While Anglophone Korea-watchers are checking up on U.S. envoy Stephen Bosworth’s itinerary and insouciantly lining him up in a rhetorical 3-4 formation next to to 1980s football linebacker sensation Brian “the Bozz” Bosworth, France’s envoy Jack Lang has finally hit Pyongyang.
He’ll be in North Korea for a total of five days, exploring the possibility of French recognition of North Korea (here, France is alone in Europe [except for Estonia] in not having done so), doing some obligatory finger-wagging about the North’s nuclear program, and hyping French business concerns in areas like energy extraction.
Lang said he had no comment on the question, but it’s unlikely that he will be allowed to meet Kim Jong-il. In fact, it would be very unusual for Kim to grant him an audience; current and former heads of state and occasionally Secretaries of State (e.g. Madeline Albright) will make the cut, but not special envoys.
And speaking of comments, the French “netizens” are keeping up with their Chinese counterparts by commenting vigorously on the Lang visit. For a taste, click here for 167+ comments on the latest Liberation story on his mission. I enjoyed this one in particular, as it addresses some concerns had among the French regarding Lang’s competence to achieve the desired goal (diplomatic relations and business ties) with the North:
Bill Clinton, non plus, ne parle par Coreen. Mais on l’a envoye en Coree du Nord pour negocier le liberation d’otages. C pareil pour Jack lang. Il est relativement connu, mondialement. Il a aussi une competence ministerielle. Il sait comment fonctionne l’etat. 15 ans dans les ministeres et 30 ans al l’assemblee lui ont appris tout cela. A 65 ans, il n’a plus besoin de se battre pour changer le monde. Il veut laisser son emprunte et ses competences au service de son pays. J’en suis persuade.
Bill Clinton also did not speak Korean, but he was sent to North Korea to negotiate the release of hostages. It’s the same for Jack Lang. He is relatively well known, globally. He also has the ministerial-level qualifications and functions as a state actor. It’s all there: 15 years as a minister and 30 years in the Assembly. At age 65, he doesn’t need to do more to prove he can change the world. Now he wants to lend [emprunte/借入/jie ru] his competencies in service of the state. I’m convinced. [Note: unlike on Chinese BBS, this commentor yannick007 has a profile and all]