Friday, October 26, 2007

Ribs, chicken, and a side of Kim Jong-Il

Ladies and gentlemen, DotW readers, meet Bobby Egan of Hackensack, New Jersey. Bobby is the owner of Cubby's Barbecue Restaurant, and besides his penchant for mouth watering baby back ribs, Bobby also has another passion - a passion for North Korea. So how did a man who makes a living slinging ribs take a shine to Kim Jong-Il's kingdom?

Bobby Egan's career in what can only be described as amateur diplomacy began over 20 years ago, when he contacted the Vietnamese mission to the United Nations and offered his services on repairing relations with Washington. Why the Hanoi government thought a guy who runs a rib shack could help thaw relations with the United States remains a mystery, but the Vietnamese, eager for a thaw, heeded Egan's advice about "coming clean" about the fate of US soldiers missing in action in Vietnam. Before it was all over, Egan was making trips to Hanoi (one of very few Americans to do so in the 1980s) and testifying before congress on the POW/MIA issue. None of Egan's leads ever panned out, but the rib man made his mark.

It wasn't long before the North Korean government picked up on Egan's volunteer work on behalf of Vietnam, and contacted them on how to improve their image with Washington. Egan's solution? Luring North Korea's infamously reclusive UN staff out to New Jersey for ribs, and tickets to see the New York Giants. After the death of Kim Il-Sung, Egan ingratiated himself with the new heads of the North Korean UN mission in New York, serving (by his own accounts) in roles from everything as a doorman to chauffeur. Somewhere along the way, the North Koreans began to use Egan as their point man for backroom negotiations with the US State Department, who were less than pleased with Egan's role with the North Korean government.

In 1996, a North Korean spy submarine became stranded in South Korean waters, letting loose a pack of 26 heavily armed North Korean commandos in South Korean territory. By the time it was all over, the commandos had killed 13 South Koreans, while 24 of the North Koreans had been killed, one captured, and one escaped. South Korea and the United States demanded an apology from Pyongyang, so the North Korean government threw Egan into the fray. Egan attempted to convince a gaggle of incredulous State Department officials to drop the demand of the apology in exchange for the release of five American prisoners of war rumored to still be held in North Korea. US President Bill Clinton's Asian affairs specialist, Colonel Charles "Jack" Pritchard, went to Cubby's in Hackensack to personally tell Egan to butt the hell out. Unfortunately for Egan, the United States got their apology from North Korea.

Pritchard's suggestion that Egan should stick to ribs has, apparently, fallen on deaf ears. Egan has resumed offering his advice to the North Koreans, even telling them that they should go ahead and conduct nuclear weapons testing in order to knock "Bush off his chair". The North Koreans went ahead and did just this, although the results haven't exactly thawed out relations with the United States as intended. The North Koreans, however, have rewarded Egan by making him the head of the United States of America-Democratic Republic of North Korea Trade Council, an organization that basically consists of Bobby Egan, because of the complete lack of trade ties between the US and North Korea. His bizarre dedication to helping the regime has also had another reward - a snazzy lapel pin bearing the image of the Dear Leader himself, Kim Jong-Il.

Quoth Egan, "I'm one of only two westerners to get this, me and some guy from Romania, I was told."

It makes me wonder just what that Romanian guy had to do to get his.


Michael said...

Whose side is this guy on, anyway? If he loves the DPRK so much, maybe we should send him there --- permanently. What a dick.

Anonymous said...

Michael, you're just pissed because the only way you would become Pres of the USA-DPRK Trade Council would be through coup. Clearly through the leadership of this guy in NJ, commerce between the two countries has probably doubled -- tripled perhaps! -- to something close to $9 or $10 USD.

Michael said...

Guilty as charged...

Anonymous said...

The guy doesn't pay his bills, maybe he should focus on his personal obligations before he gets involved in international intrigue.