Most people seemed to have missed the point of North Korea’s kidnapping, trying, and sentencing two young female journalists to 12 years in a labor camp: It is totally and entirely to gain leverage over Washington with a brand new administration in place.
Kim Jong-Il learned from his father, Kim Il Song, who pioneered the technique, that the quickest way to get D.C. to pay attention to you is to take American prisoners. Why? Because we care!
If the two are women — and journalists, to boot — well, that is just too good to pass up.
Look how much coverage this story is receiving. Plus, Al Gore is involved. Pyongyang probably believes that the former vice president can get into the Obama Oval Office and cut a deal.
What does this rogue regime want?
Duh. Money — and lots of it. In cash. In bags and suitcases.
Plus an admission of guilt from the two journalists that they were spying as charged, even though they clearly were not spying. But truth and reality are irrelevant when dealing with this crazed North Korean leadership.
Just two weeks ago, we saw North Korea launch a series of rockets aimed at attracting attention to itself at a time when President Obama was focusing on Iran and the Muslim World. Kim Jong-Il is saying, like the petulant, spoiled child he has always been: “Hey, world, pay attention to me.
And the news media aspect of this story forces the White House to pay attention to it. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked about it at a public event. That forces an issue onto the political radar screen.
This story is almost identical to the Iranian-American woman recently tried and held in Iran. She was just released — whether for under-the-table money or concessions, we will never know. Or perhaps Tehran was trying to keep lines open with the new Obama administration while talks are ongoing about its nuclear programs.
But that woman was seized for a reason — and released for a reason. And nothing any government official on either side says publicly is the truth.
The same for these two unfortunate female journalists, who might have not even been in North Korea at all when they were kidnapped.
Pyongyang regularly has “stolen" people from South Korea, Japan, and, of course, in the most famous incident of them all, it kidnapped the crew of the USS Pueblo in early 1968 and held them in brutal conditions for 10 months.
In the end, North Korea forced President Johnson to admit that we had violated their territorial waters (we had not) — and we also (secretly) paid $50 million in cash. No U.S. government official has ever admitted the payoff.
This standoff will result in a similar solution. Figure it will happen within a month or so. There may be a trip, perhaps by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who has had success with that regime.
But rest assured: Those two women will be home this summer.
Uncle Sam is going to pay big time — and off the books — for their release.
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