Hong Kong-based, mainland-China-friendly TV station, Phoenix Media, is carrying another mainland Chinese station’s news “report”, based on a South Korean news report, that North Korea’s Worker’s Party has approved of a new war plan in occupying South Korea, and supposedly “winning the war”. The war plan talks about striking first with artillery and missiles. What worries everyone is it mentions the use of nukes. Despite having cited South Korean media sources, the citation of a citation has not been found.
…If you are afraid of this alleged war plan however, you can head over to SOFRep.com, and check out an article describing how US Special Operations Forces would deal with the situation on the Korean peninsula. Neither mention the open secret of North Korea’s sleeper agents operating in the South, and how they will sabotage things in the rear.
Joshua Stanton cites the JoongAng Daily’s report, that when 최룡해 (崔龍海/Choe, Ryong-hae) was in Russia this past November, apparently, he asked if they could purchase Su-35s from the Russians. This would be a clear violation of UN sanctions of course, so instead, he was given a tour of the factory.
State media has reported that work will be further divided into smaller groups. Collective farming of course will still be practiced, but the size is shrinking dramatically. Before groups ranged from 10 to around 25 people, and are now being reduced to around 7 or 8. This reduction in size may be a sign of more mechanization and modern farming practices, and hopefully can actually increase crop yield.
As a result of North Korea’s hacks on Sony, the US Congress has passed further sanctions against the country. On top of that, Obama is seeing what various departments can do to cut out North Korea’s remaining financial links to the rest of the world.
…Despite this, Mr. Marcus Noland has urged South Koreans, that they actually need to take away their own sanctions against the north. Specifically, the May24 sanctions implemented after the sinking of the ROKS Cheonan.
It’s been mentioned several times on this blog, that North Korea has done things like reforestation, and put on solar-powered water heaters in certain locations. However, the Nautilus Institute has an article on North Korea purchasing photo-voltaic solar panels. So it looks like North Korea might actually be going green.
…South Korea has already launched their cap and trade market exchange. Which is interesting. I’ve always thought that North Korea would be the first country to do so, but I guess it’s a bigger polluter than I’d like to think, which means it won’t make as much money from this.
Japan-based publication, 臨津江 (リムジンガン/림진강/RimJin Gang), has a new report about the ever increasing problem with a drug known locally as “얼음”, or “ice”, and how it’s so prevalent, that even some of the authorities are in on the racket.
According to DailyNK sources, because of severe crackdowns on the use of foreign currency (Chinese RMB) within the country. Foreign currency was widely used ever since the 2009 currency reforms, which destabilized North Korea’s economy, currency, and the price of goods. Ever since then, people have been using foreign currency, because it was more stable and predictable. However, because of ever-increasing crackdowns, people this year are now using domestic currency. I guess that’s one way to “instIll confidence” in the North Korean Won!
On Thursday JAN14, 리영호 (Ri, Yong-Ho), the chief Nuclear diplomat of the DPRK, not to be mistaken for that other 리영호 (李英浩/Ri, Yong-Ho) that was killed a couple years ago in a shootout, arrived in BeiJing, en route to meet with former US diplomats Stephen Bosworth and Joseph DeTrani in Singapore on Sunday.
Caveat Emptor! If you’ve seen documentaries, like the one from the RT, which featured the leader of the Korea Friendship Association, Alejandro Cao de Benos, you might be tempted to think that this organization might fit your North Korea touring needs. Especially if you want to make a film. However, for the exhorbitant fees you pay, you’d expect some special VIP access, right? Not necessarily. Tours like China-based Koryo Tours, and Young Pioneer tours got skybox access to annual military parades, meaning they were closer to North Korean leaders, while the KFA tour members had to stay on the ground. So where do these funds go? Alejandro doesn’t reveal much in terms of the organizations finances.
Another statue featuring the father-son duo, 김일성(金日成/Kim, Il-Sung) and 김정일(金正日/Kim, Jong-Il) will be set up in 헤산 (惠山/Hyesan), close to the 밀영 전적지관리소, where prisoners are held. The statues are to be completed before October 10, which will mark the 70th anniversary of the 조선로동당 (朝鮮勞動黨/ Korean Workers Party. Henceforth referred to as the KWP)
Hey, do you love skiing? Then maybe you should follow North Korean headlines, and head on over to the 마식령 스키장 (馬息嶺 Ski場/Masikryong Ski Resort)! Especially since no one’s really been going. Despite propoganda saying that “1000 people have visited”, it’s more like a little over 10, according to the DailyNK.
The 1970s was an interesting time. It marked the turning point where North Korea’s economy would no longer surpass South Korea. However, a visit by Fred Carrier, Co-Chairman of the American-Korean Friendship and Information Center, painted a nice rosy picture. Things were still pretty good in North Korea at the time. They go into detail on the education system, and the production of factories, and everything really sounded like a Juche paradise. It’s scary.
…Keep in mind, the American-Korean Friendship and Information Center is a pro-north organization, so it’s not implausible that they would paint North Korea in such a bright light. They even bought an ad in the New York Times saying that once America is done with its war in Vietnam, which has already spread into Cambodia and Laos, that it might return to Korea and wreak havoc.
State media on JAN15, released pictures on 송도원 (松濤園/Song-do Won), where their International Kids Camp was having their winter camp session.
Robert Carlin describes the lack of critical media analysis on North Korea, and how that has resulted in plenty of missed opportunities to engage with the North. He makes some pretty good points. Check it out, the link is in our shownotes.
You would think a country like Myanmar, which has been slowly opening up to economic and political reforms, would see that their country would celebrate their freedom of speech, right? Afterall, the past dictator has even stepped down! Well, unfortunately, Myanmar authorities are specifically looking for pirated copies of “The Interview”, and seizing them. Supposedly, this came down after the North Korean Ambassador Kim Sok Chol met with Myint Swe, the chief minister of the Rangoon Division. Reuters reporters later contacted the police station. The police denied such allegations, saying that the movies were seized simply because they were pirated, unauthorized copies.
It was revealed on the 13th, by state media, that 김정은(金正恩/ Kim, Jong-un) inspected an Air Force unit. His younger sister 김여정 (金與正/Kim Yo-jong) was with him.
And of course we end this section with Kim Jong-un looking at female pilots.
Monday, January 12, South Korean President 박근혜 (朴槿惠/ Park, Geun-Hye) says she’s willing to talk with the North Koreans, as long as they don’t have any preconditions, after suggesting to the North that both sides restart reunions for families divided by the Korean War. The North also wanted South Korea to talk without preconditions as well. For the North, the pressing matter are the annual ROK-US military exercises and the balloon leaflets. For the South, it’s the nukes. So, since no one is going to budge on those issues, we all know how this party’s startin’!
…But wait! North Korea actually says it’ll pause its nuclear activities and developments if South Korea stops its military exercise drills! I don’t think this is going to work out somehow though…
In response to a recent border crossing by an armed North Korean soldier, killing 4 Chinese civilians, a patrolling militia has been set up in the Korean-Autonomous region 延邊 (연변/YanBian). 張璉瑰 (Zhang, LianGui), a China-based North Korean expert, says the fact that an armed North Korean soldier could cross the border, means that they have neglected their border control, and that it will further impact PRC-DPRK relations. Strangely however, defector numbers to South Korea have not risen since 김정은 came to power. So does that mean the Chinese have been enforcing their side of the border to repatriate armless defectors, yet they don’t have the proper protocol to deal with North Koreans carrying weapons? I have to disagree with Mr. 張 here. North Korea has been reported to increase border patrols and intensify border control, but it’s China that hasn’t properly secured its own borders.
On the morning of January 12, I read a story by the AP, and didn’t read the title carefully. At first, I thought I was reading a North Korean refugee escape story. Then I realized: Wrong Korea! I was actually reading a story about a disabled, homeless, elderly man named 김성백(Kim, Seong-baek), who was taken away from the streets and forced to do manual labor for no pay on a desolate island. Not only that, but they are heavily abused, telling AP reporters that “Each time I tried to ask him something, his punch came first,”…”He told me to use my mouth only for eating and smoking. He said I shouldn’t question things and should be thankful because he fed me and gave me lodging and work.” food, lodging and work without pay. Totally inexcusable reasons for beating someone up! Oh, and of course smoke breaks! His employer is really nice!
Someone passed over to NK Econ Watch pictures of haircut prices in Pyongyang. Stylin’!
On JAN14, Air Koryo, North Korea’s state-run civilian air carrier, saw their facebook page get hacked, supposedly in support of the Islamic State. A couple of days earlier, US CENTCOM (Central Command)’s twitter page was hacked by the same folks.
…Mr. Stephen Haggard rounds up the majority hacking events around North Korea recently, and leaves us wondering, did they really do it?