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China—Pyongyang discord and B.R. Myers on Jang’s purge

What does China think of Kim Jong-un and his “politics of terror”?

The Dong-A Ilbo reports that Beijing is mighty displeased—a diplomatic source in Beijing said that while China looked calm on the outside, inside they were embarrassed and infuriated. Essentially, a 29-year-old tyrant whacking his uncle has turned North Korea into an even more untouchable pariah than it already was. A Cheong Wa Dae official suggests that Jang’s purge was aimed at China—-Beijing was trying to get Pyongyang to return to talks on the nuclear issue, and Pyongyang responded by killing Jang in an attempt to pull China back to its side. China, the United States, South Korea—everybody’s concerned that Kim Jong-un might for a little too impulsive for the international community’s good.

It also noted that none of this bode well for Seoul’s desire to turn North Korea into a “normal country” and reduce its international isolation. Of course, this should come as no surprise—the problem has never been an unwillingness on the part of South Korea to reduce tensions. It’s that you can’t reduce tensions if the North doesn’t want to play along.

Back to China. The previously mentioned diplomatic source said Beijing has repeatedly asked North Korea to send somebody to explain the purge, but Pyongyang has come up with all sorts of excuses not to. Pyongyang also failed to tell Beijing anything about the purge ahead of time, in the face of established bilateral custom. Two nations that ARE communicating, however, are China and the United States—the source says the Beiing—Washington hotline has been very active since the purge. Chinese statements of disinterest are for public consumption only—they’re very worried.

That said, China still views the situation in the North as an ongoing one, and it doesn’t know how things will ultimately work out for Beijing. One Chinese professor told the Dong-A that while some folk considered Jang pro-Chinese, there are no pro-Chinese people in North Korea, really. Another professor, though, said Jang was the outside world’s last chance for reform in North Korea, and China would now be forced to reevaluate its relations with the North. Personally, I’ll believe that when I see it.

The Dong-A also reports something or other about some nice Jewish girl named Emily Ratajkowski who did something or other involving “Blurred Lines” with Alan Thicke’s son.

But I digress.

Fans of B.R. Myers will want to check his interview in New Republic. Here’s just a sample:

I was not all that shocked by the purge itself. Kim Il Sung purged his own brother. Kim Jong Il effectively purged his own eldest son. As for Jang’s punishment, it’s not as wild and brutal as all that. The Chinese execute people for corruption too. The shocking thing is the indiscretion with which the regime has gone about everything. Anyone who still thinks some gray eminence is pulling Kim Jong Un’s strings just doesn’t realize how much long-accumulated mythological capital the latest propaganda has destroyed in a matter of days.

North Korea had prided itself on complete unity ever since the establishment of a “unitary ideology” in 1967. When the regime warned against subversive behaviors it resorted to cartoons with animal figures rather than admit to actual internal disunity. Power struggles elsewhere were gloated over as evidence that only North Korea had leaders whose greatness stood above dispute. The benevolent charisma of the leaders was said to be so irresistible that even representatives of enemy states, like Jimmy Carter and Kim Dae Jung, succumbed to it. And now the North Koreans find out that Kim Il Sung’s own son-in-law and Kim Jong Il’s right-hand man was engaging in crimes since the 1980s? Yet they are still expected to believe in the infallibility of Kim Jong Il’s choice of successor?

photo credit: (stephan) via photopin cc

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  • seouldout

    Hey Beijing! Thought you are all for outsiders’ non-interference in internal affairs. Looks like you’ll have to just suck it.

  • George_Smiley

    Interesting quote from Myers about lost ‘mythological capital’. He can’t believe that the recent propaganda is any less tenable than the old myth of unity, can he?

    Up north, 2+2 can equal 5 today, 3 tomorrow or sometimes all at once.

    I mean, “indiscreet” from the outside, but… whether the newer propaganda is palatable domestically doesn’t seem too much to bother over.

  • Mike Morgan

    OTOH, Kim Family futures may be trading lower than pork bellies if Chinese leaders get too embarrassed…

  • RElgin

    Uncle Jang got whacked right about the same time that Chinese president has gone after uncle Zhou Yongkang, the powerful former head of the domestic security apparatus for corruption.

    Who copies whom?

  • Horace Jeffery Hodges

    “Up north, 2+2 can equal 5 today, 3 tomorrow.”

    Only for small values of 5 and large values of 3.

    Propaganda can be consistent with people’s values or inconsistent with people’s values. The former tends to be more effective.

    Kim Jong-un has shown himself both publicly frivolous and impulsively brutal in a culture that expects leaders to appear serious and deliberative.

    He therefore lacks gravitas, despite his girth, and looks like a parody of Kim Il-sung.

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  • unplanned_life

    This doesn’t change anything, China will still be NK’s enabler.

  • JJ

    Is China NK enabler?
    Not that it appeared so.
    First China isn’t directly involved in running NK internal affair unlike U.S for SK.
    Second China wishes every second that NK can open up at least in economic front but the whole Kim family tree defective genes just think otherwise
    Third China isn’t a provider of military weapons to NK unlike U.S to SK
    Fourth China doesn’t even has a single military base in NK unlike U.S to SK.
    Maybe the mistake can be corrected by stating that U.S is still SK’s enabler.

  • JJ

    That’s rather quite an unacceptable accusation. Beijing’s concern as next door neighbor is not an interference into NK internal affairs. Let be fair that both U.S and SK are equally concerned as well that there is too much dramatic NK internal power play that keep on popping up in the radar.

  • RElgin

    The US does not set “internal affairs” for South Korea. They do support their military and current truce that is in effect in Korea.

    The PRC is a long time and infamous “enabler” of the DPRK, since their direct interference in the war, during the early 50s, and does do business with them, including selling certain vehicles with military applications.

    Apparently, the relationship between the DPRK and the PRC is becoming a problem though that can not be easily managed.

  • unplanned_life

    An enabler does not need to be active in it. Someone who enables an alcoholic does not buy them alcohol, they just protect them from their repercussions and make excuses. NK is an alcoholic, SK is not.

  • George_Smiley

    That makes sense, I suppose.

    If I were to live up North, however…
    (In my role as not much other than chattel in the eyes of the Party…) I’m just trying to imagine whether my perception of him is anything other than moot.

    Juche wouldn’t allow for my opinion to “exist” in the sense that it is known to exist in non-totalitarian states…would it?

    I mean, if Nero builds his Domus Aurea over my old neighborhood, to be given an explanation would, by implicaiton, be to invest me with the power to hold an opinion.

    Maybe Myers is referring to the ranks…the inner party members. How those with influence are to consume any new propaganda is prolly more delicate.

  • JJ

    Not that we know too that China is pleased with Kim belligerent behavior. In fact China has been condemning as well as persuading NK to amend its way but to no avail. The only support that we understand is that China does provide some foodstuffs to ordinary NK people so that they don’t die of starvation. It’ll be rather unfair to call China NK enabler for such kind assistance.

  • JJ

    Again we are accusing China out of spite just for the reason China is not a military ally to U.S.
    China is not the provocateur during the Korean War, the honor goes to Soviet Union as it’s the latter that abetted NK to attack SK.
    Once the war is over, NK is all on its own as China is no longer involved in NK internal affair. I believe China’s main mistake is to leave NK to the Kim family. The whole Kim family are all genetically mad.
    I think instead of trying to stain China as NK enabler, we should encourage China to intervene more deeply into NK internal affair. At least there is a better chance of proper conduct coming from NK. Otherwise who knows what more insane action will come this young bumpkin Kim

  • RElgin

    Much more comes into the DPRK by way of the PRC and it is difficult to believe that it is unsanctioned. You are naive to think that the PRC plays Salvation Army with the DPRK.

    I suspect that the PRC had better not be so foolish to try a military venture into Korea since almost every last Korean, north, south, east, west would have common cause against them and that would lead to something really epic.

  • DC Musicfreak

    China provides oil and a wide range of food that goes to the NK military, has given NK decades of diplomatic cover during various acts of aggression. Beijing lets the international community worry about people starving. NK would already be on the ash heap of history if not for China. Read up on the history.

  • Ryan

    The US regularly interferes in the internal affairs of other countries:

    “In France, US advocacy for Muslim rights raises more than a few hackles

    The US embassy in France has become a key promoter of Muslim and minority rights as part of a long-term strategy to ease the threat of terrorism.”

    http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2011/0217/In-France-US-advocacy-for-Muslim-rights-raises-more-than-a-few-hackles

  • Ryan

    That would depend on why the PRC would try a military venture. During the Korean War, it certainly wasn’t the case that “every last Korean – north, south, east, west” had common cause against the PRC.

  • RElgin

    The times have changed and you merely have not noticed. I would not want to be on video, proverbially walking on their ancestor’s graves.

  • Ryan

    Last time I checked, North Korea was far more anti-American than anti-PRC. And there are South Koreans that are more anti-American than anti-PRC.

  • RElgin

    Anti-American-anything has nothing to do with Korean identity. That makes as much sense as saying Nazism exemplifies German cultural heritage.

  • seouldout

    I don’t see where Ryan said anything about identity, but since you brought it up Anti-Americanism is very much a part of Korean identity for those Korean who live north of the DMZ.

  • seouldout

    Indeed it does.

  • JJ

    “China provides oil…”.
    Answer : Barely sufficient. Enough to survive only.
    “….during various acts of aggression” Answer : At least it hasn’t attacked SK since the Korean War but it appeared often than not than it’s SK-US provoking NK by joint military exercise next to NK borders.
    “Ash heap of history…”
    Answer :It could be the other way round if U.S is not around to blockage the unification bet NK and SK

  • seouldout

    It may unify Koreans but to what end? If the “intrusion” was limited to the north I doubt there would be little more than violent protests in the south. You think the US would commit troops and material to support a thrust north by the South to engage the Chinese?

  • seouldout

    “Enough to survive only.”

    Exactly! Beijing ensures Pyongyang’s survival. Well said.

  • JJ

    Cheonan incident ?
    Only SK-U.S accused NK of sinking the SK Navy ship. The rest of the world including Russia, China and even the UN refuses to identify NK as a culprit. Last I understand it’s a underwater mine explosion. The international community requested the incident to open for investigation by neutral party but it was rejected by U.S. Nothing smell good coming from U.S
    Every Korean have a common cause against PRC. Maddening hilarious indeed. For what cause and for what reason. China did leave SK out of its protection during WW2 and the outcome is that Koreans were shredded to pieces by the Japanese.

  • DC Musicfreak

    Russia fabricated its own account and China did its usual prevarication. You are too steeped in PRC propaganda and fraudulent history to do anything more here than prove others’ points.

  • seouldout

    “The rest of the world including Russia, China and even the UN refuses to identify NK as a culprit.”

    Untrue. An international group including Canada, Britain, Sweden and Australia to investigated the sinking.

    Sweden isn’t neutral?!? Since when?

    LOL at your claim that China left Korea “out of its protection” duing WWII. China couldn’t even protect itself.

  • seouldout

    Indeed. He’s just commenting here to earn his 50 cents..

  • DC Musicfreak

    A Chinese person has to work extraordinarily hard not only to learn the facts about the PRC’s relationship to the DPRK, but also to unlearn all the misinformation absorbed during a lifetime. It’s only recently that China grudgingly acknowledged who did what on 6.25.50.

  • marlin

    Is there evidence Russia fabricated its account?

  • JJ

    What type of international group with Canada, UK, Australia part of the investigation team…they are part of the Anglo-sphere axis of warmongers.

    Sweden – just like Norway, we thought once they are at least neutral but then that’s pure illusion based on their eagerness to participate in the bombing of Libya.

    If the investigation needs to be fair and transparent, why not invite India, Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa or even Germany.

  • JJ

    Hilarious indeed to blame China again for Pyongyang’s behavior when its purely Koreans behavior on both side that they can’t even negotiate peacefully.
    Why not take a more better alternative road by requesting China to be a mediator between both SK and NK without the participation of both U.S and Japan. The latter two nations have no business talking about Korea internal affairs.

  • JJ

    Can I claim the 50cents from you as I have no means to access thru the authority that paid the peanuts?

  • RElgin

    There is a tremendous amount of revisionism – basically lying – that has been foisted upon the younger generations of Chinese as well as a learned unwillingness to speak openly about what has happened.

  • RElgin

    Regarding the Cheonan, you understand nothing: http://www.rjkoehler.com/2010/06/01/a-conspiracy-of-lies-and-hate/
    Do an internet search and many sites come back linked to this. Do another deeper search on the sites registration and quite a few of the sites have dubious registrant entries. This is how we astrofurf agitprop.

  • RElgin

    Here is this earlier thread which is worth reviewing in case anyone forgets how much b.s. has been shoveled around:

    http://www.rjkoehler.com/2010/09/08/most-south-koreans-distrust-cheonan-findings/#disqus_thread

  • RElgin

    The PRC is clearly shown, through history and current events, to be a biased party, regarding what happens in Korea. Even before Japan inserted itself into Korea, China was interfering in Korea, much to the consternation of Korea’s rulers.

    The PRC leadership is the last entity I would trust in such an affair. If they were ever helpful, it would only be on terms that suit their political interests and not the interests of Koreans.

  • RElgin
  • JJ

    Honestly I have read enough to warrant my participation as part of the investigation team to debunk the earlier finding by U.S conspiracy of the whole incident..

  • JJ

    If that’s the case, we (not from China) wish the Koreans the best in their search for peace resolution. However don’t blame others for your own deficient capability if it doesn’t work well Blame no one, accuse no one.

  • marlin

    Thanks for the link. I don’t see evidence there though that Russia fabricated its account.

  • seouldout

    And China does?

  • JJ

    China again

  • Dokdoforever

    One of the authors makes an interesting point about Kim Jong-Un misunderstanding N Korean cultural norms by including his wife in state business. It might be the norm in the Western world, but it’s out of place in the North. Given his upbringing and age, Kim Jong Un must feel like a real outsider. And the senior citizens that comprise the elite in the party and army probably view him as one as well.

    Maybe this is why Jong Un keeps inviting Rodman over – because he needs a fellow outsider to relate to.

    Kim probably took the rash act of executing his uncle in an attempt to scare the old guys into taking him seriously.

  • seouldout

    Ah… not so fast, 50cent. You stated that “the rest of the world… refuses to identify NK as a culprit”, and I easily debunked your foolish claim by providing you the names of the states from the international community, i.e. members of “the rest of the world”, that in fact participated in the investigation and determined the Norks were the culprit..

    So Sweden isn’t neutral and can’t be impartial because it participated in UN Security Council Resolution 1973?

    How convenient for you.

  • JJ

    okie…50cents waiting for the 10cents on the confirmation. Don’t drag too long, 10cents.

  • RElgin

    The PRC Government has much to account for. The malefic effects of their contribution to the creation of the DPRK is just one.

  • RElgin

    If you read the accounts, it is a matter of simply not acknowledging what really occurred rather than making up a story. The Russians are sometimes spoilers.

  • marlin

    There doesn’t seem to be any evidence for this though. It’s just assumed.

  • Koreandumbdumb

    What discord? These are all disinformation. NK and China will attack SK and SK will implode with internal Commie “unificationists”. Got to re-educate Korean people about what McArthur and the US Forces did for them. And, about the price of Freedom.

  • Koreandumbdumb

    KJU is an obedient lapdog as his father was. The enfant terrible killed his uncle because he felt like it. “Feed meat instead of rice”! Re-incarnation of Marie Antoinette?http://news.khan.co.kr/kh_news/khan_art_view.html?artid=201312222144165&code=910303&nv=stand

  • JJ

    No, the creation of DPRK is not originated from China. It’s aftermath of the WW2 between Soviet and U.S of dividing Korea into North and South. Please open up your eyes, could you.

  • felddog13

    “… hasn’t attacked SK since the Korean War…” Um, really?

  • RElgin

    I’m sorry, did you miss the fact that the PRC, under Mao, sent quite a few Chinese soldiers to wage war inside of Korea in the early 50s? Their direct military intervention, along with that of the USSR, allowed the DPRK to continue. The PRCs political and economic support for this tragic regime has persisted until this day.

    Why do you persist in play apologist for these bums that run the PRC?

  • RElgin

    Well, as mentioned in the linked article, many people (including the most excellent Dr. Lankov) believe Russia was engaging in contrary behaviour as a means to spite what they perceive to be American interests since the PRC was most definitely supporting efforts to categorize the Cheonan sinking as an American-sponsored event.

    IMHO, the Russian Government idea of being an “ally” is more not being your enemy – this time.

  • RElgin

    There is one article, based upon anecdotal evidence, that supports this. I guess if the number one Kim says “do this”, it is foolish to give back excuses as to why one can’t since while Jang’s executives were thinking they were making an administrative decision, KJU was way past that and thinking Borgia-style action.

    Maybe it sounds awful of me, but I can understand why KJU did what he did and it makes sense to me. I think many media outlets are to busy vilifying the regime to really describe what happened and why. The political reality that exists in the DPRK is toxic though and having the military as a political ally to preserve power – that has been done during the Koryo Period and it was not a good time for the country. Neither is this a good time for any North Korean.

  • RElgin

    PRC leadership can not wield the influence they want to perhaps. The PRC leadership is more likely concerned about the perception by Chinese citizens that their government has sided with an uncontrollable, uncle-killer they helped to prop up.

    The CCP leadership in the PRC are as crazy a mix as is in the DPRK except there are more positive influences therein to dampen the truly amoral elements that manifest in the form of black prisons and “chengguan”. I hope Americans never have to worry about this kind of crap but the militarization of so many police in America is not a healthy sign either.

  • JJ

    No, I am not being apologist to PRC but let truth be known that it’s not PRC that started the Korean War. Let us not be so ludicrous to brag around that a few Chinese soldiers (even if it’s assumed true) can have a change even to wage war inside Korea. China at that time is still undergoing messy civil war and there is not enough fund to go around buying their own weapons, what more to spend over in Korea.

  • JJ

    Last time, didn’t the Americans say the same evil stuffs to the Vietnamese too. They (the Americans) lied and deceived the world that they were under attack by North Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin incident but it was later uncovered that it was purely a fabrication by the Americans. McatArthur and the U.S forces are nothing more than big imperialist bully, hell bent on the destruction of Asia all the sake of their own ego and selfish hegemony domination.

  • JJ

    When? Care to elaborate?

  • Juniper

    There’s actually a long list, but the Yeonpyeong bombing is a recent example.

  • JJ

    My toes are actually laughing at your funny antic of accusing the Chinese for the Yeonpyeong bombing. How old are you, Juniper?. Maybe my advice to you is please read more, understand more before you start posting your opinion. Please also remember to read who caused the Yeonpyeong bombing for your own gooooood.

  • Juniper

    Wasn’t reference to NK? My bad.

  • bumfromkorea

    Are you dyslexic? You have to be, to go from the subject being “NK’s acts of aggression since Korean War” to “accusing the Chinese for the Yeonpyeong bombing.” in one comment.

    “China provides oil…”.
    Answer : Barely sufficient. Enough to survive only.

    There’s a word for that. I think it starts with E-N-A-B-L-E, but I just can’t remember the whole word.

  • JJ

    Don’t really understand what are you trying to refer by the way. Care to clarify again before I can explain.

  • redwhitedude

    I wonder how much they are losing financially by propping up NK? Can they sustain that for a long time. Consider also the real estate bubble and infrastructure projects that I suspect a lot of them might be a questionable economic value.

  • redwhitedude

    More like NK’s life support.

  • redwhitedude

    Yes and sadly it has a history of barging into local affairs painting things black and white.