Standort: / Meldung: "Plus ça change"

Kate Farmer

Cutting to the chase

2. 5. 2013 - 15:27

Plus ça change

Reality Check: North Korea reverts to old tactics, Obama and Guantanamo, UKIP, child sex offenders, cannibalism among American settlers

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If one thing is certain when it comes to North Korea, it is that absolutely nothing is certain. No one in the outside world really knows what is going on inside, and the chances are that very few people on the inside know, either.

Kim Jong-un


Uncertainty has become even more certain under Kim Jong-un

After weeks and weeks of threats and posturing about nuclear strikes, nothing much seems to have happened on that front. Not that we can relax on that one - with North Korea, you never know, but now the spotlight has turned from weapons to one Kenneth Bae, known locally as Pae Jun-Ho.

Mr. Bae is an American of Korean descent, who is understood to be a tour operator. He entered North Korea last November as a tourist, and was arrested - possibly for photographing starving children, though the reason for the arrest is not clear. This is North Korea, we are talking about, after all.

After an diplomatic mission from the US failed to secure his release over the winter, Pyongyang has now announced that Bae has been sentenced to 15 years hard labour for "crimes against North Korea" including "attempting to overthrow the government".

Dramatic as this may sound, for regular North Korea watchers this is a familiar path. Americans are frequently arrested and then used as bargaining chips in an attempt to open up bilateral talks with the USA. In some ways, the tactic has been successful. Former Presidents Carter and Clinton have both travelled to Pyongyang to negotiate the release of US citizens - and on the surface, this appears to be more of the same.

However, this time things are a little different. Now it's Kim Jong-Un at the helm, and the country has written its nuclear weapons into its constitution. If President Obama is to launch another diplomatic mission, it's not clear what would be negotiated. The only thing of interest to the US would be the nuclear weapons and they are off the table. But, as always with North Korea - nothing is clear, and nothing is certain. Plus ça change.

On today's Reality Check, Aidan Foster-Carter looks at the significance of this latest development.

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Obama renews pledge to close Guantanamo



No easy way to close Guantanamo

Although it was promised as a top priority of his first term in office, 5 years later, Guantanamo is still open and still holding alleged "enemy combatants".

Political analyst, Steven Hill, looks at the political background to the renewed pledge.

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UKIP and Britain's regional elections

Ivor Gaber analyses the appeal of Britain's fastest growing right wing party, the United Kingdom Independence Party, UKIP.

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Children as sex offenders

Human Rights Watch attacks US authorities for putting minors on sex offenders registers.

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Cannibalism among American settlers

New evidence that the first settlers in the US turned to cannibalism to get through the toughest winters.

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