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Another Wretched Piece on CiF

After Charlie Skelton’s brainfart on Syria, some nincompoop at Comment is Free has geared-up the intellectual diving technology and plumbed new depths of moral deficiency (Tm. Lamia) by commissioning another nutter.

This time it is new arrival Paul Watson, who is described as an author and journalist (his oeuvre appears to be limited to a book about his turning a really really really crap Micronesian football team into a really really crap Micronesian football team). This experience has thus given Watson a penetrating insight into… the politics of the Korean peninsula.

It started well, but went downhill rapidly after the inclusion of a question mark in the opening sentence: “South Korea good, North Korea bad (?)”.

The inspiration was the arrest on the demilitarized zone of Ro So-hiu, South Korean vice president of the of the Reunification of the Fatherland Union, as he returned from a 104 day stay in the DPRK. Watson describes this thus:

Ro Su-hui, the South Korean vice-chairman of the Reunification of the Fatherland Union, was returning from North Korea where he had paid his respects at ceremonies to mark the 100th day since the death of leader Kim Jong-Il. Before re-crossing the border to the South, he declared “Hurrah for the unification of the two Koreas!” to a cheering crowd and was presented with flowers by his hosts.

But as the grinning 69-year-old crossed the border, he received very different treatment by the South Korean border security. The watching North Koreans howled in horror as Ro Su-hui was thrown to the ground and carried off in a headlock.

Unless this violent handling occurred between these photographs being taken, I will go out on a limb and say Watson is exaggerating.

He goes on to divine a media-wide refusal to report on South Korea’s faults whilst focusing exclusively and unfairly on North Korea’s faults: which he, as is common to the X-files generation, believes he has seen through. I only can assume he does not follow English-language South Korean news-outlets, as he would have seen the lively criticism of President Lee Myung-bak – who, to cap it all, is standing-down at the upcoming elections as his term-limit has been reached as befits a functioning democracy – or a recent piece in the very newspaper Watson’s making his ludicrous claims criticized the RoK’s resumption of whaling.

Ro traveled to the DPRK as an uncritical and enthusing guest, as did Reverend Han Sang-ryeol who was similarly arrested on his return. An idea of what treatment criticial visitors to the DPRK expect can be seen in the fates of Robert Park and Aijalon Gomes, neither of whom the foul Reverend Han inquired about between gushing praise for the DPRK leadership.

The RoK has good cause to be wary of unmonitored contact with the DPRK, not least regular assassination attempts on genuine defectors by infiltrators: see also my discussing anecdotal tales from DPRK defectors which point to a genuine and often justified fear that the RoK is one of the least safe places to settle.

Lest anyone point to the shelling of Yeon-pyeongdo Island as reason for wariness towards the DPRK, Watson is onto it:

These roles are dusted off whenever there are flare-ups, such as the Yeonpyeong Island incident of 2010 when North Korea was condemned for firing shots at South Korean military and civilians in an “unprovoked attack”. It was not widely reported that South Korea had been test firing artillery in a patch of ocean that North Korea claims ownership of or that North Korea’s repeated demands for an explanation were ignored. While military intervention may not have been wise, it was far from the random act of hostility it was made out to be.

Yes it was you prat. Putting aside the desire of the RoK to conduct military exercises to forestall having to do the real thing in downtown Seoul, test firing missiles in empty ocean comes nowhere close to shelling an entirely different target, and a civilian target at that: one which, had it not been for the fortuitous arrival of a passenger ferry on the other side of the island and a local holiday, could have resulted in dozens or even hundreds of deaths instead of ‘only’ a half dozen.

Or the sinking of the naval courvette, Cheonan with the deaths of 46 sailors:

One of the South Korean investigators, Shin Sang-cheol, sacrificed his career to express his belief that the Cheonan had run aground in a tragic accident and with reports of evidence tampering circulating, even the South Korean public wasn’t widely convinced of North Korean involvement: a survey conducted in Seoul found less than 33% blamed the DPRK. Nonetheless North Korean guilt was stated as fact in the British press.

Because, no doubt, of a multi-national investigation which reported that; and even though the UNSC declined to name the attacker, it accepted that the ship had not run aground.

Most perniciously:

The lack of western sources in North Korea has allowed the media to conjure up fantastic stories that enthrall readers but aren’t grounded in hard fact.

Say what you like about the drought floods whatever causing the latest food shortage, at least there is no problem with obesity, eh?