Monday, October 22, 2012

Let the Chopped Branches Speak

A piece I published at Asia Sentinel on October 19th, 2012:

With phrases like “economic improvement measure” swirling around Kim Il-sung Square as short skirts in Pyongyang inspire whispered talk of greater freedom for the masses, 2012 has turned into a year of hope for the DPRK.

In such circumstances, it is no surprise that the talk of the town this week is an unusually frank, open interview given to former Finnish Minister of Defense Elisabeth Rehn by a suave young man named Kim Han-sol.

Any Han-sol interview was always going to be a point of interest for the international community. As Kim Jong-il’s grandson, he’s nominally close to the center of the family and, as the interview reveals, speaks English like a native. The interview content doesn’t disappoint, either; holed up in an international college in the Bosnian city of Mostar, the young man speaks of a Libyan roommate thrilled by the overthrow of Colonel Qaddafi, of interaction with South Korean friends, of his father’s disinterest in politics, and of his sadness at never “being sought out” by his grandfather.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Nice Words from Old Friends

Daily NK: Winning hearts and minds since 2005.

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Spinning Ball Is a Tough One to Hit True

Any tennis player, particularly a relatively bad one like me, will tell you that a rapidly spinning ball is a hard ball to return effectively on the bounce.

Ditto North Korean economic improvement measures. Is it better to try and hit the ball while it is still in the air, spinning as it has been spinning for the last 60 years, knowing that will result in a weak return that could be pounced upon by one's opponent, or would one be better off letting it bounce before returning it, knowing that this will either result in a fabulous cross-court winner or a disastrous hook over the fence and into the park beyond?

More on why this matters here.