Setting aside the manufactured outrage from the
Libyan London School of Economics, gushingly confused complaints from Student Union reps and whiff of snobbery towards ‘red-top’ documentaries following John Swinnie’s [EDIT: Sweeney, of course. Not that this is a Scottish blog] Uncovered trip to North Korea, one very real danger to members and organizers of tour trips remains.
As I mentioned in my earlier piece, an organizer of another tour group has been in detention in North Korea since December last year: reports now are that American citizen, Kenneth Bae aka Pae Jon-ho has been formally charged with sedition and attempts to over-throw the Government. What would be both shocking and unsurprising is that he may have been detained by DPRK agents when still in the Chinese city of Yanji, from which he was directing business visits to the special economic zone of Rason.
Where even Dennis Rodman had failed, so too did former Democrat Governor and clean energy advocate Bill Richardson on his January visit with Google executive chairman, Eric Schmidt.
American citizens – from holy fools Aijalon Gomes and Robert Park to passersby Euna Lee and Laura Ling – have been used as bargaining chips in the past. Following backing down after his recent managed crisis event of threatening all-out war, the Dear Larder – like the chastised toddler (albeit one armed with nuclear weapons) demanding that mummy and daddy clear-up his mess – is imposing a pre-requisite of greater aid for renewed negotiations sending more pleading letters for food aid: including from Mongolia.
Expect similar demands for Bae’s release.