The Dear Reader: DPRK Observations & Musings


A Framework for Freedom

Now that negotiations appear to have begun between the United States and North Korea in an attempt to resolve the matter of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, it’s important to remember that before a special envoy such as @AlGore or @JohnKerry can head to Pyongyang, a deal must be in place. As @GovRichardson was quick to point out during his early media appearances, the envoy’s trip should be something of a formality, with conditions for the journalists’ release already fully defined and mutually agreed upon.

If the Pyongyang contacts visited a few weeks ago by U.S. scholar Dr. Han S. Park are correct, an important component of any deal will be hammering out the language of an official U.S. apology (tricky business given the current overall political climate). While Washington may be open to semantics that indicate we’re sorry two of our own crossed a sovereign border, it’s doubtful we will go so far as to promise that every effort will be made to avoid a repeat future occurrence of “grave crimes.”

There’s also the matter of the envoy’s security detail. Though no country, not even North Korea, would be foolish enough to try and detain an official U.S. government representative, he-she and their entourage are going to want to feel protected in Pyongyang. Everything, essentially, has to be negotiated.

Last but not least, there’s the notion of a ceremonial gift, which can be a surprise. North Korea‘s official news service, KCNA, is constantly issuing releases about delegations of foreign dignitaries delivering presents to Kim Jong-il. But what do you get the man who co-opts everything?

A dozen Kobe Bryant jerseys… a $200,000 bottle of Hennessy Beauté du Siècle cognac… Wii Fit? Whatever the item turns out to be, the U.S. may be well advised – given the current economic times – to keep its exact nature classified.

(And if these negotiations fail, it’s hard to say what the next logical U.S. step should be.)


Filed under: Commentary

11 Responses

  1. […] Liberate Laura & Euna Now: A Framework for Freedom […]

  2. Spelunker says:

    This is funny; now you’ve got Sacramento’s Tina Armour reporting that the US is discussing what gift to give Kim Jong-il. She failed to mention that you are affiliated with this blog when she quotes you and Dr. Han Park as sources.

    I think a bottle of Hennessy would kind of contradict the UN Security Council resolution banning luxury goods being exported to Pyongyang, but if it gets Laura and Euna liberated then let Kim Jong-il have his hooch.

    • liberatelaura says:

      Ms. Armour also manages to attribute one of my speculative thoughts to Dr. Han S. Park as a straight quote. Yikes. Nonetheless, her Examiner piece is being Tweeted and Re-Tweeted as we comment.

      • Spelunker says:

        It’s amusing to see that Alanna Zahn chose to go with 19 year old Tina Armour’s version of Ling-Lee negotiations instead of the original news source (Chosun Ilbo) at the official website.

        David Letterman just posted a Top Ten List underneath Tina Armour’s article (*wink*)

  3. Spelunker says:

    This is the same Sacramento student of journalism who last month reported that China and Korea are at war. Tina Armour has made so many mistakes in her reporting of this story; I really think she should stick to local news like California bank robbers with British accents.

    Speaking of bad reporters, did you see Greta Van Susteren last night on FOX’s “On the Record”?
    I tuned in to see how much Greta could get Hillary Clinton to divulge about Laura and Euna.
    Watch how quickly Greta changes the topic to North Korea, at the expense of common sense.,2933,534186,00.html

    Here is some sample dialogue from the above transcript, with my own comments added:

    CLINTON: We need partners who will help us combat terrorism, help us combat the spread of deadly weapons, help us patrol the waters of the world so pirates don’t interfere with commerce…

    GRETA: You mentioned piracy. The first thing that I think of is what is going to be one of your next stops, because it makes me think of North Korea and that boat that we chased recently. You are going on to Bangkok, right?

    SPELUNKER: Huh? What does piracy have to do with the US Navy following a North Korean cargo ship in the South China Sea? The first thing I think of when I hear piracy is Somalia. (Tina Armour’s first thought was “Caribbean”)

    GRETA: Up next, more with Secretary Clinton. Will North Korea be placed back on the state sponsor of terror list? What will happen to the two female American journalists being held prisoner in North Korea? And on a totally different subject, an answer to this question — is Chelsea Clinton engaged? You will find out.

    GRETA: Is there a timetable for putting North Korea on the state sponsor of terrorist list? I know it was being discussed earlier. Is there a timetable on that?

    CLINTON: We are looking into it, and we are gathering information. There has to be a trigger to it. There is a legislative process. You have to have evidence that they are actually promoting and supporting, funding, assisting terrorism.

    And so, we are looking for any evidence that there may be, and, certainly, I welcome any of the viewers of your show or the FOX network, if you have such evidence, to let us know.

    SPELUNKER: What? You want FOX viewers of Greta’s show to gather evidence of North Korean involvement in terrorism promotion? Sure, I’ll let you know, Hillary! Just as soon as the State Department sends me to Syria on a summer vacation. I’ll be happy to walk the streets of Damascus looking for any Asians with Kim Il-Sung pins on their chest. Glad to help! Sign me up!

    GRETA: And, of course, North Korea has our two American journalists.

    CLINTON: Yes, deeply, deeply concerning to me. I want to reiterate what I said about a week ago, that the United States wants to have these young women released, and we would hope that the North Korean government would provide amnesty, would act, you know, to let them come home.

    I know how sorry they are for what they did. It is very regrettable. But it is really something that would be an important action by the North Koreans if they would be willing to take it.

    VAN SUSTEREN: Now, to really shift gears. There are rumors about your daughter Chelsea getting married. Yes, or no?

    SPELUNKER: Wait a minute! Not so fast, Greta! I think you just ruined the gear shift! You ask Hillary the most important question on your show, indeed the only reason that I tuned in, and then immediately slap all of us in the face (poor Hillary) with rumors of Chelsea’s marriage!

  4. liberatelaura says:

    I’ve resisted the urge to comment on Tina Armour’s egregious article, pointing out that:

    1) The Dr. Han S. Park quote is actually a speculative statement written by me;

    2) The notion of a gift for Kim Jong-il being part of the Ling-Lee release negotiations was simply a bit of deadpan, lighthearted conjecture on my part;


    But per Spelunker’s msg above, and just in case the David Letterman Top Ten Kim Jong-il gifts comment (or Ms. Armour’s item as a whole) gets scrubbed, I wanted to share it here as well. (I particularly like #7, as I once was tempted to write a blog item about how William Hung might possibly be interjected into the Ling-Lee morass.)


    Top 10 gifts for Kim Jong-il from US government
    inside classified briefcase taken to Pyongyang:

    10. 6 Sham-Wows(4 for the house, 2 for the car)
    9. 2009-10 season tickets for Sacramento Kings
    8. Autographed photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger
    7. Ipod with greatest hits of William Hung
    6. Pocket binoculars from Alaska Governor Palin
    5. $1000 gift certificate for Men’s Warehouse
    4. 12 year subscription to “Girls and Corpses”
    3. Gold chain with “DEAR LEADER” in big letters
    2. “Girls Gone Wild” DVD with Korean subtitles

    …and the number one gift from the US gov’t to Kim Jong-il: Michael Jackson’s white glove

    • Tina Armour says:

      Wow, these comments are quite hateful. Instead of leaving demeaning comments and trash talking perhaps it would be better if you were to give helpful advice on ways to make things better like true professionals. It is a shame that the two of you have to stoop to the level of calling people bad reporters since I am positive that you guys are not perfect in your reporting. When people trash talk about other peoples work it only makes themselves look bad and VERY unprofessional.

      • liberatelaura says:

        Hi Tina:

        There is a big difference between bad reporting and straight out factual errors. Spelunker and myself always strove to track down the facts during the course of the Ling-Lee case, so we were – more than anything – astonished not so much at your initial blog item but rather by how quickly it was non-fact-check picked up by others (a real problem on the Net, as a whole).

        Also, re-reading these comments, hateful is too strong a word. Yes, Spelunker can be (and was) very passionate whenever he came across someone who fumbled the factual ball, but his track record backed it up.

        My constructive advice is to be more careful when sourcing a third-party item such as the one above.

      • Spelunker says:

        Tina Armour must have just Googled her name and found this thread on page 2 of the search results.

        I hope Tina’s expression of gratitude to David Letterman for posting a top 10 list under her news article reached him before that recent scandal broke out.

        It was nice to come back here and reread the mischievous comments I posted back in July.

        Thanks to “liberatelaura” for bringing this comment from Tina to my attention.

        Thanks to you too, Tina, for being a source of our amusement before Laura and Euna were liberated. I don’t have any helpful advice for you; just have fun and enjoy life in America.

  5. Spelunker says:

    The latest scoop:

    North Korea and the United States are in “active consultations” on how to resolve a standoff over two American journalists detained in the secretive communist nation, an informed diplomatic source here said Sunday, according to Yonhap News.
    The ongoing consultations through the North’s diplomatic mission to the U.N., often called the “New York channel,” are focused on who the U.S. government should send as a special envoy to Pyongyang to bring back the two female reporters, the source added.
    “The U.S. has in principle reached a compromise with North Korea on the dispatch of a special envoy for their release,” the source told Yonhap News Agency, requesting anonymity apparently due to the sensitivity of the issue. “The two sides are continuing related consultations. You may say 70-80 percent of the negotiations are done.”

    • liberatelaura says:

      Tremendous news; how strange that things appear to have finally begun progressing in the shadow of Hillary Clinton and North Korea’s war of words.

      The article also says that the sticking point (so far) for envoy is U.S. wants civilian, North Korea prefers high-ranking Obama official.

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