Thursday, October 19, 2006

Diane in the DPRK

Browsing the ABC News website (we go there so you don't have to), I discovered that "Good Morning America" co-anchor Diane Sawyer is currently visiting North Korea. You may recall that the broadcast networks made similar pilgrimages to Iraq during the run-up to the 2003 war, focusing on the "human" element of the story; the not-so-subtle message was simple: these are the people we may be bombing in a few months and they're just like us! They want nothing more than a better life for their children, and to live in peace, yada, yada, yada.

As part of her visit to North Korea, Ms. Sawyer conducted an interview with a senior North Korean general, Ri Chan Bok, who warned that war is "inevitable," if the United States continues to "force North Korea to kneel." General Bok has made similar threats before; in a January 2005 interview with former CBS anchor Dan Rather, the North Korean officer threatened that his country would use its nuclear weapons, if the U.S. invaded his country. ABC identified Bok as the DPRK general "in charge of the de-militarized zone." He has been a regular participant in periodic general officer talks at the "peace village" of Panmunjon, often delivering a predictable critique of U.S. or South Korean policies. Serving as a mouthpiece for the American media seems to be an additional duty for General Bok.

Since I'm already at work when GMA is on the air, I didn't catch Ms. Sawyer's interview, and I haven't had a chance to watch any video on the network's website. But I'm relatively confident that Diane never got around to asking General Bok some tough--and pertinent--questions on North Korea's nuclear program, including:

--Why does North Korea need nuclear weapons to defend itself, since U.S. nukes were withdrawn from the peninsula in 1992, and South Korea has no nuclear program?
--Why is 60% of the DPRK military stationed within 60 miles of the DMZ, particularly when NK forces greatly outnumber their U.S./ROK counterparts, which maintain a defensive orientation south of the DMZ?
--How many North Korean civilians starved to death as a result of the resources lavished on the nuclear program by Kim Jong-il?
--Why did North Korea violate the 1994 Agreed-To Framework by implementing a covert nuclear program which led to development of the device that was recently tested?
-- Will the DPRK accept responsibility for triggering a new nuclear arms race in Asia?
--How does Pyongyang justify its particpation in illicit activities, including large-scale counterfeiting of U.S. currency and drug sales?
--Why does North Korea undermine regional--and global security--through the sale/proliferation of ballistic missile technology?
--How would the DPRK react to a quarantine of its air and naval traffic?

(And, finally)

--If North Korea truly is the "worker's paradise," how to you explan a system of supposed self-sufficiency (juche) that has left the average citizen six inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter than his relatives in South Korea?
--Why is the "Dear Leader" the only guy in the DPRK who's 30 pounds overweight, and has the worst haircut of any world leader.

Naturally, Ms. Sawyer won't ask any of those questions, to avoid being booted from the DPRK. Besides, she's too busy visting a North Korean beauty salon (I kid you not), where curls are apparently the latest rage. Apparently, everyone's trying to imitate Kim Jong-il's atrocious comb-over. With a personal fortune in the billions (reportedly stashed in Swiss accounts), you'd think the Dear Leader could afford hair implants, or at least a decent rug.

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