Monday Feb 27

Now, It's "Kim Jong-Un Looking At Things"

With the rise of North Korea’s beloved new leader, Kim Jong-Un, this Tumblr blog is following his succession, with a similar, teasingly purposeful series of photos of the new dictator “looking at things.” The blog comes after the original “Kim Jong-Il Looking At Things" photo blog, the last posted photo being that of February 23, 2010.

Friday Feb 24

New North Korean initiatives on nuclear talks with US

BEIJING (AP) — The United States and North Korea met for a second day of talks Friday on restarting nuclear disarmament in return for aid, negotiations that were delayed by the death of North Korea’s longtime leader Kim Jong Il two months ago.

The discussions, which ran all day Thursday, could signal whether North Korea under new leader Kim Jong Un is ready to agree to steps demanded by Washington and Pyongyang's neighbors to return to broader multinational disarmament talks. More than three years have passed since the last six-nation discussions, which are meant to provide aid and diplomatic concessions in return for the North taking verifiable steps to mothball its nuclear weapons programs.

While authority of the new North Korean supreme leader Kim Jung-un may appear doubtful in general public, recent development with the States to initiate new nuclear power discussion seems to hint at stabilized internal power struggle in North Korea. That is, if there was any to start with. However, the bigger question still remains: will Kim differ from his cruel predecessor, or take the same bumpy road of oppression and terrorism? 

Friday Feb 4

The Egypt and North Korea Connection


The outbreak of protests in Egypt have been astounding audiences worldwide - audiences including those in North Korea.

So what do these protests to overthrow Hosni Mubarak and the current situation in North Korea have in common? 

The Egyptian regime faced much opposition when President Mubarak tried to transfer power to his son. Similarly, North Korea’s infamous Kim regime has been transferring power for three generations and with the talk of Kim Jong Il’s son, Kim Jong Un, taking over the deal leader’s position, the current North Korean regime may have every right to feel uneasy about the democratic protests happening in Egypt.

The protests have shown incredible strength in their effects and in their message to the world - the power of democracy. Radio Free Asia reported that a number of North Korean citizens have been secretly listening in on the Egyptian protests through their cellular phones, which are harder to regulate than regular landline phone calls. Other ways in which North Korean citizens may hear about the protests are through international phone calls from relatives in other countries or by secretly tuning into South Korean television news programs. It is a widely known fact that the North Korean government heavily regulates the information that its citizens have access to, perhaps largely for the fear of the influence that might cause an outbreak of some sorts. Thus, one can understand why the North Korean regime, as RFA speculates, are taking the current Egypt very seriously. 

All the more reason for the North Korean government to worry is the friendly ties between them and Egypt. On January 26, the day after the Egyptian revolts began, the CEO of Egypt’s Orascom Telecom, which owns a majority of North Korea’s sole 3G cellular network, met and dined with Kim Jong Il.

The bigger picture amongst these revolts in the influence in thought and the potential for change that citizens possess. Over 100 protestors have died in these past few days and chaos has gone loose in the streets of Cairo, but their message is still one that brings hope to even America, arguably the most democratic nation in the world. South Korean bloggers have been writing about the connection between the two nations and how the uprising in Egypt may potentially bring about a change in North Korea. GangPitDae, in a public online discussion forum, says it best:

이번 사태는 지역과 종교, 문화를 막론하고 민주주의는 거스릴 수 없는 시대정신 이며, 인류사회의 대세임을 보여주고 있습니다. 당연히 북한도 예외가 될 수 없습니다. 북한주민이라고 해서 주민들의 기본적인 생존조차 보장해 주지 못하는 형편없는 못난 정권에 마냥 복종하지는 않을 것입니다. 다음차례는 바로 김정일 정권이 될 듯 싶네요.

This (protest) shows that democracy is the irrevocable spirit of our time and is the mainstream of human history regardless of the geography, religion and culture. North Koreans will no longer succumb to an incompetent regime who can’t even guarantee them the basic means of survival. Next [to be deposed] is the Kim Jung-il regime.

Whether one agrees with these thoughts or not, the immense effect of the Egyptian protests are influencing not only their own government but of their immense audience worldwide.

(Those interested in this issue regarding North Korea are welcome to join NYU’s Freedom4NorthKorea on Mondays, 6:30 PM, Kimmel 904.)