Slave to the Blog: The Will Rogers Edition



The American humorist famously observed, “If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” Some folks internalize this advice, and, well…some do not.

Qatar has garnered beaucoup bad publicity over the treatment of foreign workers in general, and North Korean workers in particular, laboring on that country’s infrastructure projects, many related to the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup. One recent story indicated that North Korea was even sending soldiers to do the work, because they’re easier to discipline and they don’t expect to be paid. I’m not sure how Oklahoman translates into Arabic, but according to Yonhap, the Qataris are limiting the number of visas issued to North Korean workers. Ostensibly, this action is related to UN Security Council resolution 2270, but the piece also mentions South Korea-Qatar cooperation in the defense industry. Didn’t Ben Franklin say something about doing well by doing good?

(Parenthetically, in compliance with UNSCR 2270, this month Vietnam placed an additional 12 North Koreans under travel bans, bringing the total to 28. The banned include officials associated with Korea Mining Development Company (KOMID), an arms firm, and the Tanchon Commercial Bank, which has been involved in intermediating missile sales.)

Yet, somehow Will Rogers seems to have escaped Kim Jong-il’s massive film collection. In a recent post, I described legislation introduced in the US House of Representatives that would essentially force the State Department to justify not having North Korea on the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. As I observed in this and a subsequent follow up post, the election year Congressional calendar made it unlikely that this legislation would pass Congress in this session, but its introduction (and vote out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee) teed it up for passage in a subsequent session in response to a North Korean provocation. Well, if one believes everything in the newspaper, the North Koreans are playing their part. Multiple outlets report a South Korean intelligence claim that Kim Jong-un has personally ordered terror attacks against South Koreans living overseas, allegedly in retaliation for the mass defection of North Korean restaurant workers in April.

Finally, there is digging holes figuratively, and then there is digging holes literally. Chosun Ilbo reported earlier this month that North Korea planted an additional 4,000 landmines in the DMZ, double the seasonal rate at which they normally plant mines. Neither the US, North Korea, South Korea, China nor Russia have signed the landmine treaty.

That’s pretty depressing. So to end on a more positive note, this coming Saturday, 30 July, PSCORE is hosting in Seoul “Rock On!,” a benefit concert to support that organization’s English language tutoring program for North Korean refugees. If you are in Seoul, check it out.

I wonder if Ben Franklin ever said anything about doing good by having fun?

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