Nuclear secrets with your chili fries?Well, no progress was made in Beijing last week in the second round of talks on the North Korean nuclear crisis. Unless you count the fact that the chief American delegate, James Kelly, actually attempted to pronounce “Diaoyutai Guest House.” The only consensus the parties reached was that they would meet again in June.
Here’s how we can make some real progress, and facilitate enunciation: Instead of Beijing, hold the third round of the talks in Itaewon, at the hospitable and easily pronounceable Nashville Steak House.
Why the Nashville? Because the North Koreans wouldn’t need directions to get there. They’ve already been.
That’s right. In the mid-’90s, North Korean spies were operating in the Nashville, according to a 2002 report in a small, Vancouver-based newspaper that was dug up and linked to recently by a local blogger (rathbonepress.tblog.com).
The agents usually tried to hook up with U.S. soldiers at the expat hangout, digging for information on troop movements or Patriot missile batteries, according to a U.S. agent quoted by the paper, the Asian Pacific Post.
But eventually the spies befriended another species of North American, the report said: Canadian nuclear engineers.
Evidently, the engineers were here for the construction of the Canadian-designed Wolsong nuclear power plants in North Gyeongsang province, which became operational between 1997 and 1999.
The North Koreans lavished at least one engineer with goodies, the U.S. agent explained: “The French-Canadian was targeted... he was married but the North Koreans wined and dined him... after the initial contact at the bar the North Korean agents took him on luxury vacations with several women.
“There is no doubt that they were trying to elicit sensitive information about the nuclear reactors from the engineer.”
Want clues as to who that engineer was, or what other information Pyeongyang’s spies may have been mining for in the Nashville? Go there and check the walls. Well, ignore the one with the mural of Willie Nelson and Kenny Rogers, et al. Look through the hundreds of business cards thumbtacked up over the years in disorderly bunches.
You’ll find cards for an assistant attache at the German Embassy, and a scientist who works for Enterprise Engineering in Maine. Then, if you keep searching, you’ll see one for a guy with the job information “Canatom NPM, Nuclear Consultants Worldwide, Electrical Dept., Wolsong 2,3,4 project,” and a very French-Canadian-sounding name ― which this column won’t disclose, because it doesn’t want to get anyone in trouble with his wife.
Now, this raises some questions: Will the name of Pyeongyang’s first nuke be a French-Korean hybrid for “chili cheeseburger”? Did the North Koreans order the New York steak or the El Paso chicken?
It’s a safe bet they didn’t have the freedom fries.
by Mike Ferrin