As the Dear Larder points to the new haemorrhoid cream manufacture plant, the trial in the DPRK of of Korean-American Kenneth Bae has closed; whom I wrote about as his trial opened. A tour operator operating across the Sino-NK border, he had been arrested in December on vague charges of possession of illegal material and plots to overthrow the Government.
Without any ado, the trial convened and advanced and closed and he has been sentenced to 15 years of hard labour in the Yodok camp system (probably Yodok-14>). Given that I am disinclined to take anything the goons in Pyongyang say on face value – although I would cheerfully support anyone who seeks to overthrow the Government – I have relied on extrapolation from various reports and supposition to postulate why he was arrested.
Before it was closed, authors at NK News had inspected his Facebook profile and noted he promoted a Chicago-based Christian organization named ‘the Joseph Connection’ (it does not appear to have a deep webprint) which operated various missions in China and on the Sino-NK border; although it also quoted someone identified as a personal friend of Bae who insisted he was not a member. Part of the case by what-not-even-charity-can-call the DPRK judiciary made is that he was discovered in possession of images of hunger-struck street children.
NK News cited the Korean term as “kotjebi” (lit. flowering swallows), which indicates their constant search for food to alleviate bone-wrenching hunger. Unsurprisingly, North Korean agencies prohibit the use of the term. Writing about such poor wretches, Christine Ahn managed to miss the point spectacularly:
I went to North Korea as a peace activist. [Edit: no you didn’t] North Koreans were living in very difficult conditions. Eight-year-old children were loitering around the hotel, shaking because of hunger. Even soldiers were extremely thin.
One thing that surprised me was the mental strength of the North Koreans. I strongly felt their pride and urge to preserve their system.
In last night’s Channel4 News (and, I presume, other broadcast outlets), footage of such kotjebi were shown which put me in mind of the work done by Kim Dong-cheol of Asia Press; whom I wrote about here.
The NK News observes that the DPRK regieme tolerates up to a point unaffiliated aid workers, and speculates that Bae’s conviction was less to do with handing out Bibles than it was undermining the regieme in some way or other and threatening unnamed officials; hence the supposedly unusually harsh sentence.
Threats against the regieme, however, is a relative term in the DPRK where war might be threatened because the Dear Larder has convinced himself that attacks on statues and paintings are being planned.
Furthermore, comparable sentences have been handed-out for equally vague and unverifiable charges of illegal entry and coup plotting; such as US journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee who were sentence to 12 years in 2009, and holy fool Aijalon Gomes who received eight years in 2010.
All were promptly released following visits by Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter respectively, and increased Danegeld aid. With another American citizen in detention – and so soon after the Dear Larder’s most recent display of heavily-armed histrionics – I can see this as another shake-down exercise.
As confirmed on the NK News piece, Carter has made clear he has not been asked or has plans to visit the DPRK to discuss Bae’s detention. This will, at least, be a relief to the Dear Larder’s office manager, who will now not have to arrange a trip to China as Kim Jong-il did when Carter last visited.