sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Monday, May 8, 2017

Threats and Allegations

Context and Precedence

Most of you read about it on-line or heard about it on Fox News. It's hardly worth the effort to discuss it but some of you e-mailed so I will. On 5 May, the Ministry of State Security announced it had uncovered and foiled an assassination plot against Kim Jong Un arranged by the US and South Korea.

A North Korean citizen supposedly was coerced into participating. He allegedly received bribes, satellite communications equipment and instructions from South Korea. The US and South Korean intelligence services made contact with the man while he was working in Russia in 2014.

The would-be assassin supposedly was to be provided a biochemical toxin to kill Kim during a public ceremony, such as during one of Kim’s ceremonial visits to the mausoleum to his grandfather and father in Pyongyang.

The Mouse that Roared

This story contained so little credibility that it did not survive a day in international media. Kim is one of the most heavily protected heads of state in the world. The probability of someone, who is not a member of the security detail, gaining even distant access to Kim is remote.

However, this kind of story reinforces multiple internal indoctrination messages. For North Korean propagandists, it is a mark of prestige that the most powerful country in the world – the US-- would plot to assassinate the leader of North Korea -- and, of course, fail. Secondly, they will boast that the wily and evil scheme of the most powerful country in the world was foiled by the North Korean State Security Ministry.

Historical Assassination Attempts in the DPRK

All three Kims have been targets for assassination at various times. Kim Chong-il avoided several serious assassination attempts in the first two months after his father died in July 1994. In his first year in power, there were more than a dozen narrow escapes.


Photo (left): Kim Jong Un and his uncle, Chang Song Taek. Un had his uncle executed by stripping him naked and having him fed to 120 starving, savage, feral dogs while the North Korean elites watched. 

News sources report that Kim Jong Un has been targeted on multiple occasions, including by the uncle that Kim had executed: Chang Song-taek. Reasons for resenting Kim Jong Un include his lack of experience, his lack of military knowledge, the dynastic succession process which is fundamentally anti-communist, and his temperament.

The genuine, near-miss assassination attempts have come from within North Korea, often from the military. North Korean press never acknowledges the existence of genuine murder plots from within North Korea.

Another Hostage

On 7 May, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that another visiting American academic official was arrested.
“On 6 May, a relevant agency of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) detained a US citizen, who worked as an administration official for Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, on a charge of perpetrating a hostile act against the Republic.” 
“A relevant agency is currently conducting a detailed investigation into the crimes by the US citizen.”
This is the second US citizen to be arrested who also worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. The other man was a visiting professor. He was arrested on 22 April. The number of US citizens in North Korea is never large because North Korea always” knows” they are spies in one fashion or another and carefully controls travelers. If North Korean authorities approve a visa for a US citizen, the approval always serves a political purpose. Potential use as a hostage in negotiations with the US is one of those purposes.

12 comments:

  1. LL - do you think that the SEAL team sent last month to South Korea was a distraction? That the Chinese will pull the plug on Jung-un? Un-plug him so to speak?

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    1. There are SEALs in South Korea all of the time. A small detachment serves as liaison to ROK Squadron 56 (ROK SEALs). SEAL Team Five (cold weather team - which was also the team/platoons that the Navy sent to Operation Desert Storm) regularly deploys to South Korea for joint training and operations. I did that myself. In and of itself, the presence of one or two SEAL platoons in South Korea is not a harbinger of war.

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  2. So I guess liberal professors don't see any danger in traveling to North Korea.

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    1. We need to send a LOT more. The entire faculty of UC Berkeley would be a great first step.

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  3. Liberal or not, WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? So naive to think they could go in to do some good in a coutnry that hates you nor trust you. That kind of stupidity deserves to be locked up there.

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    1. USGOV should take no measures to secure their releases. If you go into the Hermit Kingdom - the Hear of Darkness, and you're captured and held as a hostage there should be no value attached to you.

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  4. Maybe the little turd serves a useful purposes. Major powers can meet and talk about him with no loss of face on other topics. Then they can have off the record talks on sensitive issues.

    Just speculating. Way, way above my pay grade.

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    1. I think that dialog and cooperation may be the silver lining in the cloud, but Un and his nukes and rockets remain a very large problem.

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  5. Thank you for the update, as always.

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  6. I am very unsettled by the liberal win in Korea...

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    1. I know, but the "win" was a 40% win. Moon Jae In wants to travel to Pyongyang and offer peace. Some of us think that is not possible with the present Nork leadership. Peace has been offered for a very long time, but that's not what the North Koreans want. Maybe Moon will learn that. Maybe not. In my time dealing with the Korean situation, I found that it's unlikely that this situation will be resolved without significant bloodshed. It has to do with power, hubris, ignorance, and all of those un-Christ like attributes. Moon wants to try and be the bigger person, but that is unlikely to get any traction up north, unless the South gives them Free Stuff. Then they'll take the free stuff and build more nukes.

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    2. They would indeed. I guess we'll see what happens in Moon's first hundred days. I hope he does not dismantle the THAAD system.

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