October 15, 2006


Security Council Backs Sanctions on North Korea (WARREN HOGE, 10/15/06, NY Times)

The Security Council voted unanimously on Saturday to impose strict sanctions on North Korea for its reported nuclear test, overcoming objections from Russia and China by explicitly excluding the threat of military force.

The resolution, drafted by the United States, clears the way for the toughest international action against North Korea since the end of the Korean War. Primarily, it bars the sale or transfer of material that could be used to make nuclear, biological and chemical weapons or ballistic missiles, and it bans international travel and freezes the overseas assets of people associated with the North’s weapons programs.

In its most debated clause, the resolution authorizes all countries to inspect cargo going in and out of North Korea to detect illicit weapons.

We starved, he called it paradise: Growing up in North Korea, Hyok Kang was surrounded by desperate people who ate grass and bark before they died. Yet pervasive propaganda made them feel lucky to be there (Hyok Kang, 10/15/06, Sunday Times of London)

The first time I ate chocolate was when I was five years old. My grandfather had relatives in Japan who were given exceptional permission to visit us. They came like extraterrestrials with their arms full of presents and food. I remember waving tins of condensed milk and chocolate bars under my friends’ noses. I was a horrid little boy. It was 1990 and I didn’t yet know what famine was. I wouldn’t taste chocolate again until we escaped to China when I was 13.

In 1994, shortly before the death of Kim Il-sung, the Great Leader, the state food distribution system began to break down. Eventually, there was no more rice, no more potatoes. We moved on to vile food substitutes. Weeds, of whatever kind, were boiled up and swallowed in the form of soup. We picked these inedible leaves on the edges of the fields or the banks of the river. The soup was so bitter that we could barely keep it down.

Our neighbours collected grass and tree bark — usually pine, or various shrubs. They grated the bark and boiled it up before eating it. And much good it did them: their faces swelled from day to day until they finally perished.

Not only food was scarce. Our teachers gave each of us collection quotas: maize leaves (for paper mills), copper and other metals — and, during the winter, dung for fertiliser. We had to take six whole carts of faecal matter to the school, and not any old excrement: it had to be human. As it was frozen — the temperature fell to -20C or -30C — we used a pick or a hatchet to hack it from the back of the rudimentary outdoor toilets by each dwelling. In extremis, dog poo was tolerated as well.

My mother started selling buns and pancakes in the market. She was shattered by the sight of dozens of ragged urchins (some of them little more than toddlers) avidly watching the customers as they ate their pancakes just in case they accidentally dropped some. Then they would dart forwards to pick up scraps and stuff them into their mouths. Some adults, racked with hunger, beat the children and stole from them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 15, 2006 9:22 AM

Yet, we are told to fear attack from NK.

The only thing we should be doing and I assume we are doing is interfering with NK shipping so that nothing comes in or goes out.

Let their neighbors tackle the details of getting supplies to the starving people or figuring out what to do with the tens of millions of refugees their decades of opting for the status quo has created.

Posted by: erp at October 15, 2006 11:17 AM

South Korea's dirty secret: it only cares about its brother and sisters in the north on paper. Tears? Fine. Money? How much? But they're not about to take a mortar for them.

The day after the NK nuke test, the main paper in Seoul spent the *entire* editorial talking about how quickly the local stock market recovered.

Mary Steyn thinks too many Americans are frivolous. Frivolity also is relative.

Posted by: G at October 15, 2006 1:31 PM

Don't forget that sanctions are considered THE humane alternative to a quick war (or a drawn out war, for that matter), because of the danger of civilian collateral damage during the war. No thought given to the civilian collateral damage in trying to punish a tyrant by starving him, when he'll be that last person to starve (if his praetorian guard doesn't hang him first).

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 15, 2006 2:03 PM