Dennis Rodman Wants People to See the Good In North Korea

Here is what US ambassador to North Korea basketball player Dennis Rodman had to say about his recent trip to North Korea:

Rodman also discussed how the country has changed over the course of his visits, saying “we’ve seen a lot of changes,” including “the fact that it is so modernized now.”

“When you go over there, and you hear the radio, and … people are talking,” Rodman said. “They’re so happy now, because it’s more like … it’s civilized again.”

Rodman, who calls North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un a friend, said, “people don’t see … the good side about that country. It’s like going, like, to Asia. It’s like going to like Istanbul, Turkey, or any place like that. It’s pretty much just like that. You’re know, you going to see some poverty. You’re going to see some people that’s not doing too well.”

“I think people don’t see him as … a friendly guy,” Rodman added of the country’s dictator, adding “if you actually talk to him” you would see a different side of him.

“We sing karaoke,” Rodman added of his relationship with Jong-Un. “It’s all fun. Ride horses, everything.”

“It’s the politics that’s the bad thing. If we can try to figure something out, just open the door,” Rodman suggested, saying that he believes “if Donald Trump had a chance,” he would fly to North Korea “and try to make peace.”  [Good Morning America]

You can read the rest at the link, but I have to wonder if Rodman actually believes what he says or he is just saying what he has to in order to maintain access to North Korea?

North Korea Calls Themselves the “Biggest Victims” After Otto Warmbier’s Death

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but it is always amazing how little shame the North Koreans have even after the most outrageous provocations they commit such as the killing of Otto Warmbier:

North Korea on Friday called itself the “biggest victim” in the death of an American student who was detained for more than a year and died days after being released in a coma.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency denied that North Korea cruelly treated or tortured Otto Warmbier and accused the United States and South Korea of a smear campaign that insulted what it called its “humanitarian” treatment of him.

The comments published by KCNA were North Korea’s first reaction to Otto Warmbier’s death in a U.S. hospital Monday after it released him for what it called humanitarian reasons.

Doctors at the hospital said Warmbier had suffered a severe neurological injury from an unknown cause. Relatives say they were told the 22-year-old University of Virginia student had been in a coma since shortly after he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea in March 2016.

His family and others have blamed North Korea for his condition.

Warmbier was accused of stealing a propaganda poster. Through statements on KCNA, North Korea said it dealt with him according to its domestic laws and international standards.

“Although we had no reason at all to show mercy to such a criminal of the enemy state, we provided him with medical treatments and care with all sincerity on humanitarian basis until his return to the U.S., considering that his health got worse,” the agency quoted an unidentified Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying.

The spokesman said “groundless” speculation of torture and beatings could be refuted by American doctors who came to North Korea at the time of Warmbier’s repatriation and “recognized that his health indicators like pulse, temperature, respiration and the examination result of the heart and lung were all normal.” The report did not mention Warmbier’s neurological status.

“The fact that Warmbier died suddenly in less than a week just after his return to the U.S. in his normal state of health indicators is a mystery to us as well,” the spokesman said.

“To make it clear, we are the biggest victim of this incident and there would be no more foolish judgment than to think we do not know how to calculate gains and losses,” he said.  [Associated Press]

You can read more at the link.

Is White Privilege to Blame for Otto Warmbier’s Death?

Leave it to the social justice warriors to connect the death of Otto Warmbier to so called “white privilege”:

As shocked as I am by the sentence handed down to Warmbier, I am even more shocked that a grown man, an American citizen, would not only voluntarily enter North Korea but also commit what’s been described a “college-style prank.” That kind of reckless gall is an unfortunate side effect of being socialized first as a white boy, and then as a white man in this country. Every economic, academic, legal and social system in this country has for more than three centuries functioned with the implicit purpose of ensuring that white men are the primary benefactors of all privilege. The kind of arrogance bred by that kind of conditioning is pathogenic, causing its host to develop a subconscious yet no less obnoxious perception that the rules do not apply to him, or at least that their application is negotiable.  (…..)

As I’ve said, living 15 years performing manual labor in North Korea is unimaginable, but so is going to a place I know I’m unwelcome and violating their laws. I’m a black woman though. The hopeless fear Warmbier is now experiencing is my daily reality living in a country where white men like him are willfully oblivious to my suffering even as they are complicit in maintaining the power structures which ensure their supremacy at my expense. He is now an outsider at the mercy of a government unfazed by his cries for help. I get it.  [Huffington Post via reader tip]

What is interesting is that there have been far fewer white people detained in North Korea than other races which the author makes no mention of in her article.  There has been 16 American detainees in North Korea since 1996.   Five were white, eight were ethnic Koreans, one black and one hispanic.  I have long recommended against traveling to North Korea, but many Americans have traveled there with no issues.  The biggest reason Americans have been detained is because of religious reasons, or in the case of Euna Lee and Laura Ling sheer stupidity.

This actually makes Warmbier’s detention very different from all the others.  What we don’t know is was Warmbier told by someone in the hotel he could have the poster in order to have an excuse to arrest him?  It seems pretty insensitive to me to blame so called “white privilege” when all the facts of why he was detained and what happened to him are not known.

President Moon Says He Does Not Need President Trump’s Permission to Negotiate with North Korea

I think the interviewer could have used a better word choice, but I think this is much to do about nothing:

“CBS This Morning” co-host Norah O’Donnell and South Korean President Moon Jae-in

South Korea or its head of state Moon Jae-in does not need permission from the U.S. president or anyone else to engage North Korea in dialogue, Seoul’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said Wednesday.

“Resumption of dialogue with North Korea may need to be pursued in close cooperation and consultation with the United States, but South Korea does not need to be allowed by the U.S. to do so,” Kwun Hyuk-ki, a Cheong Wa Dae spokesman, told Yonhap News Agency.

The remarks came in reaction to a question by a U.S. journalist in a recent interview with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, in which the interviewer from U.S. broadcaster CBS stated it was not clear whether U.S. President Donald Trump would “agree to allow” his South Korean counterpart to negotiate with the North Koreans.  (…..)

Many South Koreans reacted with anger in online postings.

“The president must have been very offended when given the question. He still managed very well,” one Internet user said on a local internet bulletin board.

Without interpreting what the word “allow” may have intended to mean, the Cheong Wa Dae spokesman flatly dismissed the notion that the South Korean president would ask for U.S. permission to engage with North Korea.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but President Moon’s interview with Norah O’Donnell can be viewed at this link.


Otto Warmbier’s Death Could End US Tourism to North Korea

I have been saying this for years that US tourism to North Korea should not be allowed and unfortunately the death of Otto Warmbier may be the spark that finally causes an end to Americans being allowed to visit North Korea:

Warmbier’s treatment and death has served as a wake-up call to both those who join and organize tours to North Korea. In an emotional statement, Young Pioneers Tours said: “The way his detention was handled was appalling, and a tragedy like this must never be repeated … Considering these facts and this tragic outcome we will no longer be organizing tours for U.S. citizens to North Korea.” Uri Tours, a U.S.-based tour company also offering trips to North Korea, said it was “reviewing its position on [North Korea] travel for American citizens.”

They may not have a choice. Although the State Department already warns in strong terms against North Korean travel, last month Republican and Democratic U.S. congressmen introduced a bill that would ban American tourists from traveling to North Korea as tourists and require special permission for other visits, citing at least 17 Americans detained by the regime over the last decade. “With increased tensions in North Korea, the danger that Americans will be detained for political reasons is greater than ever,” Democrat Adam Schiff and Republican Joe Wilson said in a statement.  [TIME]

You can read more at the link.

Picture of the Day: North Korea Moves Large Number of Fighter Aircraft to Wonsan

Voice of America (VOA) reported that Google Earth revealed the satellite images taken by France’s space center Centre Nationale d’Etudes Spatiales and Airbus on May 20. The images shows 20 fighters that appear to be MiG-19 and MiG-21 about one-point-six kilometers southwest of the airport terminal and three more fighters 800 meters off the back of the terminal. The VOA said that all the 23 fighters can be moved to the runways and main buildings of the airport. The report said that a large number of fighters were never spotted at the airport except during the 2015 air show, suspecting that the North is utilizing the airport for military purposes. [KBS World Radio]

Otto Warmbier’s Parents Critical of Obama Administration After Sons Death

I think it is unfortunate that the death of Otto Warmbier is taking on a political tone:

His parents told The Associated Press the day of his release that they wanted “the world to know how we and our son have been brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime.”

Fred Warmbier praised his son’s “performance” and President Donald Trump’s administration. He was critical of the approach to his son’s situation taken by former President Barack Obama’s administration.

In a White House statement, Trump said, “A lot of bad things happened, but at least we got him home to be with his parents.” He called North Korea a “brutal regime.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he offered his prayers as Warmbier’s parents “enter a time of grief no parent should ever know,” and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Warmbier’s death “touches the American heart like no other.”  [Associated Press]

You can read more at the link, but the some in the far right are now blaming former President Obama for Warmbier’s death.  First of all we don’t know what effort the Obama administration put into getting Warmbier’s release.  Maybe they did try and what the North Koreans wanted in return was completely unreasonable.  Maybe we will hear more from former Obama administration officials in the coming days on what happened.  However instead of blaming President Obama it seems the blame should completely go on the Kim regime for Warmbier’s death.

North Korean Man Swims Across Mouth of Han River to Defect to South Korea

A second defector has crossed over the DMZ in a week:

A North Korean man defected to South Korea on Sunday after crossing the border, Seoul’s military said.

He was spotted at the northern part of the mouth of the Han River in Gimpo, just west of Seoul, according to Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

The JCS said the man, in his early 20s, was spotted around 2:30 a.m. Sunday near the observation post of the Second Marine Division. Questioning is under way to find out what caused him to flee to the South.

The man is said to have swum his way south with plastic foam pieces on both shoulders to stay afloat. The JCS said he was discovered at a particularly narrow stretch in the river.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

US Officials Seize North Korean Diplomatic Package at New York Airport

There must have been something or someone that tipped off US officials to seize this package because it is pretty serious to take a diplomatic package like this:

North Korea has claimed that the United States recently mugged its delegation carrying a diplomatic package in New York, calling on Washington to provide an explanation on what it calls a provocation.

According to the (North) Korean Central News Agency on Sunday, which quoted its foreign ministry, a group of government officials and police officers from the U.S. took a diplomatic package from its delegation Friday at John F. Kennedy International Airport before it was about to board a flight home.

The delegation was in New York to attend the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, it added.

“As the diplomats vigorously resisted, they grabbed the diplomatic package using physical violence and made off,” the ministry was quoted as saying. It called the incident a “planned and organized provocation.”

The ministry also asked the world to “seriously reconsider” New York as a venue for major international events and demanded Washington provide an explanation for infringing upon its sovereignty.

“If the U.S. fails to give its due response to our demand which is all too reasonable and fair enough, it will be totally responsible for all the consequences to be entailed,” the ministry said.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but it was believed that the North Koreans used a diplomatic package to bring the VX nerve agent into Malaysia to assassinate Kim Jong-nam.  I don’t think they would bring something like that to New York, but I would not be surprised if they were taking money out of New York from some criminal enterprise they have going on.