Friday, August 27, 2010

Free at last!

The AP (via the Los Angeles Times) is reporting that Aijalon Mahli Gomes has been released and will be sent home:
Carter Center spokeswoman Deanna Congileo said late Thursday that the former president will return to the U.S. with Aijalon Gomes. She says Gomes should be in Boston by Friday afternoon. North Korea news agency KCNA says Carter has left Pyongyang.

U.S. officials have billed Carter's trip as a private humanitarian visit to try to negotiate Gomes' release. Gomes was sentenced to eight years of hard labor in a North Korean prison for entering the country illegally from China.
More on this later (I'm in class now, learning about global health disasters). In the meantime, you can take a look at previous Gomes posts to get an idea what my thoughts are.

Oh, and don't buy his book.

The New York Times has a longer article on the release, which also gets into the snub Carter experienced by not being able to sell out US interests to the DPRK meet Kim Jong-il:
Mr. Kim is grooming his youngest son, Kim Jong-un, as successor, according to South Korean officials. North Korea is to convene a congress of its ruling Workers’ Party early next month, where Mr. Kim is expected to rally popular support for his succession plans.

If confirmed, this would be Mr. Kim’s sixth trip to China, his impoverished country’s largest trading partner and aid provider. His last trip was in May, when he met President Hu Jintao during a five-day visit. North Korea and China usually do not confirm a trip by Mr. Kim until it is over.

News of the possible trip by Mr. Kim led to rampant speculation in South Korea. Possible motives cited by analysts in Seoul included the North’s need for Chinese aid because of flooding and the possibility of a decline in Mr. Kim’s health, which might have forced aides to take him to China for treatment. Many intelligence officials believe Mr. Kim had a stroke in 2008. Around the time that Mr. Kim’s train crossed the border, North Korean news media reported that China would provide emergency flood relief.

With North Korea’s relations with the South and the United States at a low point, “China is the only one Kim Jong-il can go to to seek aid,” said Kim Keun-sik, an analyst at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. “He badly needs aid before the party meeting to make it a national festival, as it is meant to be.”

Even so, leaving North Korea without meeting Mr. Carter would be a notable breach of diplomatic etiquette, the analyst said. “A possible political message of this is that North Korea gives its priority to China over the United States,” he said.
Despite earlier reports, it looks like JC didn't feel like waiting around for KJI to get home. While I'm happy he was not able to do too much damage in order to secure Mr Gomes's release, I'm disappointed I won't be able to post a picture of the Dear Leader with our Thirty-ninth president with the headline, "Welcome back, Carter."


  1. Well, at least we know what the going rate for a U.S. hostage in North Korea is... photo ops w/a living ex-President.

  2. Maybe Jimmy Carter offered to stay in his place.


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