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.

Skull Valley

You find them everywhere in America - and particularly in Texas. They're the little towns that grew up around the railway. Thistle Junction, Utah; Amboy, California; Searchlight, Nevada, and Skull Valley, Arizona to name a few.

When the first settlers arrived they found a lot of human remains from wars between the local Indians (Native Americans/Indigenous Peoples) bleaching in the sun, thus the name "Skull Valley" stuck. 

As with most railway towns, there is a general store, a gas station, a cafe, an elementary school, an auto repair shop, a fire station, a church, and a post office. There were 525 people living in Skull Valley (at last count in 2003).

The general store was closed today because it's Sunday, and they take the sabbath seriously there. Even the gas station (fuel and feed store) is closed. The railroad doesn't bring income into the town as it once did. Now it's mostly a ranching community.

I passed quietly through Skull Valley today on my way from here to there. There were no other cars on the road, but there were quite a few cars at the church. That's how they roll in Skull Valley - and that's a good way to live.

A lot of old railroad towns turned into ghost towns. Others survived. Sometimes it's only the US Post Office (still open) in these little communities that marks the presence of outlying ranches, still present behind the hills and copses of trees.

They're an echo of an America that is still there, which provides an anchor to the basic culture that is missing in so much of society.