Threat to South Korean nuclear plants: no thanks

A hacker who obtained blueprints of South Korean nuclear reactors posted internal information on the facilities, including the floor maps, on the Internet, threatening further "leaks" unless authorities close down the reactors, Yonhap news agency reported. Using an account dubbed "president of anti-nuclear reactor group," the hacker supposedly revealed on Twitter (apparently now deleted) the designs and manuals of Gori-2 and Wolsong-1 nuclear plants, evidently pilfered from the companies Korea Hydro and Korea Nuclear Power Co (KHNP). The post demanded the shutdown of the reactors by Christmas, warning "residents near the reactors should stay away for the next few months."

Needless to say, any legitimate anti-nuclear activists would never threaten to cause a radiation release, which is exactly what this hacker is doing. The whole point of opposing nuclear power to prevent exactly that. So is this hacker actually a North Korean agent pretending to be an anti-nuclear partisan for reasons of deniability? Or simply a yahoo with some technical savvy? Or (the inevitable "false flag" theory) some Western intelligence agency laying the groundwork for military action against the DPRK?

Meanwhile, to drive home the complete control of the Internet within North Korea, some commentators are recalling that earlier this year the DPRK banned the use of WiFi networks by foreign embassies, for fear the signals were being pirated by the commoners to access the Web. (North Korea Tech, Sept. 9) But The Diplomat revealed how this came to light: "Housing prices have skyrocketed in a residential area of Pyongyang where the foreign embassies are located as North Koreans are scrambling to move to that area, expecting to use the embassies' Wi-Fi," according to Seoul-based North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity (NKIS). "[T]he phenomenon became apparent in June when North Korean authorities arrested a broker who enriched himself by facilitating the purchase of housing in that area."

OK, is anyone else experiencing some cognitive dissonance here…? Housing prices skyrocketed near embassies? A broker was arrested? There are real estate brokers in North Korea? In other words, there is an unregulated housing market in "communist" Pyongyang? Totalitarian control of Internet access, but no basic rent control regulations such as even New York goddam City has! More evidence that North Korea actually has a capitalist economy. Don't believe the "communist" hype, thank you.

North Korean websites (which are mostly intended for viewing by the outside world, as the DPRK's proles have no access) were down for several hours Dec. 22, leading to speculation that Obama has followed though on his promise to retaliate for the Sony hack. (AP) Apart from the question of the legality of such retaliation (with no Congressional or UN approval), an account in Wired reveals the paucity of evidence that North Korea was even behind the Sony hack. The original e-mail claiming responsibility for the hack was not signed by the "Guardians of Peace" who later threatened theaters that dared to screen The Interview, but an outfit calling themselves "God'sApstls." Radical Christians with a phobia of vowels? Certainly an odd name for "communists"…

Communist or not, North Korea's rulers responded to Obama's retaliation threat in their accostomed and conveniently ongepotchket fashion: "Our toughest counteraction will be boldly taken against the White House, the Pentagon and the whole US mainland, the cesspool of terrorism, by far surpassing the 'symmetric counteraction' declared by Obama." (AP)

Very helpful, fellas.

  1. North Korea’s inconvenient racism

    North Korea issued a statement accusing the US of being behind the Internet outage and  comparing Obama to "a monkey living in a tropical forest." I just heard a report about this on the BBC and Googled the racist quote… First three sources that pop up are the NY Post, Daily Mail and The Telegraph. All right-wing. Co-incidence? The righties are suddenly aghast at racism, while the idiot left factions that shill for the DPRK (first and foremost Workers World Party, now attempting to co-opt the Black Lives Matter movement, of course) will utterly ignore this. Count on it.

  2. South Korea nuclear mishap

    Three South Korean workers died Dec. 26 after apparently inhaling toxic gas at a construction site for a nuclear plant being built by the nuclear monopoly, which has come under recent threats by hackers. The accident at the construction site in the southeastern city of Ulsan came as the state-run Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Company was on high alert over a series of threats by hackers who claim they can disable the control systems of its plants. Choi Hee-ye, a company spokeswoman, said there was no reason to believe that the accident was linked to the cyberattack threats. The company has yet to determine the cause of the accident, although a nitrogen leak was suspected, she said. (AP)

  3. South Korea to develop “reverse-asymmetrical” capability

    The scheduled "Key Resolve" and "Foal Eagle" joint US-South Korea military exercises are to go ahead, despite a North Korean appeal that they be suspended in light of tensions on the peninsula. The US is also to help South Korea develop a new "reverse-asymmetrical" weapons capability, to counter the DPRK's "asymmetrical" warfare capability such as atomic bombs and ballistic missiles. The "reverse-asymmetrical" capability will include high-energy laser beam, high-power microwave (HPM) and electro-magnetic pulse (EMP), which the military aims to develop by early 2020s. (Xinhua, Jan. 19)