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THE POSEUR FROM PYONGYANG

Beware a 30-year-old leader of a rogue communist state with a bad haircut and Scud missiles.

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Comically Sasha Baron Cohen as he sounds, the latest outbreak of sabre rattling from North Korea’s Kim Jong-un has done the job.

The world is rattled by his brinkmanship.  

The declaration by North Korea that it’s on a “war footing”, prepared to fire its missiles at US bases in its neighbourhood and even into the United States itself, may have foreign analysts and governments listening. But it has others incredulous at the audacity of the young and untested Kim Jong-un, whose dodgy coiffure has done nothing to stymie his predisposition for self-promotion.

Despite having inherited a poverty-stricken nation, his threats have become louder and in the past few days his determination to hold on to his purported nuclear arsenal, stronger.

As a result, no one knows if the latest threat that Pyongyang might strike against US bases near and far away is anything more than another hollow threat against its old enemy South Korea and Seoul’s ally, the United States, or perhaps – against all odds – real. 

(Meanwhile, international news outfits scoff that North Korea is using bad photoshop images to boost its military might. Note in the shot below, the identical shadows on the hovercraft- supposedly ready to attack on an unnamed beach? Image via The Guardian.)

hovercraft

According to North Korean television, the country’s generals are on standby with their fingers poised to press the “strike” button on the young leader’s order. That – according to the North Korean propaganda – would send its missiles firing into US bases in South Korea, Hawaii, Guam and Japan.

And though this might be boasting at its best, North Korea has warned that its long-range capabilities may be greater than the US thinks. North Korean newspapers are carrying vaguely coded messages that Kim may be thinking of sending missiles all the way across the US – from California to South Carolina.

“If the US and the South Korean puppet group perpetrate a military provocation, it will not be limited to a local war but develop into an all out war, a nuclear war,” said a government official, with a similarly bad haircut to his leader, on state TV.

That’s a development the US is taking seriously.

‘We remain fully prepared and capable of defending and protecting the United States and our allies,” said Caitlin Hayden, the White House National Security spokesperson.

No word from Washington on what responsibility it accepts for North Korea’s move. For months both sides have mounted military drills in a dangerous display of tit-for-tat showing off.

The latest outbreak of war mongering began when the US flew two stealth bombers from the US to the Korean Peninsula. Then they turned around and flew all the way back to the US. It was a very unsubtle message from Washington to Pyongyang, that if it needs to, the US can and will conduct a precision strike.

It was Washington telling the young North Korean leader, “We can! Can you?”

What makes this latest threat so serious is the “who knows” factor. 

Pyongyang’s Soviet-era Scud missiles would easily hit South Korea, but the capacity of its longer-range missiles is unknown.

South Korea for its part, has been fairly sanguine…until now.

President Park Geun-Hye has warned that she is taking the daily threats from the North “very seriously”. “I believe that we should make a strong and immediate retaliation without any other political considerations if (the North) stages any provocation against our people,” she said.

North Korea refuses to name the South’s first female leader by name, instead speaking of the “sinister swish of skirts”.

South Korea has essentially been at war with its northern neighbour since the 1950-1953 Korean War ended. When its communist cousins invaded, South Korea fought back with a little help from the US. But the war ended in a stalemate. No peace treaty was signed. Instead an armistice came into effect with a demilitarised zone between the two nations.

Since then it’s been a playground for muscle flexing and geo-political war-games.

article-2121019-12523A3C000005DC-828_468x286US President Barack Obama views North Korea from across the demilitarised zone. Image via The Daily Mail.  
 

Pyongyang decided earlier this year to revoke the cease-fire agreement putting both nations, officially, at war.

Still, most analysts believe Kim’s threats are little more than an attempt to get Washington to re-think the now crippling sanctions it imposed against Pyongyang after its last nuclear test.  Washington has always believed sanctions would convince Kim to give up his nuclear ambitions.

But Kim is now telling Washington to think again. 

He’s just announced a new strategy. And he’s made it clear that he is determined not only to rebuild the North Korean economy despite the sanctions. Provocatively, he’s also told the United States that he considers North Korea’s nuclear weapons arsenal its “nation’s life”.

Kim is not simply refusing to give it up. He’s vowed to expand the nuclear program.

Now that’s hitting the ball back into Washington’s court. 

 

*In latest news via AAP this morning:

The United States has positioned a destroyer capable of shooting down missiles near North Korea, in the latest military move amid a showdown with the communist state.

The USS Fitzgerald, which had sailed to South Korea as part of recent exercises, has been sent off the southwestern coast of the Korean peninsula instead of returning to its home port in Japan, a US defence official said on Monday. 

The official, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, said that the shifting of the USS Fitzgerald was “a prudent move” meant to offer “greater missile defence options should that become necessary”.

 

 

MORE ARTICLES BY MONICA ATTARD

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John Howard for Governor General?

 

*Monica Attard OAM is a five-time Walkley award-winning Australian journalist – including the Gold Walkley Award for Excellence in Journalism 1991. She was the host of the ABC’s PM, the World Today and Media Watch. She spent 28 years at the ABC, leaving to start up The Global Mail where she was, until recently, the Managing Editor. In 1997, Monica published a book entitled Russia: Which Way Paradise? documenting her time there as a foreign correspondent. You can follow her on Twitter: @attardmon.

 

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12 Comments

  • Reply April 2, 2013

    Linda Robinson

    This man wants a war and to be able to let off nuclear weapons. The scary fact is he can and probably will.

  • Reply April 2, 2013

    carole/m

    I remember watching the bombing of Iraq on the TV & thinking OMG those poor people.
    Since then , Saddam Hussein , Gaddafi , Bin Laden , all dead . Kim Jong-Un , is this man crazy or what, does he not know ,
    THE AMERICANS WILL BOMB YOU & your people will pay a dreadful price.
    I hope Australia is not drawn into this but that seems unlikely .
    Let’s hope sanity prevails.

  • Reply April 2, 2013

    Annie Also

    Making jibes at Kiim Jong-un’s hair does nothing to help the seriousness of the situation. American’s have got to stop sabre rattling too….Diplomacy is needed not show of force…this is scary…Everyone needs to stop and be careful what they say and how they behave…EVERYONE including commentators….Please.

  • Reply April 2, 2013

    Dangerous Games

    The stupid little FW is going to get poor, innocent people vaporized if he keeps it up. The US aren’t going to wait until he’s nuked Hawaii before striking, nor should they.

  • Reply April 2, 2013

    Lee-Anne

    The day we relinquish our senses of humour and become too serious with the likes of Kim Jong-un (and his bad hair do) is the day we should all pack up shop and go home. Respect is earned and if he wasn’t such a twit, I doubt Monica would have picked on his silly hair style. Meglomaniacs like Kim aren’t just deluded, they’re dangerously narcissistic but unlike the poor wretched North Koreans, we in the west don’t have to pander to him. Of course, publicly and diplomatically we must resist snide comments but surely he’s set himself up as an easy target for any witty journalist to take a shot at. Let’s face it, if we didn’t laugh at him, we’d probably have to cry. Go Monica :)

  • Reply April 2, 2013

    Sandy

    What a fruit and nut job. God help the citizens of North Korea. The trouble is, even if this whack job was knocked on the head, there would be another whack job right behind him. Perhaps the wisest thing would be for Dennis Rodman (who has a cracking hairstyle) to act as negotiator (and stylist).

  • Reply April 2, 2013

    helen b

    Thankyou Monica for another very clear outline of the situation with North Korea/USA. The scenes of North Korean troops reminded me of similar displays of mass showing of strength as with Russia, China and of course Germany. It looked and felt very like images of the Third Reich. Let’s hope that this is bluster and that emotions will not blow out into a blow up. The Americans have shown themselves quick to respond? / react and relentless in their destruction.

  • Reply April 3, 2013

    Rhoda

    When will it ever end ‘sigh’ Dreaming of war when he could be sitting back on a yacht in the Caribbean checking out bikini girls with his binoculars. How do people like this get to be in charge in the first place??!! It’s a wonder the country hasn’t completely collapsed by now. Only a matter of time before it does. He’ll run it into the ground first and then expect mercy when his countrymen finally turn on him.

    The US/South Korea only have to target his fuel depots/airstrips/military bases/whatever and it would be over in 5 mins. There wouldn’t be enough vehicles or aircraft to transport his army from A to B. It’s already marching on an empty stomach. Maybe he thinks he can put a quick hit on South Korea and stock up. He obviously has cognitive issues – amongst others.

  • Reply April 3, 2013

    LarrBecq

    The straffer’s defence : “It seemed, your Worship, like a good idea at the time. . .” [ relative to a Tasmanian environmental event, 1983, but itemized at a National Press Club luncheon, Canberra, September 28 , 1999 }

  • […] the event was somewhat overshadowed by the poseur of Pyongyang, who is threatening South Korea and even the US mainland with missile attacks, the forum gave Julia […]

  • Reply April 16, 2013

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