Tuesday, October 10, 2006

In other news...

The North Korea nuclear test, if it indeed happened, must surely go down as one of the most successful PR events in history. The timing was absolutely impeccable - it has totally blitzed any other news that would otherwise have come out of Korea. Sadly, most of what we are reading in the papers is not anything to do with the North Korean nuclear test. Rather, it is speculation by pundits on what they think is going to happen in reaction to the test. This is done because the person who guesses right can then enjoy the right to say 'I told you so' and the bigger benefit of having people believe you are wise and insightful.

What the hell, I'll give it a go myself: South Korea will formally downgrade the Sunshine Policy (or whatever its current name is) by stopping or reducing visible exchanges but still maintain humanitarian aid and all the other exchanges that are going on under the radar. China will side with US and the others to pass a UN Security Council resolution and join in sanctions (but maybe not oil and not humanitarian food aid). Japan will be calm and follow the lead of China and US so as not to completely destroy recent efforts of being more buddy-buddy with China and Korea. US will huff and puff and nobody will care.

So now we can get on to more interesting stuff. Ban Ki Moon has been approved to become the new UNSG. My absolute favourite headline was Despair at UN over selection of 'faceless' Ban Ki Moon. That'd certainly take the wind out of your sails. Ban won't start the job until the new year so at least Kofi Annan can handle the immediate North Korea crisis and avoid the allegations of bias that Ban will likely incur when he takes office.

But the news that should have been big in Korea today but was overshadowed is that today is World Day Against the Death Penalty. In particular, the event marked the launch of a new Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network. This is a network of NGOs and human rights activist groups throughout Asia who are dedicated to the abolition of the death penalty in Asia. The launch was held in Seoul to urge the National Assembly Legislation and Judiciary Committee to support the Special Bill to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Currently reading:

"Hell" by Yasutaka Tsutsui