Today, we don’t have anything in the military section, so we’ll jump straight to the economy:
NASA caught some photos of North Korea practicing slash and burn farming, where certain areas are being burned to make way for new crops, with hot flash zones and tons of smoke, which is blowing over into Northern Japan.
People are working on completing the 백두산선군발전소 (白頭山先軍發電所/Paektu-san Military-First Powerplant) at the speed of the 천리마(千里馬/1000-Li Horse), or very quickly, which means accidents abound! The powerplant, if completed, will be in 백암군 (白岩郡/Paegam “White Cliff” County).
만포 (滿浦/ManPo “Full Bank”)city will see a new road run across it, as it will run across a new trade corridor which will link it to China. The road will link it to railroad stations, and isn’t complete yet. Check out more details at 38North.org, the link is in our shownotes.
NK Today has more details on how further economic cooperation between Russia and North Korea is being inked out, and how further gas and mineral exploration deals are being signed.
NKNews has a piece on how several ships have strayed away from their usual route of bringing in oil from 大連 (대련/Дальний/Dalian “Port MacArthur”) port back to 남포 (南浦/Nampho). Recently, several ships have gone down to 上海(상해/Shanghai), before heading back to 남포. This implies there may be some important cargo they are picking up from 上海’s port.
I’d like to make a correction, last week, we said that “Gary” Tsai, an American businessman originally from Taiwan, received a light sentence of 2 years, lighter than his father. This was a mistake. His father, “Alex Tsai” received 2 years, and “Gary” received 3 years probation, for attempting to smuggle sanctioned items to North Korea.
Leo Byrnes looks at the lack of oil shipments to North Korea via trade. He suspects however, that oil shipments, rather than being commodities exports, have been put under aid, and are not subject to trade numbers scrutinization. This opacity on oil has been going on for 15 months.
When you pay for something, what’s your payment method? Cash, credit card, or “check” even? Usually you’ll express the amount in your own currency, right? In the US, that would be dollars. It turns out the North Korean elites use dollars as well. It implies the item has high quality. The middle class express things in Bi, as in 貨幣, or “currency” in Mandarin. In other words, Chinese Yuan. This is due to the channels of trade and the common currency used in trading goods. So what do the poor use? Not local North Korean currency, but “corn”. North Korean currency is so unstable, that people value it based off of how much corn they can buy with whatever currency is at hand.
On Tuesday, North Korean state media showed footage of the 평양순안국제공항 (平壤順安國際空港/Pyongyang-SunAn International Airport), which really, is located in 순안 (順安/SunAn), a region that has gone back and forth between being its own region, and being a district of 평양 (平壤/Pyongyang). Now, the airport has some shopping malls. You can get your duty-free North Korean viagra, cigarettes, and ginseng! Yay.
North Korea had requested that South Korea lift sanctions. South Korea responded, not just by saying no, but then saying that such a request is inappropriate, since the sanctions were put in place after the ROKS CheonAn was sunk, for which South Korea blames North Korea, then when South Korea wanted to talk with them while they were holding military exercises with the Americans, North Korea rebuked them. And NOW they want to lift sanctions?
According to NK News, an ethnic Chinese trader in North Korea, completely ignored restrictions of cell phone use at North Korean customs. For that, he incurred a fine of ¥3000 RMB ($483USD).
Do you know where the Supreme Leader might be? [(PAWStamp) “A CLUE! A CLUE!”]
程國平 (정국평/Cheng, Guo-Ping), China’s Vice Foreign Minister, says in a recent conference he attended, that the reason 김정은(金正恩/Kim, Jong-Un) couldn’t attend the V-E Day celebrations in Russia, was due to scheduling issues.
…However, according to Hong Kong-based media outlet 鳳凰衛視(Phoenix Satellite), the cancellation was due in protest over the fact that Russia wouldn’t give money nor would it supply military arms to North Korea.
…김영남 (金永南/Kim, Yong-Nam) the chairman of 최고 인민 회의 (最高人民會議/Supreme Peoples’ Assembly [SPA]) after having just finished up a trip to Indonesia, will now be attending the celebrations in 김정은‘s place.
양형섭 (楊亨燮/Yang, Hyong-Sop), vice president of the SPA, met with 李進軍 (이진군/Li, Jin-Jun) yesterday, where Yang was quoted as saying “The traditional friendship between North Korea and China, created by the older generations of leaders from both countries, is a precious treasure for both countries,” Aw… China and the North Korea are making up! Li kept selling his new silk road, and how it would benefit North Korea.
Earlier today, state media reported that the Supreme Leader inspected the February 11 Plant at the Ryongsong Machine Complex in 함흥 (咸興/Hamhung), and was quoted as having said, “The plant is a model to be followed by the whole country in updating aging equipment and making an effective use of them,”
Now, we’ll get to North-South relations, life in North Korea, refugees, & their lives in South Korea.
21-year-old 주우문, a South Korean citizen studying at New York University in the US, was taken in last Saturday by North Korean authorities. They say he violated North Korean laws by illegally crossing the border, and trespassing.
…South Korea has urged for North Korea to release its citizen.
…According to his public testimony, he wanted to get captured, in order to improve cross-border relations. Wow, what a martyr, I suppose. Never mind that he might have been forced to say these things, and has really become a proxy for North Korea’s mouthpiece on their aspirations for North-South relations.
김국기 & 최춘길, two South Korean men “caught spying”, have “admitted” their own “crimes”, this past Sunday.
Joshua Stanton laughed off North Korea’s media response to his report that advocates North Korea be put back on the State Sponsor of Terrorism List. They described it as “sinister,” “plot-breeding,” and “unpardonable”
On last week’s North Korean Ambassador to the UN’s tirade against defectors testifying against their human rights records, Martyn Williams has more footage from that incident. Check it out, the link is in our shownotes. One correction I’d like to make, is that I said the tirade came during Joseph Kim’s speech last week. It actually happened well before that.
황준국 (Hwang Joon-kook), Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security affairs department of the 외교부 (外交部/Ministry of Foreign Affairs), landed in Washington DC, and on Monday, met with Ambassador Sung Kim (김성용/金成龍), and plans on meeting with Daniel Glaser, the Treasury’s assistant secretary for terrorist financing, to discuss sanctions issues. Wednesday, he went to China to meet with 武大偉 (무대위/Wu, Da-Wei). The purpose of this trip was to discuss with other parter nations about exploratory talks on North Korea’s nuclear pursuit. North Korea was also offered a chance to come to the table and discuss their concerns, but has not responded.
…In a break with previous policy on demanding that North Korea first denuclearize before holding talks, he said that there are no pre-conditions for these exploratory talks.
…and will discuss with China, the different possibilities to get the six-party talks restarted.
Andrei Lankov writes a piece analyzing just why the number of defectors has dropped. First, many defectors make the move out of economic desperation, and as poor as North Korea still is, it’s actually getting better. Then, there’s the intensified border patrols in North Korea and even in China right now. This is why you’re hearing more incidences about border guards crossing into China and causing trouble. Simply due to the fact that there are more of them. Even on the Chinese side, they’ve intensified their borders as a result of these incidences. Thus, it drives up the prices for smugglers to bring these people out. What used to cost $50-$80 USD, has jumped up to $2000 a head.
Tuesday, May 5th, 이승환 (Lee, Seung-Hwan), a South Korean delegate, who’s part of the head of the Civil Society Organizations Networks in Korea, met with North Korean officials in 瀋陽 (심양/ShenYang), to discuss logistics and plan out the 15th anniversary of the breakthrough June 15 남북 공동선언(南北共同宣言/North-South Joint Declaration) that ushered in cooperation between the two Koreas.
Scott Snyder talks about last Thursday’s event in DC on North Korean human rights issues. While there has been issues with the subjectivity and issues of embellishments and fabrications on some defectors’ accounts, Mr. Snyder argues that there is still much more evidence that human rights violations are actually present.
Last week, we linked to several stories on South Korea’s National Intelligence Service providing a briefing to their parliament, where 15 executions were ordered. There was other evidence that some executions may have been carried out by aerial strafing. North Korea has responded by saying that the report was “slanderous”, but also acknowledged the executions did take place.
Earlier today, a propoganda video of a defector’s family, was urging their defector child to return to the North.
This is our final segment. A hodgepodge of stories we didn’t know where to put, like this one:
The Korean Central Zoo is entering a second phase of reconstruction and renovations, according to a person that follows NaeNara
Curtis Melvin of NK Econ Watch caught a glimpse of satellite imagery of a new building with a giant satellite around the premise. It’s located in 평양 (平壤/Pyongyang)‘s 보통강 (普通江/Pothong River) district. It’s assumed that this might be the new command center for North Korea’s Space agency, NADA.