Not content with this, the U.S. sparked a fresh war disaster in order to bring about a regime change in the country incurring its displeasure under the spurious signboard of "protecting civilians" and put the natural resources of Libya under its control….
The present Libyan crisis teaches the international community a serious lesson.
It was fully exposed before the world that "Libya's nuclear dismantlement" much touted by the U.S. in the past turned out to be a mode of aggression whereby the latter coaxed the former with such sweet words as "guarantee of security" and "improvement of relations" to disarm itself and then swallowed it up by force.
It proved once again the truth of history that peace can be preserved only when one builds up one's own strength as long as high-handed and arbitrary practices go on in the world.
The DPRK was quite just when it took the path of Songun and the military capacity for self-defence built up in this course serves as a very valuable deterrent for averting a war and defending peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”
Andrei Lankov is now predicting another nuclear test to underline their determination to be regarded as a nuclear power.
North Korea’s chronic food emergency continues to fester and we will be providing a more detailed look in a subsequent post. One of the weirder aspects of North Korea’s aid campaign is the country allegedly asking Zimbabwe for aid which itself is on the WFP dole. The source is an unnamed South Korean official, so one needs to take this story with a grain of salt, though ties between North Korea and the dictatorial regime of Robert Mugabe are long-standing. Mugabe apparently got some of his cult of personality ideas after visiting Pyongyang, and the North Koreans went on to train Zimbabwe’s notorious 5th brigade (as well as the mural painters of Harare). More recently, Mugabe rubbed salt into old wounds by inviting the North Korean soccer team to train for the 2010 World Cup, in Bulawayo, site of some of the brigade’s worst atrocities. They were run out of town.
We commented earlier on the situation involving 31 fishermen who drifted into South Korean waters and the predictably bellicose statements that the North Koreans issued in response. After all the huffing and puffing, they accepted the 27 who chose to return. No word on the families of the four who did not.
More developments on the balloon front: a residents of a small island will try to block a balloon launch out of fear of North Korean retaliation, and police have arrested a suspect in the murder of an activist's mother. They say that the killing was not politically related.
In an earlier post we observed how terribly confused public discussions of North Korean trade, particularly trade with China are. VOA reports that China’s trade with North Korea was up sharply in January. The redoubtable Bertil Lintner who over the years has done some excellent North Korea related reporting from Southeast Asia has an eye-opening piece in the Asia Times on North Korea-Burma trade, including apparent bartering of military for luxury goods.
Finally, Walter Keats of Chicago, whose tour operation we mentioned in a post last month, is back again with an education tour, guided by Charles Armstrong. Knowing both men, I strongly doubt that they will force you to attend juche study hall like those other tour operators.