Good thing no one from the New York Philharmonic wandered off for a stroll when the orchestra performed for the Pyongyang elite in February. This week, while vacationing at North Korea’s Mount Kumgang resort, a 53-year-old housewife from South Korea, Park Wang-ja, went for an early morning walk on the beach — and according to North Korean officialdom, strayed too far. So a North Korean soldier shot her to death.
North Korea then refused to cooperate with South Korea’s requests to investigate. South Korea suspended visits to the Kumgang resort (which is bankrolled by South Korean money, and operates inside North Korea as a cordoned-off source of hard cash for Kim’s regime). North Korea has denounced this is an “intolerable insult” (have you ever noticed that the most despotic systems are also the most chronically offended?), and is demanding an apology from South Korea.
Meanwhile, at the Six-Party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program, there’s just been another round of “diplomacy,” involving discussion about arranging further discussion to talk about discussing details of a still-to-be-fully-discussed and narrowly-defined “verification” setup for North Korea’s nuclear program, or at least the parts of it already highly visible. The “progress” for the U.S. and allies is strictly on paper. Forget such absolutely germane questions as whether any inspectors who ultimately go to work in North Korea will be allowed to look where they choose. The question is whether they’ll even be able to take a walk on the beach without getting shot.