North Korea Leadership Watch

Research and Analysis on the DPRK Leadership

Lost in Translation

The final reports from the East have yet to be prepared on the Obama-Lee summit in Seoul.  But the Western media offers some interesting write-ups of the US-ROK meetings.  The LA Times offers the best written coverage of the proceedings.  USA Today (the literate American hotel traveler’s morning companion)  includes an anti-US missive from the North Korean press.  The New York Times (which has finally assumed the late, great International Herald-Tribune) has folded the DPRK and Iran into the same story.  The NYT seems content to go with the old “Axis of Evil” paradigm of the previous US Administration, and on another note, where’s the great NYT/IHT Korea writer Choe Sang-hun on this (you know the dude who speaks the language and knows what’s actually going on)?  And our good friends at Yonhap have two early reports worth a read.

Did US President Barack Obama endorse ROK President Lee Myung-bak’s grand bargain?  LAT, USAT and Yonhap all note that President Lee used the words “grand bargain,” but President Obama did not expressly adopt President Lee’s tone-deaf obdurate stance, preferring a common approach.  It allows President Lee a public relations victory and the “grand bargain” may be a nice idea in theory, it will go over with the DPRK like a lead balloon.  Even if the North Koreans have no intention on drawing down their nuclear weapons program, arriving in Beijing with a pre-concieved policy pathway, a pre-existing condition if you will, will only add credence to DPRK contentions (expressed by SPA President Kim Yong-nam) that the Six-Party Talks are not a genuine negotiation, but merely a diplomatic gangbang.

One further note; one is dismayed by the presence in East Asia (conveyed by the LA Times) of President Obama’s political consultant David Axelrod.  American political consultants are intrinsically unqualified to participate in the US foreign policymaking process, unless Manny’s Deli has recently morphed into the new, hip place for security and East Asia scholars to see and be seen.

The Eastern press reports will hopefully be available in a few hours and will be available here.


This article was written on 19 Nov 2009, and is filled under DPRK External Relations, DPRK-US Relations, Inter-Korean Relations, Six Party Talks.

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