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In the days before North Korea’s 70th anniversary of the establishment of Workers’ Party of Korea on October 10, the North Korean government busily prepares for the coming celebrations and festivities. The country’s leader Kim Jong Un walks about the many recreational facilities he has built for himself and those lucky enough to be part of North Korea’s elite. Abroad, foreign tour companies seize the opportunity: Visit the majestic Mansudae Grand Monument, says one… Ride on the Pyongyang Metro, says another. CNN experts weigh in: North Korea does not appear to seem to be possibly thinking about maybe, but possibly, launching what could be a missile. It’s okay to say you don’t know, you know.

Surveying the past six months, things have been quite quiet on this ole Korean Peninsula. All North Korea watchers have had to hope for has been that 4th nuclear test the northerners like to talk tough about. Maybe some news of a serious drought in the country here and there, but nothing like 2010 which marked serious provocations by the regime on South Korean military and civilian targets alike, and nothing like 2013 or 2014 – at least those years had the death by dog (or whatever rumor you choose to believe) of Kim Jong Un’s unfortunate relative Jang Song Taek, and the utterly unwatchable “The Interview.”

In South Korea, the Park Geun-hye government’s North Korea policy has been noteworthy not for what it has done, but for what it has not seemed to be doing. The country’s first female president gained kudos years ago for calling for the 38th Parallel to become a “Peace Park” and for her “pragmatic attitude” toward her northern brethren. Trustpolitik, her aides announced, will forever change the terrain of North-South relations. Alas, little has come to pass – sure, no war has broken out, but neither did one during the reign of Lee Myung-bak.

But what about the children, you ask. Ah, the innocents. Well, the only real innocents in this game of festivities celebrating the establishment of a communist worker’s party that has driven its country into the ground are perhaps the separated families – images of which we see splashed across our TV screens several times a year – hugging, crying, weeping, bawling. They, perhaps more than anyone else, have paid the ultimate price for Korean division. They must go through a lottery just to win the chance to see their family, and, It is, to these aging people of a dying generation, a game of lottery that they just cannot lose.    

 

In the days before North Korea’s 70th anniversary of the establishment of Workers’ Party of Korea on October 10, the North Korean government busily prepares for the coming celebrations and festivities. Kim Jong Un, the country’s fattened leader, walks about the many recreational facilities he has built for himself and those lucky enough to be part of North Korea’s elite. Abroad, foreign tour companies salivate over the money-making opportunity: Visit the majestic Mansudae Grand Monument, screeches one…Ride on the Pyongyang Metro, cries out another. CNN experts weigh in: North Korea does not appear to seem to be possibly thinking about maybe, but possibly, launching what could be a missile, they say in their typical balderdash of irritating analysis. It’s okay to say you don’t know, you know.

Surveying the past six months, things have been quite quiet on this ole Korean Peninsula. All North Korea watchers have had to hope for is that 4th nuclear test those northerners like to talk tough about. Maybe some news of a serious drought in the country, here and there, but nothing like 2010. That year, of course, marked serious provocations by the regime on South Korean military and civilian targets alike. Oh, and nothing like 2013 or 2014. At least those years had the death by dog (or whatever rumor you choose to believe) of Kim Jong Un’s unfortunate relative Jang Song Taek, and the utterly unwatchable almost-theater-release-before-Sony-was-hacked of “The Interview.” At least in the hearts of James Franco and Seth Rogen, the “Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea” (sic) lives on.

In South Korea, the Park Geun-hye government’s North Korea policy has been noteworthy not for what it has done, but for what it has not seemed to be doing. The country’s first female president gained kudos years ago for calling for the 38th Parallel to become a “Peace Park” and for her “pragmatic attitude” toward her northern brethren. Trustpolitik, her aides trumpeted, will forever change the terrain of North-South relations! Alas, little has come to pass – sure no war has broken out, but neither did one during the reign of businessman-turned-politician Lee Myung-pak, a rabid anti-Northite if there ever was one.

But what about the children, you ask. Ah, the innocents. Well, the only real innocents in this game of festivities celebrating the establishment of a communist worker’s party that has driven its country into the ground, game of sporadic provocations aimed at extracting concessions from same-blooded people on the other side of a line drawn by foreign powers, and game of political kookiness aimed rather at getting votes than bringing around sea-change, are perhaps the separated families – images of which we see splashed across our TV screens several times a year – hugging, crying, weeping, bawling. They, perhaps more than everyone else, have paid the ultimate price for Korean division. They, almost laughably, must go through a lottery just to win the chance to see their family. It is, to these aging people of a dying generation, a game of lottery that they just cannot lose.    

 

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