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Japan Today
N Korea's Kim criticized at home for apology to Japan

Friday, May 7, 2004 at 04:00 JST

WASHINGTON — North Korean military hardliners have been critical of leader Kim Jong Il for apologizing to Japan for the abduction of Japanese nationals, a U.S. expert who visited North Korea in April said.

This makes it difficult for the North Korean leader to make a decision to break the impasse over the abduction issue with Japan, said Selig Harrison, Asian project director at the Washington-based Center for International Policy. He said the hardliners were angry because they think North Korea should never apologize to Japan, which colonized the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945. (Kyodo News)

Thank you Kim Jong Il. Japan has done many things that I think requires apologies, but the abductions of Japanese by the North Koreas is an issue that I believe required an apology. I think this is a important first step, even if it is causing him some grief at home. I'm not sure what these means from a diplomatic tactics perspective, but I think Kim Jong Il deserves some credit on this one.


Frankly, I find the story difficult to believe. Kim Jong-Il is a whimsical dictator. Hardliners criticizing a dictator? Unreal.

Don, have you seen anything else about this? It does seem hard to believe doesn't it?

Thanking someone who's responsible for the death by hunger of hundred of thousands of children isn't a really good thing in my opinion. Jim Jong Il is a homicidal mad tyrant, and Korea one of the worst place to live in the world. That's where the world's attention should go.

Joi, unfortunately no. My last spy got executed in 1999. Just kidding. I have developed a good model of Kim Jong-Il's mind over the years and this just didn't fit. Kim is not a homicidal mad tyrant as Giodano suggests, but whimsical, scared, and under massive delusions.

Underneat it all, he is just another guy who must have a very interesting network of beliefs that allows him to operate. While I think he really wants to improve North Korea's relations with rest of the world, he believes that he must ultimately use military power to get the best terms. Also he enjoys all the attention he is getting.

Will he give up nuclear bombs? From my perspective, he must be crazy to do so. After all, being an notorous member of the Evil Axis is in some sense much better than being a country somewhere in Africa which no one cares about. Remember that he is a movie nut. If he had to choose between Pedestrian #7 and Doctor Evil, which role do you think he'll choose?

Selig Harrison is the expert quoted in the article. In his book he proposes complete withdrawal of US protection from Korea, which he supposes will empower the doves in North Korea. From the comments in the article, one can conclude that Harrison thinks Kim is a dove who's just waiting for an excuse to weaken the military that is keeping him in power. Harrison probably isn't that stupid, but I can't figure out what he's trying to accomplish by saying things like this.

The Princess Tenko connection to this story is being suppressed in the mainstream media. Let's hope the blogosphere blows the lid off it.

It doesn't seem to make much sense, really, as it's rather uncharacteristic of everything else we're hearing come out of that area.

I wonder how much of this is investigator bias, or if it's representative of an undercurrent that just hasn't been represented in western media yet.

As a Korean, I can tell you that America leaving would be a big mistake unless you want 1 million North Korean soliders walking right into downtown Seoul which is a mere 30 miles from the DMZ. I don't knwo what his reasoning was but that sounds suicidal. The US and the South Korean Army are the only things stopping an all out invasion. I can't imagine how Kim Jong Il is a dove, I mean come on!!!!

Hello Joi,
I am glad Kim Jong Il apologized. However I have followed Selig Harrison for years. My notes on Selig can be seen at:
I always find that Harrison acts as if he worked for North Korea. I am not suggesting an unhealthy alliance but he follows the party line very closely

Best wishes,
Barry O’Connell

I'd rather try to eat the planet Jupiter than attempt to take on the thinking of L'il Kim and his goose stepping cuckoo soldiers, but I'm glad to hear positive news.

How official is this apology? Is it something that has been expressed publicly to the families?

Maybe I'm worng about this, but I seem to recall reading maybe a year ago that, through his various appointments before his father died, Kim Jong Il must have been the person with primary oversight of the kidnapping of these Japanese citizens in the first place. But this isn't just about kidnapping, is it? Look at the morality rates for the abductees: it is hard to believe that natural causes or even natural causes + suicide explains such a high mortality rate for a similar sized randomly drawn cross-section of young Japanese such as the abductees. As for whether he is crazy, vicious or weak,...well, we just don't know. There is just too little reliable or consistent information.

I don't think that it's true that Kim Jong Il was openly criticized inside of North Korea's leadership. It just doesnt pass the smell test for me. This story is probably a fairly obvious attempt to seem 'normal' to outsiders.. The many, many stories I've heard about Kim indicate to me that although he might indulge in self-deprecating humor with outsiders, he absolutely does not tolerate any kind of criticism internally. Given that context, I just don't see the kind of dialogue occurring in NK that happens in almost all other countries. It's a mistake to go too far in a well-meaning attempt to analyze them in the 'country' context. Most people do that and that is why NK perplexes them so much.

North Korea is really more like a cult than anything else.

Kim is known to have almost all of his staff under a very high level of surveillance. Hwang Jang Yop wrote once that his own apartment had been wired with hidden video cameras.. to give an example.. All of the cabinet-level officials report directly to Kim and he takes pains to keep the chains of command of each government ministry independent of each other and reporting directly to him in order to prevent 'conspiratorial' alliances between them.

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Joi Ito points the following Kyodo news article quoting North Korea expert Selig Harrison, titled "N Korea's Kim criticized at home for apology to Japan". This exact subject did not come up in my interview with Selig Harrison last week. Read More

Joi Ito points to a Kyodo news article quoting North Korea expert Selig Harrison, titled "N Korea's Kim criticized at home for apology to Japan". This exact subject did not come up in my interview with Selig Harrison last week. Read More