Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

Big Trouble in Little Korea

By Konrad the Bold in Op-Ed
Mon May 27, 2002 at 03:13:11 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)

Something is just waiting to go wrong in North Korea. The country has been stuck in a steady decline since the Soviet Union collapsed and stopped acting as its sponsor state. With chronic food shortages and a changing political landscape, North Korea's leaders may eventually realize that it's only a matter of time before the shit hits the fan. Remember that scene in Das Boot when the sub is stuck on the bottom of the sea with no engine power and the water pressure slowly crushing the hull? Now replace the charismatic captain with an uninspiring, lethargic fat man and you have a good idea of the situation in North Korea. In other words, don't count on any miracles.

So far the state has gotten by through political agitation. They'll build a couple missiles, cause a little scene by test-firing them over Japan then make some concessions to the west by agreeing to end the missile testing in return for aid. Once in a while they'll play China and Russia off each other since both of them like using North Korea as a tool against the Americans. If that gets boring they'll warm up ties with the South and get some hard currency from South Korean tourists. What do they get in the end? Chump change. One step forward, two steps back.

None of these options are long-term solutions. No amount of political posturing will change the fact that the country is slowly starving while the economy is going nowhere fast. It's been pretty obvious for a while that North Korea is facing constantly increasing internal and external pressures and it's only a matter of time before something cracks. The country's leaders will eventually have to face up to the facts and say, "The jig is up, boys! Let's blow this joint!" The problem is: there's nowhere to go. If all hell breaks loose and there's a popular uprising, a government official from the current regime might just be persona non-fucking-grata.

No kidding; North Korea's is the leading contender for the world's most authoritarian state - a country where people must wear badges showing their country's leader. If the government collapses and the people find out how much money their government officials have been spending - in the middle of a famine - on propaganda billboards, spying on people who collect water-bottle labels, and enriching themselves... well, some of the them are going to be very, very pissed off. Those officials will have little luck finding shelter in other countries since North Korea is a pariah state. What nation would publicly protect the leaders of a country that has spent the last 50 years in a state not even seen in Russia since the days of Stalin? Even China wouldn't accept them once the world realizes North Korea's government has turned the country of 22 million into a giant work camp with worse conditions than in the infamous Chinese prisons.

Since the big shots can't leave the country, and want to avoid being part of a going away party of the type given to Mussolini or Ceausescu, they're going to be pretty anxious about preventing their regime's seemingly inevitable collapse - or at least trying to turn that collapse into a smooth transition. The question is: who can they turn to for help? China? Russia? The USA?

South Korea and Japan, the two most obvious candidates, can be ruled out right away. The South Korean government rightfully considers North Korean leaders to be murderous bastards that should be shot on sight, and the North Koreans would find it pretty hard to negotiate with Japan after spending the last 50 years convincing their populace that Japan wants nothing less than the destruction of all Koreans.

Would the Americans be willing to help North Korea, even in the unlikely event that they were willing to remove Kim Jong-il as their leader and start reforms? I think not. Let's face it: since the collapse of the USSR the world's bad guys have been in a pretty fucking sad state. They just don't make `em like they used to. Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Osama Bin Laden... all amateurs compared to the Soviets. Putting things in perspective, what's the World Trade Center compared to the threat of TOTAL NUCLEAR ANNIHILATION? That's right: The USA is running low on viable enemies. How else can you justify spending billions on weapons when you've got the worlds largest military and no real threats to speak of? As anyone who's been following the latest Star Wars project knows, the answer is rogue states. As long as the American public believes there's a reasonable chance of a nuclear attack from the "Axis Of Evil", all that tax money spent on the military may not seem so crazy.

But who are we kidding? Today, the world's bad guys don't even have a cool name like `The Evil Empire'; all we've got is the `Axis Of Evil'. I think we can all agree that the dark side is getting pretty pathetic when their name sounds like First World War-era propaganda. Instead of an evil empire we've got Iran and Iraq, two poseur states about as threatening as suburban 15-year-olds blasting gangsta rap out of the windows of their mom's minivan, and a North Korea that's run by an Asian version of Oscar Wilde, only less menacing. That's not an axis of evil, that's the Three Stooges, people!

A nuclear attack by Iran? Not gonna happen. Iraq? Yeah, right. Despite what you may have heard, Saddam Hussein is not crazy. He's not going to launch a nuke at a country that will respond by wiping Iraq off the face of the earth, even if he has nukes to begin with. If you think Hussein is the madman the media make him out to be, then consider this: He's the one running his own country, getting driven around in limos and sleeping with nubile young broads every night, while you're working for a living like a chump! No, he's not crazy. He'd rather go on murdering his own people and boning Miss Baghdad instead of getting involved in nuclear shootouts he can't win.

With enemies like these, the US simply can't afford to lose the animosity of North Korea. What you lack in quality, you might as well make up in quantity. Not that North Korea itself is actually dangerous - they can't even get nuclear technology from the Russians, and I think that says a lot. Hell, the Russians would sell nukes just to piss off the Americans, for old times' sake. Even if ol' Kim Jong-il did get a nuke, don't expect a nuclear attack from a guy that's so scared of flying he'll spend three weeks on a train rather than board an airplane. Going shopping for nuclear weapons it can't afford and then making the "concession" of not buying them in return for foreign aid is just another way the North Korean regime is hoping to keep itself afloat.

If help from the US can be pretty well ruled out, what about Russia? Russia has pretty close ties with North Korea and, like China, uses them once in a while to prod the United States. Fine, since the Americans don't have diplomatic ties with North Korea the Russians act as a proxy negotiator for the west when it suits their interests, but that's about as far as they're willing to go. The reason is very simple: influencing North Korea basically means bribing them with some kind of aid package, and Russia doesn't have money to throw away. The Russians have got enough problems of their that they won't be spending big dough on a country that, to be honest, just isn't that important to them.

That just leaves China. Like Russia, China has good relations with the North Koreans and they've got an interest in ensuring the stability of a country they share a border with. Unlike Russia, China has the money to support its wild adventures on the frontiers of geopolitics, so it seems reasonable they would be involved in any major change in North Korea's government. More importantly, China has had a lot of success in the transition that the North Koreans would be looking to make: a transition from a centrally-planned economy run by a corrupt, one-party system to a market economy run by the same corrupt, one-party system. As was the case in Russia, many of China's leaders realized decades ago that their economy was going all to hell. China's latent free-market tendencies were not the result of some limp-wristed desire to improve the life of the workers, but to stop an economic collapse that would mean losing the party's grip on power. Any North Korean politician who isn't too blind to notice the noose that's been materializing around his neck these past few years has probably started watching China pretty carefully.

Something big just waiting to happen in North Korea, and it looks like the regime's options are pretty limited. Look for major changes in the next few years, and don't be surprised if they turn to the Chinese for help. Remember folks, you read it here first.

Originally published at con.ca as Where Are We Going and Why Are We in This Handbasket?


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Related Links
o an uninspiring, lethargic fat man
o people who collect water-bottle labels
o spend three weeks on a train
o wild adventures on the frontiers of geopolitics
o con.ca
o Where Are We Going and Why Are We in This Handbasket?
o Also by Konrad the Bold

Display: Sort:
Big Trouble in Little Korea | 56 comments (33 topical, 23 editorial, 0 hidden)
How about (4.00 / 7) (#7)
by medham on Sat May 25, 2002 at 03:51:02 PM EST

If the North Koreans, and their juche, turn out to be right? Picture, if you will, the sweat of aliens' bodies covering you, as they click so sweetly tales of Yonet!k, a sweet soul-planet of self-reliance and ant-like hierarchy. Their technology, evidenced by their present, is indistinguishable from magic; and thus, their form of political organization is clearly superior to our Western bourgeois notions of individual freedom.

I apologize for being obvious, but still.

The real 'medham' has userid 6831.

-1: stupid (3.00 / 12) (#8)
by valeko on Sat May 25, 2002 at 04:05:30 PM EST

I think everyone has already stated the obvious, but the most defining ones are:

  • Ken Pompadour: I love seeing complexity abstracted away until you're left with is a story about a bunch of children fighting over plastic toys.
  • tiger: What do you really know about life in North Korea, based on experience? Nothing. -1.

Your awful article is another misinformed diatribe about something of which the author most obviously knows nothing, particularly the nuances of every-day life. All that has been done is the rehashing of existing noise from the American propaganda apparatus. As Ken said, the immense complexity of the issue from a scholarly standpoint is quickly wiped in favour of presenting North Korea as a quaint little society of preschool children. This is no way representative of reality, is misleading, and is full to the brim with blatant lies through omission or misrepresentation. We don't need your propaganda here.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart

I don't recall saying any such thing (5.00 / 3) (#9)
by Ken Pompadour on Sat May 25, 2002 at 04:13:32 PM EST

My point was that all countries in this article are presented as children, with the possible exception of the United States, which is presented as the natural 'state' of being, to coin an abysmal pun.

As an aside: I know next to nothing about North Korea, but it's abundantly clear that neither does Konrad the American ex-pat.

...The target is countrymen, friends and family... they have to die too. - candid trhurler
[ Parent ]
Children and Governments (2.00 / 2) (#15)
by Konrad the Bold on Sat May 25, 2002 at 04:55:36 PM EST

Governments are like children. Once you take away all the rhetoric, governments act in their own interest and that's pretty much all there is to it.

Call it what you want, but sometimes one can see more clearly with one eye closed.

Oh, and by the way, I'm Canadian not American.

[ Parent ]

Hah! (4.00 / 2) (#16)
by valeko on Sat May 25, 2002 at 04:59:36 PM EST

Call it what you want, but sometimes one can see more clearly with one eye closed.

This is a very infantile and entirely nonsensical point of view.

You may need to close one eye in order to rationalise governments' actions to yourself, but people who wish to pursue the subject methodically and academically need to open both eyes.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

If you have any actual facts (3.00 / 2) (#18)
by Konrad the Bold on Sat May 25, 2002 at 05:05:19 PM EST

If you've got any actual facts I'd love to hear them. I'd even settle for hearsay or conjecture instead of your wild assertions. You've got to start somewhere, after all...

Do you have a rational argument as to why the article "is misleading, and is full to the brim with blatant lies"?

[ Parent ]

Well, then how come America isn't a child? (5.00 / 2) (#17)
by Ken Pompadour on Sat May 25, 2002 at 05:05:00 PM EST

Governments are like children. Once you take away all the rhetoric, governments act in their own interest and that's pretty much all there is to it.

Where's the part where you make a caricature out of America? Your words are insincere, and the possibility that you truly are here to instill misinformation has now become worth entertaining.

Oh, and by the way, I'm Canadian not American.

You're from America. Thus, 'American ex-pat.' 'ex-pat American' would have been less confusing, I suppose. Either you misunderstood my statement or you are trying to deflect attention away from your American origin.

...The target is countrymen, friends and family... they have to die too. - candid trhurler
[ Parent ]
My secret life as a Yankee agitator (4.50 / 2) (#21)
by Konrad the Bold on Sat May 25, 2002 at 05:15:15 PM EST

Why do I need to make a caricature out of America? I didn't make one for Russia or China. I stated America's intentions of using NK as a scarecrow pretty clearly. I don't work for Wired magazine so I don't need a clever pop-culture reference to accompany every point I want to make.

You wrote: "Either you misunderstood my statement or you are trying to deflect attention away from your American origin."

I don't have an American origin to deflect attention away from. Unless you're being intentionally obtuse by using American to mean North American (ie Canadian) then I don't see what you're getting at.

[ Parent ]

Forgive me (4.25 / 4) (#22)
by Ken Pompadour on Sat May 25, 2002 at 05:20:31 PM EST

You're not American, but your origin of birth is not Canada. Why drag me around with your word games when you could just state where you come from?

...The target is countrymen, friends and family... they have to die too. - candid trhurler
[ Parent ]
Word games? (5.00 / 1) (#26)
by Konrad the Bold on Sat May 25, 2002 at 05:58:41 PM EST

What word games? You said I'm an American and I told you I'm not. Don't blame me if you don't get an answer for a question you didn't ask.

I'm going to say where I was born because it has nothing to do with the discussion but I wasn't born in Korea, if that's what you're wondering.

[ Parent ]

Oops. "going to say" -> "not goi (5.00 / 1) (#27)
by Konrad the Bold on Sat May 25, 2002 at 06:00:12 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Tut! (3.50 / 2) (#23)
by valeko on Sat May 25, 2002 at 05:25:37 PM EST

don't work for Wired magazine so I don't need a clever pop-culture reference to accompany every point I want to make.

No, but you make an equally stupid presentation accompanying almost any beginnings of a serious point.

You can't expect a discussion to be taken seriously when it discusses geostrategic climate in terms of, "A nuclear attack by Iran? Not gonna happen. Iraq? Yeah, right" and "Instead of an evil empire we've got Iran and Iraq, two poseur states about as threatening as suburban 15-year-olds blasting gangsta rap out of the windows of their mom's minivan" and "since the collapse of the USSR the world's bad guys have been in a pretty fucking sad state."

You can't possibly expect to have your childish nonsense be taken seriously, can you? This has to be some kind of joke.

"Hey, what's sanity got going for it anyways?" -- infinitera, on matters of the heart
[ Parent ]

Step back a minute (5.00 / 2) (#39)
by aphrael on Sun May 26, 2002 at 03:02:55 PM EST

and look at this as a sociological problem: this is the viewpoint held by the average 20-ish or 30-ish white boy in the US and Canada. Sure, it's not particularly insightful in terms of foreign policy thinking, and it shows a complete lack of understanding of how relations between states actually operate --- but it's a very common belief nonetheless; and if people who *have* studied international relations can't refute it in a convincing manner, what good does all of their knowledge do them in a democratic debate?

[ Parent ]
International Relations (4.00 / 2) (#46)
by bobjim on Mon May 27, 2002 at 11:47:18 AM EST

The reason that international relations can't refute common-knowledge perceptions of states behaviour is that, for the most part, the discipline is stuck in a fifty-year old mindset, thinking of states as actors on the global stage. This is exactly the same mis-abstraction that pretty much everyone makes. In reality, states do not have opinions or make decisions. People operating both within and outside of the state system do that, and not usually the people that have the most media-friendly faces.
"I know your type quite well. Physically weak and intellectually stunted. Full of resentment against women." - Medham, talking about me.
[ Parent ]
What you're saying, then (none / 0) (#56)
by aphrael on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 08:03:27 PM EST

is that the state is irrelevant as a unit of analysis, and any reasonable analysis must consider the *individual* motives of the people who make decisions for the states. There is something to that, of course --- but just as ignoring that level of analysis is problematic, so is focusing on it exclusively; there is a degree to which it is possible to analyze the state as a discrete unit --- the options of the actors *within* the state can be circumscribed by the state's position, after all.

[ Parent ]
North Korea, some points to ponder. (4.28 / 14) (#11)
by Tezcatlipoca on Sat May 25, 2002 at 04:27:37 PM EST

Some people are complaining about not being able to talk about North Korea without having been in North Korea.

My answer: utter bullshit.

There are books, newspapers, radio, TV, the invetarated Internet and loads of anecdotes that help  to complete the picture.

North Korea is collapsing: famine due to economic mismanagement combined with terrible drought. North Koreans in the North  of the country are fleeing to China to make a living (same old problem, will we ever learn?).

Now, if you think the Dear Leader (as North Korea's ruler is known there) is going to be deposed by angry mobs, I think you are absolutely dreaming.

North Korea is the closest you can imagine to Orwell's 1984, the people truly believe their last two rulers are the best thing since sliced bread, the situation is so bizarre that the actual head of state is the now deceased Great Leader (the father of the dear leader. Talk about nepotism) guiding the Communist Paradise from , heaven I guess.

One of the advantages of being in the UK is the BBC, that alone almost makes me wish to stay here forever (he). A couple of weeks ago, with the excuse of the football Worldcup, the BBC showed a documentary about the North Korean team that participated (and surprised) in the Worldcup in England in 1966.

With that excuse we got glimpses of Pyonyang, North Korea's capital, and how life is there.

These sporting heroes went to lay some flowers in the tomb of the Great Leader, and sooner that what it takes me to type it, they were all crying about the great loss of the beloved leader.

The documentary showed how the goal of the team in the tournament was set by the Great Leader (win at least one game, what they did) and how during their stay in England the composed a song in honour of the Leader ideals. It would have been hilarious if it had not been so pathetic.

These people live in a mass histeria that we just can't comprehend.

A few days later, another BBC reporter that has been in many troublesome spots, realized that in other places he has seen signs of underground rebeliousness (grafitti, whispers about political prisioners, etc). In North Korea he saw nothing. Absolutely nothing. These people truly believe they live in Paradise on Earth (and after the Korean War, many of the elder folk told the younger generations that the modest progress Norht Korea made was certainly that paradise lost).

This caricature of a country that may have one or two misiles capable to hit Japan, is one of the fearesome members of Bush's "axis of evil".

After Bush's visit to Europe, I think he does not believe that crap anymore even himself.

Bush and co. are making a great diservice to the US populace: thay are fighting a paper tiger while the source of all their problems in today's international arena are elsewhere.  May I remind Bush the nationalities of the now infamous  terrorist attackers?

No, I did not think that is necessary. I memory serves me well there were no North Koreans in those planes. Neither Cubans, that now all of the sudden, after 40 years, got the great idea to make biological weapons.

Give me a fscking brake.
_._ .....
... .._ _._. _._ ...
._.. ._ _ . ._.. _.__

Popular Uprising (4.00 / 3) (#14)
by Konrad the Bold on Sat May 25, 2002 at 04:45:30 PM EST

You're right about the high level of government control but I don't think an uprising is out of the question. Sure, I don't think anything will happen spontaneously but maybe with the help of a big natural disaster or a war thing would change.

If those famines are as bad as they seem then eventually people might just snap. Security apparatus or not, even soldiers need to eat. Of course, that's a big if. There certainly are food shortages but the extent of the shortages could be played up by government to make the country look too unstable to be messed with.

My thinking is that the North Korean government isn't playing these games nothing. They're not crazy and not completely stupid. They know they're in trouble and they're looking for a way to preserve their regime.

It probably won't even take a popular uprising to change the government. Kim Jong-il doesn't rule alone. His ruling clique might decide to undertake reforms while keeping him as a figureheard. That, in my opinion, is a more likely scenario than an uprising and that's why I said they'd look to China for help.

[ Parent ]

revulsions (4.66 / 3) (#38)
by aphrael on Sun May 26, 2002 at 02:59:32 PM EST

You're right about the high level of government control but I don't think an uprising is out of the question.

There's some recent historical evidence for this; Romania was the east European state most like the world of 1984, and when it collapsed due to a popular uprising, it was (a) very sudden, and (b) bloody. But I don't know how similar the situations are; Romania was part of a net of countries which all collapsed at roughly the same time, and North Korea doesn't have anything in the way of similar external events to drive it.

Ultimately, for the people to revolt, they have to (a) believe that things are worse than they could be, and (b) believe that the state is responsible for that fact. The troubling thing is that people in North Korea do not, by and large, believe (a); what information do they have about how things are in the rest of the world? Unless things get visibly worse in rapid fashion, I hold out no hope for a popular revolt.

His ruling clique might decide to undertake reforms while keeping him as a figureheard

That seems far more likely. But at the same time, the ruling clique are the people who benefit from the system; what is their incentive to change? Humanitarian incentive isn't good enough; the elite of North Korea hasn't cared about its people in the past.

[ Parent ]

I beg to agree yet differ (4.75 / 4) (#25)
by Betcour on Sat May 25, 2002 at 05:38:47 PM EST

The world of 1984 looks better than North Korea. At least people still have electricity and heating in 1984. North Korea is 1984, with much worse living conditions.

[ Parent ]
You bet (2.00 / 1) (#54)
by cpt kangarooski on Tue May 28, 2002 at 07:58:26 PM EST

In fact, things have gotten so bad in recent years that in order to conserve resources, they're limited to 30-second hates!

All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]
North Korea and Terrorism (none / 0) (#55)
by KWillets on Wed May 29, 2002 at 03:01:44 AM EST

The record speaks for itself:  Bombings, kidnappings, assassinations, airplane attacks, and hijackings.  

[ Parent ]
threat signatures (4.50 / 2) (#40)
by aphrael on Sun May 26, 2002 at 03:17:07 PM EST

I'd be one of the first to agree that the 'axis of evil' is nonsensical --- there is no conspiracy among the states in question, nor would it be effective if it were.

But I also think that your depiction of the US focus on rogue states is misguided. Sure, some of the posturing is a result of the military-industrial complex trying to perpetuate itself --- but anyone who's looked at the debate currently going on within the Pentagon about whether or not to continue pursuing cold-war-style weapons programs (the preferred strategy of the Congress) or to restructure the military to be a rapid-response device focused on small teams of elite troops with extremely high technology (the preferred strategy of the secretary of defense) would know that the programs favored by the military-industrial complex are useless in the types of warfare that the people talking about rogue states are envisioning in the future, and that even though everyone pays lip service to the danger of rogue states, there is a serious struggle within the Bush administration between the military-industrial complex on one end and the strategic analysts on the other.

Which means that the driving motivation behind the people calling for a restructuring of the military, the same people who are focused most on the dangers of asymmetric warfare and rogue states, cannot be to preserve the military-industrial complex. That's a simplistic explanation which *might* work if the pentagon, and the security community, were monolithic --- but they aren't.

Consider this: there's an article in last Friday's economist which seeks to explain the answer to the following question: "why did the world financial infrastructure not collapse after sept. 11?". It could have; a run on the banks which had been headquartered in the WTC would have been a disaster and could well have caused a global panic. The run never happened, but that doesn't mean there is no threat.

Most of the danger that people percieve in rogue states and terrorist groups is like that: for a relatively small cost to the perpetrator, if the perpetrator understands the vulnerabilities of the industrialized world well enough, he might be able to trigger a global depression, or cause massive spikes in the price of oil, or take out key industries. And that's even before you get into the world of biological warfare which, if the technique is perfected, could have an effect on human populations comparable to that of a nuclear weapon.

Which is not to say that this is the same kind of threat as that posed by the cold war; it's a very different kind of threat. In some ways it's less visible because people really aren't consciously aware of how fragile the international network is. And it's certainly less dramatic; causing widespread economic dislocation by taking out the port of Los Angeles isn't as visual and visceral a threat as nuking Los Angeles. But it's a threat nonetheless.

Simplistic but true (3.00 / 1) (#42)
by Konrad the Bold on Sun May 26, 2002 at 06:22:17 PM EST

You're correct, but my depiction is still right on. Whether rogue states are seen as a true menace by the military doesn't matter. What matters is that the average voter thinks they're a menace. As long as that's true, the military can count on receiving piles of cash.

There's no question the American military sees what's going on. Just recently they cancelled the development of that fancy self-propelled artillery after spending billions on it. And they did it for a reason; they know the cold war is over.

[ Parent ]

You can't stop it. (4.00 / 2) (#43)
by wji on Sun May 26, 2002 at 07:58:40 PM EST

All this crap with wheeled APCs and drone planes and other stuff is silly. Nobody fights with tanks and planes unless they can win with tanks and planes. If rogue states want to nuke us they will. You can't stop this kind of warfare -- I'm surpirsed we haven't already suffered a lot more (although it seems the only ones targeting us are complete fuck-ups like Yousef). The real objective of this restructuring, as usual, is to gain further capaibility in repressing independent nationalism without risking precious American lives. The Crusader, F22, militrary-industrial types are interested in the short term gain to businesses, while the CIA, DoD types are interested in the long term survival of the American imperial system. Frankly, I hope the Crusader/F22 types win.

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]
Gravitometers (4.20 / 5) (#44)
by GoingWare on Mon May 27, 2002 at 12:56:29 AM EST

A long time ago I did some literature research into gravitometers. These are basically very sensitive spring scales that measure the local gravitational force on a mass.

If there's a cavity in the ground underneath you, local gravity will be slightly reduced. You can find quite modest sized cavities this way, if they are close to the surface, or you can find larger cavities further underground. I think they are sensitive to variations of 1 part in 100000 of the earth's normal gravity.

The reason I was researching this is that my company wanted to bid on a project to survey some underground waste storage tanks from a world war I TNT factory. The tanks were basically full of nitric acid and explosives, but the plant had been torn down and long forgotten. A park was built over the area, but then some old guy died and the blueprints for the TNT factory were found among his effects. The government thought it would be best to clean up the tanks before any kids got blown up while playing in the park.

Well anyway, I went to the U.C. Santa Cruz science library and started looking all this stuff up. It turned out that there was a fair body of literature on gravitometers, but a substantial amount of it was written by this one engineer who was in the U.S. Army.

His objective was to find tunnels that the north koreans would dig across the demilitarized zone to smuggle in saboteurs and weapons. He did most of his field testing by trying to detect natural caves in the area of the carlsbad caverns in the U.S.

I don't recall too clearly but I think he did find some north korean tunnels, but didn't catch anyone in them.

I still have the photocopies of all that literature. I can post a citation if I can find it. I thought it was cool so I made two copies of everything so I could keep one myself and give the other to my boss.

We didn't get the contract though.

I am the K5 user now known as MichaelCrawford. I am not my corporation.

Wow! Lost information (3.00 / 1) (#51)
by Nuke Skyjumper on Tue May 28, 2002 at 05:15:01 AM EST

That's great stuff. Info that was salvaged from a grave definitely needs to be on the web.

[ Parent ]
Intersting thoughts (3.00 / 1) (#45)
by dTd on Mon May 27, 2002 at 11:31:51 AM EST

As a US citizen I don't really see any threat from Iran, Iraq, or N.Korea, at least to the US. These countries seem very depressed and have enough trouble feeding their populous to pose any threat exept to their immediate neighbors. The one thing I miss is Iranian pistashios though, they were the best ;)

Perl 6 will give you the big knob - Larry Wall

evil, I say.....EVIL!!! (4.00 / 1) (#53)
by sykmind on Tue May 28, 2002 at 09:42:25 AM EST

hey, come on now. We need a new villain for James Bond to fight, and they have a different type of government than we do so they must be bad people (o i think the sarcasm is dripping off of that one, hehe).

I know they did all that bad stuff in the past but hey who cares about the past right, not like they'll do it again or anything, jeesh (too much sarcasm...ahhh!!)

[ Parent ]
-1 Redundant (2.00 / 1) (#47)
by KWillets on Mon May 27, 2002 at 01:46:21 PM EST

Remember folks, you read it here first.

No, I didn't.

by Katt on Mon May 27, 2002 at 11:18:29 PM EST


You changed it from "TOTAL FUCKING NUCLEAR ANNIHILATION" like it was the last time the story was submitted. The phrase was oddly hilarious, even in context with the story. It made my day.

Blame the editors? (3.00 / 1) (#49)
by Konrad the Bold on Tue May 28, 2002 at 01:18:57 AM EST

I believe an overzealous k5 editor, possibly hopped up on amphetamines and horse tranquilizers, mistakenly changed that sentence while he was kindly fixing my spelling mistakes.

I also like the phrase "TOTAL FUCKING NUCLEAR ANNIHILATION". It has a certain charming honesty to it.

[ Parent ]

Oh well. (3.00 / 1) (#50)
by Katt on Tue May 28, 2002 at 02:04:34 AM EST

It would make a great newspaper headline.

Best of all, most of the people that would complain about the language were probably vaporized due to the TOTAL FUCKING NUCLEAR ANNIHILATION!

Hee hee.

[ Parent ]

wake up to yourself! (4.00 / 1) (#52)
by plee au on Tue May 28, 2002 at 09:17:30 AM EST

don't have such an arrogant view when you don't know what you're talking about. N.Koreans having to buy nukes from Russia? I don't think so. Maybe in your little world nukes are big bad hi tech items that are hard to come by, but welcome to reality. a nuclear device can be very crude as long as you have the raw materials. the trick is to make it small enough for a delivery system. The Koreans have had an excellent education system (minues the brainwashing) over the past 50 years, with many students studying in the former soviet union. they have several heavy water reactors and have produced enough weapons grade uranium to make at least 2 bombs. and there is definitely a threat to the US, a variant of the taepo-dongo missile launched over japan could have the capability to hit western USA with a payload of 1 tonne. not big enough for a nuke, but plenty of space for chemical and biological weapons. accuracy doesnt matter with weapons of mass destruction. There are some elements to your argument that ring true, but the military-industrial complex is not in a conspiracy to solely maintain spending. this was shown by the cancellation of the crusader artillery system. (not really useful for small scale engagements.) once again, wake up to yourself!

Big Trouble in Little Korea | 56 comments (33 topical, 23 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:


All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!