Is the DPRK Still a Sponsor of Terrorism? Well…

On February 27, 2023, the US State Department released a report in which the US left North Korea on the 2021 list of countries sponsoring terrorism. The other two were Iran and Syria.

As noted in the report, North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism. In particular, Pyongyang harbors four members of the Japanese Red Army wanted for their involvement in the 1970 hijacking of a Japan Airlines plane. It also fails to inform official Tokyo of the fate of numerous Japanese citizens who were abducted by North Korean secret services in the 1970s and 1980s.

Recall that North Korea was listed in 1987 after a South Korean plane on its way from Abu Dhabi to Bangkok exploded in mid-air. In October 2008, the US administration removed the North from the list in response to Pyongyang’s agreement to begin talks on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. In 2017, however, North Korea was re-listed after Pyongyang agents had killed Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of the country’s leader Kim Jong-un, in Malaysia, and generally “the secretary of state determined the DPRK had repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism since its State Sponsor of Terrorism designation was rescinded.”

Of course, it would have been strange if the Biden administration had heard the voice of reason, remembered what criteria are used to define a “state sponsor of terrorism,” and crossed North Korea off that list again, but that has not happened and we have a few things to remember in response.

First, the two key events that put North Korea on the list both times actually turn out to be stories in which the “Pyongyang footprint” may not at all be Pyongyang.

We know that North Korea was involved in the destruction of the South Korean plane according to a single witness, whose fate is not at all similar to that of a convicted terrorist. Kim Hyon-Hui was actually acquitted and placed under state protection, and her widely publicized “confession” not only left an indelible stain on North Korea’s reputation, but also came just in time for the presidential election in South Korea. It has raised questions among security professionals, and even the declassification of a series of US documents related to the incident has not cleared up anything. The author wrote about this story on another resource, and believes that only a person who perceives North Korea as a cartoon state doing evil for evil’s sake can believe in the Pyongyang trail. That is why there is a version of a US-South Korean provocation, but from the author’s perspective it is more likely that an ethnic Korean woman, member a Japanese terrorist organization realized what could be in store for her and decided to be extradited to South Korea, trading freedom for an ideologically aligned version.

The high-profile assassination case against Kim Jong-nam, which, it should be recalled, fell apart in court, is no less dubious. While the “progressive public” “understands everything,” from a legal standpoint, the North Korean involvement has never been proven, despite the fact that at the start of the investigation, South Korean intelligence agencies actively interfered, planting information from unverified sources. Charges against the two North Korean diplomats whom the police were able to question were eventually dropped, and the North Korean chemist, dubbed in the media as the “chief poisoner,” was deported for lack of any real evidence and, upon his return home, claimed that he had been pressured. More details on this topic are also in another article by the author, but here we will only note that for each alleged “fact confirming the intrigues of the DPRK” one or two interpretations are permitted.

Secondly, such methods of including in, and deleting from, various lists depending on the political conjuncture well demonstrate the “flexible conscience” of the United States. The harboring of international terrorists who hijacked a plane to Pyongyang is cited as “repeated support for acts of international terrorism.” However, they were and are still harboring them in the North, and there had been no change in this policy either in 2008 or in 2017. The same goes for the “problem of abducted Japanese citizens,” which, let’s note, has no direct connection to terrorism or its sponsoring. The North claims that all abducted citizens are dead by now, but Japan does not believe this evidence. While not all evidence to the contrary is valid, Tokyo prefers to assume even more arbitrarily that those persons are still alive, and in addition to the original eight abductees that Pyongyang has confessed about, there is a list of a couple hundred more missing at about the same place and time, and until North Korea has proven otherwise, Japan will consider them stolen as well…

What the State Department meant by “other acts of international terrorism” the author doesn’t understand at all, but that brings us to the third point in our story.

It is clear that the divided world of the new world order is a place of legalized double standards, where the phrase “you don’t understand, this is different” is not a cause for irony, but a guide to action. And if we take “support for terrorism” in the broad sense in which it is imputed to North Korea, then the question arises – why was Ukraine not included in this list of countries? Kiev has been supporting associated terrorists from the so-called “Russian Volunteer Corps”, which consists of outright fascist nationalists and is banned in the Russian Federation. They are already known for killing and taking civilians hostage, captured on video of their own making. There are also known (albeit unsuccessful) attempts to disperse amateurishly produced chemical weapons, i.e. WMDs, from civilian drones.

If this were done in, say, the Syrian conflict by groups associated with the governments of Iran, Lebanon or Syria, it would cause a media uproar and demands for punishment. But the US is silent about this, though the analogy would be appropriate with regime of the Ichkeria Republic (a terrorist organization banned in the Russian Federation) which was losing war and tried to reverse its course with a series of radical terrorist acts, one of the most brutal being the Beslan school seizure. Neither then nor now have such “freedom fighters” been called terrorists and publicly repudiated.

Finally, it should be noted that although the United States is trying to present the list of countries sponsoring terrorism as something that has international affiliation, in reality it is a purely American list for domestic consumption, allowing Washington to impose the necessary sanctions and labels.

By Konstantin Asmolov, PhD
Source: New Eastern Outlook

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