Saturday, August 28, 2010

Czechs Tell Norks To Get Serious

Don't be surprised if this decision ends up being smeared with either the 'racists' or 'bigots' label by the angry, intolerant, piss-ignorant Left.

North Korean ginseng offer refused

Ginseng is said to have libidinous and energizing qualities.

But the herbal root from the Orient did not have the same effect on trade negotiations between Czech and North Korean authorities.

At issue was a 186 million Kc [US$9,574,650 ed.] debt outstanding from a late 1980s deal for Czechoslovak trucks, trams and heavy machinery.

"We can confirm that a negotiation regarding the North Korean debt was held in July," Radek Ležatka, a spokesman for the Finance Ministry, told The Prague Post. "Representatives of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea came with an official proposal to forgive 95 percent of the debt."

Ležatka said the ministry found this proposal "unacceptable."

Ministry officials then suggested that the cash-strapped North Koreans pay the debt in goods rather than hard currency. Less formal talks followed, and North Korean officials apparently suggested making part of their debt payment in ginseng - a plant that grows naturally in cooler Asian climates and is now a common ingredient in energy drinks or an additive in green tea.

North Korea's military controls much of the country's exports. Ginseng sales are controlled by a highly secretive branch of the Army known as "Bureau 39," according to The Financial Times. The North Korean Foreign Affairs Ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

Ležatka said the offer came during informal discussions and that "the Finance Ministry will wait for the official proposal of the North Korean authorities."

Czech negotiators were reportedly considering other commodities as part of any deal, including zinc ore. The Finance Ministry would then plan on selling the zinc to recoup the North Korean debt.

The debt dates from the rule of Kim Il Sung, the communist dictator who ran North Korea from 1948 through his death in 1994. He was succeeded by his eccentric son Kim Jong Il, who is known for enjoying among other things fine liquors and James Bond films despite the grinding poverty that has engulfed his country. He has driven the country into increasing international isolation, due largely to continued work on a nuclear weapons program.

Kim's health has become the subject of much speculation since late 2008, when he reportedly suffered a stroke. In public appearances since, he has appeared frail, and in July 2009, The New York Times reported he is suffering from pancreatic cancer. Earlier this year, the United Kingdom's Telegraph cited a South Korean intelligence official in reporting that Kim had $4 billion stowed in numbered bank accounts in Luxembourg.

Pyongyang owes an estimated $12 billion to the world in unpaid debts, two-thirds of that to former communist states like the Czech Republic. International sanctions have tightened further in recent years, depriving the North Korean regime of its key source of hard currency: arms sales.

"We have finished the official negotiations on this position, and informal discussions about different possibilities have followed," Ležatka said.

It is not known what other commodities Kim - who before a previous round of sanctions in 2007, formerly imported an estimated $800,000 worth of Hennessy cognac each year, according to the brand's manufacturer - and his government are considering to offer for paying off the debt.

"Negotiations will continue," Ležatka said.
Members of the UN Human Rights Commission were unavailable for comment.

Via The Prague Post

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