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Sunday, November 28, 2004

North Korean Rumors

It Makes a Difference to the Sheep: LATEST RUMORS on November 22 cites to a NY Times article reporting:
After weeks of reports from North Korea of defecting generals, antigovernment posters and the disappearance of portraits of the country's ruler, the leader of Japan's governing party warned Sunday of the prospects of "regime change" in North Korea.

However, the Marmot Hole revives the "Psych warfare" theory first raised by the DPRK as noted in my earlier post. The Marmot points out a number of inconsistencies with this theory, including
What does make it unusual however - and the Chosun Ilbo points this out - is that on Nov. 20, the Choson Sinbo - the mouthpiece of the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan- ran a dispatch from Pyongyang claiming that the portraits were in fact taken down in international venues, complete with quotes from an official from the People's Palace of Culture explaining how the removals were carried out on orders from Kim Jong-il himself and a touching tale of the younger Kim's undying fidelity to his late dad.

Marmot goes off on a theory of a disinformation campaign by the US...but when he ran this theory by one of his guest bloggers
he pointed out that the removal of the portrait from the People's Palace of Culture was an incontrovertible fact-there are pictures to prove it. Fair enough. But that still leaves us with a large pile of other stories - mostly of dubious credibility - all getting leaked at once. You also have the North Koreans issuing contradictory explanations in less than a week, which might be simply Orwellian "We at war with Eurasia and have always been at war with Eurasia," or it could mean ... that they are genuinely confused by all that's being reported about their little gangster kingdom.

A "disinformation conspiracy" against the DPRK sounds like fun, but it violates the guidelines of Occam's Razor.

I think that, at best, there seems to be whole lot of confusion going on in North Korea, but I doubt that the source is primarily external.
Update: Actually, Nomad has the post that got me started on rumors - he linked to a bit that reported that "China hedges on talk of Dear Leader's Death":
Chinese officials hedged a bit yesterday when questioned about a rumor that the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, had died.
Speculation swept Seoul's stock market yesterday afternoon that Mr. Kim had been shot and killed.
At its daily press briefing yesterday in Beijing, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Zhang Qiyue, said she had not been informed about such a report and did not know if the rumor was true.
Ms. Zhang said no abnormal signs had been seen in the North, citing a remark by Wu Dawei, the vice foreign minister in charge of Asian affairs.
"Kim" reports that the rumors of his death are exaggerated.

So many rumors, so little time.

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