Today marks the one-month anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s latest “charm offensive.” It began on August 4th with the pre-determined release of American journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee, followed by various other acts of anything-but-random kindness: the release of a Kaesong industrial complex worker, the dispatch of North Korean emissaries to the funeral of former South Korean Prime Minister Kim Dae-jung and the unshackling of four detained South Korean fishermen.
Think of these as the acts of “Mr. Kim,” the nicer half of the “Dearly Demented Leader”’s split charm-offensive personality. But on other days of late, the more evil Dr. Jong-il has taken hold, spewing his anger through the delightfully halting English prose of his dictatorship’s mouthpiece news service, KCNA (Korean Central News Agency).
Does the evil Dr. Jong-il personally approve KCNA verbiage about uranium enrichment and the U.S.’s latest act of evil aggression? That would be fitting, but I have a feeling some trusted lieutenant handles the propaganda day-to-day. (The idea that at one point in the Ling–Lee ordeal KCNA English translation was mentioned as a possible low-impact labor camp duty for the @current journalists is almost too perverse to consider).
The bottom line is that Kim Jong-il behaves very much like a certain Robert Louis Stevenson protagonist during these CO campaigns, trying to win the U.S.’s favor with alternating displays of open arms and clenched fists. What might be next, now that there are no hostages to barter with?
Let’s just say the evil doctor has no shortage of possibilities, from a nuclear weapons test to a trusty human rights violation to an immediate demand that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) release that North Korean “machine parts” cargo seized on its way to Iran.