Posts tagged ‘Kim Jong-un’

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Monday Start-of-Work Links: Kim Jong-un “not the real Actor”?

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1. A Deity doesn’t need to have a mind of his own,

argues Korhonen Pekka, a Finnish political scientist, in a post for Sino-NK. Nor does Kim Jong-un, he writes. Pekka interprets Kim’s reign as rather ceremonial, and that the bureaucracy is calling the shots. That however doesn’t appear to bode well for the future.

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2. Lawyers should not Overestimate their Political Clout,

Fei Chang Dao quotes an editorial by Shan Renping (which is the pen name of Huanqiu Shibao‘s editor-in-chief, Hu Xijin). Fei Chang Dao (there appears to be a lawyer behind the blog) also explains the differences between the Chinese version of the article, and one published by Huanqiu’s sister edition in English, the “Global Times”. More recently, Fei Chang Dao explores how June-4 related searchwords are censored.

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3. Public Diplomacy and its Limits

Obama’s Policies on Syria and Egypt, as well as on intelligence operations of U.S. administrations as revealed by Edward Snowden [...] will have serious impacts on U.S. popularity in the world, Kilic Kanat, a political scientist, wrote on May 12, in an article for the English-language Daily Sabah from Istanbul. If Obama kept following his current policies especially on Syria and Egypt, [...] the U.S. may face another downward trend in its standing. Under those circumstances, public diplomacy campaigns will only waste money on U.S. foreign policy.

Russia, Ukraine, or the Far East don’t seem to matter at all.

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4. Meantime, on Capitol Hill …

… American senators and retired propaganda apparatchiks are trying to make sure that money spent on public money gets wasted indeed, by demanding that the language of Voice of America’s mission [..] explicitly state that the outlet has a role in supporting American “public diplomacy” and the policies of the government. To bring it down to a round figure, Fulbright scholarships are apparently being targeted by budget cuts.

No need for international exchange when you can broadcast linear propaganda, be it on shortwave, be it on “social media”.

This is the Voice of America, signing on. Hello World, shut up and listen!

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Related

» Umstrukturierung des US-Auslandsfunks, Radio Eins, April 5, 2014

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Jang Sung-taek never been North Korea’s “Number Two”, says Researcher

The following is a translation from a Sina.com rendition of Central People’s Broadcasting Service (CPBS/China National Radio) coverage on North Korea. Links within blockquote added during translation.

CPBS news online, Beijing, December 17, via Sina.com. According to CPBS channel “Voice of China”, North Koreans from all walks of life commemorated the country’s previous leaders at Mansudae platform at the city center of Pyongyang, in front of the bronze statues of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. As today is the second anniversary of the death of former leader Kim Jong-il, the grand celebrations will continue today.

央广网北京12月17日消息 据中国之声《全球华语广播网》报道,昨天在朝鲜平壤市中心万寿台,朝鲜各界群众16日在金日成、金正日铜像前默哀,悼念已故领导人。而今天,才是朝鲜已故最高领导人金正日逝世两周年的正日子,盛大的纪念活动将继续进行。

Journalists saw people clothed in quiet colors at the scene of mourning, holding flowers and looking sad, coming in to Mansudae from all directions, bowing deeply to the bronze statues, and putting the flowers in front of the statues, expressing their grief about Kim Jong-il’s death. An oath-taking ralleye will be held today for the North Korean People’s Army. So will North Korea still hold commemorations today? Xinhua’s correspondent Du Baiyu explains the latest situation:

记者看到,纪念活动现场人们身穿素色衣服、手捧鲜花、面色悲痛的从各方缓缓涌入万寿台,朝着铜像深深的鞠躬,并把鲜花敬献在铜像前,表达对金正日的哀悼。昨天,朝鲜举行的是朝鲜人民军誓师大会。那么在今天,朝鲜还将举行哪些纪念活动呢?新华社驻朝鲜记者杜白羽介绍最新情况:

North Korea’s People’s Army held a swearing-in ceremony on the square of Kumsusan Palace of the Sun yesterday, pleding to defend Kim Jong-un to their death, with ceremonies for the land forces, the navy, and the airforce respectively. People in charge of North Korea’s military force, troops of different ranks and cadres and students from military schools and others took part in the ceremony. Today, as the passing of previous leader Kim Jong-il is marked, the North Korean masses as well as some international organizations and consular staff etc. will go to Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, and North Korean masses will also put flowers to older bronze statues and portraits in North Korea to lay down flowers there.

在昨天,朝鲜人民军在平壤的锦绣山太阳宫广场举行了一场规模盛大的誓师大会,决心誓死保卫金正恩,在誓师大会上进行了人民军陆海空三军分列式行进。朝鲜的 人民武力部负责人、各级部队和军事学校的干部和学生等都参加了誓师大会。在今天,也就是朝鲜的前最高领导人金正日逝世两周年的日子里,朝鲜的群众和包括驻 朝的一些国际机构以及使馆等等都会去太阳宫,并且朝鲜的群众在这两天都会到朝鲜的旧的铜像以及画像前去献花。

Some foreign  media speculate that after the demise of Jang Sung-taek, within the coverage of the commemorations, a new “Number Two” [behind Kim Jong-un] could be announced. However, [the Xinhua] journalist explains that there is no such talk about a “Number Two” personality, and that the North Korean people are simply united as one around their leader, loyal to the leader, which means loyalty to Kim Jong-un. As for the new political structure in North Korea, we may expect a report to the North Korean [Workers Party] Central Committee [or central authorities] today, and the seating order there deserves attention, as it may provide clues about the structures.

有外媒猜测说,张成泽被拿下后,在金正日逝世两周年的报告大会上,所谓新的”二号人物”可能揭晓。然而,记者介绍道,其实在朝鲜国内没有所谓的二号人物一 说,朝鲜人民只是对领袖的一心团结,忠诚于领袖也就是只忠诚金正恩。关于朝鲜的新的政治架构,在今天我们预计会有一场朝鲜的中央报告大会,大会上的座次是 值得关注的,从中或许可以看出朝鲜政治架构的端倪。

There have been many media analysts who said that the participation of the highest DPRK officials at the mourning activities today would provide the outside world with the best possible window to observe North Korea’s trends. However, Yang Xiyu, Northeast Asia issues expert at the China Institute of International Studies, sees it differently. In his view, the media misread the so-called “Number Two personality”:

之前有很多媒体分析说,”今天出席金正日逝世两周年纪念活动的高官将成为外界观察朝鲜动向的最好窗口”。不过,在中国国际问题研究所研究员、东北亚问题专家杨希雨看来,媒体对于所谓的”二号人物”有误读:

Yang Xiyu: Rumours in the media, including foreign media, that Jang Song-taek was the “number two” are definitely not accurate. No matter if actually or nominally, his position wasn’t that of a number two. He was only promoted from candidate status to full membership of the politburo to full membership during Kim Jong-uns era. North Korea’s real Number-Two personality is Choe Ryong-hae, who was exceptionally promoted to permanent membership status at the politburo, while the two others are 84 and 85 years old, and their membership is of honorary nature. The only two real full members are Kim Jong-un and Choe Ryong-hae. No matter what the line-up will be like during the commemoration activities, I believe that the director of the general political bureau of the People’s Army, Choe Ryong-hae, remains North Korea’s number-two personality.

杨希雨:其实我们媒体包括外媒的传言“张成泽是二号”这个肯定是不对的,张成泽无论从实际地位还是从名义地位都没有坐过二号,而且恰恰是金正恩时代才把他 从政治局候补地位提拔为政治局委员。现在朝鲜实际上的二号人物是崔龙海,他是被破格提到政治局常委的位置,而另外两位常委分别是84、85岁,已经是一个 名誉性的,真正两位常委就是金正恩跟崔龙海。所以不管今天的正式的纪念活动是怎么样的阵容,会出现什么样的新面孔,我想人民军总政治局局长崔龙海依然是朝 鲜的二号人物。

At the swearing-in ceremony, director of the general political bureau of the People’s Army, Choe Ryong-hae, read out the words: “Korea’s gunbarrels will defend Kim Jong-un, and will only accept Kim Jong-un’s arms.” And another North Korean high official said that Jang Sung-taek hadn’t been the decisionmaker about North Korea’s economy. So, has the case of Jang Sung-taek changed the economic direction of North Korea?

在昨天的誓师大会上,朝鲜人民军总政治局长崔龙海朗读誓词时说:”朝鲜的枪杆子是誓死保卫金正恩、只接受金正恩领导的金正恩的枪杆子。”而另一位朝鲜官员则称,张成泽并非朝鲜经济政策的决策人。那么,张成泽一案是否会改变朝鲜的经济路线呢?

Yang Xiyu: North Korea’s economic policies, and economic management and optimization in particular, will not change just because of a high-ranking official’s downfall. But given that Jang Sung-taek has indeed been responsible for handling cases of economic cooperation with China, which were also contained in the official conviction of Jang, and some specifically pointed to. Therefore, the major direction of North Korea’s economic policies, including economic cooperation with China, will not change because of this downfall. But the fact that some projects of Sino-North Korean cooperation were mentioned in the conviction will at least add a lot to the political uncertainties. But these are only some individual cases, and as for the general direction, I believe that North Korea has no better choices, other than to continuously improve its systems, continuously entering market mechanisms, expanding the opening-up to the outside world. There are no better policies than these to choose from, and therefore I believe there will be no general changes in the direction of North Korean economic policies.

杨希雨:朝鲜的经济政策特别是关于经济管理与改善的这种调整不会因为某一个高官的落马而改变,但是因为张成泽在负责经济工作的时候确实亲手办理了几个朝鲜 与中国经济合作的案子,而在给张成泽定罪的官方文件当中,也专门点到了某些案例。所以总的讲,朝鲜的经济政策包括朝鲜同中国的经济合作的关系,这个大的方 向大的政策不会改变,不会因为某个人落马而改变。但是在张成泽的定罪书里涉及到一些中朝合作的项目,这个恐怕难免要至少增加了很多的政治上的不确定性。但 这只是一些个别的案子,从大的方向上,我认为朝鲜没有别的更好的选择,除了更好的进一步改善和调整自己的体制,进一步引入市场机制,进一步地扩大对外开 放,没有比这个更好的政策选择,所以我相信总的经济政策的方向没有什么改变。

This year, from January to September, Chinese-North Korean trade amounted to 4.69 billion US dollars – an increase of 200 million US dollars. From August, China resumed oil supplies to North Korea. Before that, from February to July this year, Chinese oil exports to North Korea amounted to zero. Where should future relations between China and North Korea go?

今年1至9月中国和朝鲜贸易额约达46.9亿美元,同比增加2亿美元。从8月份起,中国恢复了对朝鲜的石油供应。而之前的今年2至7月,中国对朝鲜石油出口量为零。中朝之间的关系未来该走向何方?

Yang Xiyu: Sino-North Korean relations won’t be affected by the stepping-down or by the promotion of some individual. The development of Sino-North Korean relations follow their own rules. To be frank, China is simply too important for North Korea, so North Korea will continue to make efforts to protect the relations with China, and this won’t be affected. The biggest obstacle and negative impact on relations now is North Korea’s wrong policy of continued development of nuclear arms. We all know China’s two main strategic goals on the Korean peninsula: the first is to maintain peace and stability on the Korean pensinsula, and the second is the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. These two goals are the two sides of one coin. One won’t be achieved without achieving the other, because the possession of nuclear weapons by any party on the peninsula will make it impossible to ever usher in peace and stability. Or, conversely, we want to solve the issue of denuclearization on the Korean peninsula, for the goal of peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.

杨希雨:中朝关系不会因为某一个人的下台,或者某一个人的提拔而受影响,因为他的中朝关系有它自己发展规律,说实话中国对于朝鲜来说太重要了,所以朝鲜它 也会继续的努力维护好同中国的关系,这条不会受影响。中朝关系目前最大的障碍、最大的影响是朝鲜坚持发展核武器这个错误政策,我们都知道中国在朝鲜半岛是 两大战略目标,第一是要维护朝鲜半岛的和平与稳定,第二是要坚决实现朝鲜半岛无核化。这两大目标就有如一枚硬币的两个面,二者缺一不可,因为只要朝鲜半岛 南北任何一方拥有核武器,这个半岛就永远不会迎来真正的和平与稳定。反过来说我们要解决朝鲜半岛无核化问题,其实也是为了朝鲜半岛真正的和平稳定。

(Original headline: Expert says actual No. 2 of North Korea is [and was] Choe Ryong-hae, not Jang Sung-taek.)

(原标题:专家称朝鲜真正“二号人物”系崔龙海 并非张成泽)

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Related

» China forscht, Dec 17, 2013
» Punitive expedition, April 1, 2013
» Hearts and Minds, Feb 5, 2013

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Herrschaftswissen: Free or not, but “Engineered”

Wikileaks may have been useful in making some of the (Western or Arab) governments’ inside workings a bit more transparent – but it seems to me that what has been published by them doesn’t outweigh what is published by government themselves, or by their advisers, or by the mainstream press. We could have every government archive at our disposal, and would still face the problem of finding out what matters, and the problems of interpretation.

The Genius leads the spectators: engineering of consent in its early stages.

The Genius leads the spectators: engineering of consent in its early stages.

In this post, I will try to describe two examples of Herrschaftswissen, and one (rather old) example of methodology. A talk (not an article) on Wikipedia about enlightenment in Western secular tradition translates Herrschaftswissen as knowledge restricted to the rulers. I’m not sure if this should count as an exact translation, or just as a rough one.

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Example 1: David Cameron’s “Muscular Liberalism”

In February 2011, British prime minister David Cameron addressed the Munich Security Conference, an annual conference on international security policy held in Bavaria’s capital. It is an example of how politics and mainstream media work hand in hand – it was founded by a publisher in 1962, and that publisher was succeeded by a former high-ranking government bureaucrat in 1998.

In his speech, Cameron focused on radicalization among Muslims in many European countries. There isn’t much in the speech itself that I would object to, but what I view critically is the context of the speech.

While Cameron was focused on radical Islamists in Europe, the “Arab Spring” was in full swing. Cameron gave his talk on the eve of the outbreak of the Syrian civil war – a war described by the BBC‘s Jim Muir as a proxy struggle between the US-led western world and al-Qaeda international.

The West’s undertaking could also be described as a struggle to discern moderate and radically Islamist forces among the opposition fordes in Syria – a struggle European governments are facing at home, too. But that’s a problem the West could have spared itself. If Western governments (and their Arab and Turkish allies) succeeded in toppling Syria’s Baath regime and install a “moderate” new regime, chances are that the new regimes human rights record would be no better than that of the Baath party. Governments who encourage and support radicalism in mainly Muslim countries are hardly qualified to encourage moderation among Muslims in their own countries.

A few days ago, the European Union’s Counter-terrorism Coordinator Gilles de Kerchove told told the BBC that among the estimated 500 European citizens who were currently fighting in Syria, but most likely many of them will be radicalised there, will be trained.

When you want to undermine Islamist radicalization at home, the West’s strategy on Syria doesn’t look too reasonable. Those who Cameron purportedly wants to win over know very well how ambivalent muscular liberalism is about terrorism, when it is about practise, rather than about talk.

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Example 2. Trust in the CCP’s Central Committee

“Unity” is one of the supreme banners of the Chinese Communist Party. The downfall of Chongqing’s party chief Bo Xilai, only eight months ahead of the 18th National Congress of the CCP, came at a sensitive time. But if the power struggle about Bo Xilai was unpleasant or embarrassing already, the “visit” (or rather the tempoary getaway) of Chongqing’s Public Security Bureau head to the U.S. consulate in Chengdu in February 2012 should count as a PR disaster for the CCP.

The Chinese press had to pick up the pieces in the guidance of public opinion. Huanqiu Shibao, a CCP-owned but rather popularar Chinese paper, applied a mix of natural science (China’s rapid development is like a living body’s development, and there may always be some particulars we haven’t been familiar with) and orthodoxy (In China’s society of numerous and complicated voices, trust in the party’s central committee has become reason for society in its entirety). There was, Huanqiu elaborated, no contradiction between emancipation of mind and trust in the party’s central committee:

It is exactly for the diversity, for having several options, that we truly discover that trusting the party’s central committee, implementing the party’s road map, is more reliable than any other method other people may teach us, and more able to create the conditions that make the country and the individual develop.

This sounds like muscular socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Both Cameron and Chinese propaganda emphasize unity when it comes to fundamentals. The fundamentals are very different from each other, but the tools they are using to justify and legitimize their dominance are quite similar. However, Camaron’s game is easier to play than the CCP’s. When Chinese media openly bash dissidents, they risk getting unusually unharmonious responses from their recipients. When Cameron addresses radical Islamism, he will get his share of criticism, too, but that is nothing uncharacteristic in the British media.

And despite some inevitable criticism, when a European leader singles out radicalization among Muslims, chances are that the mainstream will respond rather favorably.

The problem for European politicians is that the political class is lacking the high degree of legitimacy – in view of the public – that it (reportedly) used to have. Or, as the Economist‘s Bagehot observed, the pomp of Margaret Thatcher‘s funeral met with shallow public interest. Even Mrs Thatcher’s enemies trusted that her motives were sincere, argues the Economist, but now all politicians are distrusted.

Not just among radical or not so radical Muslims. But if you pick a frequently disliked minority as Cameron does, you may still strike a chord with an increasingly resentful majority.

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3. Engineering of Consent

In 1955, an American public-relations counsel, Edward L. Bernays, wrote an article, summarizing what he referred to as the engineering of consent. Bernays didn’t necessarily invent it, but at the time when he wrote about it, he had probably been among the most successful thinkers about and propagandists and practitioners of the concept for decades. The engineering of consent should under no circumstances [...] supersede or displace the functions of the educational system, either formal or informal, Bernays wrote, in bringing about understanding by the people as a basis for their action. Rather, engineering of consent supplemented the educational process.

But in the previous paragraphs, Bernays had also written that

[..] it is sometimes impossible to reach joint decisions based on an understanding of facts by all the people. The average American adult has only six years of schooling behind him. With pressing crises and decisions to be faced, a leader frequently cannot wait for the people to arrive at an even general understanding. In certain cases, democratic leaders must play their part in leading the public through the engineering of consent to socially constructive goals and values. This role imposes upon them the obligation to use the educational processes, as well as other available techniques, to bring about as complete an understanding as possible.

Bernay’s essay leaves it essentially to the adopters how to make use of the toolkit he provided. Given that the tools are highly effective, it is obvious that they aren’t only used when the gap between public understanding and necessity (problem-solving) can’t be bridged in time, but whenever opportunists finds the engineering useful. Or, to put it more catchy: the dumber a policy, the dumber the public needs to be, and all the more, engineering of consent needs to supersede education.

Both democratically-elected and totalitarian politicians appear to be keen adopters, and it would be for the public itself to become more informed, to judge if the actons of politicians are in the public interest, or if they are not.

But the opposite is the case. While many European middlebrows regard the political class and their techniques as ethically rotten or even detest them for the manipulation, they are themselves adopters of spin-doctoring, too. Many blogs,  comments and other expressions of (political) opinion seem to apply the means and methods used by the political class to make their case. There seems to be an ambivalence among the ruled about the desire to belong to the political class, and to refute it.

Not to mention Wikileaks. Wikileaks doesn’t “educate”, either.

In that regard, the average Chinese netizen appears to be more aware of the manipulation he or she is subjected too, than the Western subject to the same PR technology – Chinese awareness states itself in terms like “we’ve been harmonized” [by Chinese authorities or media]. Or, when Huanqiu Shibao wrote in 2012 that opinion poll results published by American Gallup  showed that during the preceding three years, among the five BRIC states’ population, the Brazilians and Chinese had been most satisfied with their living standards, and only the Chinese felt during three successive years that the living standard had continuously improved, a commenter laconically replied that he had been satisfied (in a passive-voice sense) by the Americans. In certain ways, the experience of living under a totalitarian government seems to stimulate clear-sightedness.

Bernays reportedly liked to close his speeches and talks with an invariable summary: And everybody is happy.

There may not be a great future for public happiness. But quite probably, there is one for the engineering of consent.

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Related

» Battle of Opinion, Feb 13, 2013

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

German Press Review: Kim’s Sugarcubes, and the “Battle of Opinion”

The actions of the North Korean regime are not incalculable, writes the Süddeutsche Zeitung‘s (Munich) Reymer Klüver, the paper’s U.S. correspondent until summer last year, and now with the foreign-politics department at Süddeutsche Zeitung. The Kim clan’s provocations were actually quite calculable in its provocations which served only one goal: to show the world and its own people its power. The regime in North Korea doesn’t act incalculably. It acts irresponsibly.

The message is aimed at the Obama administration, believes Klüver, as the test was conducted on the day when the American president delivered the agenda for his second term in office, and at South Korean president-elect Park Geun Hye is about to take office. The reactions, too, were calculable: the US would demand stronger sanctions, China would agree after some hesitation, and basically, the response wouldn’t be different from the one to the previous nuclear test. Even if a bomb of the same explosive power as the previous one was indeed smaller than before, and therefore more suitable to be fitted to a nuclear missile, North Korea remained far from being a threat to America.

What makes the test dangerous all the same would be that Kim might gamble away, and that his provocations could spin out of control. A conflict on the South Korean border could lead to just that kind of scenario. Even worse, non-proliferation might be used to earn some badly needed foreign exchange. There was speculation about North Korean cooperation with Iran on its third test. What would keep a gambler like the dictator in Pyongyang to sell Iran or others his knowledge and even material?

China could influence North Korea, if it wanted to, writes Klüver, but it didn’t want to use it. 90 percent of North Korea’s oil imports depended on China. But China’s calculations could be shifting, Klüver adds: a Peking government paper had mentioned a “high price” that North Korea would have to pay in case of a nuclear test. The Chinese, Klüver recaps, needed to take responsibility for their irresponsible neighbor.

Der Spiegel (Hamburg) chooses the tabloid approach, as far as its choice  of stock photo material is concerned. Underneath a video link photo (from Reuters) that shows Kim Jong-un in flames, the headline is North Korean nuclear power messes with America (Atommacht Nordkorea legt sich mit Amerika an). Der Spiegel’s Andreas Lorenz points out that this could start an arms race, with the US, Japan and North Korea beefing up their missile defense. Xi Jinping acted hardly differently from his predecessor Hu Jintao, Lorenz notes, as he criticizes Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear tests, but also trying to soften international sanctions. North Korea is an important supplier of commodities to China. And the encapsulated country serves China’s military as a strategic buffer zone between China and the other East Asian states and the US.

Lorenz also quotes the English-language party mouthpiece “Global Times” as suggesting that there was no need for China to placate angry feelings about its role. And Lorenz quotes US expert Siegfried Hecker with concerns that North Korea could sell its atomic-bomb know-how, to Iran, for example.

Die Welt (Berlin) suggests that Kim had thrown the Chinese sugar cubes (i. e. sweetened the third test).

Namely, the third test was preceded by several sessions of North Korean security panels on which Kim ostensibly emphasized the leadership role of his Communist Party. For the first time in the regime’s history, these sessions were made public, writes die Welt’s Torsten Krauel. Kim thus signaled that the third test was controled by the civilian leadership and not, as it had been previously, as an – intransparent to the outside world – decision between an ailing dictator and an incalculable army. (Dem dritten Test gingen nämlich mehrere Sitzungen nordkoreanischer Sicherheitsgremien voraus, auf denen Kim demonstrativ die Führungsrolle seiner Kommunistischen Partei hervorhob. Diese Sitzungen wurden erstmals in der Geschichte des Regimes publik gemacht. Kim Jong-un signalisierte damit, dass der dritte Atomtest unter der Steuerung und Kontrolle der zivilen Führung stattfand und nicht, wie beide Male zuvor, in einer nach außen unklaren Entscheidung zwischen einem kränklichen Diktator und einer unberechenbaren Armee.)

Therefore, Xi Jinping and (theoretically) Barack Obama, too, now had a a definite contact person, believes Krauel.

Alleged North-Korean cooperation with Iran has long been a leitmotif in Die Welt’s coverage, but while more moderate papers like Süddeutsche Zeitung are discussing these allegations too, this week, Die Welt goes one step further and discusses how America could conduct a war on North Korea. However, Krauel concludes that different from Iraq during the years after the Kuwait war, the United Nations weren’t in a state of war with North Korea.

Therefore, it seems to be inevitable to talk with each other in East Asia again, even with a dictator like Kim Jong-un – as unpromising and depressing this prospect may currently look. (Wahrscheinlich führt deshalb tatsächlich kein Weg daran vorbei, in Ostasien wieder miteinander zu reden, sogar mit einem Diktator wie Kim Jong-un – so aussichtslos und bedrückend diese Aussicht derzeit auch erscheinen mag.)

The German mainstream press in general has become much more supportive of militarization of politics than in the past. That is my rough observation, and not backed by statistics. But apparently for the first time, research has been published about how leading German press people – mentioned by name – are interlinked with think tanks, national and international forums, foundations, policy planning groups, etc.. And a presentation of this research also clearly quotes leading press commentators with statements like

Politics must not shun the battle of opinion on the home front if they are convinced of what they purport. [...] The battle for the “hearts and minds” must be conducted among at home, too. (Der Meinungskampf an der Heimatfront darf die Politik nicht scheuen, wenn sie von dem überzeugt ist, was sie vorgibt. [...] Der Kampf um die “hearts and minds” muss auch bei uns geführt werden.)

A newsman’s words, to be clear.

This should not lead to overreaching conclusions. The research does not suggest that everyone is in the boat of an extended security concept (erweiterter Sicherheitsbegriff, including energy and financial-industry issues). But among four leading journalists of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Die Zeit and Die Welt, definitions of security and threat catalogs had been uncritically adopted (unkritisch übernommen).

There are papers with editorial managers not known for relevant networks – the left leaning Tageszeitung (taz) and Frankfurter Rundschau (FR). Some of their articles correspond with views among the elite, some sharply criticize the extended security concept, according to the report.

Here is another observation that disturbs me: My choice of press-review sources – Süddeutsche Zeitung, Spiegel, Die Welt further above in this blogpost was spontaneous. My information sources of choice when it comes to North Korea’s nuclear test were just these papers. No taz, no Frankfurter Rundschau. However, there’s an excuse:

I thought the Rundschau was no longer online, as they filed for bankruptcy on November 12, 2012.

But in fact, they are still here.

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Related

» Questions Raised, November 10, 2012

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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Open Channels: Offers from North and South Korea

While South Korea is generally switching to digital television, the South Korean government has reportedly agreed to maintain a system for the broadcasting of analogue TV signals, to enable people in North Korea to watch analogue South Korean television. North Koreans along the west coast of Hwanghae Province and the east coast of Gangwon Province are apparently the most likely (secret) audience of these television programs. The programs are also said to be within reach of an unspecified number of tv watchers in  China’s northeastern provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning.

North Korea apparently never jammed these television broadcasts, as they just happened to spread across the border like radio waves do between every country. On the other hand, North Korea aggressively jams the South Korean government’s radio stations specifically targeted at the North, North Korea Tech wrote on Sunday. The South keeping up analog signals for a North Korean television audience while using digital signals for the audience at home might therefore be judged in Pyongyang as propaganda of the same category as the stations it already jams.

Radio Korea QSL, 1980s (now KBS World).

An analog experience: Walking between Hoi-dong village and Ah-do island as the sea takes an annual leave – click picture above for Wikipedia entry.
Radio Korea QSL, 1980s (now KBS World).

In another development, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in a televised speech on Tuesday, called for an end to the “confrontation” with South Korea. According to Voice of Russia, Kim Jong-un suggested the end to confrontation in a new year address, the first time in the past 19 years that a North Korean leader has offered New-Year wishes to the compatriots.

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Thanks to JK for his info re continuation of analog tv broadcasts.

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Related

» Information Warfare, October 20, 2012
» The Firedrake, March 17, 2012

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sino-Korean-German Press Review: Boundless Antipathy

The Empire of Japan surrendered on September 2, 1945. As every schoolkid knows, the defeat of Japan, and the liberation of much of Asia, was invented in China. And on days like these, the Chinese press has a few demands on Japan:

Japan mustn’t go too far in provoking China. Japanese officials should think twice before uttering provocative words. In modern history, all the conflicts between China and Japan were caused by Japanese invasion. Japan has no right to attack China bitterly as it does today. The Chinese public has boundless antipathy toward Japan.

Global Times (English ed.), Aug 27, 2012
H/t to Peking Duck

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And for those dear readers who get no satisfaction from the milksops at the Global Times and their pussyfooting editorials, here is how the North Korean Worker’s Party celebrates its great victory (the Japanese surrender was also invented in North Korea, as every North Korean schoolkid knows):

All facts urgently require all the youth and students in the north and the south to pool their spirit of national independence, patriotism, wisdom and strength to force Japan to settle its past crimes and take the lead in the actions for checking its militarist moves for reinvasion.

Inheriting the indomitable spirit of independence and patriotic enthusiasm of the passionate anti-Japanese martyrs, we will take the lead in the actions to force Japan to make reparation for its past crimes at any cost and decisively frustrate its militarist moves for reinvasion.

KCNA (Japan), August 29, 2012

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Voice of Korea website, September 2, 2012

Voice of Korea website, September 2, 2012

On International Affairs, the Voice of Korea (VoK)  informs its listeners / readers about Japanese imperialists, blood-thirsty murderers – see picture above. The link doesn’t open (most links on VoK’s website don’t, and may require software downloadable from there), but from Pyongyang’s perpective, it probably doesn’t matter if we live in 1945, or in 2012.

Meantime, Kim Jong-nam is – or was – in Tehran, representing North Korea as a member of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Iran, who took the NAM chairmanship during the summit last week, had actually invited Kim Jong-un, who – “only” – sent North Korea’s parliament president, his namesake Kim Jong-nam., German (right-leaning) daily Die Welt wrote six days ago.

Die Welt knows everything about North Korea and Iran, of course, and had a retired  German defense bureaucrat explain how the two countries might be building a nuclear bomb together – see second half of that post. But they don’t seem to know who Kim Jong-nam is (Kim Jong-il’s eldest son and therefore Kim Jong-un’s elder brother, who hasn’t played a role in North Korea’s Worker’s Party since he tried to enter Japan’s Disneyland using a fake passport).

Anyway – who cares. They are all rogues, are they not?

I’m realizing that I’m growing older. The NAM wasn’t very powerful, and its prestige limited (überschaubar), wrote Die Welt in its article last week. They probably weren’t terribly fond of UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon‘s attendance at the NAM summit.

Which makes me wonder. Iran may not enjoy a great reputation even among the NAM states, but it is hardly outlawed (geächtet), as Die Welt suggests.

Boundless antipathy appears to justify all kinds of historical misrepresentations, be it in China, North Korea, or Germany. The world is becoming smaller, and its media are moving closer together – in their methodology, not in their ideological positions, of course.

Even when I was a child, the NAM was mentioned on the news in Germany every once in a while, and members such as India, Indonesia, and Egypt made – and make – it a movement with quite some prestige.

That hasn’t really changed. But maybe some of Germany’s press has become, umm,  bush-league during the 1990s.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Wen and Jang: Joint Efforts

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A Communiqué

Chief State Councillor Wen Jiabao met with a delegation consisting of North Korean Workers’ Party Politbureau Standing Committee member, head of the Central Administrative Department, and Vice Chairman of the National Defense Commission Jang Sung-taek and members of two delegations of economic-region cooperative-development guiding committee members at Zhongnanhai’s Ziguang Pavillon on Friday.

国务院总理温家宝17日在中南海紫光阁会见由朝鲜劳动党中央政治局委员、行政部部长、国防委员会副委员长张成泽率领的中朝两个经济区开发合作联合指导委员会朝方代表团。

Wen Jiabao said that Sino-North-Korean friendship is a valuable asset, that the Chinese government, just as in the past, will promote the relations between the two countries, maintain and support NOrth Korean economic development to improve the livelihood of the people, and expressed his belief that North Korea would achieve new successes in all fields building the nation.

温家宝说,中朝友谊是双方的宝贵财富,中国政府将一如既往地推进两国关系,坚定支持朝鲜发展经济,改善民生,相信朝鲜能够在国家建设各项事业中取得新的成就。

Wen Jiabao said that in recent years, Sino-North-Korean economic and trade cooperation had achieved positive results. As the next steps, the two sides should implement the Joint Guidance Commission’s consensus within the Rason Economic Zone and Hwanggumpyong Island / Weihua Island at the focus of cooperation: (1) to strengthen the two countries’ governments’ leadership in cooperation and planning, to improve law and regulations; (2) to encourage the active participation of the regions in question, to maintain close contacts and coordination; (3) to create good conditions for the role of market mechanisms, land, taxation etc.; (4) to encourage companies to invest, and to solve their practical problems and difficulties; (5) to improve customs, quality control and other services to provide benefit for the cooperation. The Chinese side wishes, in common efforts with North Korea, to build and manage the economic zones well, to promote the achievement of a higher level by the Sino-North-Korean economic and trade cooperation.

温家宝表示,近年来,中朝经贸合作取得积极成果。下一步,双方要以罗先经贸区和黄金坪、威化岛经济区开发合作为重点,落实联合指导委员会达成的共识,扎实推进各项工作:一是加强两国政府对合作的领导和规划,完善法律法规;二是鼓励相关地区积极参与,密切联系和协调;三是发挥市场机制作用,在土地、税收等方面创造良好条件;四是鼓励企业投资,为他们解决实际问题和困难;五是改善海关、质检等服务,为合作提供便利。中方愿与朝方共同努力,把两个经济区建设好、管理好,推动中朝经贸合作达到更高水平。

Jang Sung-taek said that Comrade Kim Jong-un attaches great importance to North-Korean-Sino friendly relations, and that the deep bilateral friendship will surely be passed on through the generations and continuously go to great heights. The development cooperation in the two economic zones had entered a substantive stage, the North Korean side wishes to work closely with the Chinese side, accelarate and promote the relevant work, to make their cooperation achieve greater progress.

张成泽表示,金正恩同志高度重视朝中友好关系,双方深厚的友谊一定会世代传承下去,不断发扬光大。两个经济区的开发合作已进入实质性阶段,朝方愿与中方密切配合,加速推进相关工作,使合作取得更大进展。
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The Communiqué in English

Wen: It’s a disaster. Cut this bullshit out, or else…
Jang: Sure, man. Bite me.
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On Practice: An Example

Documenting North Korea’s Abuse of the Haicheng Group, Sino-NK, August 15, 2012

Monday, July 16, 2012

Ri Yong-ho’s Removal: too Early to Declare Victory

North Korean military chief, Central Military Commission (CMC) vice-chairman and Worker’s Party Politbureau Presidium member Ri Yong-ho has been removed from all official posts “because of illness”, the BBC quotes North Korean media. A spokesman for the South Korean Unification Ministry called the move “very unusual”.

The CMC chairmanship has been held by Kim Jong-un since April 2012. Kim became North Korea’s supreme leader after his father’s death in December 2011.

An Associated-Press article interprets Ri’s removal as a step taken by Kim Jong-un. The article also emphasizes Kim Jong Un’s drive to build up the nation’s economy. The article also points out that Kim Jong-un’s father, Kim Jong-il, ruled under a “military first” policy.

Singapore’s Morning News (Lianhe Zaobao):

[North Korea's] KCNA reported on July 16 that North Korean Workers Party Central Committee’s Politbureau held a meeting on July 15 and decided to relieve permanent Politbureau member and Chief of General Staff Ri Yong-ho [Chinese: Li Yinghao, 李英浩] of all his duties. According to reports, the meeting decided to relieve him of all duties, including his permanent Politbureau membership, Politbureau membership, and CMC vice-chairmanship, because of “suffering from illness”.
朝鲜中央通讯社16日报道,朝鲜劳动党中央委员会15日举行政治局会议,决定解除政治局常务委员兼朝鲜人民军总参谋长李英浩的所有职务。据报道,因李英浩“患有疾病”,会议决定解除他担任的所有职务,包括朝鲜劳动党中央委员会政治局常务委员会委员、政治局委员、朝鲜劳动党中央军事委员会副委员长等。

Chinese media reported Ri’s removal right away, but while Singapore’s Morning News quotes assumptions from South Korean institutions that the move may have been made for political reasons, China’s Xinhua News Agency simply quotes KCNA itself.

Huanqiu Shibao offers no interpretation beyond KCNA’s “health” explanations either, but adds a KCNA snapshot to spice things up a bit. Via an emoticon board, 311 readers (at the time of writing this post) express amazement or shock (震惊), 71 are bored, and 45 find the news ridiculous. But in the commenter thread, “linqinghu” finds the news very Chinese, very familiar (很中国,很熟悉), and “Xiaoyao Guoke” has a question: Whenever news about North Korea is reported, it’s is it always KCNA? Hard to believe that Xinhua has no reporters there!!?? (有一个问题搞不懂:但凡报道朝鲜的新闻,为什么总听韩联社的!?难道新华社在朝鲜就没有记者吗). There appears to be at least one reporter from Huanqiu Shibao itself in Pyongyang, actually.

Interpretation of the currently meager news is likely to follow in mainland Chinese media soon, and Beijing, if not informed about the backgrounds, will hope that the North Korean leadership’s economic priorities as alluded to by Associated Press (see above, third paragraph) will turn out to be the true driving motivation behind Ri Yong-ho’s removal.

Or, as Adam Cathcart interpreted some outspoken Chinese press coverage – as a message to then Kim Jong-il’s officialdom, in December 2010: just stop the nonsense and make some money (i. e., care about the economy). “Nonsense”, back then, wouldn’t refer directly to Kim Jong-il’s military-first policies, but to stand-offs with South Korea.

China’s propaganda department may find it a bit too early to declare victory on North Korea’s economic front just yet.

A source to watch this week should be Sino-NK, a website dedicated to background information (plus some gossip) on North Korean politics, and on North-Korean and Chinese interaction.

Update: Chasing the General Ri, SinoNK, July 19, 2012

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Updates/Related

» Very Mysterious, but…, WSJ, July 17, 2012

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