Archive for the ‘North Korea’ Category

Book Now, Book Early!


Now that the concrete edifice of the Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang has been replaced with glass (by Orascom, the Egyptian telecommunications company which also kitted-out the electrics and communication system), I would say it has lost much of the air of awful fascination which brought the accolade “worst building in the history of mankind” (although, with the above animation by Demolition S in mind, I still have in my mind a hovercar carrying Rick Deckard to the top).

After [another] false start earlier this year, from the Guardian, we are told that it finally finally is set to open.

Next year.



And hopefully, with better Korean-to-English translation software than that used by the first responder to this Guardian poll:


02 November 2012 11:41

I welcome the opportunity that you can stay in the most valuable in the world, made ​​by the workers in the great and glorious people of exceptional architecture as a good opportunity to file a complaint with the unscrupulous South Korea

Koryo Tours – founded by British expat wideboy entrepreneur, Nick Bonner; who also has a sideline in directing romantic comedies set in the Hermit Kingdom – is organizing tours to this “enigmatic and oddly iconic” 105 storey building.

For the sake of every foreign investor’s bank balance, I hope they have taken sufficient precautions lest they wish to end-up like everyone else who have put their faith in the integrity of Juche debtors.


Plural of Penis in Korean


‘Penis’ derives from ‘pēnis’ – a third declension Latin noun for tail (or, even, the male member) – so, true to the rules, could be pluralized as ‘pēnes’. As it has been adopted into English, native rules also can apply making it ‘penises’.

Never ‘penii’.

From Robert at the Marmot’s Hole, we get a hotchpotch of big cats roaming 19/20th Century Korean gold-mines; portents of doom for the reign of King Hyegong in 7th Century Korean during the Silla period, as well as his father, King Billy Gyeongdeok’s seven foot willy.

You Can Say She Is a Dreamer


But the yogatastic Googoosha is a practical dreamer.

As if the knock to their self-image as above reproach in foreign matters following revelations of underwriting debts with North Korea and turning a blind eye to the latter’s narco-diplomacy was not bad enough, the Swedish press now is dealing with reports that the partly State owned telecommunications firm, TeliaSonera has paid backhanders to Tashkent.

Bloodhound Units Seeking North Korean Refugees

North Korean snipers on border with China. They have orders to shoot anyone attempting to enter or leave their country (Copyright Chang Chien-chi).

Recently, Channel4 broadcast Orchestra United, a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary about the Hallé Harmony Orchestra which trained-up 350 teenagers with no previous experience of performing in a classical orchestra.

One member with 18 year old Yu Min, an 18 year old who, with her mother, had sought political asylum from North Korea.

I do not know her background story, but she undoubtedly has fared better than many of her compatriots during their first stage of escape. The Chosun Ilbo carries reports of North Korean Secret Police and local Chinese agencies acting in concert to locate and forcibly repatriate North Korean refugees.

In 2002, the UNHCR estimated that there were 50,000 North Korean refugees in China, plus another couple of hundred thousand migrant workers with sufficient reason to fear the long-reach of Pyongyang; and Beijing had its restricted access for NGOs to the border-area with North Korea since 1999. It also was reported that Beijing was criminalizing the assisting of refugees by Chinese citizens, as well as offering rewards to informers.

At this time, North Korean spooks operating with impunity on the Chinese side are assumed to have kidnapped a Korean American minister, Kim Dong-shik who was assisting refugees and whose case was quietly filed-away by his then President, George W. Bush and then Senator, Barack Obama. (In January 2010, GI Korea at RoK Drop linked to reports that a North Korean infiltrator linked to this was under interrogation by South Korean authorities).


Suing Dictators


Cross-posted at Harry’s Place.

As DaveM discusses hobnobbing by the Smurfs for Jihad in Viva Palestina with those responsible for multiple mass-killings of Palestinian Arabs, the LA Times carries a report touching on another massacre in the region.

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner’s latest legal success on behalf of the victims of terrorism is for the families of the victims of the 1972 Lod Airport attack – mostly Puerto Rican Christian pilgrims – when Japanese Marxist gunmen opened fire. With reported fears of a Bombay-style ‘commando’ take-over of European city-centres by Islamists, my gut feeling is that any such attack would be more akin to this.

A court in the US has now ruled that North Korean agents were responsible for providing training and logistics for the gunmen. Darshan-Leitner had filed the suit the day before George W. Bush removed North Korea from a list foreign State supporters of terrorism, resulting in the now $378 millions judgment.


Greet the Conference of the Workers’ Party of Korea as an Auspicious Event Which Will Shine Forever in the History of Our Party and Country!


Cross-posted at Harry’s Place.

Most fathers give their sons a toy gun. Kim Jong-il, the North Korean ruler has made his youngest son, Kim Jong-eun a four-star General in the Korean People’s Army. This occurred at the first full Workers Party Congress in 30 years where, without the concern for bloc votes from affiliate groups, Kim Jong-il also was unanimously returned as Leader.

Kreminological analysis had been suggesting that the 27 year old former Switzerland-based student was the most likely successor to his hard-drinking, heavy-smoking father. Increasingly, he had been seen joining Dad on factory inspections and walk-abouts, as two older brothers were side-lined: one, Kim Jong-nam had been the presumed favourite until blotting his copybook by being caught taking his own son to Japanese Disneyland on a false passport (and, apparently, surviving an assassination attempt by Kim Jong-eun).

Yet, little evidence of experience or support from internal cliques can be found for Kim Jong-eun: this week’s announcement, like a juju invocation, was the first time his name had been uttered by the State-run KCNA news agency. Similar events were seen in the run-up to Kim Jong-il’s appointment as dauphin at the previous Workers Party Congress in 1980; although he was considerably older than his son is now.

Kim Jong-il already has been reported dead, after a suspected stroke in 2008, and recently received top-notch treatment from a team of French doctors; so there is a fear that if his health problems do catch-up with him, a power struggle would quickly ensue.

(This is not to say that the old goat does not still have a fight left in him. South Korea is due to host the G20 summit in November, and GI Korea discusses suspicions of entirely-in-character disruptions being orchestrated by Pyongyang.)

The recent Workers Party Congress had been delayed by some months. Officially, the reason was the region’s experience of typhoon season (which has been bad).

As reported in the Financial Times, however, delays may have been due to Kim Jong-il’s younger sister, Kim Kyong-hui pressing for the promotion of her own clique which has included her also being appointed as a four-star General.  Her husband, Chang Sung-taek recently was made Vice-Chairman of the National Defence Commission which approximates to the second most powerful man in the country.

Ne Win Situation in Burma



In Mort, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett, the Grim Reaper’s apprentice dispatched the soul of the Grand Vizier of the Klatchian Empire. Nine Turning Mirrors had been a bad man, and was plotting to assassinate the Emperor in order to maintain control for himself.

His bluff called, he ate a poisoned dish under threat of disembowelment and, when emerging as a shade, found himself surrounded by the shades of Emperors and courtiers and others whom he had had killed in the past. They all appeared very anxious to welcome Nine Turning Mirrors’ shade into the Netherworld.

As the Grim Reaper’s apprentice was leaving, Nine Turning Mirrors’ shade began to scream.

Burmanet News carries an article by Aung Zaw, the editor of The Irrawaddy, an online newspaper concentrating on Burma.  He suggests that Than Shwe, the quixotically titled Senior General amongst the Burmese military junta fears a similar fate as that seen by Nine Turning Mirrors.

Where Than Shwe lacks Nine Turning Mirror’s verbal intelligence and quick wit, he makes up in loutish obsession with Buddhist superstition. Having recently returned from pilgrimage to the Bodh Gaya temple in India, where the Buddha attained enlightenment (and proudly clutching a gift of Matatma Gandhi’s bust), he now has acquired a white elephant from the jungles of Arakan.

Such creatures are thought to demonstrate a monarch’s right to rule in South East Asia, and the self-convinced Crown Prince Shwebomin II has seized upon the opportunity.

Yet, this has not dispelled his lingering fear of encountering the shades of those his regieme had had killed.  In his Burmanet News article, Aung Zaw an increasingly obsessive fear of assassination attempts.

This is not without cause, as in August the Karen National Union came within a gnat’s crotchet of assassinating the Chief of Ministry Affairs Security, General Ye Myint.  In April, the Lunar New Year celebrations in Rangoon were marred by a series of murderous bombings by as-yet unidentified groups.

Yet, Aung Zaw reports that Shwe fears snipers and suicide-bombers.  Although sudden sniper attack against political foes are not without precedent in the region, rebel Thai General Seh Daeng was against the status quo.  Likewise, unprecedented kamikazi-style attacks on Burmese Police stations aside, this aint Sri Lanka.

Perhaps, at the back of his mind, Than Shwe fears that the political change heralded by the emergence of a white elephant will not be to his benefit; and is repositioning himself politically, as his predecessor, Ne Win did prior to the aborted 1988 democratic elections.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, as a bunch of vacuous numpties suggest moving Tony Blair’s autobiography to the crime section, North Korean diplomats are burglarizing homes in Rangoon and ‘confiscating’ copies of a biography of Kim Jong-il by Hein Latt, a Burmese author.  This comes shortly years after restoration of diplomatic ties; caused by a North Korean assassination attempt of the then Southern President during a State visit in 1983.

UPDATE – the shade of Windle Poons has pointed out that Nine Turning Mirrors was the Grand Vizier of Agatean not Klatchian Empire.

The Best and the Worst of Korean Christianity



In Your Country, Girls My Age Are This High.

Faced with reports that Jimmy Carter was en route in his country, Kim Jong-il took an eminently understandable decision: and decamped to China.

Carter had been in Pyongyang in an attempt to secure the release of an imprisoned American citizen, Aijalon Gomes. This, marking a break with tradition for Carter, has succeeded.

Gomes, originally from Massachusetts, is a member of the Every Nation Church in Korea. On 25 January 2010, he had crossed into North Korea from China on a self-professed peace mission to intercede directly with Kim Jong-il on behalf of the poor wretches of the country. In April, he was sentenced to eight years hard labour.

This followed similar actions by Robert Park, a Korean Christian missionary who on Christmas Day 2009. Park was held captive for almost six weeks, during which time he was subjected to various forms of torture.


Kim Jong-Il: Edging Towards Apotheosis



Although, like the returning Hide and Seek champion from 1906, Fidel Castro has returned to the public eye, Kim Jong-il shuffles ever-closer to the status of immortal god along with his father. The Telegraph reports that, earlier this month French doctors examined Kim Jong-il for complications following a stroke in 2008.

His presumed successor is to be his youngest son, Kim Jong-eun with whom he has been seen attending factory inspections and other photo-shoots with increasing frequency. Since returning from studying a throat-condition of a language at university, Kim Jong-eun has shown himself a more earnest son than his older brother, Kim Jong-nam who wanted only to visit Disneyland.

Most sons buy their fathers after-shave to win their affection: Kim Jong-eun appears to have engineered an assassination attempt against Kim Jong-nam.

Most fathers kick a football at their sons to test their mettle: Kim Jong-il appears to have orchestrated the sinking of a RoK warship to allow Kim Jong-eun to manage a crisis, just as he exiled his own father’s favourite son, Kim Pyong-il to win daddy’s love.

Kim Jong-eun is altering the Book of Common Prayer to place his living father on equal standing with his ever-living grandfather in advance of the first Party conference in 30 years (in 1980, Kim Jong-il effectively was confirmed as successor for Kim Song-il).  For his part, Kim Jong-il has appointed Chang Sung-taek as Grand Vizier Vice-Chairman of the National Defence Commission to guide his son.

Chang had previously faced down stiff opposition from Kim Jong-il and Kim Song-il to marry their sister/daughter, Kim Hyong-hui. His new appointment doubtless came as a pleasant surprise as it had been ear-marked for Ri Je-gang, who accidentially, tragically died in a car accident.

It must be getting dangerous to look over a baby’s cot in the Kim household.

State Capitalism in North Korea




An-yŏng-ha-se-yo. That’s Korean for “greetings, all”.

Like everybody, I am looking for something. As with other members of the revolutionary socialist community, if offered a choice between the paths sought by Beijing and Pyongyang, he and I would choose Beijing every time: but I also recognize that one cannot afford to be choosy about whom one supports, no matter how arduous their path is.

Through his infinite goodness, our souerane and supreame governor, the Eternal Leader took the Catholicism of his childhood to the next and final level of Juche.  It is common knowledge that, through their cankered malice, the hegemonic forces of Imperialism and nascent neo-liberalism sought to subjugate all of the Estates of Korea in 1945.  Fortunately for our Korean brethren and sistren north of the 38th Parallel, and like the approving of the glorious Scots Confession 450 years ago today, this disaster was adverted by the Soviet forces.

So grateful were the Koreans that they offered their industrial and manufacturing infrastructure to the impoverished Soviets.  In a reversal of events in that seminal book, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist, the scales fell from the eyes of speech-writers for Imperial Japan and they affirmed their love for the Eternal Leader.