The Marmot's Hole

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Tag: North Korea

NK snubs Polish businessman, refuses to pay back loan on embassy renovations

It’s been seven years and Polish businessman Andrzej Kompa is still waiting for repayment on a $2 million loan made to the North Korean embassy in Poland for renovations to their Warsaw digs back in 2005.

Apparently, the loan was to be repaid by revenue taken in from fees the North Korean delegation would earn by renting out part of the building. (I suppose it might be a novelty spot for anniversary’s, business meetings, breakdance competitions, etc.)

In 2009, the diplomatic corps was rotated and Kompa hoped to fare better getting his money from the incoming staff. Fat chance on that. The newly minted NK officials held his documents up to a light and declared them forgeries. “No rent for you!”

Perhaps Kompa made the mistake of bringing along big-boobed assistants to woo his debtors.

Kompa should have done his due diligence and consulted the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations before loaning money to the Norkos. It states that business activities are not to be carried out from a property with diplomatic status. The whole idea of renting the place out was a no go from the get go. Kompa claims this that it’s common practice and that Polish officials are using international law to avoid confronting the North Koreans.

In June of last year he filed a $35,000 lawsuit in polish courts hoping to get something out of the deal gone awry, but the court refused to hear the case since diplomatic code gives the embassy no legal status anyway.

“It appears a positive judgment before a Polish court will do nothing for me anyway, but there is no way I will go to a court in Pyongyang about this,” a furious and frustrated Mr Kompa told the newspaper. “The money owed to me has gone to Pyongyang and who knows where they have invested it. Perhaps in the nuclear programme.”

So that’s where they got the money. You can read the rest of The Telegraph article here.

According to NK, cash-strapped North Korean embassies are typically expected to be self-reliant and fund themselves through business activities of some sort in their host country. This raises some interesting possibilities for revenue streams, to be sure.

On a side note, the Poles obviously have a good sense of humor.

MUST READ: Lankov on why the Kim dynasty will be popular long after N. Korea is gone

North Korea expert Andrei Lankov has a lengthy and what some (but not me) might find controversial column in the Asia Times explaining why, after reunification, many North Koreans are likely to remember the Kim Dynasty past with nostalgia. Here’s a taste:

This sad situation is an unavoidable result of decades of the Kim’s family rule. Ideally, North Koreans might have admitted that they are paying a huge price for themselves (or rather their ancestors) being seduced by the seemingly attractive ideas once promoted by the founders of the regime and their Soviet sponsors.

These ideas emphasized social equality and a shared national destiny. They promised (wrongly, as it turned out) the general well-being and dramatic economic growth. Then, when around 1970, the emptiness of these promises started to become evident, the North Korean population could not challenge the system and found themselves in a state where a tiny semi-hereditary elite would maintain their powers whilst enjoying assorted perks and privileges.

However, such an honest and frank appraisal is unlikely to take hold – after all, it is seriously damaging for the psychological well-being of all those concerned. We humans are usually not too eager to see ourselves as victims of the dreams, delusions and fears of their grandfathers, we are not happy to say that we have spent our lives pursuing nonsensical goals while remaining more or less obedient tools for a tiny ruling caste. So, the North Koreans will be far more likely to start looking for some justification, a myth-based narrative (or rather a few different myth-based narratives) which will explain the disastrous Kim period in a less painful way.

To think we have a unified future of North Koreans bitching about arrogant South Koreans looking down on them, South Koreans bitching about lazy, ungrateful North Koreans, and everyone bitching about the Americans, Japanese, Chinese and Russians…

Tools of the Trade?

Reading this article, I was struck by a resemblance between what Hugo Chávez (El Shiz Nic) is doing currently and what Kim Jong-Il has done in regards to keeping a tight rein on the military and their loyalty. The article title  is “Chávez Seeks Tighter Grip on Military”.  Chávez has:

  • Arrested former admiral, Carlos Millán, general Wilfredo Barroso, captain Otto Gebauer, and defense minister, Gen. Gustavo Rangel Briceño was fired
  • Revoked the authority of as many as 800 military officers last year after doubts surfaced over their loyalty to Mr. Chávez (not to Venezuela), according to news reports

One also notes that not only has there been ties of friendship between North Korea and Venezuela before now as well, there are Haaretz and AP reports that allege Venezuela has sold uranium to Iran.

Hard to Swallow?

North Korea’s football association claims that South Korea poisoned their players before the recent soccer match with “contaminated food”:

It was beyond all doubt that the incident was a product of a deliberate act perpetrated by adulterated foodstuff as [the players] could not get up all of a sudden just before the match.

At least they were not using any of the special baby powder or cosmetics that were laced with asbestos.

Chris Hill Is Going to Iraq . . .

Christopher Hill, the lead American negotiator on North Korea, is expected to be nominated as the next U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

Capture the Moon . . .

This amusing video of Kim Jong-Il”s plan to use rockets to bring the moon to North Korea is clever parody of North Korean propaganda.

No Legacy but The Shame Goes On . . .

An agreement to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear weapons program collapsed on Thursday, leaving the same open-ended, uncertain future that has been in place for the last half century, it not the last eight years.

Kim Jong-Il Is Alive and at the Soap Factory . . .

Apparently Kim Jong-Il is still alive since, according to Associated Press, “North Korea’s Kim Jong Il paid visits to machinery and soap-making factories, state media reported Tuesday”. Here the Dear Leader is seen supervising the manufacturing of soap.

“삐라” and North Korea . . .

Kim Hye-jin of has an interesting post on those propaganda leaflets (Bbira) that the North Koreans are so agitated over lately.

A Clear-eyed Look at the NY Phil Trip to Pyongyang

Five myths about the New York Philharmonic’s concert in Pyongyang, published in today’s WSJ, will resonate with many readers.  It was hard to choose a favorite as they’re all on the mark, but I’ll single out #2 to quote:

– Any direct contact between North Korea and the U.S. is by definition desirable. Not if it makes things worse for the North Koreans — and it may. Kim Cheol-woong, a musician who defected from Pyongyang to the West in 2001, warned the Journal’s Melanie Kirkpatrick that “there will be educational sessions . . . [on] the triumph of Kim Jong Il’s political leadership, which resulted in the fact that even the American artistic group is coming to knock their foreheads on the floor in front of General Kim.”

Click in and read the other four.

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