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North Korean Courtesy


How do you repay your only friend in the world? If you’re North Korea, you spend the last few weeks acting like a deranged James Bond villain fingering the red button on a doomsday device, threatening to set off a regional war unless your demands are met, and leaving your ally China, already fairly isolated in the region, to uncomfortably make excuses for you.

And if that weren’t enough, you go ahead and hijack your ally’s fishing vessel and demand a ransom:

The Chinese media reports said that the boat was seized May 5, with 16 men aboard, and that the North Korean authorities demanded payment of 600,000 renminbi, or about $98,000, to release them and the vessel, apparently on the grounds that it was fishing in waters claimed by North Korea. The deadline for payment was Sunday, the Beijing Times newspaper said.

The owner of the boat, Mr. Yu, drew public attention to its capture through messages on Tencent Weibo, a Chinese microblog service. And on Monday he issued a message saying that he feared his crew had been beaten.

This looks like another not-so-gentle reminder to China that the Norks can cause a crisis whenever they want, so Beijing better fork over more aid with less talk.

With friends like these…

[Photo courtesy Associated Press]

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  • Christopher Perrey

    Could this be linked to their desperation for hard cash? They’ve shuttered the South Korean factories for some time and running their drugs is likely harder due to their incessant saber-rattling. Maybe the NK government is really its own worst enemy.

  • James Jones

    How do you construct a metric for degrees of regime craziness? Does seizing boats and citizens from your only ally and demanding a ransom give your regime a weighting of 50% crazy? 75% crazy? 100% crazy?
    Oh BTW, the regime’s only ally has the ability to sever all land lines of commerce for food, fuel, and other goods AND has the ability to crush them like a bug. Why does anyone in Washington believe that the North Koreans will honor even a short term nuclear weapons agreement?

  • foobarista

    Glad they called it “Ten Cent WeiBo”, since the Chinese name would freak out people who don’t know better: YiMao WeiBo (YiMao is RMB 0.10 and has nothing to do with the Chairman).

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