North Korea–Virus And Dictators

The most outrageous story of the last week…..seems a couple of lawmakers from the US want to send help to North Korea….

Two U.S. lawmakers have announced the introduction of a bill calling for streamlined procedures to expedite the delivery of humanitarian aid to North Korea.

The bill, named the Enhancing North Korea Humanitarian Assistance Act, was announced by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Andy Levin (D-MI) on Monday.

“I firmly believe that multilateral pressure is necessary to support our diplomacy with North Korea in order to keep the American people safe from the murderous Kim regime,” Markey, ranking member of the East Asia Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement posted on his website.

“But we must not stand in the way when selfless humanitarians seek to give North Koreans a chance against hunger and deadly infectious diseases,” he said, adding that sanctions programs are “not successful” if they prevent basic humanitarian assistance.

https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20200415000200325

While the US debates helping North Korea Kim fires off some missiles in a display…..

President Trump sent a personal letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, seeking to maintain good relations and offering cooperation in fighting the viral pandemic, Kim’s sister said Sunday. The correspondence came as Kim observed the firing of tactical guided weapons over the weekend, drawing criticism from South Korea, as nuclear talks remain deadlocked. In a statement carried by KCNA, Kim’s sister and senior ruling party official, Kim Yo Jong, praised Trump for the letter at a time when “big difficulties and challenges lie ahead in the way of developing ties” between the countries. She said Trump explained his plan to “propel the relations between the two countries … and expressed his intent to render cooperation in the anti-epidemic work.” She said her brother expressed gratitude for Trump’s letter. North Korea has repeatedly said there hasn’t been a single case of coronavirus on its soil. Some foreign experts question that claim and say an outbreak in the North could cause a humanitarian disaster because of its poor medical infrastructure.

Last month, the State Department expressed concerns about North Korea’s vulnerability to a potential coronavirus outbreak and said it was ready to support efforts by aid organizations to contain the spread of the illness in the North. There was no comment from the White House, notes the AP. Kim Yo Jong said Trump’s letter is “a good example showing the special and firm personal relations” between the North Korean and US leaders. But she said it’s not a good idea to “make hasty conclusion or be optimistic about” the prospect for bilateral relations. “I think that the bilateral relations and dialogue for them would be thinkable only when the equilibrium is kept dynamically and morally and justice ensured between the two countries,” she said. “Even at this moment we are working hard to develop and defend ourselves on our own under the cruel environment which the US is keen to ‘provide.'”

Does Kim have the virus…..he was a no-show at a celebration for his grandfather……

Kim Jong Un doesn’t typically miss showing off whenever his famous relatives are honored during North Korean national holidays. That’s why there are now whispers as to why he didn’t show (or wasn’t shown by state media) in a Wednesday birthday tribute to his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, with speculation now circulating the North Korean leader might be ill. Only senior officials were said to have been part of the delegation that came for “the Day of the Sun” to view the embalmed body of Kim Il Sung at Pyongyang’s Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, per Reuters. There was also no state media report about the country’s alleged cruise missile tests on Tuesday, which there normally would be, with Kim in attendance. The last time the 36-year-old was seen in public was last Saturday, when he attended a Workers’ Party politburo meeting.

Those who’ve watched his behavior say it would be unlike him to skip the birthday tribute: Yonhap notes Kim hasn’t skipped the holiday visit to the mausoleum since he took power in 2011, per Fox News. “He has been going there on the birthdays of his grandfather and father to flaunt his royalty to them and sacred bloodline,” a senior fellow at South Korea’s Sejong Institute tells Reuters. While some wonder if he’s sick or has another health issue, some observers tell Fox he may be trying to distance himself from his relatives to establish his own legacy. Still others suggest he may have paid tribute beforehand to shelter himself from coronavirus exposure. “This is a leader whose … trademark [is] hugging his people a lot,” an international relations professor at Seoul’s Yonsei University tells CNN. “I think we have to include the possibility that this is related to their process to make sure he stays safe.”

Then if something happens to Kim will his younger sister step into the leadership shoes?

Kim Jong Un’s powerful sister, Kim Yo Jong, was appointed to North Korea’s politburo in 2017 but is believed to have been removed last year after a second Kim-Trump summit fell through. Now she’s been reinstated, the Guardian reports. Kim Yo Jong has long been a close aide to her brother, but is recently rising again within the country’s hierarchy, experts say. On Saturday, she was reappointed to the central committee’s political bureau as an alternate member; the Korea Herald describes it as the top policymaking body in the country and says Kim Yo Jong’s reappointment marks her “comeback.”

Other top officials were also reshuffled that day, with Kim Jong Un presiding over the meeting during which Kim Yo Jong’s appointment was confirmed. She was also recently appointed first vice-department director of the central committee of the ruling Workers’ Party, and just last month started issuing statements under her own name. Also at Saturday’s meeting, the party adopted a resolution to take “more thorough state measures to protect life and safety of our people from the great worldwide epidemic disease” of COVID-19. North Korea officially claims zero coronavirus cases, but the Korea Times reports some observers think the country might be hushing up an outbreak.

His sister is on the rise……and we need to know more about her in case she steps up if something should happen to Kim……

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un promoted his younger sister over the weekend, naming Kim Yo Jong, believed to be 28, to the nation’s most important political body, the Workers Party’s Politburo. It’s a rare sign of trust by Kim in a family member, and the New York Times speculates that he may want to make sure a familial successor is in line should anything happen to him before his young children are old enough to assume power. Related developments:

  • Full siblings: Kim Yo Jong and Kim Jong Un have the same parents (their mother was a dancer who was one of Kim Jong Il’s wives), and she has for years been seen at her brother’s side at public functions, reports Reuters. The pair, along with another full sibling, Kim Jong Chol, who stays out of politics, are believed to have attended school in Switzerland. She is also believed to be married, possibly to the son of a powerful party secretary.
  • Blacklisted: In 2014, Kim Yo Jong began working for the ruling party’s propaganda arm and thus found herself among those blacklisted this year by the US Treasury Department for “ongoing and serious human rights abuses and censorship activities,” per Time.
  • Image control? Reports in South Korean media suggest that Kim Yo Jong has been trying to improve her brother’s image by encouraging visits to hospitals and such, reports USA Today. She may also be behind his odd friendship with Dennis Rodman.
  • Her job: Kim Yo Jong is now an alternate member of the party’s decision-making body, which generally rubber-stamps Kim Jong Un’s mandates. But she would theoretically get to take part in debates on issues including military decisions. She is only the second woman known to get such an appointment. The first was her aunt, who hasn’t been seen in public in years and may be under house arrest. The aunt’s husband was executed in 2013, per the Times.
  • Taking a toll: Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that US pressure on Pyongyang is beginning to seriously pinch. More than 20 nations have reduced business or diplomatic ties with North Korea through various means: kicking out ambassadors or guest workers, barring ships, limiting flights, etc. The idea, being pushed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, is to try to show Kim that the price for becoming a nuclear power is too high.
  • Trump skeptical: One person apparently not sold on the above progress is Trump himself. On Monday, he tweeted, “Our country has been unsuccessfully dealing with North Korea for 25 years, giving billions of dollars & getting nothing. Policy didn’t work!”

We need to know as much as possible……

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2 thoughts on “North Korea–Virus And Dictators

  1. Is it possible that Trump is actually scared of the DPRK? It often seems that way. Perhaps he recognises a similar unstable leader who might well set off another world war?
    Best wishes, Pete.

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