Twelve years of hell

Here’s how cynical I am. When I read about the two American girls sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in North Korea, my first thought was, well at least they’ll get a best-selling memoir out of it.

Actually, my first thought was “holy shit.” But it was a photo finish in my mental superhighway. Now I’m thinking Jesus, those poor girls. And wow, North Korea has balls. It’s looking more and more like they want to go to war.

I’d been following this story a little and I thought the regime would set them free. You know, get everyone worried and then at the end, show their benevolence in a goodwill gesture by letting the girls go free. Follow up the screaming and threats with a little surprise empathy. In the propaganda game, it oughta get the world to see that North Korea are not a nation of demons, but live by the rule of law. You know, kind of a good cop bad cop sort of thing.

I mean, really… North Korea knows how U.S. popular culture works. Does Kim Jong-il really want to release these girls after 12 years and expose the world to their stories of horror?

I guess they don’t care. Or they’re not thinking straight. I don’t know which is worse.


I should probably read entire articles before I link to them. Toward the bottom, a Korean academic essentially said what I just said:

Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea expert at Dongguk University in Seoul, had predicted that Pyongyang would probably free the reporters and treat their release as a goodwill gesture that should be reciprocated with a special U.S. envoy visiting the isolated state.


5 Responses to “Twelve years of hell”

  1. Another bitch slap to go along with so many that the Norkos have dealt out to the region. I say the U.S. makes a rescue before they have the chance to offer their “goodwill gesture” after holding them for several months. Time to throw some weight around. Limited incursion, massive force, get them out, then return to the corner the U.S. is getting further and further backed into.

  2. George Stephanapolis, or however you spell that, reports that Obama is “amped up” about this. We’ll see what happens.

    “…see what happens.” I seem to be saying that a lot lately when it comes to the Korean Peninsula.

  3. I’ve been reading a lot about this tonight. And it’s now way past my bedtime. But my opinion on this has shifted from “cynical” to “cold blooded.”

    I think it’s tragic what happened to these girls, and the punishment is way too harsh. But I think that what we have here are a couple of ambitious journalists looking for a hot story. They took a risk and got caught.

    I was thinking earlier that the key issue is whether the two were apprehended in China or in North Korea (something we don’t know). But actually it’s irrelevant. You don’t point your cameras at a country like North Korea unless you’re willing to take responsibility for your actions. Yes, you’re trying to get a story that might need to be told. But you’re also serving your own interests by doing so. I suspect that there’s a healthy does of career ambition at work.

    So their brazen actions actually put everyone else at risk and makes things more difficult for everyone. I don’t think the Obama administration will do it, but I hope he does: Let this go. Don’t give the North any kind of concessions. Say you’re saddened by the situation, but use the opportunity to say that giving into any demands by the North will not be tolerated in a time of such blatant threats.

    It’s sad what happened to these girls. But they are the ones responsible for the situation they’re in.

  4. czechmate Says:

    I’m trying to picture in my mind what the U. S. reaction would be if two Iraquis or Iranians or Pakastanis were arrested for taking pictures of the U.S. under similar circumstances. My guess is they would probably be arrested, and shipped, in chains with black hoods over their faces, to somewhere like Guantanamo or Abu Ghrab or Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. There they would sit in a cell, without access to an attorney, surviving on a bare existence diet, and subjected to routine and frequent and humiliating interrogation.

    For the U.S. to try and take the high moral ground under the auspices of humane treatment strikes me as rather odd. There are in fact prisoners in all three of the prisons mentioned above
    that have never been allowed access to an attorney, have never been accused of any crime in an open court, and have never been allowed to see the evidence that has been arrayed against them. In effect we lost our ability to practice moral persuasion somewhere around the year 2000-2003.

    My question is this: how can we as a nation expect our adversaries to act in a humane way when we ourselves have acted otherwise—violating our own constitution, ignoring international treaties that we are a signatory to, i.e., the Geneva Convention, that we helped write and that we signed onto some 65 years ago.

    Having saaid all that, I fully expect that if negotiation attempts fail, a team of Navy seals or Army rangers will be asked to carry out any rescue attempt. I really hope North Korea can be persuaded to release the two people without further violence.

    “…and the beat goes on.”

  5. Good point. And that’s the other sticky thing about this. North Korea can argue, effectively, that they are doing nothing that different from the U.S. While their actions of late might seem rash and belligerent, they can make the case that they’re preserving their own national security in the same way the U.S. did in the years following 9/11.

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