April 23, 2004


For Kim and North Korea, a sign of mortality (David Scofield, 4/24/04, Asia Times)

Disaster of enormous but still unknown proportions struck North Korea nine hours after Kim Jong-il's heavily guarded train re-entered the Hermit Kingdom and passed through Ryongchon station, 20 kilometers south of the Chinese border. The Dear Leader had returned from "secret" talks with China on defusing the Pyongyang nuclear crisis, gradually giving up his weapons of mass destruction in exchange for massive economic and food aid, clean energy and a better life for his people. The outcome of the talks was not known.

Then, it happened: Two trains (some say a train and a truck) laden with fuel, oil and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) collided and exploded. First reports said as many as 3,000 people were killed or injured in the densely populated town. The Red Cross later said at least 54 were killed and more than 1,200 injured - the full scope of the disaster was yet to emerge. As of Friday afternoon, North Korean officials had not acknowledged the tragedy, and international phone services had been cut, making it difficult to gather information. 

Speculation abounds, but none has been verified. Some suggest the explosions were intended to kill Kim but were badly timed - South Korean experts dismiss that speculation.

having left the Communists in control of the North, the least could do is send in a Predator to get rid of him for them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 23, 2004 11:59 AM

I'm no James Bond (ha), but missing his train by 9 hours doesn't seem like precision timing.

Killing more than 3,000 to kill one seems a little sloppy also.

Posted by: h-man at April 23, 2004 12:15 PM

Now we see if Dear Leader thinks it was an assassination attempt and starts another Blood Purge against Everybody Who Is Plotting Against ME. NK might just take care of itself -- no population, no problem.

>Killing more than 3,000 to kill one seems a
>little sloppy also.

3000 times zero = zero.

Posted by: Ken at April 23, 2004 12:32 PM

As we're engaging in idle speculation with no basis in fact (ma'nish ta'nah . . .), NK gets its petroleum from or through China. China in the past has turned off the oil to express its displeasure with Kim and put on the pressure. If these recent talks really went badly . . .

Posted by: David Cohen at April 23, 2004 12:51 PM

More likely, they shut down the station for hours to ensure the Dear Leader's security; but nobody dared to miss shipping quotas for the day, so they rushed things a little bit...

Posted by: mike earl at April 23, 2004 2:34 PM

Given the level of competence, it must have been a French Operation. Good to have them with the program now. (but they really need to get on the same page)

Didn't Inspector Cleauseau have a Korean sidekick?

Posted by: h-man at April 23, 2004 4:05 PM
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