Christian Whiton

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The latest crisis involving North Korea appears to be ebbing. It started when Pyongyang's forces allegedly placed landmines on the South Korean side of the demilitarized zone (DMZ). Two South Korean soldiers were nearly killed by the mines earlier this month. American soldiers also patrol the DMZ and could have been the victims.

This week, North Korea fired artillery shells across the border and South Korea responded in kind. Now Pyongyang's officials are threatening war unless South Korea stops propaganda it is broadcasting across the DMZ on loudspeakers (something North Korea does itself.) Indeed, Kim Jong Un, the North's dictator, announced a "quasi-state of war" with his government's usual lack of subtlety.…  Seguir leyendo »

Late last month, North Korea's dictator, Kim Jong Un, reportedly ordered his defense minister killed for disloyalty.

In an unsubtle lesson, hundreds of people were required to watch as Hyon Yong-Chol was apparently obliterated by an anti-aircraft gun. Being a top official in North Korea, it seems, has become increasingly dangerous.

The recently departed defense minister began his climb to high office not long after Kim had Jang Song Thaek, his uncle and the man widely seen as a tutor and unofficial regent to the young leader, frog marched out of a formal assembly in December 2013. He was later killed, according to an announcement by state media, possibly also by exotic means.…  Seguir leyendo »

A quote often attributed to Leon Trotsky reads, "You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you." Although Washington would like very much to ignore North Korea, Pyongyang has just brought Trotsky's axiom into the 21st century with a seminal cyberattack that will have an immediate economic and cultural impact.

On Wednesday, the U.S. government reportedly concluded that North Korea was "centrally involved" in the hacking of Sony Pictures. The attack is believed to have involved stealing and publicizing emails between high-level Sony executives and talent, as well as at least two government officials. When combined with a threat of violence against would-be viewers of a comedy mocking the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, Pyongyang's hackers effected the cancellation of the movie's release.…  Seguir leyendo »

North Korea's dictator is still missing. Kim Jong Un has not been seen in public since early September, and on Friday he missed the symbolically important anniversary of the Korean Workers' Party.

This absence has fueled speculation that there is political intrigue afoot in Pyongyang -- possibly even a coup.

No one outside of North Korea really knows what's happening -- including, almost certainly, America's troubled $50+ billion-per-year intelligence bureaucracy. But it seems likely that the corpulent potentate, who exhibited a limp before disappearing, is recovering from some kind of physical problem.

Making a rare allusion to the young tyrant's health, a government mouthpiece reportedly venerated Kim in September as a man "who keeps lighting the path for the people, like the flicker of a flame, despite suffering discomfort."…  Seguir leyendo »

The Obama administration is revealing a dangerous naivete regarding North Korea. In response to its threat to attack the United States and its allies, senior administration officials outlined plans for a limited “response in kind.” It is hard to conceive of a more misplaced message to send to Pyongyang at this uncertain moment.

To a North Korean regime with a record of indifference toward the welfare of its own people, the U.S. promise of only a limited response to any military provocation is tantamount to an invitation for Pyongyang to strike South Korea, Japan or even the United States — knowing that it would face not overwhelming retaliation but rather a modest and manageable tit for tat.…  Seguir leyendo »