Saturday, August 6, 2011

Kim Jong-un's "Tora! Tora! Tora!" moment?*

The Chosun Ilbo would have us believe that Kim Jong-un, the young general who supposedly is poised to take over for Dad when he kicks the bucket, is the one who ordered the attacks on South Korea over the past year:
A North Korean document supports the conclusion that North Korea attacked the Navy corvette Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island last year to whip up domestic support for the succession of leader Kim Jong-il’s son, Jong-un.

The document, which the Chosun Ilbo obtained from a source in China on Tuesday, claims that Kim junior was deeply involved in both attacks. Titled “Lecture Materials,” the document was apparently drawn up for military propaganda officers early this year.

According to its wording, Kim Jong-un told military leaders that the inter-Korean situation “will become very tense in February and March.” He made the comments around the end of January last year, two months before the attack on the Cheonan. The document claims South Korea and the U.S. “concocted a plot about the sinking of the Cheonan, but it failed.”

The source, who claims to do frequent business with trading companies under the North Korean Workers Party, said that propaganda officers have been indoctrinating North Korean soldiers to show absolute loyalty to Kim Jong-un based on those materials. “They even have to take a test after their indoctrination classes,” he said.
As I noted at ROK Drop, I'm a bit curious about the date. The “2010년 1월” stands out as odd when one sees that in North Korean news sources the “Western” date is typically hand in hand with the 주체 date (주체 99년 or some such). I wonder if anybody who has familiarity with actual North Korean documents could provide insight about whether the above is a reason to find this document suspect.

Of course, dear reader, you may already be aware that I am deeply suspicious of the mountain of evidence, eagerly printed up in the Chosun Ilbo and repeated uncritically in the Japanese and Western press, that comes from what could be described as an Evidence Mill™ run by people who make money and/or enhance their stature from supplying this stuff. While I think most defectors/refugees are genuine people who can give us valuable insight into current attitudes in the regime, it seems to me that a handful of folks might be looking for personal gain à la that Iraqi guy who supplied all of the information used back in 2002 and 2003 to justify going to war against Saddam Hussein.

Of course, from Kim Jong-il not being at death's door, to Ling and Lee having willingly entered North Korea, to Kim Jong-un's coronation not being imminent, my views on North Korea have others viewing me at first as crankily contrarian and out of touch and then later as eerily prescient.

But that doesn't mean I could be wrong on this. Always my caveat.

* And yeah, I know that "Tora! Tora! Tora!" is Japanese. My theory is that a Korean pilot in the Imperial Japanese Navy on that fateful day in December 1941 had a bit of prescience himself and had gotten on the radio to warn everybody to turn around

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