Archive for January, 2013

Kim-Xi Crockery

January 27, 2013

When Koreans ferment salted cabbage in chili paste for a few months or more, kimchi is the result.  Although large ceramic crocks were once the only type of container used for this purpose, modern-day Koreans frequently employ a much less traditional substitute: plastic tubs.

Lunghu was reminded of these inexorable 21st century changes when he saw media coverage of recent meetings between Chinese officials and a South Korean “special envoy” dispatched by president-elect Park Geun-hye on a tribute mission to the Middle Kingdom.  For most of its history –whether as Koryo, Silla, Baekje or united Chosun–  Korea was more or less a vassal state required to inform the Chinese Emperor whenever a new king supplanted his predecessor.  The new sovereign could not be considered fully legitimate until approved by China.  If the Emperor didn’t approve, he sometimes sent his army to convey the message.

China’s new emperor is Comrade Eleven.  South Korea’s special envoy is Kim Moo-sung, Park Geun-hye’s 2012 campaign manager and a former legislator from the city of Busan.  He is being rewarded for his loyalty … with a consolation prize:  in order to give Park’s Saenuri Party a younger “look” in the 2012 elections, Kim was denied a spot on the ballot despite having won four consecutive terms in Busan’s Nam B District since 1996.  “The party comes before me, and the country comes before the party,” Kim said at the time.  That kind of sentiment would ordinarily go down well in the PRC, but it really all depends on which Party one is referring to.  Korea’s Silla faction/ GNP/ Saenuri Party has been on the wrong side of Sino-Japanese conflict for more than a century.

Lunghu doesn’t know anything about the ancestry and family background of Mr. Kim, but suspects that it might include multi-generational association with Japanese economic and cultural interests (if you catch his drift).  Comrade Eleven’s ancestry, on the other hand, is rather different.  So one might expect that interaction between the two could be a bit strained, especially in light of President Park’s own ancestral baggage.

Pictures worth ten thousand words:

CN-SK_20130123_wide_angle

Does this mural show an actual location?

Does this mural show an actual location?

CN-SK_20130123_close-up

Priceless

Priceless

Xi_Jinping_20130123

 

When all is said and done, Lunghu would like to imagine what kind of wonders Comrade Eleven could work with a textbook anti-corruption campaign in Busan.  Perhaps only in the world of cinematic fantasy ….

 

Puttin’ on the Ritz

January 24, 2013

Avid readers of Waking the Dragon will know that Lunghu is a sucker for media stories about the miraculous discovery of long- lost art masterpieces. That’s because he’s always on the lookout for another juicy tale of art forgery, hoax and auction-house hype.  This time, maybe –just maybe– it’s the real deal.

A major renovation at Paris’s legendary Ritz hotel has resulted in the discovery of a painting thought to be the work of 17th-century artist Charles Le Brun that nobody knew was there.  The painting depicts the killing of Trojan princess Polyxena after she was implicated in the death of Achilles.  It adorned one of the suites in which Coco Chanel lived for more than 30 years but when exactly it was installed in the hotel remains a mystery.  The man who first [recognized] the painting [as a work of Le Brun] was Olivier Lefeuvre, a Christie’s France specialist in the Baroque period, who saw it [at the Ritz] in July.

Polyxena_Christies_2013

The hotel archives offer no clue as to how the painting ended up there, according to Christie’s art advisor Joseph Friedman.  “A colleague then found the initials CLBF, which stand for Charles Le Brun Fecit (Le Brun did this) and a date, 1647.”  Christie’s embarked on a process of consultation with relevant experts and although they have not found any contemporary record of the painting, “no one is in any doubt that it is a genuine Le Brun,” according to Friedman.

Ritz_en_suite_2004

Compare and contrast

The photo at top is Christie’s 2013 press release gallery display.  The lower photo was snapped by a tourist who spent a night in the Ritz’s Chanel suite in 2004.  Two observations:

  • Christie’s appears to have cleaned the painting quite a bit.  Note how much darker it appears in the 2004 photo.  There must have been a few dozen microns of Coco’s Gauloise nicotine coating the paint surface.  Or something.
  • Lunghu would like to see (much) earlier photos of the Chanel suite that depict the painting in situ.  Because his suspicious mind imagines that an unexpected “find” like this might be an excellent way to launder WWII Nazi art plunder –that is, if none of the victims’ inventories describe a painting such as this.  If the painting was hanging on Coco Chanel’s wall in the 1960s, all well and good.  If it showed up much later, when and why?

The giant tableau is to be sold by Christie’s [on April 15 2013] and could raise up to 500,000 euros ($665,000) for the foundation established by [Ritz] owner Mohamed Al Fayed in memory of his late son Dodi.

Change of Fuels

January 10, 2013

Whether you call them ‘revolutionaries-in-waiting’ or ‘governance transition scholars,’ students of regime change have an abundance of works-in-progress available for their critical review at this particular time.  Life lessons lie thickly strewn across the terrain in places like Mali, Libya, Central African Republic, Italy and (of course) Syria.  There’s certainly more than enough material to serve as a basic armature for a fully fleshed-out chapter or two of the Idiot’s Guide to Regime Change.™   F’rinstance:

Rebels fighting Assad say they have set up [an intelligence service] of their own to “protect the revolution,” monitor sensitive military sites and gather military information to help rebels plan attacks against government forces. “We created the unit formally in November.  It provides all kinds of information to (opposition) politicians and fighters. We are independent and just serve the revolution,” said a rebel intelligence officer who uses the name Haji. “Our work is organized, we have internal regulations and we are committed to international laws and human rights,” he said, speaking briefly over Skype.

Intelligence agents are also documenting [crimes by rebel forces themselves, such as] … torturing and summarily executing opponents, looting state and private property … so that the perpetrators could be held to account. “We are watching everybody. We have gathered information about every violation that happened in the revolt,” he said. “Those we cannot punish now will be punished after toppling Assad. Nothing will be ignored. We have our members among all the working brigades. They are not known to be intelligence officers and they operate quietly [ undercover as activists, citizen journalists or fighters.]”

Haji said most of the [organization’s] members were army defectors and former intelligence officers, and that the information they gathered was distributed to all anti-Assad factions and rebel brigades without discrimination. The organization appears to operate independently from the main opposition Syrian National Coalition and the Free Syrian Army, effectively answering to itself alone.

Morale of government officials is low and many are secretly helping the rebels as an insurance policy in case they win.  “They approach us and they give us information. We do not pay them.  They say all they want is protection for their families later on.”

Toshi_Moto_Aleppo_20121227

Learnable Lessons

  • Intelligence is an indispensable component of regime change capability. Therefore, the logistical process of transforming information into intelligence should be understood as indispensable for regime changers.
  • Expertise is needed to reliably process information into intelligence.  If the insurgency hasn’t developed its own expertise, it must be ‘borrowed’ from those who already have it: disaffected “army defectors and former intelligence officers.
  • Some functionaries in regime preservation agencies have a strong sense of social justice, ethical responsibility, and a personal moral compass.  That’s why they’re defending the established order in the first place.  But they will defect once the insurgency has demonstrated a stronger commitment to justice, ethics and morality than the incumbent regime.  John Boyd can tell you why.
  • Security is the core social service.  “All they want is protection for their families.
  • Fear and security are Siamese twins.

“The word ‘security’ should mean the security of the people,” said an opposition activist. “Unfortunately, the regime’s security bodies changed it to mean preserving the security of the government against the people.”

 

Unanswered Questions … for seminar discussion:

  • Who’s paying the freight?  The concept of an all-volunteer people’s intelligence operation is certainly an inspiring and almost noble one, but collecting and processing all-source information into intelligence is a protracted and costly logistical undertaking.  Does the Free Syrian Intelligence Service have a reliable, culturally acceptable revenue base?  Or is this organization actually the stalking horse of a shadowy foreign power?
  • Is there any kind of  framework in place to guide and prioritize intelligence requirements?  Would anyone other than an intell geek care?
  • To what extent should this Reuters article be viewed as an information operation in its own right?  Whose interests would thus be served?  See Question #1.

Lucky Thirteen

January 1, 2013

Lucky you, lucky me: it’s twenty-thirteen.  Before anyone has a chance to break a rashly-made New Year’s resolution, let’s take a quick(?) look at one of the few things that all of us can count on in the 21st Century … the annual New Year’s Day message from the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea.  Brought to you for the very first time by Korea’s version of Chris Christie:  the kinder, gentler, sensitive Kim Jong-un.

20121215_KJU

This year, Lunghu is going with quantity before quality when reviewing Western media coverage of the DPRK annual message.  Why?  Because past experience has shown that there generally isn’t a whole lot of quality reporting on this topic.  Sometimes there isn’t much quantity either, but this year the message was the medium –not just a newspaper editorial, but an actual TV and radio broadcast of the Luminous Comrade’s very own voice.  Even so, for most journalists who drew the short straw and were forced to file a story on New Year’s Day, it was pretty much the same-old/ same-old.

Here’s a synopsis of coverage from Agence France Presse, BBC News, Yonhap News Service, Associated Press, Bloomberg News, New York Times, Washington Post, and  … al Jazeera.  Compare and contrast.

N. Korea Leader Calls for Easing of Tensions with S. Korea
Agence France Presse

7 paragraphs

(14%) 1 summary (lead) paragraph [S]
(50%) 3.5 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E]
(36%) 2.5 context/background paragraphs [B]
(1 paragraph mentioning Park Geun-hye)

here’s the semantic structure of the story:
S-E-E-B-B-B/E-E

3 DPRK message themes cited (in order of appearance):

  • achieving Korean reunification
  • remove confrontation between fellow countrymen that leads to war
  • build an economic giant in DPRK

North Korea Picks Stronger Economy, South Ties as Top 2013 Tasks
Bloomberg

12 paragraphs

(8%)  1 summary (lead) paragraph [S]
(16%) 2 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E]
(50%) 6 context/background paragraphs [B]
(25%) 3 paragraphs of explanatory analysis [A]
(1 paragraph mentioning Park Geun-hye)

here’s the semantic structure of the story:
S-E-B-A-A
B-E-B-B-A
B-B

4  DPRK message themes cited (in order of appearance):

  • build an economic giant in DPRK
  • “reunification of the country is the greatest national task that brooks no further delay.”
  • “develop coal-mining, electric power, metallurgical industries and rail transport”
  • “success of economic construction will be gauged by betterment of people’s living standards”

Analyst(s) quoted:

  • Cheong Seong Chang, senior research fellow at the Sejong Institute
  • Unnamed analyst, who provided over-simplified economic rationale for China’s support of DPRK.

N Korea’s Kim Wants Better Living Standards, Arms
Associated Press

20 paragraphs

(5%)  1 summary (lead) paragraph [S]
(20%) 4 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E]
(55%) 11 context/background [B]
(20%) 4 paragraphs of explanatory analysis [A]
(1 paragraph mentioning Park Geun-hye)

here’s the semantic structure of the story:
S-B-B-B-E-E
B-B-E-E-B-A-A
B-B-A-A-B-B-B

3 DPRK message themes cited (in order of appearance):

  • “The industrial revolution in the new century is … a scientific and technological revolution”
  • build an economic giant in DPRK
  • “The defense industry sector should develop sophisticated military hardware in larger numbers”

Analysts quoted:
Koh Yu-hwan, professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University
John Delury, an analyst at Yonsei University

North Korean Leader Reaches out to S Korea
al Jazeera

13(!) paragraphs

(8%)  1 summary (lead) paragraph [S]
(15%) 2 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E]
(69%) 9 context/background [B]
(8%)  1 paragraph of semi-editorial commentary [C]
(2 paragraphs mentioning Park Geun-hye)

here’s the semantic structure of the story:
S-B-B-B-E-E
B-B-B-B-B-B-C

2 DPRK message themes cited (in order of appearance):

  • achieving Korean reunification
  • remove confrontation between fellow countrymen that leads to war

N0rth Korean Leader Makes Overture to South
New York Times

21 paragraphs

(5%)  1 summary (lead) paragraph [S]
(19%) 4 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E]
(14%) 67 context/background [B]
(9%) 2 paragraphs of explanatory analysis [A]
(33%) 7! paragraphs discussing Park Geun-hye [P]

here’s the semantic structure of the story:
S-B-B-A-A-E-E-B
E-B-E-B-B-B-P-P-P
P-P-P-P

7 DPRK message themes cited (in order of appearance):

  • improving living standards
  • rejuvenating agriculture and light industries
  • “improve economic leadership and management”
  • development of more advanced weapons
  • “expand and improve upon friendly and cooperative relationships with all countries friendly to us”
  • “end the situation of confrontation between North and South”
  • “honor and implement North-South joint declarations”

Analysts quoted:
none — analysis limited to Kim’s media style is attributed to unnamed “outside analysts.”

In a calculated insult to the DPRK, the NYT website gave more prominent placement to a lifestyle story about the trendy Gangnam district of Seoul.  You know, that horse dance thing.  The Grey Lady also set its online-headline for the Kim Jong-un story using the “Zero” character instead of the capital “O” character.  Take a close look at the screen shot.  The Propaganda Model of journalism needs no finer exemplar.

38 N0rth

Kim Jong-un Calls for Building Economic Power, Resolving Tension with South
Yonhap News Service

20 paragraphs

(5%)  1 summary (lead) paragraph [S]
(35%) 7 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E]
(5%)  2 context/background paragraphs [B]
(10%) 1 paragraph of explanatory analysis [A]
(5%)  2 paragraphs of reaction/ commentary [C]
(35%) 7 paragraphs covering KJU’s concert attendance [M]
(0!  paragraphs mentioning Park Geun-hye)

here’s the semantic structure of the story:
S-B-E-E-E-E-E-E-E
B-B-A-C-C
M-M-M-M-M-M-M

7 DPRK message themes cited (in order of appearance):

  • “launch a dynamic struggle to carry out to the letter the June 5 Joint Declaration and the October 4 Declaration”
  • prioritize “the great national cause of reunifying the country”
  • “develop relations of friendship and cooperation with nations that are friendly to our country”
  • build an economic giant in DPRK
  • rejuvenate agriculture and light industries
  • stabilize and improve living standards
  • “fully demonstrate the high level of space science and technology, and overall power of Juche Korea”

Analysts quoted:
none — unnamed analysts comment on KJU’s efforts to emulate his grandfather by using a radio broadcast.

20130101_KJU

In New Year’s Speech, N. Korea’s Kim Says He Wants Peace with South
Washington Post

10 paragraphs

(10%) 1 summary (lead) paragraph [S]
(35%) 3.5 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E]
(45%) 2.5 context/background [B]
(10%)  1 paragraph of reaction/ commentary [C]
(2 paragraphs mentioning Park Geun-hye)

here’s the semantic structure of the story:
S-B-E-B-B-B
E-E/B-E-C

3 DPRK message themes cited (in order of appearance):

  • implement North-South joint declarations
  • economic improvement
  • build an economic giant in DPRK

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un Makes Rare New Year Speech
BBC News

13(!) paragraphs

(7%)  1 summary (lead) paragraph [S]
(31%) 4 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E]
(55%) 1 context/background paragraphs [B]
(7%)  1 paragraph coveringKJU’s concert attendance [M]
(1 paragraph mentioning Park Geun-hye)

here’s the semantic structure of the story:
S-E-B-B-B
E-E-E-B-B-B
M

4 DPRK message themes cited (in order of appearance):

  • improve the economy
  • remove confrontation between fellow countrymen that leads to war
  • build an economic giant in DPRK
  • “Only when a nation builds up its military might in every way can it develop into a thriving country.”

And the winner is … Yonhap News Service, for the third consecutive year.  That’s a wrap!