A Story Otherwise Untold

The media’s coverage of Donald Trump casts a shadow the size of Mt. Everest. I invite you to walk with me into the sunlight for some news of major importance that you likely didn’t see over the weekend.

It concerns one of the world’s most urgent and alarming problems—North Korea. You’ll be relieved to know that news is, on the whole, positive. You might also find the nature of this news intriguing. You’ll see a powerful example of the necessity to pay attention to small details as well as large events.

Let’s take a look.

China is a key factor in any issue pertaining to North Korea. That’s proven true once again in the latest tensions boiling up between North Korea and the American President Donald Trump. You’ll recall that Chinese Premier Xi Jinping was dining with President Trump in Florida when the US bombed sites in Syria. Seems like ages ago, doesn’t it?

The decision by Trump that angered the Chinese the most wasn’t the air strikes in Syria. It was the American decision to outfit the government of South Korea with a missile defense system known as THAAD. Chinese officials regard the system as upsetting the equilibrium of armed power in East Asia. But this isn’t the news I wanted to share with you.

Here it is.

In retaliation, among other things, the Chinese government shut down a string of large grocery stores owned by a South Korean corporation. The photo above is of a location in China. These Lotte stores in China were owned by a South Korean corporation which also owned the land where the new THAAD systems were installed in South Korea. The shut-down happened several weeks ago.

The store closures were a blow to the corporation because, in early 2017, mysterious hackers had previously shuttered the website of the grocery stores. You don’t have to be a cyber-security expert to wonder if the Chinese government had some hand in that earlier attack. The grocery-store business was dead or as good as—customers couldn’t buy food in person or online.

A recent event introduced a turn in the story. South Koreans voted in a new president, a man whose stated intentions included better relations between the two Koreas. The new president’s intentions please the Chinese; a meeting has already occurred between him and Chinese diplomats. Reports from the meeting suggest improvement in Chinese-South Korean relations, a post-THAAD thaw.

Now, without explanation, the website of the South Korean grocery-store chain is working again. The stores in China are still dark but the online portion of the operation is fully functional.

All of this unfolded in the shadow of Mt. Media-and-Trump. A small thing, easily missed, though of a weight that deserves attention.

Dozens of options are open to leaders in a dispute. Patience and creativity are needed to broaden the number of choices at any given moment. A quiet gesture can make an important sound. Oh, and make a point of trying to soak up the sun again beyond the shadow of the Mountain.

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