Tribute? What does that mean? Did they bow? Toss coins? Drop off a few dual-use items, of the kind the UNDP got caught in 2007 importing into North Korea? Both these UN outfits have a troubling record in North Korea. The UNDP pandered so shamelessly to Kim Jong Il — dispensing cash, buying him dual-use equipment, and storing counterfeit U.S. $100 banknotes in its office safe — that in 2007 it was forced by the revelations of the Cash-for-Kim scandal to close its Pyongyang office for a while. And according to a report this past December by George Russell of Fox News, the World Food Program “may be helping the Kim regime stay afloat” — allowing the North Korean regime to insert itself as overpaid middleman in the supply chain of relief cargoes, with numerous “lapses” and “anomalies” turning up once the aid arrives in North Korea.
Whatever the World Food Program and the UNDP just wrote, or did, to congratulate Kim Jong Un, or pay tribute to his monstrous ancestors, one might have hoped the UN officials running these organization would have more sense. No doubt while operating in North Korea the UN comes under constant pressure from the regime to bow down, pay tribute, and thank the Kim dynasty for the privilege of sending other people’s money and goods its way. But surely we should also expect from the UN at least some slight grip on a basic moral compass.
For that matter, both the World Food Program and the UNDP are entrusted with taxpayer dollars meant to provide resources for helping hungry and impoverished North Koreans — not to be spent buying flowers and writing letters to glorify mass-murdering tyrants. Would the UN condone sending flowers to honor the memory of Hitler, or Stalin, or Mao?
And if the KCNA reports were dead wrong, if the World Food Program sent no such letter, if the UNDP did not purchase flowers and pay tribute to Kim Il Sung, it should not require the questions of a reporter to persuade them to issue a public denial of these KCNA stories. They should be calling press conferences at their headquarters, in Rome and New York, to explain they would never engage in such acts. Swathed as they are in diplomatic immunity, they might even try calling a press conference to this effect in Pyongyang — provided they’re not too busy penning love notes and buying bouquets for this third generation military-first regime still starving its people while readying its next nuclear test.