North Korea

There apparently is no end to the outright cheekiness of some countries, notably North Korea . We thought the Korean episode in our lives ended with the armistice in 1953 when the so-called "police action" ended and shooting stopped—at least, most of it.

But North Korea has been belligerently provocative now for fifty years, everything from removing their translators' earphones from their heads while our side is talking at the truce table, to actually shooting at least in the direction of our forces stationed along the 38 th Parallel. Well, over the weekend, its leader, Kim Chong-il, lost more of his already tenuous grasp on reality, and started ordering us around. He refloated a proposal that we accept their claim of having, possibly using, or perhaps even selling nuclear weapons, depending on what we do. This, in a country that has a problem with starvation.

A state-run newspaper in Pyongyang said today the U-S "will be held accountable for scuttling all efforts for dialogue" if it doesn't "positively respond" to the proposal. In other words, do exactly what the North Koreans want. Secretary of State Colin Powell, true to his normal understatement, said, "the U-S is reviewing the deal." Perhaps, having seen what happened to Saddam Hussein, Kim is trying a little bluff. But, obviously, that is a dangerous game.