Friday, May 29, 2009

North Korean Tests

China, North Korea's strongest ally, is getting fed up with the county's latest nuclear tests.

From The New York Times:

Image from

WASHINGTON — The United States is pressing China to consider taking a variety of severe sanctions against North Korea, including the inspection of suspect ships and planes, as it tries to ratchet up the global response to Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test, administration officials said Thursday.

But it is not clear that the Chinese government has the stomach for a heightened showdown with North Korea, these officials said, even though its criticism of the underground test on Monday was unusually vehement.


The administration is also seeking China’s cooperation in a global effort to disrupt the flow of money to North Korea’s ruler, Kim Jong-il, and his family, officials said. Some of that money is suspected to be held in Chinese-owned banks, making such an effort diplomatically sensitive.

Still, a senior official said he was “pleasantly surprised” by how open China was to cooperating with the United States. China has historically tolerated the erratic behavior of Mr. Kim, worrying more about a calamitous collapse of his government than about his nuclear ambitions. But the recent test and missile launchings, the official said, may have crossed a line with China’s leaders.

“At the level of Chinese irritation, this is historic,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. “Normally, the Chinese urge us not to react. But they are reaching a point where they could be agreeable to using more of their own weight.”

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China's hands-off attitude towards China may finally have reached an end. The Kim Jong Ill post-stroke, nuclear testing era appears to be crossing too many lines.

The first thing I learned about North Korea in geography class in high school was that its people had resorted to eating tree bark. In addition to that lovely piece of information, I was just about as disgusted to hear that North Korea's largest industries are counterfeitting US dollars and producing heroin and crystal meth. North Korea can also put another hat in its feather for having produced the worst piece of architecture in the history of man.

Image of Pyongyang's half-built Ryugyong Hotel from Esquire

North Korea is a "fascinating" place. In the same way that the holocaust was a fascinating event in history. I'd be happy to see North Korea lose its friends, well friend (China), over its latest nuclear testing. I'm not sure how the logistics would work, but seeing a 180 degree change of direction in that country over the coming years would be a wonderful thing.


pug ster said...

It reminds me of the China's response over the 1st nuclear bomb testing, which is pretty much nothing. If it comes to stopping North Koreans' nukes over China's sovereignty, China will probably won't press for sanctions against them. China will probably push North Korea for 6 party talks but China doesn't have the bargaining chip. North Korea actually wants a peace treaty with the US and the promise from the US not to attack North Korea to end this 60 year old war. But I doubt it unless US have any plans to move the 31,000 troops out from South Korea.

Mark said...

One of my favorite Podcasts - NPR's Planet Money - talked extensively about the North Korean economy today:

They also linked up to an economics blog focused exclusively on North Korea:

Ramesh said...

Pity the North Korean people ruled by an increasingly deranged leader. China is showing irritation, yes, but will do precious little. The mad man will do something catastrophic before he is brought down, I'm afraid.

Taylor O said...

I love the Ryugyong Hotel, especially how they refuse to acknowledge its existence or put it on maps. The half-built weak concrete structure is a little hard to hide. It's like the elephant in the city.