Media Fugue: Rounding Up the Rocket Op-Eds

By | April 09, 2012 | No Comments

Kim Jong Un Feels the Love of the KPA Navy, Rodong Sinmun, March 10, 2012 | Image links to some appropriately fleet Bach counterpoint

Media Fugue: Rounding Up the Rocket Op-Eds

by Adam Cathcart

The news cycles as regards North Korea seem to be doubling and redoubling their speed lately, the way that certain German Baroque composers can still surprise you with a huge burst of post-fantasia imitative counterpoint. Fortunately, a foray onto the Twitterwebs (where @Sino_NK has an outpost you might choose to mark) has yielded quite a fugue of analysis — repetitions of a sort, but with a great deal of variation.  And, to layer on the principle of flexible forms in counterpoint, we hereby add to our Weekly Digest, where some heavy-hitting scholarship on China-North Korean relations was already rounded up and analyzed by the man who holds it down for in Seoul.

Victor Cha has a new book: The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future (New York: Harper Collins, April 3, 2012).

Victor Cha,Why China Can’t Cut Off North Korea,” Huffington Post, April 6, 2012. Cha has been among the most audacious analysts out there of late; virtually every sentence in this op-ed is worth challenging, parsing, exasperating about, or pounding the table in sudden agreement because of.  However, the link shall have to suffice for the time being.  But, to land on a half-cadence of fulmination, if Cha thinks that the main thing that “China” (read: certain Chinese companies which have a tendency to lose their money and must engage in all sorts of bribery and compromises which are distasteful even for the flinty northeasterners in order to recoup the investments) cares about in North Korea is sucking out the country’s mineral wealth, I think he’s incorrect. This is like saying that Sino-African relations are purely driven by minerals: yes, and no, but mostly no.

Stéphane Lagarde has a wonderful recap of his experience at the North Korean Embassy in Beijing, which is, of course, where most if not all of the 70 journalists who trouped to the DPRK for the Sellars-esque missile unveiling had to fight their way though the queue (a queue! in front of the North Korean embassy! now who said that North Korea was not capable of creating a success in record speed?) in order to get their visas:

Une petite porte en fer, un interphone, depuis ce matin les journalistes se bousculent au consulat nord coréen de Pékin. La casquette vissée sur la tête du soldat de garde à l’entrée ne bouge pas d’un millimètre. Ce sont les yeux qui tournent et balayent l’horizon de droite à gauche. Les lèvres s’entrouvrent quand les visiteurs s’approchent : « Patientez un petit peu, s’il vous plait !». 40 petites minutes plus tard, la porte s’ouvre effectivement. Une grande fresque colorée du « grand » leader et du « cher » leader Kim Il-sung et de son fils Kim Jong-il accueillent les visiteurs à l’entrée. Aucun portrait en revanche du petit dernier de la dynastie des Kim, l’actuel président Kim Jong-eun.

In addition to his charming temoinage, Legarde drops in a video of the Huanqiu Shibao coverage of the trip.

Aidan Foster-Carter,North Korea’s Mixed Signals: Monitors, Moratoriums, and Satellites,” East Asia Forum, April 9th, 2012. The Leeds University analyst (all roads lead to Leeds, it seems, or Nottingham, or Ningbo these days) gives a perfectly succinct run-down of the core issues, and adds a warning which some others have conspicously missed: that of inter-agency competition and a lack of coordination among stove-piped and perhaps even stymied North Korean bureaucracies.

David Wright,Threading the Needle: North Korea’s Satellite Launch,” All Things Nuclear (Union of Concerned Scientists), April 1, 2012. We had seen the North Korean announced flight path before, but it just so happens that the trilateral Japan-ROK-China meetings that took place in Ningbo were as close to any point on the Chinese mainland to the launch trajectory.  Coincidence? As if to hammer home the point to the DPRK, at Ningbo, China and Japan agreed to engage in more naval cooperation.  (H/T to M. Taylor Fravel at MIT [follow @fravel on Twitter] for the Japan Times piece.)

Yang Danzhi,Charm Diplomacy Bears Fruit,” China Daily, April 9, 2012.  Perhaps not too much should be expected from the scholars in Beijing who do not rise to the level of gravitas of Zhang Liangui, Lv Chao, or the Beida oracle Zhu Feng, particularly when one realizes that back in January 2011 they were writing nice things about North Korea’s impressive asymmetrical warfare capacities which hamstrung “great powers” (in this case, the U.S.; readers, as always, should feel to critique my nationalistic critique of his nationalistic critique).  From my somewhat-Chengdu-centric standpoint, Yang’s “Charm Diplomacy” piece is incongruous in the extreme.  Boosterism for one’s country is perhaps to be expected, but to wax rhapsodic about the bright and harmonious future of Sino-Indian cooperation during the BRICS meetings in India while the PLA press was churning out whole public dossiers on the coming conflict in what it calls “southern Tibet” would appear to indicate a certain blind spot, the likes of which will probably be essential for Chinese readers in the coming week as they try to interpret events in the DPRK.

No Comments

  1. Adam,

    The URL to Cha’s article on Huffington Post is not working for me..

  2. Thanks JCM, I will work on that right now….also thanks for the comment on NK “netizens” and difficulty of proving, been chewing on that as well.

  3. Check this out, Adam. Pretty bold and amazing stuff I’d say!

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