Monday, April 25, 2011

Trouble abrewin'?

Considering what I wrote in this post about the growing possibility of North Korea launching an attack, this bit of speculative news from the Chosun Ilbo does not bode well for peace on the peninsula in the coming weeks:
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il secretly visited a building where agencies engaged in military operations against South Korea are clustered and the General Reconnaissance Bureau last month, a source said Sunday.

The so-called Building No. 3 houses the United Front Department and the Workers Party's international affairs department. The General Reconnaissance Bureau, an agency in charge of armed provocations against the South, is believed to have supervised the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan last year.

"Kim Jong-il inspected the areas and encouraged agents" on his visits, a North Korean source said. "It seems highly likely that the regime will provoke again in case its charm offensive falls on deaf ears."
Seriously, I hope I'm wrong about a springtime offensive, but there really are some ominous signs.


  1. What I think is more dangerous than balloons and Dear Leader sightings is rhetoric. When someone can verify mobilizations and other substantial events, I'll worry. The KJI faction has survived a challenge to its power, and it's mouthing off. South Korean conservatives will never agree to anything as long as they are in power, and sophisticated balloon bombs and insults abut Wu Dawei are as good as the middle finger. Meanwhile, the US, consumed with Middle Eastern business, uses President Carter to do its heavy lifting - honestly, that's probably the only trick the North Koreans and Americans will ever agree on.

    Again, it's entertaining and it's all a sideshow distracting from sideshows.

  2. radcontra, I get the feeling that even if it turns out I am right and North Korea does launch on attack on civilians launching balloons, you're still going to say I was wrong.

  3. I'm sincerely insulted.

    I don't think you're "wrong". I merely think "Yeonpyeong" is overdetermined in your argument, and that you and others in the k-sphere take it for gospel that there's a single causal chain leading through Yeonpyeong to a future denouement you keep predicting, to justify a hardline position. I'll continue to assert, because it's a decent argument from which to start, that most incidents are a result of rogue commanders and factions, and that circumstances force events which are not any agent's intent, until see a definitive account from reliable sources.

    So, OK, I don't accept your interpretation.

  4. You don't accept my interpretation? I'm not even sure you're actually following my interpretation. I'm certainly not using the possibility of an attack to justify... my "hardline position." Just what hardline position do I possess anyway?

    I simply see an out of control bus barreling down on the crosswalk; I'm not trying to interpret who is causing the bus to barrel down or where it is going. Just saying, "Hey, watch out for that bus 'cuz it looks like it's not stopping." How's that for an interpretation.

    And that are two "attack" data points, not just one, so the possibility of this being a "rogue commander" or "rogue faction" is not as high as you suggest. It's more likely that the two incidents were deliberate policy, and now we're seeing a repeat in the KCNA of the same serious-with-intent noise.

    So for the record, I'm not saying, as you seem to suggest, that there is necessarily a chain or a line that must keep continuing. I had hoped that the attacks would stop. I was floored by the attack on Yŏnpyŏng, as much as the attack on Ch'ŏnan, but the noise lately makes me feel we need to pay attention.

    No "hardline" agenda or position, just looking at it pragmatically.

    I'm hoping for internal change, for what it's worth.

  5. Perhaps, you are right about the two attacks argument. But, the "bus" metaphor troubles me. It takes a thick skin to live in a region like this, with Taiwan as another flashpoint. I really would prefer the status quo to continue, even if I know that peace is purchased by the gulags. I would prefer some sort of institutionalization of the status quo, perhaps in a NATO or EU for the region. At some point, the Koreas will need to recognze each others' eovereignty, but only when both has no reason to want change. The "bus" metaphor makes me nervous, because I worry about overreaction.

  6. In my opinion, war is inevitable - as a consequence of both parties being so severely out-of-touch with reality, though for rather different reasons.


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