[GOING TO THE BLOGS]An explosion of interest on the WebNorth Korea apparently tested a nuclear bomb last Monday and while it appears to have been relatively weak as nuclear bombs go, it set off a seismic charge throughout the blogosphere. Contrary to some media reports of foreigner shock and dismay, many expat bloggers took the news in stride. Writes Oranckay at his blog (http://oranckay.net/blog/), “In a way, I’m glad this has happened. First of all, it either proves that both Roh and Bush have failed, and/or, the shenanigans are over and there is no more wondering. I was getting tired of the endless limbo, the endless effort spent by Roh’s government on trying to get the six party talks started again, as if the six party talks were getting anywhere.”
Echoing that response, Iosue Andreas at “The Western Confucian” (http://orientem.blogspot.com/) adds, “My initial reaction? Yawn. After that? I cannot help but think of this as yet another foreign policy achievement of the Cheney-Rumsfeld administration. And let us not leave off the hook ex-President Kim Dae-jung’s Sunshine Policy carried on by the “Participatory Government” of Pres. Roh Moo-hyun.”
Speaking of the Sunshine Policy, its health in the aftermath of the nuclear test was a subject of debate at the “Lost Nomad” (www.lostnomad. org/). Commenter McNut believes its time is up. The “Sunshine Policy was never an option except in the minds of people who like to pay money to win Nobel prizes!!” Pavlov3, however, cynically questions Seoul’s willingness to reevaluate its policy of engagement with the North. “That policy has survived drug running, kidnapping, counterfeiting, the high seas murder of South Korean sailors, seven ballistic missiles, I think it will survive a little explosion because ― wait for it ― it’s all the U.S.’s fault.”
While some media, politicians and ― yes ― bloggers have pointed the finger of blame at the U.S., Robert at “The Marmot’s Hole” (www. rjkoehler.com/) takes issue with that stance. “They [North Koreans] weren’t threatened by the United States. Even Roh Moo-hyun admitted that the ‘U.S. threat’ was nonexistent or overstated. And besides, the North Korean nuke program goes all the way back to the 1980s when Pyongyang was safe and snug under the Soviet nuclear umbrella. This has nothing to do with combating a “threat” ― if anything, the nuke program has made North Korea a bigger target. Nope, it’s all about the Benjamins.” Commenter Gray Hat, writing at the blog “DPRK Studies” (www.dprkstudies.org/), agrees. “The speculation that this was an extremely small nuclear bomb suggests that Kim [Jong-il] is letting it be known that he has devices suitable for terrorist use, or capable of delivery by Taepodong. Extortion seems a more plausible motive than disengagement for releasing that particular information.” At the same blog, Richardson suggests that Pyongyang’s behavior is intended to send an internal message, “Kim has used the, ‘the-outside-world-is-out-to-get-us’ [tack] for decades ― he’s just made it true, and given himself more reason to isolate and consolidate power. Threats from the outside bring them together; he’s counting on it.”
Though no one quite knows for sure the secretive regime’s motives, the pressing question now is, “How to respond?” At “North Korea Zone” (www.nkzone.org/nkzone/), Barry Briggs suggests a strong approach, “The U.S. cannot allow the successful development of technology which would deliver a nuclear weapon to American soil ― or to any American ally,” while commenter Sunbin sees the situation as less threatening. “The best response to a troll [or an attention seeker] is to ignore him. It becomes increasingly possible that the test was a fizzle, or the technology was immature. If that is the case, the objective of the test is more about attention seeking than real ‘self-defense.’ ”
As events sort themselves out over the coming days, weeks and months, one thing is certain: life on the Korean Peninsula has become a little more interesting.
by Scott Hammel