North Korea has a policy of 선군, or “Military-First”, as such, we’re following this by putting military-related stories first!
Yesterday, Thursday, North Korean authorities held a press release, saying they captured two South Korean spies working along the PRC-DPRK border. Their names were 김국기 & 최춘길, and started living (or their operations) in China around 2003. South Korea says that the charges against their two citizens are groundless.
Michael McCaul, Texan Representative to the White House, and member of the Homeland Security Committee, says that the 9.5-hour internet outage in North Korea back in December was a retaliation on our part, in response to the Sony hacks for the movie “The Interview”. During an interview with Fox News, CIA director John Brennan said he could “not confirm nor deny” any of their operations.
After urging North Korea for some time, to provide for an apology, in order to remove sanctions that were set upon the country; on Tuesday March 24, North Korea has said that it will not apologize for the 2010 sinking of the South Korean ship, the Cheonan. They continue to deny allegations that say they were involved with the sinking.
ADM Cecil D. Haney, the head of US Strategic Command (StratCom) confirmed during testimony to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, last Thursday, that North Korea is developing Submarine-launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBM). Yesterday, at a Department of Defense briefing, he repeated his position on the SLBM to reporters.
A former South Korean defense official admitted that 95% of the intelligence against North Korea, comes from the US, and says that South Korea needs to step up its game.
This is the section where we talk about economic-related activities:
North Korea and Russia will continue developing tourist zones along their borders, and hope to also get South Korean participation on some of these projects.
It turns out a lot of consumer goods like shoes, cloth, and rubber, that North Korea gets, comes from Indonesia. Which is part of a larger network of countries with loose sanctions controls and shell companies to help skirt sanctions.
Last week, the South Korean businessmen went to talk with North Korean authorities about wage issues for the 개성공업지구 (開城工業地區/ Kaesong Industrial Complex) employees. This week, they went back to talk about purchasing deals with manufacturers and expanding sales routes.
The newly-appointed PRC ambassador to the DPRK, 李進軍 (이진군/Li, Jin-Jun), visited 戴玉林 (대옥림/Dai, Yu-Lin), the Party Secretary of 丹東 (단동/DanDong), which is a border city where major trade between the PRC and DPRK is conducted.
On Monday, March 23rd, North Korean state media said that they have made improvements to their dilapidated railroad system.
Large swaths of areas stretching from 원산 (元山/Wonsan) to 금강 (金剛/Kumgang), which spans about 109km (or roughly 68miles), will be turned into a giant tourist zone, with a golf course, and lodges. This might complement the 마식령 스키장 (馬息嶺 스키場/Masikryong Ski Resort), which is just 27km (or about 17 miles) west of 원산 (元山/Wonsan).
North Korea has launched a new tourism website called “DPRK Today” and claims that they have huge quantities of rare earth metals. South Korean experts are highly skeptical of this claim. —“DPRK Today” should not to be mistaken with the South Korean web magazine NK Today
This is the section that discusses what’s new in North Korea’s propaganda machine, and information flow.
Because North Korea won’t apologize for the sinking of the RoKS Cheonan, balloon leaflet flyers, after having delayed their launches, now threaten to proceed with them, and they will include DVDs of the movie, “The Interview”. Despite earlier negative reactions amongst South Koreans and the defector community in South Korea.
Here, we bring you the latest in this week’s leadership sightings and activities.
Now, it’s been a while, but the Kim, Jong-Un Looks At Things Tumblr blog, brings you a picture of the Supreme Leader looking at faux bricks. Check it out, the link is in our shownotes.
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.
Gravity-fed tap water systems are normally associated with people living off-grid in the US. In North Korea, where the social infrastructure isn’t as advanced, (especially its plumbing and public water system), North Koreans were first introduced to this in 북청군 (北靑郡/Pukchong County), 함경남도 (咸鏡南道/South Hamgyong Province), and has been spreading. There was no elaboration on the sources of water for the system (such as, does it come from a natural body of water, like a lake, creek, or river) or from is it collected rain or melted snow?
New uniform rules! That is, if you’re a student, your school uniform colors have been set (for both boys and girls), and especially for boys, if your hair isn’t the same as the Supreme Leader’s, it’s off to the barbershop you go! Says DailyNK.
April 12-17 will be the 7th World Water Forum. It takes place every 3 years, and this year will take place in South Korea’s 대구경북 (大邱慶北/Daegu-Gyeongbuk). South Korea tried to offer North Korea a chance to attend, but the North did not respond.
Eric Foley, a man who has worked with 신동혁 (申東赫/Shin, Dong-Hyuk), explains why he might have lied about his life story. To sum it up, it’s a combination of him being a trauma victim and feeling the need to survive, along with the fact that we the listeners kind of wanted to believe what he had to say.
Many people know that South Koreans are more accepting of foreign culture. There, foreign foods like pizza, have taken on a whole new life. Heck, you can even get it with 뻔대기, or silkworm toppings. There was even a faux-documentary (which is really an ad by South Korean pizza Chain Mr. Pizza) about how Pizza was originally from Korea. But nowadays, foreign foods like pizza are actually becoming popular in North Korea as well. You can get chrysanthemum/crown-daisy toppings on your pizza (쑥갓삐쨔) if you so choose.
김황식 (金滉植/Kim, Hwang-Sik) is South Korea’s Prime Minister, and also co-president of the 2015 Gwangju Summer Universiade Organizing Committee. He hopes to have North Korea’s cheerleaders attend the games, but I have to wonder, who will pay for this?
A South Korean presidential committee tried to visit health facilities at the 개성공업지구 (開城工業地區/ Kaesong Industrial Complex), but were denied access. North Korean authorities claimed they were trying to promote regime change. According to the Human Rights Watch, North Korea is in charge of workers’ health in the complex.
We’ve reached our final segment, which includes a hodgepodge of stories we didn’t know where to put. Like this one:
On March 25th, in an effort to reverse the years of deforestation, Swedish ambassador to North Korea, Torkel Stiernlöf, along with youth from the local chapter of the Red Cross, will plant 600,000 tree seeds, in 개천 (价川/Kaechon), 평안남도 (平安南道/South Pyongan Province).
…Contrast that image we just mentioned, to this one though: The Swedish Embassy is only staffed with two diplomats. And because most other Western Nations don’t have any presence in North Korea, have to rely on the Swedish. Plus, according to one official who gave an interview on Swedish national radio, said that there is a lot of mistrust and bureaucratic obstacles that manage to prevent a lot of meaningful interactions with locals. August Borg works under Torkel Stiernlöf, talks about how dark Pyongyang is at night, where he’s always carrying around a flashlight. Even at home, electricity is so inconsistent, and power outages are frequent, he still has to use it. There are many other good details in that piece, check it out, the link is in our shownotes.
Chinese, Japanese, and South Korean foreign ministers came together to discuss security, territorial, and economic issues, on March 21st.