A friend emailed me today asking for my opinion on the "real" climate in the South Korean community regarding North Korea. I had a little more to say than I expected when I first started replying. Here's what I wrote:
Nice to hear from you.
Koreans are so jaded by the antics from the North that not much goes beyond being a topic of conversion, and nothing the North does affects daily life at all… One leading line of thought says that that Kim Jong-Il is giving his military something to get excited about so that they will support his plans to hand power over to his third son at some point in the future. Also, they say the North had been really excited about Obama taking over and giving them some recognition and that they were insulted (even hurt) when he ignored them even while offering to talk to the Cubans, Iranians and others… By making such a racket, they hope to get back into discussions with the US and the recognition they crave. There seem to be strong indications that even if the US can’t keep Korea from rolling out the bomb, China is determined to keep it from happening. So since North Korea knows they can’t have the bomb, they are getting ready to deal…
So little is known about the North that it’s hard to know if the above conjecture is really right. There doesn’t seem to even be a photograph of Kim Jong-Il’s third son available which was taken within the last 15 years… Just this week the North released a photo they said was a recent photo of the third son… but amazingly, it turns out to be a photo that a South Korean guy had posted on his website last summer. It’s hard to comprehend how or why a regime like the North would do something so apparently asinine.
So, that’s my version of the story from the front line. J