North Korea has a policy of 선군, or “Military-First”, so we’re putting military-related stories first!
North Korea has been a regular participant to the Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue since 2002 (minus a couple times it was held in South Korea). Thusday, it was held at Tokyo, and it was expected that they would not be there as well.
A contributor to NK News gave some descriptions on the new Combined US-ROK division that will be stood up in 의정부 (議政府/UijeongBu), and will officially be set up on June 3rd this year, with a US 2-star General at the helm, and a 1-star South Korean General as the Executive Officer.
China-based North Korean mouthpiece 우리민족끼리 (Uri Minzokkiri “Amongst Our Peoples”), has pictures stitched together of their “missile launch”.
…Another reason that Submarine-launched ballistic missile might be fake? Aside from the doctored photos they released, the more practical reason, is how would the Supreme Leader actually maintain contact with the submarine? They don’t have that capability in place, and the last thing anyone wants is for that to be delegated.
…However, it didn’t stop 김정은(金正恩/Kim, Jong-Un) from praising the scientists who were supposedly behind the submarine-launched ballistic missile design.
Pastor 최재영 recounts his time visiting North Korea in late September last year, where he noticed a strange thing: Students were carrying large bouquets of flowers. ALL students. So he went up to one of them, and asked what was going on, to which a kid said, “My brother’s going off to fight the American imperialists!” Which meant, he was going to the Army. This is a semi-annual event, where people enlist (willingly or otherwise).
China warns of instability on the Korean peninsula.
…This comes after the US, Japan, and South Korea came together, and told China that those three democratic nations will have to come together, and put more pressure on North Korea.
Despite Iran’s talks to rid itself of sanctions against them for nuclear weapons development, which they claim are false, Iranian defectors have told the media that North Korean officials met with Iranian officials at the end of April, and they were talking about nukes.
The West Coast satellite-launch facility at 동창리 (東倉里/DongChang-Ri) is seeing some new construction, according to 38North.org’s commercial satellite imagery.
China isn’t happy with the US deployment of the THAAD missile unit on the Korean peninsula, but a US House Representative Jim Cooper said, that it’s because China hasn’t put enough pressure to stop North Korea, which is why they were forced to deploy the system. China says that it will maintain its “due role in the proper settlement”.
…The Congressman’s statement however, doesn’t match with US Special Representative, and former ambassador to the ROK, Sung Kim, who says that the US and China both agree on putting pressure against the North.
“How’s the view from Room 39?” The economic performance sure looks a lot different on the ground:
After months of fighting over wage issues, with the North requesting a 5% raise without the South’s approval; last Friday, the North capitulated, and South Korean businesses will pay the current wage of $70.31. However, both parties did agree to come to the table later in the year to discuss the possibility of raising the wages. South Korean firms that withheld pay during this time, will pay March and April’s wages.
박주민 has an article for Reuters, describing how despite North Korea claims to be a gender-equality state, Korea’s patriarchical culture still has deep roots. But thanks to the growing possibility for women to go out and earn money by trading, capitalism has brought gender equality, and one of the main reasons North Koreans divorce each other, is because they feel their husbands can’t bring in enough money.
North Korea Tech has a profile on Hana Electronics, a company that makes DVDs and VCDs.
Started on May 27th, and ending today, the Организация сотрудничества железных дорог (鐵路合作組織 [“鐵組”]/Organization for the Cooperation of Railways [“OSJD”]) conference was held in 서울 (漢城한성/Seoul). A meeting of Rail company presidents and logistics managers from China, Mongolia, Russia, and several European nations, which will complete a transcontinental railroad. South Korea needs North Korea’s approval to join the network.
In April, North Korea exported 2-million tons of coal, which is a five-year high, earning them $120-million USD (an increase by $80-million USD from the month prior). Overall, fuel commodities prices have become much lower, and they were able to import 16,000 tonnes of gasoline for less money.
Recently, an article came out where credit to turning 원산 (元山/Wonsan) into an International Tourist Zone, was given to 김일성(金日成/Kim, Il-Sung) and 김정일(金正日/Kim, Jong-Il). Two dead guys, instead of the current leader. They also mentioned how the recent 18th Pyongyang Spring International Products Exposition, was used as a chance to get funding for the zone as well.
On top of trying to smuggle gold using a diplomat, more recently, North Korean diplomats have been caught trying to smuggle illegal rhinoceros horn-ivory out of Mozambique. Just for the note, this is not a new phenomenon of using diplomatic immunity to smuggle money and other illegal items. However with the ever-increasing sanctions, we may see more and more of this happen.
Sunday, May 24th, marks the 5-year anniversary of the sinking of the ROKS Cheonan. Immediately after the sinking, South Korean sanctions against them have been in place ever since…
…South Korea has refused to take them off without an apology.
…However, now, they are saying that they may consider it if the North is willing to come to the peace table.
요! Here’s the 411 on North Korea’s propaganda and information flow!
North Korea’s 국가해사감독국 (國家海事監督局/Maritime Administration) has a new website up, and shows some information on some of their merchant ships.
After using sexist comments on South Korean president 박근혜 (朴槿惠/Park, Geun-Hye), North Korean media has followed-up with a video called “Park, Geun-Hye’s medical history”, where they say that she is mentally ill. As of recent, there has been an increase in North Korean rhetoric against her.
Chad O’Carroll of NK News has an introduction of a device called the CCN1, made by a company called Endaga. What it is, is a device that can allow rural areas without cell phone coverage to operate their own indpendent network. Chad says that this would be good use for North Korea, since their cell network 고려링크 (Koryolink) is heavily monitored by the government. However, the CEO of the company said, that they try to not operate in areas with repressive regimes. I think that was also a nice way of saying that they are a law-abiding company, and don’t export technology that’s on the US Department of Commerce‘s Commerce Control List. That would also mean that if there were people who wanted to smuggle these into North Korea, would be breaking the law.
Do you know where the Supreme Leader might be? [(PAWStamp) “A CLUE! A CLUE!”]
Montgomery Grant pulled in a CNN article on 김설송(金雪松/Kim, Sol-Song), older half-sister to 김정은(金正恩/Kim, Jong-Un), saying that she’s the one mentoring her younger half-siblings, and is probably calling a couple shots.
Earlier today, 김여정 (金與正/Kim Yo-jong) was shown on North Korean state media after a 47-day absence. Some people believe this supports the 국가정보원 (國家情報院/National Intelligence Service[NIS])‘s assessments that she was pregnant, and expected to be due by the end of this month. However, this would go against the traditional East-Asian practice 坐月 (좌월/post-natal rest), where women who have given birth are suppose to stay inside their homes to rest for a month to physically recover.
Hold on! The ring that was worn by 김정은‘s grandmother, 김정숙 (金正淑/Kim, Jong-Suk), has been on display at the 조선혁명박물관 (朝鮮革命博物館/Korean Revolutionary Museum), but recently went missing. People all over are searching for the ring.
And, it’s been a while, but we can say that we end this section, with a link to the Kim, Jong-un Looks at Things Tumblr Blog. This time: Looking at happy soldiers.
Now, we’ll get to North-South relations, reunification issues, life in North Korea, & refugee matters.
Sunday, the 30-women group Women Cross DMZ, made their way to the South from North Korea, carrying their message of peace upon the peninsula. Joshua Stanton had some poignant criticism for the event, and of some of what he views as inconsistent views on sexism amongst the women and the North Koreans; you can check that out at the website.
…Kurt Achin of NK News, interviewed Martyn Williams of North Korea Tech about the use of “Periscope”, Twitter’s new live-streaming service, which was used by the Women Cross DMZ, while they were in North Korea. So if you caught it in time, yes you could have been watching things in North Korea as they happened, essentially curbing censorship (that would be, until North Korea wants to pull the plug on the cell network).
NK Today has an article with an interview of a North Korean English teacher, revealing what it’s like to teach English in a country, that hates American imperialists.
May 5th was childrens’ day in North Korea, and while it’s a couple weeks late, the English translation describing what North Korean children dream about is out on New Focus International. Before, most every kid wanted to join the 고난의 행군 (苦難의行軍/Arduous March) came along, they wanted to become farmers, thinking they could secure some food for their families. Now, with the ever-increasing South Korean media flowing into the country, they want to become stars.
…A good follow-up to this is another article they have on the changing relationship children have with their parents. May 8th is South Korea’s Parents’ day, but North Korea has no such day for their parents. It’s expected that children do this every single day, but with the ever-increasing harsh realities, where children were once afraid to speak up to their parents (either out of fear, or out of respect), they are now becoming much more harsh and critical of their parents. They believe that since life is too harsh, the pressure to maintain the old filial attitudes is eroding. People are having less children, because it’s economically hard to support one.
Then, they followed up with an interview with 최현미 (崔賢美/Choi, Hyunmi), a defector who became the featherweight boxing champion. She talked about how she defected: Her family went on a trip to Vietnam, and it wasn’t until they got there, that her father said, “we’re defecting to the South”. She talked about how she got into boxing by happenstance, and compared sports training lifestyles between the North and South. She said that the North emphasized the results of the match, and not so much the physical condition of the athlete. South Korea, focuses more on the mental aspects of what makes an athlete, and provides them with a lot more support, where the facilities and equipment used by North Koreans are antiquated.
South Korea’s deputy for the Multilateral and Global Affairs, which is under the Ministry of Affairs, says that the two Koreas should take the initiative in unification, with help from the UN.
Someone asked NK News, if regionalism in North Korea existed. To which, it’s not the same as it is in South Korea, but there are certain stereotypes that can differentiate. People in the Northeast are known to be “rough and tough” for instance. You can read more details, the link is in our shownotes.
The military’s 보위 사령부(保衛司令部/Security Command), is inspecting guards and civilians across the border, to see who is assisting refugees trying to escape the country. According to NK News sources.
The UN wants to open up a Human Rights office in 서울. Nothing wrong there right? Not for North Korea! They threw a poo-poo party over it, saying that clearly the world is against them, and that they would retaliate in any way necessary.
Last week, we mentioned that a Unification Exhibition was opening to inform citizens about unification issues. It started earlier today, and will go on till Sunday.
This is our final segment. A hodgepodge of stories we didn’t know where to put, like this one:
NK News brings us a piece from the Libyan Observer, which claims that a North Korean couple were kidnapped by ISIS in Sirte, Libya. This is the only source to have reported such an issue, and more verification is needed. The doctors were sent there on a humanitarian effort during the civil war, and were rumored to be given orders to stay there, in order to prevent information about the Arabic Spring from spreading to North Korea, so that their own people wouldn’t try to imitate.
The International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) annual competition was held on May 10th in Chelyabinsk, Russia. 22 North Koreans were in attendance.
China’s Foreign Ministry said that the Ambassador in China, 李進軍 (이진군/Li, Jin-Jun), had already presented his credentials to the leadership of the country, which means he is allowed to conduct his diplomatic duties within the country. There was some worry about him not having met the Supreme Leader directly.
…The press release was to address Chinese domestic rumors that North Korea was disrespecting their country, by not seeing their Ambassador.
On June 3rd, starting at 5:30pm, a Congressional showing of the South Korean movie, 『국제시장』(“Ode to My Father”), a movie about a family divided on both sides of the border, will be showing. Head over to the Wilson Center website for the link to RSVP, the link is in our shownotes.
South Korean President 박근혜‘s Office, announced they would visit the US from June 14th to the 18th. North Korea criticized the move, saying that this would prevent any joint-Korean event on June 15, in commemoration of the 남북 공동선언(南北共同宣言/North-South Joint Declaration), which helped usher in good relations between the two Koreans in the early 2000s.
NK Today criticised a supposed refugee who wrote a piece for the South Korean conservative Newspaper, 조선일보 (朝鮮日報/Chosun Ilbo), claiming that the food situation is so bad, there are no migratory birds that fly across, as they have all been captured and eaten. However, NK Today traced the location where the birds lay and hatch their eggs: In Inner Mongolia. They rest in China, close to the PRC-DPRK border, then they mate in South Korea, close to the 비무장지대 (非武裝地帶/DeMilitarized Zone [DMZ]). If the birds were all eaten, they wouldn’t be able to reach South Korea at all.
NK News has a story on taking a boat ride along the PRC-DPRK border, and some of the things they noticed. Check out the link, in our shownotes.