North Korea's nuclear test may have been puny and perhaps laughably so . But it it still marks the failure of Washington's North Korea policy and is an embarrassment to China and South Korea, who have been propping up the North in hopes that Kim Jong-il might behave in exchange.
Beyond that I have nothing more to add to what everybody else is saying and reporting. A few people have asked me why I haven't been blogging more about all this. After all, back in early 2004 I started North Korea zone as an experiment to see how a blog can be used to foster informed discourse about a complicated international news story. In it's heyday, I think it was quite successful and was viewed by journalists, diplomats, and others who follow North Korea to be a useful resource. Later in 2004 I tried to find a "home" for NKzone: I inquired with several academic institutions and think tanks whether they'd be interested in "adopting" NKzone: designating a Korean-speaking, N.Korea-focused staff member, faculty member, graduate student or somebody whose job would include helping to run the site, recruiting and managing a group of contributors who could bring some unique perspectives on North Korea from South Korea, China, Japan, the U.S., and elsewhere. Unfortunately I couldn't find any takers.
I moved on to concentrate on other projects, namely Global Voices Online and issues related to the Chinese Internet, free speech, and the future of journalism. There are a number of reasons I moved on. The biggest was that I needed to work on things that people were willing to compensate me for - I had no other paying job at that point. (The first year of my Berkman fellowship was un-funded until we got Global Voices going.) Another reason was that my new projects all involved issues on which I felt I could have an impact and make a unique contribution - when it came to N.Korea, I wasn't so sure. Plus the North Korea story basically didn't change for two years running, which got pretty depressing.
Thanks to several heroic volunteers in the U.S. and Seoul, NKzone.org has stayed alive... but it would have been nice to have more people involved, posting more regularly, with some Korean and Chinese perspectives in the mix. Maybe I should try my appeal again.
Does anybody out there know anybody who wants to devote the time to running North Korea zone properly as a clearing house for discourse on issues related to North Korea? Or does anybody out there have the funds to hire a smart North Korea specialist to blog about North Korea regularly and manage contributions from others? If so, please get in touch with me. Thanks.