Posts Tagged ‘Kim Jong-un’

Tuber Or Not Tuber

August 3, 2017

Beginning in May, Korean agricultural researchers in Okcheon, Chungcheong-bukdo implemented a novel experiment intended to reduce crop damage caused by feral hogs.

Farmers in the region began leaving piles of carrots and sweet potatoes along the woodland fringes adjacent to their fields.  These are foods enjoyed by wild boars, who often demolish wide swaths of cropland while rooting through the fields in search of the sweet, starchy tubers.

On June 10, the National Institute of Biological Resources installed surveillance cameras in two locations to observe the effects. They recorded five wild boars eating the carrots and sweet potatoes and leaving without damaging crops.

For centuries, Korean farmers have endured freezing cold and scorching heat, drought and floods, insect pests and yangban taxation. For millennia, wild boar have been a serious nuisance as well.  Trapping the wily, wary hogs is usually difficult, and hunting them is always dangerous.  Perhaps this “Franciscan” approach will be somewhat effective.

However, Korea being Korea, the appearance of this story in the peninsular news media isn’t merely about 21st century agricultural techniques and methods.  Instead, this mini-narrative is also operating at an additional abstract level of metaphorical reference in order to propose (or perhaps to endorse) a geopolitical strategy for dealing with the wild young boar of the North … Kim Jong-un.  Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that carrots and yams will be enough to satisfy his appetite for la dolce vita.


Lunar Land-scapegoat

June 22, 2017

Outmoded rituals –like the minor habits of daily domestic life– can be difficult to set aside even once their original purpose has long been lost to modern memory.  Nowhere is this more true than in the Moonrise Kingdom of New Baekje now taking shape upon the ruins remaining from Old Silla.  Amid the tumult and confusion of foreground regime change, longstanding cultural practices keep-on-keepin’-on … at the very margins of visibility.  Case in point, the presidential photo-op:

Way back yonder in the Lee Myung-bak era, Lunghu pointed out that visiting dignitaries at Cheong Wa Dae were sorted by their hosts into a hierarchy of international importance that was signalled by the subtly-coded backdrop before which the traditional handshake photo was staged.  Barbarian emissaries of semi-savage nations (Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia) were received in front of a Chosun-era folding screen depicting lowly foreign messengers performing their kowtow to the Korean emperor.  Diplomats and officials from valuable export markets in Europe and North America posed for their handshake with a glowingly resplendent golden screen behind them.  Close neighbors from China and Japan rated an auspicious Asian landscape painting replete with Sinitic symbolism.  A place for everyone, and everyone in their place.

This pattern from Lee Myung-bak’s Republic of Hyundai didn’t change during Park Geun-hye‘s Republic of Samsung, and thus far it hasn’t changed under Moon Jae-in‘s Republic of Candlepower.  That’s why Beijing-bound Beltway advanceman Richard N. Haass is backlit with a golden aura in the photo above.  Despite what Koreans might think of the monarch whose message he bears, the United States is still a precious ally in an unfriendly neighborhood.  As far as Koreans are concerned, the U.S. alliance is a vital relationship that can –and must– outlast four years of attempted sabotage inspired by Comrade Bear.


That said, let’s never forget that national politics is –in every nation– a cutthroat, zero-sum, feast-or-famine struggle for survival.  So it should be absolutely no surprise that the newly-exiled courtiers of Old Silla (under the rebranded label of Liberty Korea Party) are seeking to exploit their well-established backchannel links with American conservatives to discredit the Moon government’s national security policies.  According to these hardened cold-warriors, a left-center/progressive/human activist like Moon Jae-in is someone who will place the freedom-loving Korean nation in jeopardy by being soft on China and squishy on Kim Jong-un.  Since President Moon currently has public approval ratings above 80%, they’ve inevitably chosen to attack his appointees rather than the man himself.  Thus their overt parliamentary maneuvering and covert media campaigns against foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha and national security adviser Moon Chung-in.

In fact, Hannara/GNP/Saenuri/Liberty Korea knows quite well that the new administration has no real wiggle room to dramatically alter inter-Korean relations: Kim Jong-un ain’t playin’.  Instead, what really worries the kleptocrats of Liberty Korea is the inevitable, inexorable impact of a looming government crackdown on chaebol corruption. Coming soon: a long overdue Brazilian-style carwash investigation, transplanted to Gangnam and points South-Southeast.


Burning Questions

February 6, 2016

Wouldn’t you say that Sakurajima is just about as far to the west-southwest as it’s possible to travel in the Home Islands of Japan?  It sure looks that way to me.


So from a feng-shui perspective, it appears that Tai Sui has stirred in his celestial throne just as the Year of the Monkey is about to “officially” commence.  Should we interpret this as an indication that Shinzo Abe, the Diet and the Bank of Japan are pursuing policies that are in conflict with the mandate of heaven?  Probably just a coincidence…


Just to be safe, though, Koreans should probably steer clear of Mokpo for the next few weeks.  Park Geun-hye and Kim Jong-un are both playing with Fire these days.


Cure For Hiccups

August 24, 2015

Joint military exercises.  Mine accident.  Accusation … and subsequent denial of ‘slanderous concoctions.’ Leaflet balloons and loudspeaker propaganda. Incoming artillery.  Counterfire.  Bellicose rhetoric. Buildup of forces on both sides of the border. Calls for restraint by anxious allies. Protracted high-level dialog at the traditional village location.


It’s another sweltering August in Korea, and very few people in the Western Hemisphere seem to actually care.

What does it all mean?  How did we get to the brink of peninsular war this time?  Is there a link to China’s devalued yuan?  Did Kim Jong-un lose most of his People’s Democratic Plunder in the Shanghai stock market?

Perhaps not.  In my view, Korea’s August 4 DMZ mine blast (and subsequent saber-rattling) may have been indirectly triggered by the purge of DPRK Army chief Hyon Yong Chol earlier this year.  The hypothesis: North Korean special operations troops loyal to Hyon planted mines in the DMZ in an attempt to destabilize the Kim clique by provoking a military crisis with the ‘Park Geun-hye puppet gang’ (South Korea).

The reasoning:  In North Korea, it’s definitely not safe to directly protest the removal of a superior in the patriarchal hierarchy. But one can’t be readily criticized for striking the imperialist stooges in the Silla Kingdom –after all, that’s exactly what the Great Leader commands on just about any given day.  So, from this perspective, a tactically successful military provocation that is strategically inconvenient for Kim Jong-un might constitute the 21st century equivalent of a grassroots petition to the imperial court for redress of an injustice.  A cry for help, as it were.

But what sort of a cry for help?  And to whom is this plea directed?  Perhaps not to Kim Jong-un. It’s just remotely possible that some segments of the North Korean military are actually begging to be invaded by their brother warriors in the south, asking to be liberated from the insatiably bloodthirsty, parasitic Kim dynasty.  They must truly be desperate:  things could get ugly when the collaborationist Saenuri gang discovers how little remains to be stolen north of the 38th Parallel.

For now, Koguryo warriors will have to bear the unbearable and ‘eat bitterness’: Park Geun-hye has proven willing to settle for an expression of ‘regret’ rather than an outright apology, so there will be no war tomorrow.  Maybe next time.  It’s a scenario that bears watching: North Korea’s military deliberately starts a war that it intends to lose, in order to ensure regime change that it believes can be accomplished no other way.


Sqrt of 225

January 3, 2015

Every New Year’s Day in Pyongyang, the Kim clan patriarch delivers a state-of-the-realm speech that explicitly declares his initial Intent for the coming year. Every  year, the imperialist bourgeois propaganda organs of global capitalism (the so-called media) report on the North Korea New Year message –its an otherwise slow news day.  And every year –in this decade, at least– Lunghu provides a superficial, slapdash analysis of the way that mainstream media on three continents presents the North Korean message. The core of Lunghu’s analytical methodology can be summed up with an acronym that describes the five elements into which each news story can be decomposed … and their relative proportions evaluated. Are these five analytical components analogous to the five natural elements derived from Taoist philosophy that are used in feng shui?  Time will tell.

Lunghu uses the acronym SCRAM to describe the analytical dimensions he deploys:

[S] Summary (usually, the story’s lead paragraph)
[C] Context (“backstory”)
[R] Reaction (from official sources)
[A] Analysis (by “experts”)
[M] Message

As in prior years, major wire services are the main source of the news stories subjected to Lunghu’s analysis:

Agence France Presse
Associated Press

For each news article, the following data-presentation structure will be employed:

  • a proportional breakdown of paragraphs in the article devoted to: the DPRK message itself; context/background; official reaction, and explanatory analysis.
  • the sequential semantic structure of the article, using the relevant character code to designate paragraph type.
  • the name(s) of any analyst(s) quoted, and their organizational affiliation(s).
  • a proportional breakdown of paragraphs in the article devoted to each of three principal themes: inter-Korean relations; militarist posturing/tensions, and the DPRK economy.
  • noteworthy verbiage and polemic contained in the article (if any).


Agence France Presse: North Korean Leader Proposes Talks with South

23 total paragraphs

46% context/background [C]
4% official reaction [R]
14% explanatory analysis [A]
36% quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK message [M]

the semantic structure:


thematic distribution:

46% inter-Korean relations
23% militarist tensions
9% DPRK economy
18% human rights
4% Sony hacking

Analyst(s) quoted: Yoo Ho-yeol, professor at Korea University

Key verbiage:

“communist supremo”
“pariah state”
“isolated nation”
“mysterious Internet outage”
“chronic food shortages”
“malnourished population”
“dismal human rights record”


Associated Press:  North Korean Leader Open to Summit with South

14 total paragraphs

38% context/background [C]
15% official reaction [R]
12% explanatory analysis [A]
35% quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK message [M]

the semantic structure:


thematic distribution:

58% inter-Korean relations
19% militarist tensions
4% DPRK economy
11% Sony hacking
8% Confucian mourning ritual

Analyst(s) quoted: Cheong Seong-chang, researcher at the Sejong Institute

Key verbiage:

“Washington must abandon its ‘hostile policy’ and ‘reckless invasion plots’ against the North.”


Bloomberg: Kim Jong Un Open to ‘Highest-Level’ Talks With South Korea

16 total paragraphs

73% context/background [C]
7% official reaction [R]
13% explanatory analysis [A]
7% quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK message [M]

the semantic structure:


thematic distribution:

40% inter-Korean relations
33% militarist tensions
0% DPRK economy
27% personality cult

Analyst(s) quoted: Ahn Chan Il, World Institute for North Korea Studies
Bruce Bennett, Rand Corporation

Key verbiage:

“saber rattling”
“The United Nations human-rights committee vote in November [against North Korea] amounts to a ‘despicable ruckus,’ Kim said.”


ReutersNorth Korea Leader Kim Jong Un Says Open to Summit with South

12 total paragraphs

45% context/background [C]
10% official reaction [R]
0% explanatory analysis [A]
45% quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK message [M]

the semantic structure:


thematic distribution:

37% inter-Korean relations
27% militarist tensions
9% DPRK economy
27% Kim’s media style

Analyst(s) quoted: none

Key verbiage:

” ‘Annual large-scale (U.S.-South Korean) war exercises are a source of heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula and increase the threat of nuclear war,’ Kim said.”


Yonhap: N. Korean Leader’s Speech Arouses Cautious Optimism

21 total paragraphs

40% context/background [C]
0% official reaction [R]
30% explanatory analysis [A]
30% quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK message [M]
(35% mention Park Geun-hye)

the semantic structure:


thematic distribution:

68% inter-Korean relations
12% militarist tensions
10% DPRK economy
10% Park Geun-hye government

Analyst(s) quoted: Chang Yong-seok, researcher at Seoul National University
Yoo Ho-yeol, a professor at Korea University
Yang Moo-jin, professor at the University of North Korean Studies

Key verbiage:

“Kim spent unusual amounts of time stressing the significance of improved Seoul-Pyongyang relations. Kim [mentioned the topic] last year as well, but he spent more time and was more specific in addressing the issue this year.”

Bonus: The analysis of Professor Yang Moo-jin indicates that perhaps he has noted the interplay of hidden feng shui elements in the coming year’s ba zi chart: “Chances are high that the two sides will break the deadlock by showing a flexible attitude.




Although Lake Superior University has banned usage of this glib corpspeak catchphrase in 2015, Lunghu does not consider himself bound by the cultural imperialist edicts of mere backwater academics. Especially when he uses the bourgeoisie’s own opaque terminology –with heavy irony– as an implicit criticism of its obfuscating purpose and nature.


With that in mind, here’s Lunghu’s bullet point synopsis of this year’s DPRK media coverage:

  • Agence France Presse appears to have made the mistake of hiring Rupert Murdoch’s cashiered Fleet Street hack writers for its English-language operation. Without cellphone hacking to fall back on, these guys rely heavily on Cold War cliches (“communist supremo“) and pejorative stereotypes (“pariah state” & “isolated nation“) to perpetuate their Propaganda Model of journalism.  This doesn’t advance the interests of France  –in Asia or elsewhere. Also, AFP’s DG should remember that the human rights issue applies in Palestine as well as on the Korean peninsula.
  • Three out of five media outlets mentioned the relevance of this year’s 70th anniversary: Bloomberg characterized it as “the end of World War II,” while Yonhap and Associated Press more specifically  identified it as “Korea’s liberation from Japanese colonial rule.”  The partition of Korea between US and Russian spheres of influence began in 1945, and these two neo-colonial powers are still pulling many of the strings that imprison their unwilling puppets. Comrade Bear has invited both Kim and Park to visit Moscow in May. He may hope to broker a dramatic deal intended to burnish Russia’s tarnished international credentials. Lunghu predicts that a gas pipeline may be involved.
  • Associated Press closed its story with a tiny nugget of anonymous analytical insight that most people will ignore: “[Kim’s speech is his] first after the end of the traditional three-year mourning period after the death of his father in 2011. Some analysts believe that with the mourning period over, Kim will pursue policies that more closely reflect his own personal priorities.”  Let’s hope that Kim has read the memoirs of Zhang Xueliang, Hero of History.
  • Reuters and Yonhap noted Kim’s mention of reopening the Mount Kumgang tourist resort. Lunghu still believes that the path to dialog with Kim Jung-un will be achieved through mutual engagement on environmental issues.  But that will only become possible once the United States has held the mirror of human rights in front of its own face … and that of its principal strategic liability.  Admitting that “mistakes were made” and trying to change the subject ain’t anywhere near enough –either at home or abroad. The hypocrisy is glaringly obvious.


So, it doesn’t seem likely that the Year of the Goat will offer much in the way of US-DPRK rapprochement. But from a Korean perspective, there are still centuries upon centuries to come, ready to unspool ahead of the next generation and all the successive ones after that.  That’s far, far beyond the limited short-term horizon imposed by the mystic order’s two-year electoral cycle.  All the Kims, Parks, Lees and Chois in Korea can wait.  They’ll have to.

Comrade Lin Biao  used to recommend the following approach to dealing with class enemies: “Beat them, then comfort them. Comfort them, then beat them. Then, beat while comforting.”  Looks as though Comrade Wolf is trying the same method … but without much comforting.  Remains to be seen who will end up being beaten … in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Deep Sheep

December 26, 2014

Rather than spend a whole lot of time commenting about 2014’s ongoing Christmas hacking war (Microsoft/ Sony vs. Rosneft/ Transneft), I think it’s best to move on and look ahead to our next major holiday: the Chinese New Year.  Sure, there’s a solar New Year less than one week away, but that’s just a lame excuse for glitter and litter in New York’s Times Square … and Kim Jong-un‘s annual New Year’s message (which might be kinda fun this year).  Instead, in February the Year of the Horse will be coming to its fore-ordained conclusion, so the Year of the Sheep/Ram/Goat is right around the corner in the next pasture. The portents are already available for those who know where to look … in Reno, Nevada (of all places).

Vince Thomas has come up with a new use for his family-owned goat herding business, “Goat Grazers.” Thomas is launching a new program on Friday to use his 40 goats to help recycle Christmas trees. “They’ll eat the pine needles and leave nothing but the branches.  I did a lot of research, and it’s OK for the goats,” Thomas said. “With cattle and some other animals, [pine needles] can cause miscarriages. But for goats, it’s a natural de-wormer, and pine is very high in vitamin C, so it’s healthy for them.”


For what it’s worth, Taoist ascetics in the Tang Dynasty era believed that a diet of pine needles would permit them to fly through the air and attain immortality.  But I digress:

Thomas got tired of watching people discard the trees in landfills or dump them on public property, where they became a fire danger. “It was amazing to see how many Christmas trees people would just toss out there [in the desert],” he said. “Because we’re in the desert, they don’t decompose, they just get drier and drier and it really becomes a serious fire hazard.”



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.


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:

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

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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.


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:

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:

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!