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”
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.
My favourite North Korea-related website (www.newfocus.co.kr) just carried an article on the September conference featuring seven of the most prominent NK exiles in Leiden. This of course means that I have become searchable on the New Focus website. I realize this is my vanity talking, but I really like it. Can’t help it. Vanitas vanitatum, et omnia vanitas, as my grandmother used to say, but there you go. (for the philologically inclined among you, this is from Ecclesiastes1:2.)
A few updates:
18 September 2014
When the North Korean state speaks, it often is with a voice laden with terror, threats, anger and wrath. As often, the North Korean state speaks in a register that is unpredictably soothing, asking for peace and understanding. It is a voice heard worldwide, on the television, the internet and in newspapers, usually accompanied by the voices of North Korea experts interpreting and making understandable what seems foreign and incomprehensible. These are the only voices we hear speaking on behalf of an otherwise unintelligible North Korea. Missing from this discourse are authentic, unmediated North Korean voices, but how could there be, given the unparalleled repression within North Korea?
Just some postcards from my collection from Pyongyang (or Heijō according to the Japanese pronounciation). The stamp visible on some of the postcards is not an official stamp. It’s a stamp saying that you were a good tourist