Thursday, August 06, 2009

So what happened in North Korea?

Bill Clinton knows, but he's not talking. The Korean Central News Agency is claiming, understandably, that he apologised:

Clinton expressed words of sincere apology to Kim Jong Il for the hostile acts committed by the two American journalists against the DPRK after illegally intruding into it. Clinton courteously conveyed to Kim Jong Il an earnest request of the U.S. government to leniently pardon them and send them back home from a humanitarian point of view.

However, this has been denied by an official. Obama has also said progress will only be made in relations if North Korea no longer develops nuclear weapons and stops engaging in provocative behaviour. Perhaps Kim Jong Il wanted to make peace before he passes on, what bigger coup would be than for a sitting US President to shake his hand - the great imperialist aggressor recognising it had met its match in the General Secretary of the Korean Workers' Party.

Former US Ambassador the UN, John Bolton, expressed concern that Clinton's visit showed how the US could be blackmailed through its concern for its citizens caught up abroad. The Daily Telegraph fearing that this shows North Korea being rewarded for its ill behaviour - something Bill Clinon ably did as President.

You see, the DPRK-USA "Agreed Framework" under Bill Clinton was that North Korea would be supplied with energy and technology in exchange for giving up nuclear enrichment. A total of US$1.5 billion (contributed by USA, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and others) was spent on light water nuclear reactors and heavy fuel oil so that North Korea could have a nuclear power industry that did NOT produce material able to be used in nuclear weapons.

However, North Korea had its cake and ate it too. It continued uranium reprocessing, continued developing nuclear weapons AND took the technology and oil. Why did the deal happen? The Clinton Administration foolishly thought the North Korean regime would collapse after Kim Il Sung died in 1994, though the evidence for this was fairly slender. Maybe the assumption is the same now, that Kim Jong Il's death will see major change for the regime. That, at least, has more credibility.

You see Kim Il Sung had ruled North Korea with an iron fist since the country was founded in 1948, Kim Jong Il entered the public eye in 1973 and was anointed successor in 1980. Plenty of time to ensure enemies are dispatched before his father died in 1994. It hasn't quite be long enough since then for Kim Jong Un.

So, will we find out what was said between Kim and Bill? Whilst the two women have been fortunate, does this episode provide a chance to break down barriers with this antagonistic brutal regime, or does it bolster it?

1 comment:

The ex-expat said...

My money is on the fact that KJI is not long on this earth and is looking for a swan song via a peace treaty with the United States.