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Thumbing its nose at world opinion, regional stability and, perhaps most importantly, assorted K-blog pundits, Pyongyang this week let rip ― on July 4th, no less ― with an aerial parade of its finest missile hardware, prompting a flurry of online post mortems and head-scratching.
“Apparently, Kim Jong-il doesn’t read this blog,” concedes Richardson at “DPRK Studies” (http://www.dprkstudies.org/). Having confidently predicted, along with many observers, that the North would refrain from testing its missiles, Richardson details why Kim Jong-il may have just committed a major tactical gaffe: “a) a launch was not needed to manufacture an excuse to continue avoiding talks, b) the failed launch was a national embarrassment, c) North Korea gleaned (probably) little useful data for missile R&D, and d) they gave U.S. intelligence data on all missiles launched.”
Gamely attempting to fathom Chairman Kim’s machinations, Barry at “North Korea zone” (http://www.nkzone.org/nkzone/) wonders why the launch took place at all.
First, he muses, North Korea could have been putting its hardware in the shop window. “We should not forget that North Korea makes quite a business in selling missiles to countries such as Iran, Syria, and Libya.” Or perhaps it was no more than a tantrum. “There are those who compare North Korea to an undisciplined child who periodically misbehaves in order to get parental attention.” Or, Barry suggests, it could have been a characteristically low-key effort to nudge Washington back to bilateral negotiations with Pyongyang.
Kirk at “It makes a difference to the sheep” (http://kwlarsen.blogspot.com/), however, isn’t buying that. “Why would North Korea prefer direct bilateral talks to the current six-party ones? It is evident that both South Korea and China have played a role in restraining or resisting the hard-line impulses of the Americans. So why would Pyongyang want to go tete a tete with the very group that appears least willing to compromise?”
Why indeed. Especially, says Nomad at “The Lost Nomad” (http://www.lostnomad.org/), when Seoul has bottomless wells of patience with its wayward northern neighbor. “I hope you weren’t holding your breath thinking that South Korea would actually do anything after the NORKs went ahead and test-fired their missiles,” he writes, “because it’s business as usual. For instance, the aid continues unabated”
Oranckay (http://oranckay.net/blog/), however, sniffs change. “If nothing else this will be the final, ultimate indication of how far the South is willing to go to put up with the North’s shenanigans. Mark my words, the events of this morning are going to further contribute to South Korean society’s turn towards old-style South Korean conservatism and make it hard for any South Korean government to bend over backwards to be as understanding as possible with Pyongyang, regardless of what Roh or anyone else may want to do.”
Yet reminding us just what the blogosphere is for, Kevin from “Big Hominid’s Hairy Chasms” (http://bighominid.blogspot.com/) truly dares to think outside the box, delivering a perspective of astonishing insight and scope. “France makes it to the World Cup finals. Meanwhile, North Korea may or may not be readying more missiles to fire off in random directions. Coincidence? I think not.” But of course.

Though “The Host,” the new movie from Bong Joon-ho, doesn’t open in Korea until the end of the month, a few K-bloggers are already squawking at its depiction of a U.S. Army official ordering the dumping of chemicals in the Han River. GI Korea (http://jetiranger.tripod.com/BLOG/), for one, will be giving the film a wide berth. “I wouldn't put too much credence in the fact that this movie received high praise at the Cannes Film Festival when any US military bashing movie would screen well [there],” he sniffs. “It is too bad that the movie had to turn to typical America bashing instead of focusing attention on the real problem, which is Koreans polluting Korea.”
But Haisan, blogging at “The Marmot’s Hole” (http://www.rjkoehler.com), can’t see what the fuss is all about. “Bong Joon-ho makes a lot of jabs at many aspects of Korean society, and most of those jabs are a lot harder than what the USFK receives (not to mention more accurate).”

by Niels Footman
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