Korea: Some Kind of Mass Insanity


August 22, 2006: Unless someone has the math all wrong, North Korea is facing a resumption of wide scale famine deaths later this year. That's because food aid has declined because of recent North Korean missile firings, and North Korean insistence that it does not need as much food aid as in the past. The shortfall could be as high as 1.5 million tons. One ton will keep four people alive for a year. North Korea has a population of 23 million. So far, the north has not agreed to modify any of its aggressive behavior in order to get food aid restored. It's situations like this that make people wonder if there is some kind of mass insanity in the North Korean leadership. If they have a plan up there, it's using a peculiar logic that no one else has figured out yet. Some believe that it's all about a tug-of-war between reformers and traditionalists. Whatever it is, it's not working, and it's not helping.
August 18, 2006: American and South Korean intelligence agencies disagreed over whether North Korea was preparing a nuclear test. The American analysts say that activity near a deep tunnel appears to indicate preparations for an underground test. South Korean analysts were not so sure. There is general agreement that North Korea may have built several nuclear bombs, based on Pakistani designs. But it is known that some of the Pakistani nuclear bomb designs were faulty. This was observed in the late 1990s, when India and Pakistan both tested a number of bomb designs. Some of the Pakistani ones obviously failed their live tests. So North Korea won't be sure it really has a working bomb design until it conducts tests. But if it conducts tests, it will further anger its neighbors, and aid donors.
August 10, 2006: South Korea now has ten satellites in orbit, and ranks number six among nations in terms of satellites it has in orbit. Most are communications satellites, and some are dedicated to military use. Satellite communication is much more reliable, in Korea's mountainous terrain, than radio.
August 6, 2006: For the first time since 2003, a North Korean spy has been captured in South Korea. After a lengthily investigation, Jeong Kyung Hak was arrested in late July. He had been using false documents to enter South Korea for some time, and had traveled to several other Asian countries to do his work. South Korea thought it has reached an understanding with the north, that the north would shot down the aggressive espionage operations against the south, in return for better relations and more aid. Apparently not.




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