New Jersey restaurateur Robert Egan barbecues meat for a living, except when he acts as a self-appointed, unofficial conduit between the United States and North Korea.While it's important to remember that even North Korean government representatives can be regular people, putting this human face on DPRK citizens should never mean putting a mask over the regime's evil, which I fear this may do. I'm also not terribly pleased about people making a buck for their collaborative (?) dealings with the North. At any rate, I can think of two reasons why Mr Egan needs to wash his hands after his barbecues.
In his book "Eating with the Enemy: How I Waged Peace with North Korea from my BBQ Shack in Hackensack," which will be released on April 27, Egan recounts how he forged an unlikely friendship with North Korean diplomats at the United Nations.
For a decade, he courted them with racks of ribs, hunting trips and by making occasional trips to help deliver humanitarian aid to Pyongyang, the capital of the impoverished, reclusive communist state that harbors nuclear ambitions.
"With diplomacy, sometimes everyone takes themselves so seriously," Egan told Reuters during an interview at his restaurant Cubby's BBQ, located a short drive from Midtown Manhattan. "You know, you have to let your hair down every once in a while."
The decor of Cubby's pays tribute to its owner's second life. The walls are lined with framed photographs of Egan, a gregarious, broad-shouldered 52-year-old man with mixed Irish and Italian ancestry, posing with North Korean diplomats and newspaper articles that document their friendship.
"On a local, personal level there was a breakthrough. That's a good thing," said John McCreary, a retired analyst for the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency and a North Korea expert, who counts Egan as a friend. But McCreary said it was not clear Egan had accomplished more than that.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Let them eat steak
Reuters has an article on the collaborator restauranteur in New Jersey who has been using his BBQ restaurant as a form of diplomacy with North Koreans stationed at the UN mission in New York City: