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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Its About Time We discussed North Korea

Links: A. Wikipedia on North Korea
           B. Official Website Of The DPRK
           C. Who Really Hacked Sony?

In almost four months, I've managed to avoid a post dedicated to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK-North Korea).  However, thanks to all the noise regarding the Sony film "The Interview," I can't avoid Kim Jong-un any longer.  The plot of the film is interesting if absurd: the CIA hires two people to assassinate Kim Jong-un with a ricin-transmitted handshake.  A week before the movie was scheduled for nation-wide release, Sony Pictures, the company who owns the film, was ingeniously hacked, and mildly embarrassing information became public knowledge.  In a knee-jerk reaction if there ever was one, Sony, suspecting that North Korea was responsible for the hack, and fearing additional retaliation, pulled the movie from theaters.  After a week of PRICELESS publicity, it appears that Sony has changed its mind, and the movie is back in theaters.  I can't help but wonder if Sony didn't engineer this entire hacking story in order to build-up a film that wasn't tracking very well, pre-premiere (see link C).  I've heard that the movie is hysterical, and I like Seth Rogen to an extent (although I am easily annoyed by people who brag about being weed addicts), but James Franco's voice really grates on me.  I find it fascinating that the American people have had North Korea dropped into their laps by the entertainment industry twice in the last decade: 2004 and now 2014.  First, the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, delivered the live-action puppet masterpiece "Team America" to theaters across the U.S. Have you ever seen puppets have sex?  Don't want to?  Don't knock it 'til you've seen it!  Seriously, I loved Team America, and its portrayal of Kim Jong-Il, Kim Jong-un's father, should have earned someone an Academy Award nomination.  And now we have The Interview.  If it weren't for Hollywood, most Americans would have no clue that North Korea even exists.

If you hop on your computer (or tablet, or phone, or IPad, or TV) and pull up Google Earth, it wouldn't take you long to pick out a country with a dictator, complete lack of freedom, and starving people.  Actually, studying and sometimes visiting these places is a favorite pastime of mine.  Africa probably has more than any other continent, but the biggest boils on the international scene are to be found in Asia (you missed the cut, Castro, because you've become irrelevant).  Russia tops my list because of my personal issues with Vlad Putin, and China comes in second because they get to be treated like a Democracy when in fact they are frozen in Socialist hell, at least internally.  North Korea lands at the three-spot on my list; it probably deserves to be higher, but more people are living (and suffering) in Russia and China than in the DPRK.  Maybe I should revisit the "suffering" comment; North Korea has been mired in an unimaginable famine for over a
decade.  But before I start to badmouth the DPRK, lets have a touch of history (see link A for more punishment):  Korea, even though it was occupied by the Manchu Chinese, actually had its own royal family.   In the late 1890's, the Japanese invented an excuse to invade and annex Korea (sayonara royal family!), which is how things stayed until the end of the second world war.  Korea was due to join the world of free nations, but the Chinese and Russian Communists wanted Korea to be Red.  A compromise was reached, and two Korean nations were created: Socialist North Korea, allied with Mao Tse Tung and Communist China; and Democratic South Korea, the darling of the United States and a rebuilding Japan.  No one was truly satisfied with this arrangement, and in June 1950, heavily supported by Chinese military resources (artillery, armor, and air), North Korean troops came pouring across the border.  After a bit of back-and -forth that almost resulted in U.S. troops being pushed into the sea, the border was re-established at roughly the same location (forgive me, all of you M*A*S*H junkies, but I don't have the space for anymore Korean war details).  The war ended in July 1953, and in the subsequent sixty-one years, there have been moments of great tension, but also signs of hope for the future.

Politically and internationally speaking, North Korea is a rogue state.  They have a fully functional nuclear weapons research facility, with a couple of warheads already in the pipeline.  The governing element is rotted and corrupt inside and out.  The Kim family (Kim
Tower of the Juche Idea,
in Pyongyang, the DPRK
Il-Sung, the creator of the "Juche" philosophy that guides the lives of North Koreans, deceased; his son Kim Jong-il, deceased; and his son Kim Jong-un), administer North Korea as if it were a personal ant farm.  The Kim men have all been addicted to the fruits of western imperialism, including Cognac, McDonald's, and big-breasted women, but no one else gets to sample Yankee treats except the boss.  Outside of the immediate inner circle, an ugly game of "tattle-tale" is constantly being played, so that junior officers can get their bosses executed and move up the chain of command.  Sadly, it is also necessary for decorated officers to barter for food to feed their families.  North Korea has been stuck in a horrendous famine caused by the cumulative effects of a fractured economic infrastructure and inadequate food production. Over 22 million people must rely on food produced from the barely 20 per cent of arable land available.  The remainder of the land, much of it unused, is reserved as private property for the Kim family, or has been set-aside for the building of prisons or some unnamed military project.  The North Korean people should not be hungry; the country itself is naturally resourced to feed its people.  The "Tattle-Tale" system is so ingrained that children learn it in grade school.  Instead of having secret meetings to discuss overthrowing the government, everyone tries to catch their neighbor plotting against the regime, so they can turn them in and get an extra piece of a shoe to chew on.  The Korean economy functions to support three things: the DPRK military, which, given that the soldiers are starving as well, is probably a paper tiger; the Kim family (it includes certain uncles, aunts, and cousins who were smart enough to never criticize or move towards the throne); and the frequently whispered-about nuclear research.  Interestingly enough, the North Koreans have had more success with weapons-grade uranium than they have building a missile that can get from Coney Island to The Bronx!  Why does Mookie find this interesting?  Because the Chinese, who for some really insulting reason continue to protect the DPRK, have also had some problems putting together a successful missile program (unfortunately, lately OUR technology has helped the Chinese immeasurably. . .thanks, Bill Clinton).

North Korea is on everyone's hot-button list because they have nuclear weapons and a lunatic egg-head with small-man's syndrome running the country.  Although North Korea professes to have the world's second-largest Army (after Rhode Island), the South Koreans have nothing to fear from the barely-standing bags of bones.  Besides, the South Korean military is about as good as it gets, with U.S. troops and resources positioned alongside.  As always, the issue is the nuclear warheads/bombs.  We have no leverage with the North Koreans to coax them into giving up their nuclear weapons program, but China does.  Wouldn't you think, that somewhere along the line, during one of those ceremonies celebrating some other "most favored nation" status given to China, someone could have asked for something in return?  No, not us.  And we saw the habit replicated recently.  The Russians gave up NOTHING in Hillary's 2009 New Start arms reduction treaty, and ditto for the agreement to open up the economic floodgates to Cuba (c'mon, Barrack...couldn't you have at least ASKED Fidel to release his political prisoners?).  Those of us stateside really don't have anything to worry about when it comes to the North Koreans finding an accurate and effective delivery system.  But if you are living in Taiwan or Japan, don't hold your breath.  A good fart from a Taco Bell Burrito could put Kim Jong-un into the wrong kind of mood, and missiles might start flying everywhere. . .take cover!!!

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