North Korea has a policy of 선군, or “Military-First”, so we’re putting military-related stories first!
Despite bringing the issue of North Korea’s firing of a Submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) to the UN’s attention, NK News reports that punishment and further sanctions are highly unlikely. Later-released footage of the SLBM launch by North Korea shows more photos.
NK News has some more information on that Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM), that South Korea tested out, and has enough reach to get to all of North Korea. It’s called the 현무 (玄武/Hyunmoo)-2B
Tuberculosis may have been almost eradicated in most of the world, and even if someone is caught with it, there are ways to treat it. Not so with North Korea, and even moreso with its military. If you get sick, any medical supplies you get are actually stolen from military doctors, and oftentimes, the pills you are issued are so old, they have mold on them. Tuberculosis is one of those diseases that especially affects North Korean military members.
According to 38North.org, the construction that’s currently going on at 풍계리 (豊溪里/PungGye-Ri) in 함경북도(咸鏡北道/North Hamkyung Province), means that if there are going to be any launches, it won’t happen until this fall at its soonest.
Adm Samuel Jones “Sam” Locklear III, Head of US Pacific Command, retired in May, and Adm Harry Harris took his place. Adm Harris‘ first foreign visit in that position wasn’t his native-born Japan, but rather Korea, on June 10th, Wednesday. He stressed the significance of the dangers the Korean peninsula faces, while he was visiting the 2nd Fleet Command located at 평택 (平澤/Pyeongtaek), 경기도 (京畿道/GyeongGi Province).
New Focus International had already told us about how missing bullets are a huge deal. In an article released today, they noted how “No. 1” Events, where an official, or the Supreme Leader is going to be at, and the press will be available, will not go to ANY location where a bullet went missing. This is a security measure to ensure no one will try to use the bullet on such high-profile people.
“How’s the view from Room 39?” The economic performance sure looks different on the ground:
North Korea’s annual droughts come around this time of year, but this year, is expected to be really bad, and will reduce crop production by 15-20%.
NK News takes a look at North Korean export products: Like animal fur products and strength-enhancing pills.
In response to a Reuters report saying that the US had targetted North Korea with a Stuxnet-like computer infection, North Korea’s state media 로동신문 (勞動新聞/”Rodong Sinmun” [Laborer’s News]), responded with “It is the firm determination of the DPRK to wage Korean-style cyber war to hasten the final ruin of the U.S…”
أوراسكوم للاتصالات (Orascom), the Egyptian company, which is the major stakeholder behind North Korea’s cellphone network 고려링크 (Koryolink), has had issues in getting the money its earned out of the country, thanks to the business deal it’s signed, as well as the sanctions that are in place. On top of that, there’s also the issue with the exchange rate. At the official rate, they would make quite a bit of money, but under the black market exchange rate, they would only have about $5.7-million USD.
The 백두산 (白頭山/Mt Paektu [White Head]) Special International Tourist Zone in the 무봉 (Mubong) workers’ district, should help facilitate tourism in the area near the Holy Korean mountain. But aside from catching the beautiful scenery, what is there really to do in the area? Soon, there will be a half-marathon you can take, if that suits you. Also, on June 5, construction on the railroad to link 혜산 (惠山/Hyesan) to 삼지연 (三池淵/SamJiYon) should also help bring in some traffic.
The 33 North Korean crew members of the 무두봉, a North Korean merchant vessel, will soon be repatriated back to North Korea. The ship has been in Mexico since last year, and the crew has stuck with the ship. However, while the crew get to go home, the ship and its cargo will remain in Mexico, due to sanctions laws.
…One of the sanctions that allow Mexican authorities to detain the ship, is UN resolution 1718. Mr. Marcus Noland has a good graph on how these resolutions come about, and how enforcement of these sanctions has been an issue. Particularly, the reporting on the status of these sanctions implementations. When 80% of your member nations don’t report, it’s really hard to track.
It turns out North Korea exports car parts for Romanian cars, according to the 한국개발연구원(Korean Development Institute).
요! Here’s the 411 on North Korea’s propaganda and information flow!
Sino-NK looks at some of the official media on 김정은(金正恩/Kim, Jong-Un)‘s efforts towards “reforestation” and environmentalism, at least as its reported and presented in North Korean media. He was using borrowed words from his grandfather 김일성(金日成/Kim, Il-Sung). In so doing, is it really a matter of using his grandfather’s words to legitimize his decisions, in the face of old-guard opposition, is it more to convince the people, or is it simply to introduce a “radical” idea by putting it under the context of the familiar past?
…NK News has a piece on North Korea’s successful marketing in the 1980s to German environmentalists. They managed to give them the impression that they are a socialist country with “a human face”.
North Korea constantly claims that the US conducted biological warfare against it during the Korean War. Recently, South Korean media YTN came out with a news piece that corroborates that claim. However, this issue remains a debate amongst academic circles.
Last week, North Korea said that the US delivering anthrax to South Korea was a plot to poison all Koreans across the peninsula. Now, they’ve put the pieces of the puzzle together, and it’s not ALL Koreans they’re after, they purposely brought it there, to target North Korea specifically! At least, that’s what the DPRK representative to the UN Ja, Song-Nam, has said. Haha! The American Imperialist plot has been foiled once again!
Do you know where the Supreme Leader might be? [(PAWStamp) “A CLUE! A CLUE!”]
김정은 visited a “조국해방전쟁 사적지” or “historic site of the Fatherland Liberation War“, where there were photos of the Supreme Leader with white hair. US media outlets immediately started spewing out North Korean propoganda, about how he is under a lot of stress. They should have gone on with how he “works tirelessly for his people” and all that. DailyNK however, claims that this is simply wax, or sprayed on. I’m convinced, this is merely a matter of the hair products he uses, added with the camera angle that shows the sun’s reflections off his shiny hair. In which case, what does he do to his hair?
Earlier today, German media outlet Deutsche Welle (DW), released an article on Sino-DPRK icy exchanges. They asked an official in the 조선로동당 (朝鮮勞動黨/ Korean Workers Party [KWP])‘s International Department, to verify if 김정은 would be going to China’s “70th Anniversary of the Victory over Facism” Event on September 3rd, which marks their victory over Japan in WWII. The reply they received was the “Respectable General” is “too busy”.
According to DailyNK, thousands of people have been mobilized to work on a personal railroad for 김정은, so that he can get to his summer resting spot.
And we end this section with a link to the Kim, Jong-un Looks at Things Tumblr blog. This time, looking at pilot training.
…And a second link with him looking at a closet.
Now, we’ll get to North-South relations, reunification issues, life in North Korea, & refugee matters.
Yesterday, June 11th, Yonhap news reported that a North Korean defector was shot to death by Chinese border guards, at 3:55am.
Folks, it just got real, with the Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), to the point that a South Korean village is under quarantine. People are not allowed to leave the village, and regular check-ups by health authorities are being conducted. If someone is not available for the scheduled check-up, they are immediately reported to authorities, and tracked down by cell phone.
…South Korea will also send MERS-detection machines to the 개성공업지구 (開城工業地區/ Kaesong Industrial Complex), and offer workers masks. However, some say it isn’t enough.
…홍용표(洪容杓/Hong, Yong-Pyo) the 통일부부장 (統一部部長/Unification Minister), will visit the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine(CIQ) Office, and the 통일전망대 (統一前望臺/Unification Observatory), to check out the deployment of the MERs detectors.
New Focus International has a small piece about 꽃제비s (Literally, “Swallows”), homeless kids who roam off the streets begging for food and stealing to survive. Most of our images is that they are skin-thin from starving. However, because of some diseases, some have stomachs that bulge out and give the impression that they are full.
…And before that, they had an article on how these kids “have three hands”, meaning how they are able to multi-task, and also pickpockets.
In South Korea, Childrens’ Day is celebrated on May 5th. However, North Korea celebrates International Childrens’ Day on June 1st.
Jean H. Lee, former AP Bureau Chief in 평양 (平壤/Pyongyang), now writes for the Brookings Institute. She goes over the long-debated tourism conflict: “coffers for the North Korean government” or “chance for engagement”? Reading the article, I get the sense she falls in the latter camp, but it’s interesting how she does point out the dangers in traveling to North Korea.
Elections for deputies to provincial, city and county people’s assemblies will kick off on July 19th.
NK Today has some more pictures on the joint North-South excavation attempts over at 만월대(滿月臺/ManWolDae “Full Moon Terrace”).
They also looked at North Korean media, and how women are taking up aerobics, or as the North Koreans call it, “률운동”.
Mr. 장영진 was one of the rare defectors to cross the mine-ridden 비무장지대 (非武裝地帶/DeMilitarized Zone [DMZ]) back in 1997. However, the reasons for his defections are different than other people. Most escape the North due to economic issues, or discrimination against their “성분 (成分/Songbun)” class. However, he defected, because he didn’t love his wife, and felt that he was dragging her along in a loveless marriage. He was gay, and recently came out. He is the first openly gay defector.
Someone asked a question to NK News’, “Ask a North Korean”: “What do North Korean schools teach about China, Japan, and South Korea?” In short, They hate the Americans and Japanese, but moreso the Japanese. They are taught to pity the South Koreans for being poor, but everybody knows that’s a lie, and as far as the Chinese goes, they are taught to view them as friends, but the Chinese have gained a bad rep for being uncivilized, and “they wear shoes inside their house”. Wow, that last one pretty racist.
DPRK Ambassador to the UK 현학봉, in a recent speech in London, said that the two Koreas should unify under a federal system, and the plans towards reunification as was espoused under the 남북 공동선언(南北共同宣言/North-South Joint Declaration). Interestingly enough, he was followed by Aidan Foster-Carter, candidly describing the harsh realities in North Korea.
North Korea gave a lot of flack for South Korea, when they couldn’t come to agreements to organize a joint commemoration of the 남북 공동선언(南北共同宣言/North-South Joint Declaration), and their President decided to go to the US during that time. Well, thanks to the MERS, she’s decided to cancel that trip. Would the North Koreans like to hold a joint commemoration now? *COUGH* *COUGH*!
…South Korean civic groups are blaming their own government for not being able to strike a deal for the commemoration.
Previously, we talked about how 초코 파이 (choco pies) were popular in North Korea. So popular, that they were going on the gray market for ridiculously high prices. That may be changing, because there is now a native North Korean knock-off called 경단설기.
The South Korean 통일부 (統一部/Unification Ministry) sent a message to North Korea, urging them to release the 4 South Korean citizens they are detaining. Short of that, they wanted North Korea to release information on their whereabouts and health conditions.
This is our final segment. A hodgepodge of stories we didn’t know where to put, like this one:
고려 호텔, 평양‘s oldest hotel is seeing a section burn in flames. According to Reuters, police, para-military, and emergency staff are on scene, and some people have been reported to be arrested, for trying to take pictures of the fire.
North Korea was at the World Expo in Milan! Sadly, their presence was small, and even the staff didn’t know that the North Koreans had a presence there. You can check out some of the photos and information at Choson Exchange’s website.
Laibach, a former Yugoslavic band, will become the first post-Soviet State metal band to play in North Korea on “Liberation Day”
김정은 sent his condolences to the Chinese government over the recent cruise liner sinking, where hundreds of civilians have died allegedly by a tornado
Mr. Adam Cathcart looks at the “disbandment” of the 은하수관현악단 (銀河水管絃樂團/Unhasu Orchestra)
…And NK Today also gets in on the action. Because it’s not just about the 은하수 orchestra, but rumors about the performers in North Korea in general. For instance, 김정은‘s ex-girlfriend 현송월 (玄松月/Hyon, Song-Wol) was rumored to have been executed by machine guns along with the rest of the band, only to reappear in the spotlight a couple months afterwards. Heck, for a long time, we weren’t even sure what she looked like, and even when we thought we were sure, it kept changing. So can you really believe these reports on executions?
New Focus International cites the 조선신보 (朝鮮新報/ちょうせん しんぽ/Choson Sinbo), where a 평양-born singer named 김송미 (金松美/Kim, Song-Mi), is somewhat popular in China of all places. She’s already released 6 albums.