Tag Archives: north korea

Michael Palin’s superb documentary on North Korea

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Channel 5 have surpassed themselves in presenting Michael Palin’s two-episode programme on his travels in North Korea.

It is a surprise to find the great Python on Channel Five, but the show reminds one of his enormous skill at presenting charming and informed pictures of foreign places.

Palin makes clear, up front, that he and his crew went where they were allowed and an “entourage” of five or six North Korean government officials accompanied them, supervising their filming and every word said on camera.

Posted in TV and film | 3 Comments

Lessons on North Korea from history


A recent visit to the Korean War Veterans’ Memorial in WEST Potomac Park, Washington DC was very memorable. “DC” as they call it is rammed with memorials. Of all the ones I saw on my recent visit, the Korean War one was certainly the most moving. There is a wall where the images of those involved in the war are sand-blasted, plus some sculptures of troops on a recce (see my photo above).

Nearly three million people lost their lives in the Korean War from 1950-53. I doubt whether anything would …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 11 Comments

Observations of an ex pat: Scary

Be scared. Be very scared. In fact if you saw, listened to or read about President Donald Trump’s UN address than you are probably terrified.  If not, then think again.

Trump used the occasion of his first speech to the General Assembly to draw red lines across the  map and dare his opponents to cross them. North Korea, Iran and Venezuela are the new axis of evil.

In one breath he called for an international order based on a respect for national sovereignty and with the next bullied those those who oppose him.

The United Nations and international cooperation enjoyed early support, but …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 3 Comments

Cable on North Korea: Unilateral military action must be ruled out

Vince Cable has called for a parliamentary debate on the situation with North Korea as the country conducts its sixth nuclear missile test.

He said:

This alleged advancement North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme only strengthens the need to for an urgent diplomatic response to the crisis.

There is no military solution that does not risk the lives of millions, and no doubt that Trump’s war of words with Kim Jong-un has only served to heighten tensions.

Liberal Democrats are clear that the way forward requires engaging with China and other countries in the region to deescalate tensions. The government must urgently schedule time in Parliament to discuss this issue, and any unilateral military response must be ruled out.

Posted in News | Also tagged | 22 Comments

Observations of an ex pat: Trouble at NWS 101

There are serious problems in the playground at Nuclear Weapons School 101. There is a new boy—Kim. Nobody likes him. He is loud, obnoxious and into domestic abuse in a big way.

Kim is especially disliked by Donald who is president of the student council, captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams, number one in his class and popular with all the girls. And he has been at the school less than a year.  Donald also controls a big chunk of what Kim regards as his home turf.  In fact, Donald and his family have been calling the shots at NWS 101 since they threw the first and—so far—the  only knock-out punch against Tojo and Hirohito.

Donald is strong. Very strong, and he backs it up with a frightening array of brass knuckles, baseball bats, knives, axes, swords, clubs, machetes and the biggest,  bestest and most frightening array of guns ever developed by mankind.

Some of the other kids in the playground are a bit envious of Donald. They think he has been throwing his weight around too much. This is especially true of Vladimir and Xi. That is why when Kim started building up his rival arsenal they turned a blind eye. They even smuggled some sweets to him. Perhaps, they thought,  it was time that Donald was taken down a peg or two. Perhaps introducing Kim to the playground could persuade Donald to share the captaincy of one of the sports teams or a girlfriend or two.

They don’t want Donald hurt. They need him and—even though he has occasional problems recognizing it—he needs them too.

Kim doesn’t have such qualms. He is anxious to prove his tough guy credentials and is not in the least concerned about who is hurt in the process. He has built up his own arsenal and even though it is nowhere near the size of Donald’s weapons stock, Kim is threatening to attack Donald on his home turf.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 5 Comments

To realms unknown

North Korea 2

I have long used Voyages Jules Verne for interesting places to visit.

In 2012 one flyer caught my notice. The chance of a trip to the hermit nation, North Korea. I instantly booked up. This trip is no longer on offer and I am pleased I took the chance in May 2013.

To begin, it is the only country where I have had to fill in a pre visa application form. It is certain that my son, as a former RAF intelligence officer, would not have got in. I was pleased that, despite being a former East Lothian Councillor, I got a visa.

Flights are only on Air Koryo from Beijing. Eat well before – in flight food was a tasteless cold hamburger. The in flight magazine is Kim propaganda.

Having arrived you need to go with the flow and pay heed to regulations. I was on one of the first tours where tourists were allowed to keep their mobiles – although there was no connection anyway. First night food  at the Koryo Hotel was grey boiled chicken, but it got better. One tour member rarely got off the bus. I wondered why she had booked given the clear statements by the tour company about severe restrictions on movement and food quality.

Posted in Op-eds | 3 Comments

Opinion: Liberals must think of ways to incentivise free expression

 

The recent withdrawal of The Interview from general theatrical release (later followed by online publication and limited release at selected theatres), following threats from what is currently believed to be a North Korean hacking group, has generated an international debate on corporate censorship in western societies. As liberals who believe in free expression and a free society, it is vital that we take part in this conversation.

It would be incorrect and unfair to place all the blame for this fiasco on Sony, the parent company of the film’s distributors, Columbia Pictures. Their initial decision to pull the movie was partly driven by the fact that an increasing number of cinemas were refusing to screen the film, and their efforts to distribute it via video-on-demand providers had were initially met with a similar response.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 52 Comments

Life after Kim Jong-Il

The sudden demise of North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Il at the weekend removed one of the world’s most bizarre and reclusive rulers. Though there were televised scenes of schoolchildren, soldiers and workers crying in the streets of the capital, Pyongyang, when the news was announced on Monday, the mourning was considerably less hysterical than when his father Kim Il-Sung expired in 1994. Kim Il-Sung remains the sun in the sky as far as North Korean ideologues are concerned. Kim Jong-Il was merely the son here on earth. He had moreover taken the precaution two years ago of naming one …

Posted in Europe / International | 3 Comments
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  • User AvatarPeter Hirst 22nd Oct - 1:20pm
    The Conservatives have too much political capital invested in leaving at the end of the month to behave rationally. It is up to MPs to...
  • User Avatarnigel hunter 22nd Oct - 1:16pm
    The party should be thinking about now and the future. We have to comment on the fact that we are a broad church and therefore...
  • User AvatarArnold Kiel 22nd Oct - 12:55pm
    After Industry (thank you, Peter Martin), poorly skilled people will have no productive platform anymore to earn a dignified living. Without complementary physical capital, the...
  • User AvatarPaul Holmes 22nd Oct - 12:54pm
    Interestingly I recall meetings where Mark Oaten, our then Shadow Home Secretary and later his successor in that role, one Nick Clegg, proposed that those...
  • User AvatarPaul Walter 22nd Oct - 12:42pm
    Reading that very helpful link you included, George, what Phillip Lee was talking about does not seem like what is normally referred to as “forced...
  • User AvatarGeorge Potter 22nd Oct - 12:28pm
    Also, it is frankly ludicrous to suggest that, just because the BMA haven't withdrawn a doctor's license to practice over a political stance, the political...