Monday, June 14, 2010

[Correction] Rebuking Barbara Demick's Deliberately Dishonest Los Angeles Times Editorial *edit1*

edit: 06/15/2010, 8:32am
I earlier offered a scathing rebuke of Barbara Demick's piece in the Los Angeles Times, "Sinking of ship provides welcome distraction for North Korea" as both an exercise to show first how often articles -- particularly editorials -- on North Korea are usually just gibberish and, then, to show how useful blogs can be in picking apart these editorials. I picked that editorial in particular as, well, the author is an award winning author of two books and as she is the Beijing Bureau Chief of the Los Angeles Times.

When I first read that article, it appeared as it was just gibberish. But, upon re-reading the article, it appears she's just slamming the policies of the South Korean right very deliberately. So, whereas I earlier wrote:

While I have nothing against the book -- which I have yet to read and of which I have heard nothing but praise, the author here makes a sweeping and rather incorrect generalization that either borders on naivete or very lazy and perhaps even dishonest journalism. I'd like to believe it's out of naivete.

Upon re-reading the editorial, the article definitely has not only a dangerously dishonest, but a very deliberate twist to it. Anyways, it's these lines made me feel this way:
In an assessment released last week based on intelligence reports, the Washington-based International Strategic Studies Assn. concluded, "Kim Jong Il was so far winning the Cheonan incident he had instigated."
The big loser has been South Korea's conservative ruling party, which was trounced in local elections Thursday. The Grand National Party had hoped that outrage over the Cheonan would boost its popularity; instead the electorate appeared to be more concerned that President Lee Myung-bak was exploiting the incident with his hard-line stand toward North Korea. Results of an investigation of the sinking were not released until May 20, two weeks before the election.

Kang Won-taek, a professor of political science at Soongsil University, said people "thought the government was going back to the old days of using fear for authoritarianism and not democracy."
That's just the standard platform of the South Korean left. I was at first a bit misled by the title. Anyways, it's an even more dangerous editorial after re-reading it and with her credentials:

The editorial suggests that average North Koreans are hurting --  the title of the editorial is "Sinking of ship provides welcome distraction for North Korea" and that Kim Jong Il is winning. What makes this article more dangerous after re-reading it is that she won an award for writing a book as an investigative reporter on the human rights situation in North Korea -- after writing a book about the human rights situation in the Balkans. So, in effect, she is in effect implying that the current right of center ruling party in South Korea is responsible for the suffering of average North Koreans, allowing the North Korean leadership to take advantage of the situation, and sacrificing South Korea's best interests (as Kim Jong Il is "winning"). And, moreover, the South Korean government is doing all this to further their own political interests, which is pretty much an outright lie if you consider what is going on in South Korea...

Anyways, here's the link to the updated post.

Also, South Korea's ruling GNP right of center political party suffered losses in many parts of the country in largely mayoral races -- not inclusive of Seoul I believe, but why on earth is there an article like this in the Los Angeles Times? I mean, if it were it in Hankyoreh-rubbish I would understand, but it's pretty clear that South Korea -- by internationalizing the issue -- singlehandley strengthened the US-South Korea Alliance, US-Japan Alliance, and Japan-South Korea ties. Furthermore, China has become enraged at North Korea and Kim Jong Il "winning" would mean a successful succession which I doubt that this incident has furthered. I'm not sure if the author is deliberately doing this, but it looks pretty damn deliberate and while she may be an investigative reportor of human rights situations in the more exotic places in the world, I wonder why she would deliberately dive into South Korean politics and what the regular Los Angeles Times reader would pick up froom this article...

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