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North Korea: Witness to Transformation

Slave to the Blog: The Worm (Re-)Turns

by | September 4th, 2013 | 06:59 am
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When the going gets weird, the weird get going. Having denied entry to Ambassador Bob King, slated to visit Pyongyang to negotiate the release of imprisoned missionary Kenneth Bae, North Korea welcomed erstwhile hostage release negotiator Dennis Rodman. [Man, we really do need a "Rodman" tag for this blog.] The Worm was supposed to visit North Korea last month, but just as that country has its own “juche calendar,”  Ambassador R has his own personal time zone in which September is really August.

The Worm is there on the dime of Paddy Power which bills itself as the world’s largest online gambling establishment.  As avid readers of this blog know, they have been pushing their own version of “basketball diplomacy” which would involve an exhibition match, possibly played in Switzerland, and attended by Kim Jong-un.  (That’s “Kim” to Worm, or “Un” to Kevin Stahler.  You gotta get hip, Tony. Maybe you can line up fellow New Yorker Metta World Peace for the World Peace Tournament. Just don’t throw any beer on him.)

(More seriously, in the spirit of Bill “we deal with North Korea as it is, not as we want it to be” Perry, if the Pudgy Marshall or whatever they’re calling him now is really that obsessed with the 1990s Chicago Bulls, let’s send him Steve Kerr with Syd Seiler as a chaperone. Can’t be any less effective that what we’re doing now.)

In news of the less weird, this week the first meeting of the binational committee to manage the Kaesong Industrial Complex got underway. After 12 hours of talks the two sides could not agree when to re-open the industrial park. The next round of negotiations is scheduled for 10 September. And looming is the issue of what concessions, if any, the North Koreans will yield for having shut down the operation in the first place.

In a headline that sounds like something from the Onion, Yonhap, last seen butchering reporting on North Korea’s nutritional status, says that “Intel Corp. Reaffirms No Plans for Business in N. Korea.” Really? And Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.

In response to our recent post on Johnny Dyani, a correspondent informed us that there was a second Dyani tribute event this past weekend.  We missed the show (anyone who was there send us a review), but hey, it gives us an excuse to run an excerpt from “Music for Xaba” below.

Finally, don’t forget to get in your entry to our Swiftian proposal contest: tell us what Hamheung can exchange with Detroit for those 50,000 barbecues-in-waiting and win a copy of Hard Target: Sanctions, Inducements, and the North Korea Problem!