North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Saturday, December 14, 2013

As Christmas nears, oddities all around

One always hopes that a spirit of compassion and tolerance rises a bit, as a major event in Christianity nears around the world. And while there are numerous instances of that occurring that don't make the news, the opposite seems to ring true for what does end up "in print."

So, two oddities of the season

In South Africa, as Nelson Mandela is laid to rest in his ancestral homeland, Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu is not invited. Between the two men, South Africa's transition to representative democracy was made without a spasm of violence as so many feared. These two leaders had a long history; an AFP article quoted Tutu, ""Much as I would have loved to attend the service to say a final farewell to someone I loved and treasured, it would have been disrespectful to Tata to gatecrash what was billed as a private family funeral," Tutu said in a statement. "Had I or my office been informed that I would be welcome, there is no way on earth that I would have missed it."

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South Africa's Desmond Tutu delivers a speech during the memorial service for Nelson Mandela at Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg on December 10, 2013 (AFP, Pedro Ugarte)

The article continues, "Earlier, the Nobel laureate's daughter, Mpho Tutu, who heads his foundation, told AFP that he would not attend because he "is not an accredited clergyperson for the event".

Tutu's account of the events was at odds with that given by the government of President Jacob Zuma, which the clergyman has publicly criticised. Amid public outcry, the presidency insisted that Tutu was on the list of invited dignitaries to the burial. "I have been checking and he is definitely on the list," presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj told AFP, saying he was "taken aback" by the news that the man known fondly as the "Arch" was not invited. "The Arch is not an ordinary church person, he is a special person in our country and he is definitely on the list," said Maharaj, promising to sort out any misunderstanding that may have arisen."

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Mandela's wish was to be buried in his home in Qunu, in the Eastern Cape region of the country. It is a dry, sparse land, neglected economically, but hauntingly beautiful ... AFP/Getty Photo from a UK Daily Mail article

The retired archbishop has been critical of President Jacob Zuma's "graft-tainted" administration. And so the world will now watch how the SA government conducts itself and the country's future now that a great moral anchor has passed. The Mandela family itself is embroiled in a feud over burial plots, and one of Mandela's grandsons, Mandla Mandela, plans to create a Mandela shrine, hotel and football stadium in nearby Mvezo.

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Mandela's small home village of Qunu lies near the ocean, halfway between Port Elizabeth and Durban, near the little mountain symbols (Drakensberg) on this map from

North Korea summarily dispatches one of its own

Not much positive in this story. Just the latest savage purge by a communist leader, this time in the last remaining wreck of a country with that form of government. The boyish-looking, 30-yr-old third generation dynasty leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, turned on his uncle and had him executed for vague accusations of treason. The official Korean News Agency referring to who was just 10 days ago, the number two man, explained that Jang Song Taek was 'despicable human scum.'

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North Korean strongman Kim Jong Un. Apparently thinking himself worthy of his position, he has collected a number of titles, "Marshal of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea"; "First chairman of the National Defense Commission"; "First secretary of the Workers’ Party"; "Chairman of the party’s Central Military Commission"; "Member of the Presidium of the party’s Political Bureau"; "Supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army," Photo from

As an NBC news article describes the unfortunate deceased, "Kim's uncle by marriage, Jang Song Taek ..." was executed for treason, and also accused of "corruption, womanizing, gambling and taking drugs."

A tough crowd - Uncle included - who live in a world of paranoia and self-comfort while the hoi polloi eke out a subsistence living. Speculation has it that Kim is consolidating, that the execution was highly publicized to entrench his grip on power while sending a message to long-time regent types. Unfortunately it may also be signalling, perhaps, a tighter, more ruthless descent into despotism.

Here, the departed Uncle Taek (left) is hosting then Chinese President Hu Jintao in 2012. Photo from Ma Zhancheng / Xinhua via AP, file

China, North Korea's closest ally, has shrugged off the matter as a domestic affair... But then, former NBA star/narcissistic-whack job Dennis Rodman is also heading to North Korea next week to train its national basketball team, undeterred or concerned over the bigger picture.

As mentioned, oddities all around.

Dennis Rodman, alias "The Worm" and "Dennis the Menace" (Photo: Charles Rex Arbogast, AP)


Teatree said...

So, fast change of events. Now Archbishop Tutu will at least attend the funeral, though unclear as to whether he will speak.

Try this article

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