It seems as if after the successful conclusion of the Leiden conference A State Of Non-Legitimacy in which the Organisation and Guidance Department (OGD for its intimi) was dissected in some macaber detail, the OGD has been in the news rather a lot. Which if you think about it is ironic for a “shadowy organisation” (those are CNN’s words, also here, not mine – and yes, that’s me for a millisecond, but “Hey Mam, I was on CNN”) that prefers to operate from the background. Jang Jin-Sung’s lecture at Leiden continues to create a splash internationally (even CNN was interested; no word from the Rodong Shinmun yet). Just browse through the pdfs attached to this post and guess in how many languages there now is a term for “Organisation and Guidance Department.” Methinks someone in Pyongyang (or that should be plural I guess: some people then) is/are not too happy with this.
The best thing by far though is the DPRK regime’s insistence to shore up Jang Jin-sung’s analysis by behaving exactly as Jang said it would earlier this year. The timing of Hwang Pyong-so’s visit may have been somewhat of a surprise, his visit and continued journey into the limelight were not. Kang Sokchu’s tour of Europe (when we were busy talking about the OGD and the structure of the top of the DPRK regime at our conference in Leiden, Kang was apparently lobbying in Brussels) is much of the same: a predictable (and predicted) move to try and distance EU policy on the DPRK from US policy on said state. Hwang Pyong-so hadn’t even left Seoul yet, when the DPRK ambassador to the UN offered a nuclear gambit: apparently, North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons is now open to discussion (I am curious to know how high the entrance fee is, before one can actually participate in that discussion, butl let’s save that for another time).
So what’s happening? Well, given the fact that Hwang and his college fraternity buddies (those Kappa Iota Sigma parties were the stuff of legend) over at the OGD no longer take much trouble hiding the fact that it is them in power and not Kim Jong Un (using his private jet? Come on, how unsubtle can you get?), I’d say a lot is happening. And a lot has already happened. KJU has never been in charge, Hwang just told the whole world. Is he ill? Under surgery? High on Viagra and playing doctor and nurse with Ri Solju? It doesn’t really make a difference. Whether it’s Kim Jong Un at the head of the system or his sister, the system remains the same.
The system seems to be in a fair bit of trouble though, given the high rate of attempts to communicate with the outside world (some of course in the not so friendly ‘We come to burn your fields and kill your men’ way we’ve grown used to coming from Pyongyang), but let there be no mistake about what this multi-stage missile coming from the DPRK really is: a desperate cry for help, alternatively disguised as proper diplomacy (Kang Sokchu), good-natured neighbourship (Hwang, Ch’oe and Kim), bullying (naval clashes) and bribery (UN ambassador). I’m sure there is much more to come before we’ve seen it all. Missiles, more verbose threats, new impossible promises to Japan with regard to the kidnap victims, you name it. The North Korean regime is in trouble and is looking for a way out. The easiest way is of course asking the international world to help them out. We’ve done that before, after all.
I am a historian and I really shouldn’t make any predictions, but let me borrow Professor Trelawny’s crystal ball for a bit and say this. I see a North Korea without KJU as its avatar (will he be trussed up as a turkey and delivered to the international courts in The Hague? Exiled to China? Executed? Put under house arrest? I have no idea), whereby KJU in a gross perversion of biblical imagery will serve as the scapegoat for the many unspeakable crimes of the regime, while the system is cleansed by this. It is forgiven, it receives absolution. It will be salonfaehig in the international world, having gotten rid of its evil dictator. At least for a while. Long enough probably to strike some very lucrative deals (food aid, financial aid, democratic reform implementation aid) under the threat of the only North Korean weapon the international world has never been able to withstand: the promise of reforms.
Will there be reforms? Well, let me put it this way: will the Dutch national soccer team win the World Cup? God, I hope so and I am with Mulder on this one: I want to believe, but really now. I am going to assume that the many stages of this latest DPRK missile are meant to buy time: literally so, to prolonge the life of the regime in itself, but also to make it possible to prepare for lives abroad for at least some members of the families in charge. Of course the many sanctions and the UN COI report make this a tad bit difficult, but still I expect that these preparations are being made in Pyongyang, while we’re feasting our eyes on the rare visit of three smiling high-ranking North Korean officials (whom Park Geun-Hye did not meet, which was the smart move to make: quid pro quo is the motto). Their visit in itself is yet another strategic ploy: “Yes, this time we are going to reform. Really, just trust us and fork over the money.” But we would be ill advised to ignore the reason why they feel forced to have made this incredibly significant move: things are changing rapidly. How rapid is also up to us and whether we will once again fall under the reform enchantment spell or whether we can play it cool this time. This may not be the end, nor the beginning of the end, but perhaps the end of the beginning, to paraphrase my favourite orator. Lest we forget, we have a large part in creating our own circumstances. On verra.
And here is today’s selection of prime OGD articles. If you read one of the languages I don’t and you find an article saying funny things about me, do let me know:
Leeuwarder Courant 07102014 international_sindonews_com_read_908085_45_gonjang_ganjing_k dantri_com_vn_the_gioi_ro_tin_don_ong_kim_ongun_bi_am_tham_l Brabants dagblad 07102014 www_verkkouutiset_fi_ulkomaat_pohjois_korea_vallankaappaus_k www_theweek_co_uk_people_kim_jong_un_60578_kim_jong_un_has_l www_ntdtv_com_xtr_gb_2014_10_05_atext1143709_html www_nguoiduatin_vn_nghi_van_ong_kim_jong_un_khong_con_thuc_q (1) www_epochtimes_com_gb_14_10_3_n4263822_htm_E6_9C_9D_E9_B2_9C www_elsevier_nl_Buitenland_achtergrond_2014_10_Zeldzaam_bezo www_dn_se_nyheter_kim_jong_un_kan_vara_mycket_sjuk_eller_dod www_depo_ba_clanak_119612_kim_jong_un_je_izgubio_vlast_u_sje www_demorgen_be_dm_nl_990_Buitenland_article_detail_2075806 www_blick_ch_news_ausland_exil_koreaner_behauptet_der_dicke www_aftonbladet_se_nyheter_article19635717_ab udn_com_NEWS_BREAKINGNEWS_BREAKINGNEWS5_8978406_shtml plo_vn_the_gioi_nghi_van_kim_jongun_da_bi_lat_do_500370_html news_vice_com_article_former_top_official_says_kim_jong_un_i nd 130914 nkorea jang jin sung metro_co_uk_2014_10_05_former_north_korean_spy_believes_kim