It is perhaps too easy to make fun of North Korean propaganda, but needs must when the devil vomits into your kettle (ask Sarah Michelle where this one comes from). And if the absence of good (or even just moderately bad) news from Pyongyang isn’t enough (with the noted exception of course of the quality of the cappuccino one can drink in Pyongyang these days, I am told – frequently; and foreigners can apparently also win law suits in North Korea these days! Oh my),
The report on DPRK forced labour in the EU by the Slaves to the System research team is receiving much attention. Not just from the media, some of whose less esteemed members are having a field day misquoting me in different languages, but also from non-media folks, such as for example members of the EU parliament (who asked question in parliament),
The initial findings of the Slaves to the System project have just been published at the LeidenAsiaCentre website. Peruse the report at your own risk, for it is a ‘grave provocation’ to the DPRK, an ‘act of hostility’ and an “attempt to damage the dignity” of the Supreme Leader. Judge for yourself and read the report. But first back up your hard drive, because if only one tenth of the stories about DPRK hackers is true, they are already listening in on your phone and watching you saving your precious bitcoins.
Hier is het eerste working paper van het LeidenAsiaCentre. Het paper gaat over Noord-Koreaanse dwangarbeid in de Eu. Ja, de EU. Hier dus. Mijn grote vrienden in het Noord-Koreaanse waren zo verheugd over dit lopende onderzoek dat ze maar meteen een formele klacht over mij bij ons eigen Buitenlandse Zaken dachten in te moeten dienen. Of die ons onderzoek even stil wilde leggen. Tja. Die wilden dat dus niet. En omdat diplomaten diplomatiek zijn en dit dus niet kunnen zeggen tegen onze kameraden in Pyongyang (maar ik wel): 肏你祖宗十八代. (Je dacht toch niet dat een nette Leids hoogleraar zomaar zou vloeken? Wil je weten wat het betekent, leer Chinees. Of Google het gewoon)
Dus wij gaan lustig door met onderzoek doen en spannende dingen vinden. Als eerste publicatie, een positiebepaling: A new lease on life – def
I told myself that I wasn’t going to write anything about Shin Dong-hyuk and his confession that key elements of his escape narrative were omitted, changed around or left out. I have never met Shin and I’ve never been able to vouch for the veracity of his book. I have talked about his book in public, however, and have always maintained that I did not doubt his story. Altough I could not verify the details, I believed its general structure to be valid.
It took some doing, performing magic tricks with lecture halls, conjuring up discussants, contacting every media outlet in and outside Europe, and fighting off some dodgy characters with pronounced Hwanghae-do accents (no, not really), but the program for the conference has been finalized. It seems as if there’ll be lots of people, which is why we made sure to get the biggest lecture hall of Leiden University. And trust me, it is big. Big enough to accommodate the speakers, discussants, audience and the media. Haven’t heard from Pyongyang yet,
You can now register for the conference by reading this text, liking it on FB, retweeting it 3,568 times and starting a fan club. Alternatively, you can scroll down the page, click the registration link and fill out the form. And be honest when you fill it out, please. You’re expected to own up to every bit of graft you ever received from Room 39 (we’re not interested in the cognac bottles though). And we know what’s going on in there, don’t forget. Oh, and it’s Chatham House Rule. Which we take seriously. If you are from the media and are looking for a interview let us know. We can’t promise anything (well, we could, but we’d have to break some promises probably, so we won’t), but we’ll do our best.
And here’s is the provisional program. We won’t release the names of the speakers (except Jang Jin-sung) until the conference starts and then it’s Chatham House Rule. Discussants have also been left out of this program for the time being. The elite exiles will be in conversation with discussants who are recognised scholars or practitioners in closely related fields of expertise. There’s enough to wet the appetite though, I imagine.
I like to think of myself as a reasonable human being. Most of the time then. But given my primal reaction to this text in which it is stated that “human rights issues have proved a complication” in establishing parliamentary linkage with North Korea, I am afraid I have to admit it stripped the veneer of reasonability right away from me. So allow me to show my more unreasonable side in this blog.