General Thurman? North Korea on the line sir

Special to

By Donald Kirk,

Pyongyang’s claim to have called Gen. James Thurman, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, to warn him about “a grave situation” on the Korean Peninsula inspires speculation about what the general and his caller from the North might have talked about.

North Korea did not say who made the call, but let’s say it was Kim Jong-Un himself. We understand the kid learned French and maybe German during his years as a student in Switzerland but not that much English. Also, no doubt the connection via the hotline across the DMZ at Panmunjom was a little shaky, but eventually the call was patched through to Thurman at his headquarters in Yongsan.

Gen. James D. Thurman. /Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images AsiaPac
Gen. James D. Thurman. /Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images AsiaPac

Here, exclusively, is what they might have said to one another — with interpretation by one of the Supreme Leader’s [SL] aides.

SL: General, we’re so glad to have gotten through to you at last. As you know, I’m a general too so let’s just make this general-to-general.

Thurman: That’s affirmative, general, sorry to have delayed coming on the line, but when we confirmed it was you, I knew to take the call. How are you doing today?

SL: General, not so well. We’ve been trying to tell you that your days are numbered and sooner or later we will destroy you. We’re not sure you’re listening, but I hope you’ll take me seriously.

Thurman: General, I really appreciate your letting me know. I realize you’re terribly busy, and it’s very kind of you to call. I’ve postponed my Saturday golf game to chat with you. By the way, I heard your father was a great golfer. Maybe you and I can hit the links some time.

SL: Definitely, general, I too have been playing golf whenever I get the chance. I have to get my weight down to be able to make it around a golf course, but quite soon you’ll be reading about my skills at golfing in our leading newspaper of record, Rodong Sinmun. I still don’t have my father’s knack for holes-in-one, but I’m getting there. Now let’s get down to business.

Thurman: Yes, definitely, general. We have a lot to talk about. I’m sure you’ll be excited to know about our annual war games, Key Resolve and Foal Eagle. Basically, they’re a joke — bunch of guys playing computer games and running around the countryside having fun. No big deal.

SL: Right, general, understand, and I appreciate how much your people must be enjoying them. We wouldn’t want to spoil the party, but some of us don’t see them as all that funny.

Thurman: Ok, c’mon, no offense intended, listen….

SL: (interrupting, slightly laughing) I don’t want to be rude, but I’d like you to know one thing: If you ignite a war of aggression by staging the reckless joint military exercises Key Resolve and Foal Eagle again under the cover of ”defensive and annual ones” at this dangerous time, from that moment your fate will be hung by a thread with every hour.

Thurman: Ha, ha, that’s quite a line. Not to worry, general. I’ll be sure to keep the troops under control — these are just to get some exercise before the weather gets too hot and the rainy season begins.

SL: If you say so, general, but, as our rhetoricians say, bear in mind that those igniting a war are destined to meet a miserable destruction while a great victory is in store for the guardians of justice.

Thurman: Ha, ha, ha, very good, general. You’ve got some pretty good writers. Wish I had some in my shop. It’s all they can do to put out press releases for Voice of America to broadcast to its fans up North.

SL: Oh yes, I always listen to VOA though it’s not as colorful as Radio Pyongyang. Seriously, we don’t appreciate your U.S. and allied forces thinking they can isolate and stifle us while taking issue with our just satellite launch and underground nuclear test for protecting our sovereignty.

Thurman: Oh, no, general, don’t take all we say literally. It’s just talk, like your stuff about destroying South Korea. By the way, when are you planning another nuclear test?

SL: Oh, any day now, you’ll be the first to hear about it. Ha ha, your seismic detectors will surely pick up the vibes. Ha, ha, ha.

Thurman: Oh sure, general. Well, as long as it’s way underground, go ahead. Your scientists have every right to see how big a bang they can make and how many megatons of earth they can displace.

SL: Thanks, general. Well, just keep your men in line and don’t do anything stupid, and we’ll do all our testing where the sun don’t shine. Ha, ha.

Thurman: (chuckling) Deal general. Live and let live — call any time.