If you run a police state such as North Korea (a.k.a. “The People’s Republic of North Korea”) publicity is almost always bad, so you avoid it if possible. There are occasional exceptions and the North Korea authorities spotted one a month ago. A guided tour group was about to leave after a week’s visit when, in a last-minute review of the passenger list, an operative noticed that one of the visitors had not only been a U.S. Army veteran of the Korean War, but also may have been in counter-intelligence. With that, they took Merrill Newman, a retired California businessman, off the plane and held him. He may have been on a sinister mission, they hinted.
This ran widely in short articles in U.S. newspapers and television and very conveniently obscured thinly covered reports from South Korean sources that ruler Kim Jong-un had fired his Uncle, Jang Song Thaek, the husband of Aunt Kyong-hui Kim. Jang was widely considered to be the government’s No. 2 man and was the one had been designated to teach his novice nephew the ropes when he inherited the emperor’s job upon the death of his father, Kim Jong-il.