Stories about North Korea

Why was the US Ambassador Mark Lippert slashed in the face?

It is ironic that the name of the man who slashed the US ambassador in South Korea is Kim. Kim is a common name in South Korea; I discovered that after visiting the country a year ago. This recent incident, where a furious 55-year-old Kim Ki-Jong attacked the US Ambassador Mark Lippert with a small fruit knife, made me go down memory lane. I was at the demilitarised zone in Paju, Imjingak a year ago, interviewing people on what they had to say about the Korean divide, in the background of barbed wires and many colourful ribbons. To my surprise, most people ...

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Why have the Pakistani liberals forsaken Gaza?

Now’s the moment for a liberal to decide if he truly stands for the principles of liberalism, wherever applicable, or if he’s simply saying the opposite of what his conservative uncle shouts at the dinner table. Operation Protective Edge, involving a military superpower descending upon a small strip of land that Palestinians have magnanimously been allowed to squash together into, has gathered supporters from the unlikeliest quarters. There has been an intense debate over the asymmetrical nature of the ‘conflict’, parodied to perfection by the consistently liberal political comedian, Jon Stewart. Others, like Bill Maher and Joan Rivers, jumped ship. They gladly adopted the ...

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Brother, you are from Pakistan and you don’t speak Arabic?

One of the biggest advantages of living abroad is the chance to hear what people think about your country. I have been living in Germany for the last three months and during this short stay, I have made friends from different regions of the world. At first, it appeared mystifying, the fact that everyone that I had met, knew something about Pakistan. It is no surprise that with the ongoing situation in Pakistan, where every day there is horrifying news that in the imagination of people I have come across, Pakistan comes closer to being an aberration. Wishfully, I often think ...

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Will North Korea consider this blog an “act of war”?

Facing what could be his harshest critic yet, Seth Rogen’s upcoming film, “The Interview”, has been rated 4.5 nukes by the fuming Supreme Leader of North Korea whom it has satirised.   A spokesperson for the dictatorial regime has accused the Obama administration, which allegedly ‘masterminded’ the movie, of “provocative insanity”, and deemed the movie an outright “act of war”. According to the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “If the United States administration tacitly approves or supports the release of this film, we will take a decisive and merciless countermeasure.” It is unlikely that the “merciless countermeasure” would be a caricature of ...

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Will we ever see a nuke-free world?

Despite numerous calls and rhetoric to move towards global nuclear disarmament, no significant progress has been achieved to this day. Instead, all these efforts have met with a tragic end. The recent Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report has shown a very dismal picture with regards to this. All nine nuclear states are currently in possession of 16,300 nuclear weapons, which includes 4000 operational ones. P5 countries, which include the United States, China, Russia, France and the United Kingdom, are upgrading their nuclear arsenal and spending a hefty amount on the development of new weaponry systems. Though, we have seen a ...

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The Korean borders: Another version of Wagah border?

I have always wanted to go to Imjingak, located near Seoul, in South Korea. Being a media professional, my wish was granted when I got to travel to the Freedom Bridge for a news feature I was doing for Madang Live. Having woken up to rain, we made it to Imjingak where the Freedom Bridge lies. Photography was prohibited, except where we were given explicit permission. We were not allowed to point at anyone or anything. If a North Korean waved at us, we were not allowed to wave back. Freedom Bridge, with its striking ribbons conveying the hope of millions for ...

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GI Joe 2: Another instance of propaganda against Pakistan

Last night I chose to watch the movie, GI Joe 2: Retaliation, hoping to get a dose of some much needed action and science fiction. However, this was not the case. A good hour and a half that felt like days later, I was praying for my electricity to crash so that I would have an excuse to get rid of the rest of the movie. But then again, what else can we expect from Hollywood, an industry that is running out of things to sell? The movie was far from light-hearted action. In fact, it should have been titled ‘Propaganda’. This ...

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Life in South Korea

May 2011, I came to South Korea with lots of questions in my mind. Truly speaking, back home we have heard about oriental countries, mostly China and Japan but rarely Korea. A lot of people may not even know that North and South Korea are two different countries as they are mostly referred to as simply “Korea”. Whatever the reason, I am still not sure. The funny thing is the the only time I see people making the mention of South Korea is after Gangnam Style becoming a youth anthem, and yes, of course, after the recent tensions between North ...

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North Korea’s third nuclear test: Will the after-effects be in their favour?

North Korea’s third nuclear test has put the tiny, virtually isolated nation back on the map. The recent test did not come as a surprise as satellite reconnaissance had shown high activity at its Punggye-ri testing site, which happens to be only 100km from the Chinese border. The test took place at 12pm local time and was conducted one kilometre under the ground. The resultant explosion produced an earthquake between the magnitude of 4.7 and 5.2. The blast was reported to be more powerful than the previous nuclear tests conducted in 2006 and 2009. The Russian defence ministry believes that the yield ...

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After Kim Jong-il

As the international community and regional stakeholders look to take advantage of the small window of opportunity to reform the ‘hermit kingdom’ following Kim Jong-il’s death, it seems premature to predict a “Pyongyang Spring” in the making. As a New York Times editor who visited the country a few years back put it, the regime under Kim Jong-il might be the most totalitarian in the history of mankind. Unlike Stalin, Kim Jong-il took advantage of emerging technologies to perpetuate the regime’s propaganda unlike no other while blocking its use for his citizens and keeping them isolated from the rest of the world. North ...

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