Fear, Miscommunication, and the Folk Hero Nasreddin Hoca

A statue of Nasreddin Hoca in Brussels (photo credit: tuhfe)

Ah, the charades of political dialogue! North Korea sends a memo urging unification and expressing its willingness to open immediate channels of dialogue with South Korea. The memo reads in part, “The resumption of dialogue and the improvement of relations hinge completely on the willingness of the South’s government.” Once the South gets its act together, in other words, the North is ready and willing to cooperate.

There are just a few small preconditions, we discover. Among them: withdrawal of US troops, apologizing for not showing proper respect toward Kim Jong Il’s death, apologizing for the false accusation of North Korean involvement in the March 2010 torpedo attacks on the Cheonan… the list demonstrates that any “dialogue” that the North might be willing to engage in would be one-sided.

Of course, this message is an improvement from North Korea’s earlier absolute unwillingness to have any relations with the South while President Lee Myung Bak remained in office. Indeed, it might signal in a backhanded way a willingness to engage in dialogue, even if not all preconditions are met. Continue reading

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In the News – Kim Jong Nam Again Critical of Succession

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In the News – Kim Jong Nam Again Critical of Succession

Kim Jong Nam, Kim Jong Il’s eldest son, has again criticized North Korea’s 3rd succession, Tokyo Shimbun reported today.

The newspaper revealed an email allegedly sent by Kim on January 3rd in which he stated, “Nobody in their right mind would find it easy to accept the 3rd generation succession. Doubts linger over whether 37 years of absolute power can be carried forward by a young leader after just two years of training.” Continue reading