Friday, April 13, 2012

Un, Dupe, Talk and Kyoto Deaths, Part 2

Friday April 13, 9:49 a.m.

Well, I was doing my usual post-dinner doze off in front of the TV last night...that fine North American pastime...when things got hopping between 7 and 8. North Korea finally decided to try out that toy of theirs. And just like any bumbling, accident-prone kid with a toy rocket, it broke one minute into playtime. But, boy did the media go nuts...just for a potential Broken Arrow. I can only imagine how they would've reacted if it did stray over Japanese or Philippine airspace. The Japanese announcers were breathless with breaking news as they seemed to get a piece of paper handed to them once every 10 seconds.

But the most interesting thing happened some hours afterwards. I'm not an expert North Korea watcher by any means, but my usual instinct was to assume that the operatic North Korean newsreading mouthpieces would just blatantly hail the success of their launch of their "satellite". Alternatively, the announcers would blame the Americans, NATO, or a seagull from Hell for downing the missile. However, instead, there was a terse announcement by the news diva that the missile launch had not been a success and that there would be an investigation into the causes.

Well, the international media, the international intelligence agencies and probably any organization with capital letters or "Think Tank" in their names are probably going full throttle in analyzing this rather unexpected admission of failure. Obviously, it's way way too early to start searching for the Korean linguistic equivalents of "glasnost" and "perestroika", but it's interesting that North Korea hasn't yet put any spin or out-and-out lied about this disaster. There has been no post-event press conference, mind you, but the international press corps are apparently still hanging about in Pyongyang....I would've thought that once the failure of the launch was made known, the journalists would've been trucked out and thrown across the DMZ with all due haste.

Still, this is a (government-controlled) media disaster for Kim Jong Un and his regime. Inviting international press all the way to the launch pad on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, only to have things literally collapse. I wonder if last night may be remembered in even fuller context in the years to come.

As Admiral Kirk said in "Star Trek II": "This is damn peculiar."

Now, as for the follow-up in that case involving the minivan which plowed into over a dozen pedestrians in downtown Kyoto a couple of days ago, police are now giving heavier credence to the theory that the driver, who had been diagnosed with an epilepsy-like condition, may have actually been conscious during the incident. According to additional eyewitnesses, the minivan apparently had done things like braking and turning during the killing spree. So, now, despite the fact that the main suspect is dead, police are currently looking at the premeditated murder angle. Still, these are eyewitness accounts along with a speeding minivan at a very chaotic series of moments, so the foundation is still pretty shaky.