April 3, 2013 |
Kim Jong Un is an absurdly comical figure. If he were not holding the fate of millions of people in his hands, the North Korean dictator would provide us all with nothing but laughs. He runs a country that, thanks to the ruinous communist policies of his father and grandfather, is an economic basket case where mass starvation is always as close as tomorrow. He has almost no friends in the world, except for the similarly outcast nutcases that run Iran. His closest allies, the Chinese, are so disgusted with him that they have signed on to United Nations sanctions against his country.
February 24, 2008 |
Not since 1950 when the U.S. Army briefly captured Pyongyang during the Korean War have so many Americans descended on the world's most reclusive, anti-U.S. capital. This time, though, the invasion is not military, but musical. A 747 jumbo jet from Beijing is scheduled to arrive Monday in Pyongyang carrying a full symphony orchestra -- 130 members of the New York Philharmonic and their instruments, minus only the piano.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 28, 1989 |
As a beloved ex-President, Ronald Reagan almost always gets what he wants these days. But this week, one of Reagan's personal wishes was blocked by a federal convict with a typewriter. Last Friday, Reagan personally telephoned the National Park Service in Washington to add his support to proposed national historic landmark status for a mitten-shaped hill in the Santa Monica Mountains that includes prized Chumash Indian cave paintings. But on Monday, when the Park Service's advisory board met, it concluded that its hands were tied.
January 27, 2014 |
YANJI, China - After the North Korean coal mine where she worked stopped paying salaries, Park Kyung Ok tried her hand at business. Buttons and zippers, candy and dried squid, fabric, plastic tarpaulins, men's suits and cigarettes. "I sold just about everything," said Park, 44. But it wasn't until she started hawking methamphetamine in 2007, she said, that she was able to earn a living. Methamphetamine, known as orum, or "ice," is a rare commodity manufactured and sold in North Korea, where most factories sit idle, the equipment rusted or looted.
February 17, 2014 |
Sometimes - as with North Korea and its despot of the moment, Kim Jong Un - I hate to admit it, but I miss the good/bad old days when we could just threaten to bomb someone back into the Stone Age to solve problems. The U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea released a 400-page report Monday detailing just how bad things are there ; here's the laundry list: “These crimes against humanity entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.” Which pretty much says it all, though, as Julie Makinen reported for The Times, the report further noted: “the 'gravity, scale and nature of the violations' in the totalitarian state over several decades do not have 'any parallel in the contemporary world.' ” Then reality set in: Makinen's story goes on to quote the chairman of the panel established by the U.N. Human Rights Council, retired Australian chief justice Michael Kirby, who said the findings reminded him of the extensive horrors committed by Nazi Germany and other Axis powers and fully revealed only at the end of World War II. “I hope the international community will be moved by the detail" in the report, Kirby said.
April 3, 2013
Re "Reaching out to Pyongyang," Opinion, April 1 I am not a trained diplomat or a politician, but as one who is preparing for his fourth invited visit to Pyongyang since 2009, I have come to appreciate the value of one-on-one discussions with the North Koreans that Donald Gregg is advocating. Each time I leave, I am told: "We are aware of the tensions between your country and ours, and yet you dare to come. You are always welcome here. " In 2012 I was able to take to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea a delegation of American magicians as the first step in a hoped-for people-to-people exchange.