Tag Archives: north korea

GlobalWonk’s Video Introduction

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Jim Miller, GlobalWonk

Jim Miller has posted the GlobalWonk Introduction video at YouTube. Please click on the following link to view the video;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtCwQopjgxQ

Please comment on the content of the video here, or at YouTube. More video to come soon, hopefully hosted from this site.

Diplomacy. One Mind at a Time.

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U.S. Pacific Commander Optimistic

Indispensible Presence

Indispensible Presence

 

GlobalWonk recently had the great fortune to meet Admiral Timothy J. Keating, Commander, United States Pacific Command. CINCPAC for us old timers. He gave a briefing on security in his area of responsibility for the President’s Council at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

First, he is a very engaging speaker. Being a naval aviator, and forty plus years in the service gives you quite a bit of experience to draw upon when public speaking. He is due to retire in October. He will do well on the speaking circuit. I hope to have him attend a future GlobalWonk event and participate in the discussion.

He made a comment that gave me, as a veteran of the Army, goosebumps. He said that since he entered the Naval Academy all those years ago, all he has worn during his professional life was this, and he gestures to the immaculate uniform he is wearing, “the cloth of our nation”.

Admiral Keating ran down the thirty-six countries in his area of responsibility. Providing a SITREP on each. Japan, China, North Korea. He stated that in all the official visits he has made to heads-of-state, ministers, and military chiefs in the region; he receives one consistent message. The United States is an “indispensable presence” in maintaining stability in the region.

On North Korea he is confident the U.S. military has the capacity to prevent missiles from reaching U.S. territories, or harming allies in the region. He said that there is no planning currently underway for a military option in the nuclear standoff with the DPRK. I communicated to him my belief, from my visit to North Korea in September 2008, that occupying North Korea would make Afghanistan, or Iraq, look like a picnic in comparison. The people of North Korea live a life Americans can hardly imagine, and are raised from childhood to revile us. As I had recently spent five days in-country, he was interested in my perspective. I think we both agreed that a military option in North Korea should be one of last resort.

He is impressed with the strength of the U.S./Japan alliance. He mentioned that it would have been unimaginable just ten years ago to think that a nuclear powered aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. George Washington, would be stationed in Japanese waters.

His most interesting comments regarded China. He feels that the United States military does not see China as a threat. He says that they welcome, and encourage China to take a more active role in the security, and stability of the region. He made it clear that we do this at a pace they are comfortable with. He thought it would be many years before China would be capable of projecting military force beyond their immediate shores. He stated that he did not believe that was their intentions at this point.

I thought it was refreshing to hear these comments from a military commander of his stature. When I left the military in 1992 all I remember hearing was that the Soviets were gone, and China was the next near peer to worry about.

I hope for all of us, and our children, that this is true. As we know, the relationship between the United States and China, or Chimerica, as Niall Ferguson has dubbed it, can go either way.

Inside the U.S.S. Pueblo

 

The U.S.S. Pueblo moored on the Taedong in Pyongyang, DPRK

The U.S.S. Pueblo moored on the Taedong in Pyongyang, DPRK

GlobalWonk toured the U.S.S. Pueblo while in Pyongyang. They even have an informative DVD with all the propaganda you can withstand… I grinned and beared it to bring these photos to you.

You can view all of the photos taken inside the captured spy ship at the following link: http://tinyurl.com/mad4bm

Take me to your Dear Leader….

Last September, after visiting the DPRK for their 60th Anniversary extravaganza, I made a covert landing on DPRK soil from the Chinese side of the Yalu River.

We were outside Dandong, on the Yalu. We boarded a rickety, old Chinese tour boat for a short ride to view the Great Wall from the river.

The photos look very far away because I had to take them from seat level. We were told not to take photos. I have authority issues….

In both the photos below you will see a DPRK border soldier. He clearly was not supervised very often. He was shirtless, and appeared very hungry.

We actaully landed on DPRK soil. The soldier boarded the small vessel and looked us over. He was interested in making this transaction as quick as possible.

We gave him a carton of Chinese cigarettes, and some yuan. He smiled, shook our hands and jumped off the boat. We shoved off and went about our tour.

 

North Korea - China Border - Yalu River - September 2008

North Korea - China Border - Yalu River - September 2008

In this photo we are approaching the DPRK shoreline. You can see the soldier in the left – middle of the photo.

Landing in DPRK - Sept. 2008

Landing in DPRK - Sept. 2008

In this photo he is crouching down, preparing to grab hold of our small boat as it approached the shore.

Each time you interact with someone from there, and they realize we aren’t the monsters they’ve been taught; you are changing a mindset. Diplomacy one person at a time…

The Dear Leader and I…..

 

GlobalWonk arrives in the Hermit Kingdom - 9.9.2008

GlobalWonk arrives in the Hermit Kingdom - 9.9.2008

 

Reports out of Japan indicate North Korea intends to make an “important announcement” on October 20th, 2008. Many believe it may be related to Kim Jong IL’s health, or some type of change in the government.

GlobalWonkwas in the DPRK for their 60th anniversary in September. The only word that accurately describes the experience is surreal. The government is a thugocracy. The only people with a decent standard of living are the Dear Leader and his lackeys. Everyone else lives in the 17th century.

The entire society is based upon a cult of personality created by Kim IL Song (with help from his Stalinist Soviet sponsors) after World War II. They completely manufactured heroic deeds the Great Leader performed in his nearly single-handed routing of the Imperialist Japanese. If you don’t believe it, just check out the Arch of Triumph in Pyongyang. It is larger than the one in Paris, France, and is dedicated to Kim IL Song’s victory in defeating the Japanese. When you ask your guide/agents when and where the Japanese surrendered to Kim IL Song, they have no answer. I asked if they ever heard about the bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I asked them if they ever heard that the Japanese surrendered to the Allied Powers on the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay. They simply look at you in disbelief. The North Koreans have their own version of history.

The government is paranoid. Your passport is confiscated the moment you step foot in the country. All cell phones are collected at the airport and kept until you depart. You are not allowed to bring GPS equipment into the country.

I had two guides/agents that followed me everywhere. They told you what you could/could not take pictures of. You could only take photos at the designated tourist sites, all homages to the Great Leader, President Kim IL Song. They arranged your meals. They booked your hotel room and checked you into your room. They are the first people you see each morning and the last each night. They followed you everywhere. The hotel for outsiders is on an island in the middle of the Taedong River to help segregate you from the populace. You could not leave the hotel on your own. You were advised not to talk to any citizens.

The most stark contrast was drawn while visiting Dandong, China. Dandong is situated just north of the DPRK on the Yalu River. I was there during the Harvest Moon Festival. China and North Korea used to be connected by a bridge, built by the Japanese durring their occupation of Manchuria and Korea. The United States bombed the bridge during the Korean War (1951 I believe) and dropped the south side into the Yalu.

Today the north side of the bridge has been repainted by the Chinese. It is covered in neon and other bright lights and has become a tourist attraction. I believe they call it the “bridge to nowhere”. You pay a few Yuan and can walk to the southern end of the bridge to look at the concrete platforms/pilings that used to support the bridge on it’s path into Korea. The steel is long gone.

The contrast between the bustling, frenetic Chinese society and that of the DPRK is most distinct at night. The northern, Chinese city of Dandong is brilliantly lit and vibrant. The other side of the river lays dark. In supposedly the fourth largest city in North Korea, scarcely a single light is lit. It is surreal.

We know from the example of their bretheren in the south that the Korean people are industrious and intelligent. I personally witnessed how hard they work day-to-day to survive in the north. The fact they do in spite of governmental neglect is testament to their aheer will and tenacity.

For the sake of these poor souls I sincerely hope we get some good news on Monday. Let’s hope it leads to the opening of their society. Let’s hope it leads to direct foreign investment that will help them modernize and bring the collective standard of living to acceptable twenty-first century levels.

More DPRK reflections coming soon….