North Korea has a policy of 선군, or “Military-First”, as such, we’re following this by putting military-related stories first!
South Korean media says the Nodong missile is being prepped. Its range means it can reach over Japan, and it’s purportedly capable of carrying nukes.
…Which is worrisome, because when 리수용(李洙墉/Ri, Su-Yong), North Korea’s UN Representative, spoke at the U.N.-backed Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, on Tuesday March 3. He said that he’s open to a nuclear pre-emptive strike. He also called for an end to the conference itself, saying it was “Anti-DPRK”. This, after North Korea also fired off some missiles on Monday.
Upon visiting the Fatherland Liberation War Museum on March 2, 김정은(金正恩/Kim, Jong-Un) said that in a war with the South, they should win it in one fell swoop, according to Hong Kong-based Chinese media outlet Phoenix TV.
Peter Hayes and Roger Cavazos have an excellent write-up on North Korea’s nuclear force, and the possible strategies they may use to employ these weapons. Highly recommended, check it out, the link is in our shownotes.
John Grisafi of NK News cites reporting by a South Korean news outlet, 매일 신문(每日新聞/”Daily News”), that North Korea would send its “for every one, take on one-hundred” KPA soldiers to the “Southern puppet country” (aka South Korea), to participate in the Military Games. An olympics-like event for military folk.
This is the section where we talk about economic-related activities:
Marcus Nolan talks about the attention-grabbing headlines of the 개성공업지구 (開城工業地區/ Kaesong Industrial Complex), and the lack of critical coverage over it, before moving onto the nefarious transactions of shell companies, business name changes, and transfers used to skirt sanctions.
Reuters features a story about defectors cashing in on their stories. The good and the bad. Check it out, the link is in our shownotes.
Hey, Good news! The Wall Street Journal reports that North Korea’s travel ban has gone away! They talked to Young Pioneer Tours, who runs tours into the country, on March 2nd, and they were notified that the ban was lifted, and tours will resume soon.
…However, the Swedish embassy put out an advisory that there are only certain areas as of right now, that are OK to go to, other areas are still under quarantine measures. If there are any foreigners, they should contact the Swedish Embassy before making travel plans to the DPRK.
Earlier announcements banning foreigners from participating in the 평양 (平壤/Pyongyang) Marathon, have now been retracted. The marathon runners should be in the city by next week.
The Kim, Il-Sung University is now accepting donations, just like your local PBS station. They’ve even set up a fund for it.
Russian Railways (RZhD) is the company that has the contract to upgrade North Korea’s railway system, and connect to Russia via Siberia. If you could buy their stock, would you?
臨津江 (リムジンガン/림진강/RimJin Gang) interviews a goods trader, he describes the food rationing system, the mixed results of new farming reforms in the 황해도 (黃海道/Hwanghae region), and the ebola travel restrictions. Read more at their website, the link is in our shownotes.
Over 50 North Korean migrant workers in Nepal were deported, NK News reports. They were working there illegally.
NK Today talks about the alternative energy sources such as solar, and wind, being used all throughout the Kaesong Industrial Complex. Some of the wind turbines are produced natively in North Korea, and they are trying to improve the energy efficiency by 40%.
Adam Cathcart asks a basic question: In the “Greater Tumen Initiative”, where China, Russia, and North Korea are in a multi-national project to increase Tourism, is North Korea really offering up much? The short answer is no. He cites the example of the Ebola ban, but as usual, don’t let my summary of his paper get in the way of you reading it on his website. Check it out, the link is in our shownotes.
The First secretary of the North Korean embassy to Bangladesh was caught smuggling 27kg (nearly 60lbs) worth of gold. For those who don’t know how much gold that is, it’s roughly $1.4-million USD. When questioned by Bangladeshi authorities. He said there was nothing to look at, obviously Bangladeshi customs officers proved him wrong. He flew in from Singapore on a late-night flight. Singaporeans must not think carrying nearly 60lbs of gold is a big thing, and let him onto the flight without questions. Apparently, they do it all the time!
There’s a Chinese fishing company that was set up and recognized, by the late 김정일(金正一/Kim, Jong-Il), because the owner of the company, was a Chinese person who had helped HIS father, 김일성(金日成/Kim, Il-Sung). Not only that, but 김정일 also gave this company several fishing trawlers, wiping out local competition in this field. Now the government has declared that the fishing trawlers are banned from operations.
Andrea Berger wrote up a good piece at 38North listing in great detail how North Korea is in violation of sanctions, and how other countries are in grey areas of sanctions rules. In all, it’s a very good summary of the leaked draft of the UN Panel of Experts report on the North Korean sanctions.
North Korea is considering imposing export taxes on its underground resources (i.e. coal, iron ores). But as previously mentioned, last week, Mongolia was going to send coal to North Korea, and on the anniversary of the USS Pueblo, we linked to an article Kevin Stahler had wrote about declining prices and waning demand for North Kroean coal exports. So is this tariff really a crackshot at trying to up the prices of its coal, or is North Korea trying to hoarde the coal up for itself?
This is the section that discusses what’s new in North Korea’s propaganda machine, and information flow.
Casper Van der Veen interviews 강철환 (姜哲煥/Kang, Chol-Hwan), a defector who was the author of The Acquariums of Pyongyang. Currently, he’s also getting pirated episodes of Friends, and other American movies, to present a lighter side of Americans, contrasting them to the baby-eating Korean-killing image, the authorities have put on. That image he’s trying to break, might not work when the Motion Pictures Association of America (MPAA) gets news that he’s pirating their stuff.
It turns out that someone has taken satellite transmissions of 조선중앙텔레비죤 (Korea Central Television), or KCTV, and uploaded them onto Youtube, claiming to be the official channel. Most likely, it’s not however. Domestic transmissions aren’t of this high quality, so most likely, the person is located outside of North Korea. HD transmissions are only on their satellite feed. Also, most of the contents on the youtube page are outdated.
Here, we bring you the latest in this week’s leadership sightings and activities.
DailyNK reports that 김정은 visited a Senior care center, and said that taking care of the elderly was something the Party should do, and in their society, the Seniors were the target demographic of people that should be well taken care of.
This section is where we talk about North-South relations, life in North Korea, refugees and captives, and life in South Korea for North Koreans.
Reverend Hyeon Soo Lim, a Korean who immigrated to Canada almost 30 years ago, age 60, was supposed to return from a routine humanitarian trip to North Korea on February 4th, but didn’t. Canada’s Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang have been asked to step in.
Pastor 최재영, travels to North and South Korea, in an effort to ease tensions between the North and South, by visiting cemetaries and grave sites of those who have fallen during the Korean war. He describes his travels to NKToday. Check it out, the link is in our shownotes.
US Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert, was attacked two days ago, by a 55-year-old knife-slinging man named Kim Ki-jong, dressed in traditional Korean clothing, he called for North-South reunification. North Korean state media has said it is “just punishment for US warmongers”. BBC has a summarized history of Kim’s militant past, while NKNews dives into a bit more details. You can check that out, the link is in our shownotes. As of yesterday, the Ambassador is recovering in the hospital, and will remain there until next week, where they will remove his stitches. Police are investing the situation.
In the first part of a multi-series interview, 신영순, a South Korean who immigrated to the US, talks about her involvement with North Korean humanitarian aid. In the second part of the series, she talks about helping North Korea’s special olympics team, and in part 3, she talks about her preparations in getting the North Korean para-olympic team ready for the 2016 games in Rio De Janeiro.
China says it’ll replace its ambassador to North Korea, 劉洪才(유홍재/Liu, Hong-cai). The Foreign Ministry spokesperson stressed that this was a normal rotation of ambassadors.
정월대보름(正月 大보름/First Month’s Full Moon), according to the traditional Korean calendar, would have marked the end of the traditional new year, but unlike the South, in the North, it’s an actual celebrated holiday defined by the government. This is the Korean equivalent to the Chinese 元宵佳節(원소가절/”lantern festival”).
North Korea will send 108 athletes and support personnelle to the 2015 Summer Universiade in South Korea in July. The Universiade is a two-week cultural and sports event, like an Olympics for college students. I wonder if this time, there will be any controversy over who will foot the bill.
We’ve reached our final segment, which includes a hodgepodge of stories we didn’t know where to put. Like this one:
Many parents would say that video games are a bad influence on kids. But what if it’s a game about 김정은? Because it’s out! Buy it today! You can find out more information, the link is in our shownotes.
CIA Head James Clapper, when he went to retrieve two Americans from a North Korean prison, said, when he first arrived, he was greeted very warmly, and even had a 12-course meal. Then, the next night of his stay, a North Korean told him that they could no longer treat him as a head of state, and that his safety could no longer be guaranteed. So they packed their bags, and left.
Mr. Stephen Haggard recently gave a talk at the East West Center, and talked about his latest upcoming book on engaging North Korea, with Mr. Marcus Noland. I’m going to take a look at the video on their website, the link is in our shownotes.