Saturday, April 27, 2013

You Call That A Threat?

Kim Jong-Un has a problem: no one is taking him seriously. Since his father died and he took power in December of 2011, he has been trying to make somebody – anybody - outside of North Korea take notice. Like a kid in a classroom sticking his hand in the air and waving it back and back forth, he has tried one thing after another to get the attention of the world. In each case, it's like the teacher just nodded at him, and went right on calling on little South Korea sitting in the back.

In April of last year he fired a long range ballistic rocket; it fell into the sea. In August, he said that his army was ready to deal "deadly blows in an all-out counter-offensive" should anyone violate their borders. Trouble was, no one was or wanted to. Then in December he put a satellite into orbit. It got there, but it turns out to be tumbling end over end, and showing no signs of life, kind of like sending a washing machine careening down a hillside.  

More recently he has released photos of a military exercise showing a fleet of hovercrafts staging a mock beach landing. Turned out it was Photoshopped together, showing the same 2 vehicles duplicated multiple times to make up an armada. And he even warned local embassies that they might want to consider sending their nationals out of the country because hostiles were imminent, and contacted a British tour operator by email saying "'The DPRK has now ordered its rockets to standby to destroy U.S. bases if the DPRK is attacked. The situation is now critical with the outbreak of war probably only hours away." Trouble is they sent that email on March 29, and the Yeouido Hangang Spring Flower Festival opened in Seoul on April 12 with a blast, and it wasn't nuclear.

Ah, yes, nuclear. That's the one thing making this more than your state level hissy fit. After all, if Mauritus or Papua New Guinea, two countries with similar GDP's to North Korea's, were making similar threats, we would all laugh and go back to our lattes. But having a bomb that makes that big a boom forces a certain amount of "Such a kidder! (Pause) He is kidding, right?" And even if the intelligence analysis is correct, and any bomb he has isn't small or accurate, just how small or accurate does one have to be with a kiloton or two? Remember the old children's saying "close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades?" Well, add to that nuclear bombs.

Perhaps Kim should take a page from his patrons, the Chinese. After all, you don't see Beijing threatening to blow up San Francisco. That's because not only do they like cable cars, but they recognize that our economy is their economy as well. And so they've been sticking us in the ribs by going after the things that really matter to us, and won't hurt them. That means their hackers have been screwing up our Facebook pages and Ebay accounts, and making it impossible to get a clean stream of the last season of "Game of Thrones." Talk about psychological warfare that takes a toll.

Now, North Korea doesn't seem to have the technological chops to compete at that level. So what to do? They just have to think what will get under our skin, while focusing on their strengths which would be low tech, coupled with ample cheap manpower. And so at the risk of helping the enemy, they should be looking for a pressure point that uses those assets. And if we have an Achilles heel that fits the bill it's this: telemarketing.

If I were Kim, I'd set up huge phone banks, and start calling every cell phone number we've got. And when we hang up, call right back. And do it again and again. It's not like he cares if he gets put on the "Do Not Call" list; he's already a pariah. Just think of the disruption this will cause, the phones that will get thrown across the room, the tempers that will fray. Do it enough, and we'll be begging him to take all the rice and beans he wants just to stop. And if we don't ante up, he should threaten to call at dinner. Now, THAT'S a nuclear option that will carry some weight.


Marc Wollin of Bedford thinks Kim just wants attention. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at, as well as via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. 

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