North Korea's bizarre exports
North Korea has had some surprising exports of late. The above image is the African Renaissance, a 164-foot tall monument to African freedom in Senegal. It was built by Mansudae Overseas Project Group of Companies, a North Korean design firm, at the request of President Abdoulaye Wade.
"Only the North Koreans could build my statue," says Mr. Wade, sitting in a red velvet chair in his palace. Moreover, they offer monuments at a good rate, he says: "I had no money."
North Korea is mainly known for a totalitarian regime overseeing economic failure. But it has also produced a successful export business—building monuments to freedom and independence. The statues' selling point: They are big, simple and cheap.
Mr. Wade had no budget for the African Renaissance, so instead offered a prime chunk of state-owned land in exchange, which North Korea has since resold at a large profit, he says.
The official budget of the project is $25 million, but foreigners have estimated the true cost at $70 million.
Meanwhile, the Thai government believes they have determined where an impounded weapons shipment from North Korea was headed:
BANGKOK — A large shipment of North Korean weapons seized here in December was bound for an airport in Iran, according to a Thai government report submitted to the United Nations and leaked to news agencies.
This connection brings back memories of Bush's Axis of Evil, the fabricated trio of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea that allegedly worked together against the forces of freedom. Ironically, Iran and North Korea are both currently developing nuclear weapons and trading in conventional weapons.
So there you have it: a totalitarian regime building expensive monuments to freedom for an impoverished African country and two countries that were grouped in an inaccurate and poorly conceived clustering of WMD-seeking nations nations actually cooperating and independently seeking nuclear weapons. The world is a crazy place, and North Korea one of the craziest corners of that world.