Posts Tagged ‘Kim Jong-Il’

Heigh Ho Silver!

February 16, 2012

Happy Holiday!  If you’re in or around the DPRK, you’ve been enjoying a mid-month holiday today in celebration of the birth of dearly departed Dear Leader –the late, great Kim Jong-Il.

Luminous Comrade Kim Jong-Eun marked the occasion earlier in the week by unveiling a monumental bronze equestrian statue of Pyongyang’s favorite father-and-son combo:  DPRK founder Kim Il-Sung and KJI.  Based on the photograph below, it’s not certain whether the sculptors used stallions or geldings as their mounts.

 

To Lunghu, this is beginning to look a bit like the sequel to Kim Jee-Woon‘s classic ramen-Western:  “The Good, The Bad, The Weird.

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Provoking Thought

January 14, 2012

Both before and after Kim Jong-il’s death, both the United States and ROK have been making a big deal about standing up to North Korean “provocations.”   They’re referring, of course, to the “unprovoked” artillery barrages, atomic weapons tests, and ballistic missile launches that DPRK has staged in the past few years.   The US/ROK alliance now appears to be concerned that Kim Jong-eun will foment external crisis in order to reinforce internal stability of the DPRK regime, and the bourgeois Western imperialists are attempting to signal their firm resolve to oppose such revanchist adventurism.

Lunghu believes that such US/ROK fears are mistaken, because the PRC has sternly counseled the Kim clique (in a brotherly socialist fashion) that war-mongering in North Asia during 2012 will merely play into the hands of militarist political factions in the US and South Korea.  Neither China nor North Korea wants to see a Republican president in the United States or a GNP president in South Korea next year:  stirring up trouble along the DMZ right now would be the strategic equivalent of giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

On the other hand, as we approach the Sino-Korean New Year, it seems as though South Korea is engaging in some provocation of its own.  Item One:  Dear Leader Kim Jong-il is no longer around to pose for photo ops during his tours of industrial facilities in North Korea, so what does the ROK Army do?  It has the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Jung Seung-jo, inspect one of South Korea’s nuclear power plants just before heading off to Washington DC for consultations.  Does this picture remind you of anything?

Item Two: North Korea’s rice harvest was devastated by heavy flooding in 2011, and the nation is desperately seeking humanitarian food aid to avoid mass starvation this winter.  What do South Korean farmers do in Gyeonggi Province?  They stage a press conference to demonstrate the first rice-planting of the season —in January … in Icheon greenhouses.  Harvest of this crop is expected in early June —when the far North of the DPRK will have barely planted their fields.  Way to rub it in, guys!

President Lee was unable to attend.

Hey! Is that a Daedong Duo60 transplanter in the background? Yup.

Give peace a chance in the Year of the Water Dragon:  please stop the taunting.

Divisible by Four

January 2, 2012

On Sunday,  New Year’s Day, just as surely as the sun rises in the east, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea once again issued its annual New Year’s message.  Last year, Lunghu provided his readers with a mind-numbing analysis of that day’s press coverage as provided by the running-dog Western imperialist bourgeois lackey media.  In doing so, he hoped (no doubt  vainly) to improve the quality of news coverage in general, and of DPRK in particular.  Let’s take a look at how this year’s press coverage changed (or not).

The contestants for 2012 are Yonhap News Service, Agence France Presse, Associated Press, and Bloomberg News.  Let’s compare and contrast.

Yonhap
27 paragraphs

1 summary (lead) paragraph [S] (3.7%)
11.5 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E] (42.6%)
10 providing context/background [B] (30%)
2 providing reaction/commentary [C] (7.4%)
2.5 providing explanatory analysis [A] (9.3%)

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

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

  • place absolute trust in and  follow Kim Jong-Eun
  • call for withdrawal of US troops from Korea
  • defend Kim Jong-Eun “unto death
  • defend the [Workers] Party Central Committee
  • establish Kim’s “unified military command system
  • praise for Kim Jong-Eun as a “peerless patriot” and “brilliant commander
  • no change in the policies of Kim Jong-Il
  • promise to develop “friendship with nations that respect our country’s sovereignty
  • criticism of Lee Myung-bak and the GNP government of ROK

Analyst quotedChang Yong-seok, a senior researcher of peace and unification studies at Seoul National University

Explanatory themes:  internal stability is the North’s top priority [anonymous ROK Unification Ministry official] / DPRK is seeking to avoid “creating a stumbling block to dialogue with the US” [CY-S]

Agence France Presse
10 paragraphs

1 summary (lead) paragraph [S] (10%)
5.5 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E] (55%)
3.5 providing context/background [B] (35%)
0 providing explanatory analysis [A]

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

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

  • defend Kim Jong-Eun “unto death
  • strengthen the armed forces
  • promise to develop “friendship with nations that respect our country’s sovereignty
  • no mention of retaliation against ROK for its “insults” during mourning for Kim Jong-Il
  • emphasis on strengthening the leadership role of the Korean People’s Workers Party
  • carry out Kim Jong-Il’s prosperity plan for 2012

Analyst quoted:  none

Explanatory themes:  100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-Sung in 2012

 

Associated Press
26 paragraphs

1 summary (lead) paragraph [S] (3.8%)
7 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E] (26.9%)
10.3  providing context/background [B] (39.6%)
4.3 providing local Pyongyang color [L] (16.5%)
1 providing reaction/commentary [C] (3.8%)
2.3 providing explanatory analysis [A] (8.8%)

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

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

  • no strident criticism of the US
  • prosperity is unfolding
  • defend Kim Jong-Eun “unto death
  • strengthen the armed forces
  • the food problem is a burning issue
  • build on the foundations laid by Kim Jong-Il and become an “economic giant
  • Kim Jong-Eun is “the eternal center of the nation’s unity
  • non-specific desire for Korean unification

Analyst quotedYoo Ho-yeol, professor at Korea University

Explanatory themes:   North Korea will focus on its economy and ideological solidarity to establish stability for Kim Jong Un’s leadership [YH-Y] / North Korea is leaving room for the chance of improved ties with the United States [YH-Y]

Bloomberg News
16 paragraphs

1 summary (lead) paragraph [S] (6.3%)
3.5 paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E] (21.8%)
7 providing context/background [B] (43.7%)
0 providing reaction/commentary [C]
4.5 providing explanatory analysis [A] (28.1%)

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

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

  • the food problem is a burning issue in building a thriving country
  • power shortages should be solved at all costs
  • no mention of inter-Korean dialog or cooperation
  • withdrawal of US forces from Korea
  • ROK President Lee Myung-bak was guilty of “madcap saber-rattling” after Kim Jong-Il’s death
  • new coal fields and hydroelectric power stations should be developed

Analysts quotedKim Yong Hyun, professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University / unnamed intelligence analyst at ROK Unification Ministry / Yang Moo Jin, professor at the University of North Korean Studies

Explanatory themes:  Food shortages were mentioned with the intent to attract aid from the outside world [KY-H] / the Kim Jong-Eun regime will continue Kim Jong Il’s policies [KY-H] / Kim Jong-Eun needs to prove himself with economic successes [YM-J]   DPRK intends to continue its songun (military-first) policy [YM-J]

Lunghu’s Meta-analysis:

Yonhap‘s approach to the DPRK New Year’s message is just about the same as in 2011:  roughly 40% message and one-third context/background, the remainder with equal parts commentary and analysis.  Yonhap translates a particularly colorful portion of the 2012 message as urging that “the entire army should … become human rifles and bombs to defend [KJE] unto death.”   Interestingly, non-Korean media translated that portion of the text using by terms for defensive armament rather than offensive weaponry (see AFP and AP below).

Yonhap upgraded its analysis this year by citing a [mid-ranking] academic source from prestigious Seoul National University.  Last year, Yonhap quoted an analyst at the Sejong Institute, a Seoul think tank which Lunghu seems to recall is affiliated with the Grand National Party.  Korean media has been giving a lot of coverage to the DPRK succession process in the past few weeks, so there really wasn’t much need to bulk up coverage of the New Year’s message with a lot of analysis: they’d just be repeating what’s already been said elsewhere in the Seoul press.  Yonhap highlights 3 categories of themes embedded in the DPRK New Year’s message:  internal regime succession (67%), policy continuity (22%), and dislike of Lee Myung-bak (11%).

Agence France Presse coverage was a bit skimpy in 2011 and it’s even thinner this year: they seem to have just gone through the motions for the sake of appearances.  Not surprisingly, AFP devoted much more coverage to President Nicolas Sarkozy‘s reelection-year New Year’s message.  In emphasizing the “defend KJE unto death” aspect of the New Year’s message, AFP’s translation quotes the call for “human bulwarks and human shields”  rather than Yonhap’s version of  “human rifles and bombs.” The story also quotes no analysts at all, but perhaps that’s because Bloomberg News called Professor Yang Moo-Jin first.  AFP focuses on 3 theme categories within the 2012 DPRK message:  internal regime succession (60%), economic development (20%) and militarism (20%).

Lunghu didn’t review Associated Press coverage of the 2011 DPRK New Year’s message, so he doesn’t have a basis for year-on-year comparison.  However, he definitely likes what bureau chief Jean Lee has done with the AP’s coverage of this story:  in addition to providing quotes from the message, context/ background and analysis, the AP has leveraged its on-the-ground presence in Pyongyang to add a local, human-interest dimension to what is usually a dry, international geopolitics piece.  One-sixth of the AP story describes what just-plain-folks in North Korea are doing on New Year’s Day.  That approach is important to AP’s customer base: the small or mid-sized all-American media outlet whose readership isn’t intensively involved in following news developments in Asia.

Associated Press reinforces its empathetic approach to the story in its choice of which themes of the DPRK message receive emphasis: economic development (38%), internal regime succession (25%), and appeasement of US / ROK (25%) definitely outweigh mention of militarism (12%).   Naturally, some of the AP’s editorial stance reflects a desire to continue working as one of the few Western media outlets with an office in Pyongyang.  2012 is definitely the right year to be eyewitness to history.  AP’s academic analyst goes right with the flow, citing DPRK’s focus on the economy and its hope to improve dialog with the US.

Bloomberg News definitely picked up its game from last year’s performance —perhaps editor Matt Winkler set out some higher expectations for 2012.  The 2011 story contained no analysis worthy of the name, but Bloomberg’s 2012 version cited no fewer than three analysts!  This year’s story was two paragraphs longer, and almost a third of the piece was devoted to analysis of the 2012 DPRK message.  The proportion of context/ background remained the same: more than 40% of the story overall.  What got trimmed?  Quotes and paraphrases of the New Year’s message itself.  Also interesting:  this year Bloomberg elected to stick to its business-news knitting and emphasize the economic aspects of North Korea’s message.  (In 2011 Bloomberg hyped the militaristic dimensions of Pyongyang’s New Year’s statement.)  Bloomberg’s 2012 story –beginning with the headline– focuses primarily on themes of economic development (50%) and North Korea’s hostility toward Lee Myung-bak (33%), with militarism (17%) a distant third.

Minor translation note: the Bloomberg story cites DPRK accusations that Lee Myung-bak “provoked the North by limiting South Korean visits to Kim Jong Il’s funeral and was guilty of ‘madcap saber-rattling’ after [KJI’s] death.”   In Lunghu’s view, the word ‘madcap’ calls to mind images of mischievous-but-ultimately-harmless gaiety (think Daffy Duck or Bugs Bunny) rather than anything truly threatening (Sylvester the Cat? Marvin the Martian?).  Perhaps the term ‘lunatic’ would have been a better choice.  We’re talking about Lee Myung-bak after all: the guy doesn’t have a madcap gene anywhere in his chromosomes.

Happy New Year (of the Dragon)!

The People’s Choice

February 20, 2011

Lunghu was not aware that executives at Hyundai were familiar with the literary corpus of Oscar Wilde.   It was therefore something of a surprise to see official showroom photos of the company’s forthcoming “i40” model, tangible evidence that imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery.

Will this model be offered in North America with a diesel engine option?   Lunghu believes that it should be.  Cognoscenti know what he’s talking about.

source: Yonhap News Agency

In entirely unrelated news….

1]   North Korea has allegedly been observed building two new tunnels at its nuclear test facility in Punggye-ri.   ROK watchers suggest that this may herald another round of A-bomb tests by DPRK.   Of course, this may be exactly what the Kim clan wants everyone to believe:  if Comrade Meng did not bring good news during his recent visit,  Kim Jong-il may conclude that his best option is to resort once again to blustering brinksmanship.

2]   Radiation levels at (South) Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute’s (KAERI) research reactor surpassed the permitted emission limit, and a radioactive leak alert was issued.  The 30 megawatt HANARO unit is located in Daejeon, South Chungcheong Province.   The good news:  no actual leak is said to have occurred.

In entirely unrelated news…. 

1]  North Korea has allegedly been observed building two new tunnels at its nuclear test facility in Punggye-ri.  ROK watchers suggest that this may herald another round of A-bomb tests by DPRK.  Of course, this may be exactly what the Kim clan wants everyone to believe:  if Comrade Jang did not bring gpod news during his recent visit, Kim Jong-il may conclude that his best option is to resort once again to blustering brinksmanship.

Asian Spring

February 15, 2011

In the Chinese solar calendar, spring begins in early February.   Around February 19, the rains begin.   This year, they’re sorely needed in China’s wheat fields.   But first, a little further East …

Lunghu would like to be among the first of those on this side of the International Date Line to wish Comrade General Kim Jong-il a Happy Birthday.   Dear Leader, you have toiled long and hard to build your nation into what it is today  –perhaps it is time to rest from your labors and allow new hands to lift the vanguard banner.  … Just sayin’.

Source: KCNA

Perhaps that was the message conveyed by Comrade Meng Jianzhu during his current visit to Pyongyang.   Lunghu likes the symbolism evident in the panoramic mural which forms the backdrop to the group photo below.   Stormy seas crashing upon the immovable basalt shoreline, a tiny white bird (the gull of peace?) soaring above the waves just above the right shoulder of the guy at far left in the back row.   What does it all mean?   It means that Comrade Meng is briefing Dear Leader on the substance of General Secretary Hu’s recent visit to the USA, that’s what.   Comrade Kim, I have some good news and some bad news…

Source: KCNA

In the Chinese solar calendar, spring begins in early February.  Around February 19, the rains begin. 

This year, they’re sorely needed in China’s wheat fields.  But first, a little further East …

Lunghu would like to be among the first of those on this side of the International Date Line to wish

Comrade General Kim Jong-il a Happy Birthday.  Dear Leader, you have toiled long and hard to build your

nation into what it is today –perhaps it is time to rest from your labors and allow new hands to lift the

vanguard banner.  … Just sayin’.

Volume = Eleven

January 1, 2011

Every New Year’s Day, the Democratic People’s Republic Of Korea (North Korea to you and me) issues its annual New Year’s message  —North Asia’s equivalent of the U.S. President’s State of the Union address.   Since it’s otherwise a slow news day, this usually ensures press coverage –which is exactly what Kim Jong-Il has in mind.   However, the Dear Leader never bargained for Lunghu’s incisive analysis of this news coverage  –a historiography of sorts, before history is even made.   Today’s analysis examines three interpretive perspectives on North Korea’s New Year’s statement:  Asian (South Korean), European (French) and North American (United States).   Let’s compare and contrast.

Yonhap News Agency
31 paragraphs

  • 1 summary (lead) paragraph [S] (3%)
  • 13 quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E] (42%)
  • 11 providing context/background [B] (36%)
  • 4 providing reaction/commentary [C] (13%)
  • 2 providing explanatory analysis [A] (6%)

here’s the semantic structure of the Yonhap story:

S-E-B-B-E-E-C
E-B-B-E-B-B-E-E-E-B-E-E
C-C-C-B-A-A-B-E-B-E-E-B

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

  • Renewed pledge for denuclearization.
  • Confrontation between north and south should be defused
  • War will bring nothing but a nuclear holocaust.” …War was averted [in 2010] because of “our persevering efforts.
  • Create an atmosphere of dialogue and cooperation.
  • End South Korea’s military exercises and alignment with “U.S. war hawks.”
  • DPRK is “consistent in its stand and will to achieve peace … and the denuclearization of the whole Korean Peninsula.
  • Development of light industry is the “major front” in improving standards of living for North Korea’s people.
  • 2012 “will greet the centenary of the birth of President Kim Il-sung. … We should launch an all-out, vigorous offensive for a breakthrough to realize the wish of the President to build a prosperous country.
  • Call for a boost in the production of “primary consumer goods and other necessities widely used in life. … light industry should turn out commodities that would be favored by people.”
  • [The September 2010 KWP party conference] demonstrated “a spirit of single-hearted unity to invariably defend the center of unity and leadership despite the passage of time.
  • DPRK military should “conduct intense combat training… as required by the tense situation;”  the North will not pardon an act of invasion “even an inch.

Analyst quoted:   Chung Seong-chang, senior analyst at the Sejong Institute

Explanatory themes:   DPRK is seeking to reduce its isolation by presenting an open-minded stance on inter-Korean dialogue [CS-C]

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Agence France-Presse
26 paragraphs

  • 1 summary (lead) paragraph [S] (4%)
  • 10 quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E] (38%)
  • 9 providing context/background [B] (35%)
  • 1 providing reaction/commentary [C] (4%)
  • 5 providing explanatory analysis [A] (19%)

here’s the semantic structure of the AFP story:

S-E-B-B-B-E-E-B
A-B-E-E-B-C-E-E-B
A-B-B-B-A-A-A-E-E

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

  • Confrontation between north and south should be defused …dialogue and cooperation should be promoted.
  • Active efforts should be made to create an atmosphere of dialogue and cooperation …by placing the common interests of the nation above anything else.
  • DPRK is committed to denuclearization, but South Korea’s “North-targeted war exercises and arms build-up” must stop.
  • War will bring nothing but a nuclear holocaust.
  • Focus on improving living standards in North Korea: “We should bring earlier the bright future of a thriving nation by making continuous innovations and advance, full of confidence in victory.” [Kim Jong-Il]

Analysts quoted:  Professor Yang Moo-Jin at Seoul’s University of North Korean Studies/ Hong Hyun-Ik and Chung Seong-chang at the Sejong Institute.

Explanatory themes:  DPRK is seeking regional stability in order to accomplish its internal regime succession / DPRK is awaiting outcome of January’s China-US summit [YM-J];  DPRK wants to reduce tension to achieve its goal of improving DPRK living standards [CS-C]/ DPRK is expecting (i.e, demanding) renewed 6-party negotiations to result from the China-US summit [HH-I].

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Bloomberg
14 paragraphs

  • 1 summary (lead) paragraph [S] (7%)
  • 6 quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK editorial [E] (43%)
  • 6 providing context/background [B] (43%)
  • zero providing reaction/commentary [C]
  • 1 providing official reaction in the form of explanatory analysis [A=C] (7%)

here’s the semantic structure of the Bloomberg story:

S-E-E-B-B-E
A=C-E-B-E
B-B-E-B

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

  • The danger of war should be removed and peace safeguarded in the Korean Peninsula … war will bring nothing but a nuclear holocaust.
  • South Korea blamed for “reckless and wild behavior” by carrying out military exercises.
  • Confrontation between north and south should be defused …dialogue and cooperation should be promoted.
  • South Korea accused of sabotaging relations for publicizing its reunification plans.
  • DPRK is “consistent in its stand and will to achieve peace … and the denuclearization of the whole Korean Peninsula.

“Analyst” quoted:  unnamed ROK Unification Ministry official.

Explanatory themes: DPRK is seeking humanitarian aid by calling for dialogue and cooperation / DPRK is attempting to promote internal dissension within ROK.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Lunghu’s Meta-analysis:

Yonhap’s treatment of this story provides the most nutritious protein:  thirteen paragraphs citing actual verbiage from the DPRK New Year’s message.   Their story is somewhat light on explicit explanatory analysis of what that verbiage might actually mean, but perhaps Yonhap’s core readership is capable of doing its own analysis and doesn’t need intermediary pundits to help them read between the lines.   Lunghu likes a news service that respects the intelligence of its customers.   By using a series of implicit and explicit cues to its readers, Yonhap highlights 4 themes embedded in the DPRK New Year’s message:  desire for peace (45%), bellicose militancy (18%), economic development (27%), and internal regime succession (9%).

The AFP story is less extensive than Yonhap’s and provides correspondingly smaller portions of nutritious protein.   As Frenchmen, they compensate by furnishing a particularly tasty sauce —in the form of explanatory analysis from three subject matter experts at (somewhat) prestigious institutions.   Should the reader interpret this as some sort of elitist predilection for technocratic expertise within the French Fourth Estate?   Perhaps.   But it just may mean that AFP readers are not expected to be as attuned to the nuances of novel information as Koreans might be:   such readers therefore require more explicit guidance.   AFP’s presentation and analysis highlights the same 4 themes as Yonhap:   desire for peace (50%), bellicose militancy (17%), economic development (17%), and hereditary regime succession (17%).   In addition, it provides the extra special bonus of closing its story with a quote from Kim Jung-Il.

Bloomberg’s approach to the story is All-American in a high-fat, fast food kinda way.   It’s less than half the length of Yonhap’s article, contains virtually no analysis worth of the name, and has equal proportions of news (DPRK statements) vs. background material.   Filler plus fat is neither tasty nor nutritious.   The only commentary or “analysis” provided is furnished by an unnamed spokesman at a South Korean government ministry:  this pretty clearly qualifies as “spin” rather than as objective observations of any kind.   Bloomberg’s story focuses only on the military dimensions of the DPRK statement, highlighting language about nuclear holocaust and DPRK’s attempts to blame South Korea for deterioration in relations.   Further evidence that no one should invest any money on the basis of a Bloomberg story.

If any readers of Waking the Dragon want higher-quality information about North Korea than is available through most U.S media, Lunghu recommends North Korea Economy Watch as a useful starting point.   Make it your New Year’s resolution to visit at least once!