With the Laura Ling–Euna Lee matter set to come to a head next week thanks to a PR blitz by the women’s families, another round of nationwide candlelight vigils on Wednesday June 3rd and a scheduled trial in Pyongyang June 4th local time, there are some minor paradoxes worth noting.
Iran’s Oil: As has been repeatedly detailed this week, China is North Korea’s de facto supplier of oil, consumer goods and so on. What has not been so exhaustively covered is the fact that China gets a large part of that energy supply from Iran. That’s right; the country that recently released Roxana Saberi, were it friendlier with the United States, could apply extremely effective triangulated leverage on China.
The North Korean refugee problem: When Laura Ling and Euna Lee were arrested at a Tumen River China–North Korea border bridge crossing in the early hours of March 17th, they were working on a @Current documentary report about the sad personal stories of those fleeing the autocratic state. It is that same general topic – the fear of a massive exodus of refugees into the country – that has kept China from fully interceding in the North Korean situation.
A more benevolent dad: We hear a lot about Kim Jong-il, but not so much anymore about his late father, previous North Korean ruler Kim Il Sung. This seems almost preposterous now, in light of the Ling–Lee events, but back in 1988, according to the only Westerner invited to Sung’s funeral, dad helped mediate the release from Lebanon of three French journalists (Jean Paul Kauffmann, Marcel Fontane, Marcel Carton) held captive for three years in Lebanon by a pro-Iranian group of captors. Like father not lie son, apparently.