From to Jersey to Pyongyang with Love

This is a fascinating BBC story on Bobby Egan, a small-town New Jersey restaurateur who has somehow become an unlikely middleman between North Korea and the United States: Spare rib diplomacy in Pyongyang.

For the past 17 years, Egan has acted as an unofficial go-between with the North Korean delegation at the UN and the White House. Just how the hell did this regular guy from Hackensack get to be pals with North Korea? It started with some friends in Vietnam:

Mr Egan first came in touch with the secretive North Koreans via another unlikely contact - the Vietnamese mission to the UN.

In the late 1980s he got involved in the issue of whether POWs remained in Vietnam and Laos following the end of the war there.

He formed what he calls a "relationship" with the Vietnamese mission to the UN, simply by calling them up and offering to help with the issue.

It was the Vietnamese who in turn recommended him to the North Koreans as something of an "honest broker".

Soon after, an informal relationship was started.

At the time, North Koreans were apparently interested in opening a possible dialogue with United States, and asked Egan if he'd be interested in assisting them. Since then, he's visited North Korea four times, allowing him to see a side of the "hermit" nation few have ever seen.

That's great, though considering all the crazy stuff going down these days, it's going to take a lot more than the good intentions of a Jersey barbecue joint to smooth things over between North Korea and the United States. But at this point, every little bit has got to help.

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