North Korea has a policy of 선군, or “Military-First”, so we’re putting military-related stories first!
According to South Korea’s 합동참모본부 (合同參謀本部/Joint Chiefs of Staff), three KN-01s were launched off the port of 원산 (元山/Wonsan). The missiles landed off of 마양도(馬養島/Mayang Island).
…A day after North Korea fired the short-range ballistic missiles, China once again dons its role as Captain Obvious, and urges everyone to remain calm.
North Korea Tech says that the US is OK with North Korea putting up satellites, but not using a North Korean rocket to send them up, as they are a disguise to test missile launches. So maybe North Korea should contract out their satellite launches to NASA. I hear they’re getting budget cuts every year.
김정은(金正恩/Kim, Jong-Un) had observed a nighttime live-fire exercise, possibly around 3:00am on June 15th. According to NK News, the KPA 10th Corps and vessels from the KPA Navy’s East Sea Fleet took part in this joint exercise, and was probably before they made their “offer of peace” to the South. More on that later.
38North.org has some updates on the construction at the nuclear reactor in 녕변 (寧邊/YongByon)
Jeffrey Lewis hosted an episode of the Arms Control Wonk Podcast, where he discussed the SLBM launch with Melissa Hanham and Dave Schmerler. They talk about the photoshopping, angles, measurements, and all sorts of geeky stuff. Give it a listen at their site, the link is in our shownotes.
According to Yonhap, “North Korea held its first conference of military officers handling reconnoitering affairs”, which in non-KCNA speech, means North Korea held a reconnaissance military officers conference. 김정은 had some photo shoots, and praised them for their “dedication to ‘the most difficult and dangerous’ front”.
“How’s the view from Room 39?” The economic performance sure looks different on the ground:
Captain 리영일 (Ri Yong-Il) and first mate 홍영현 (Hong Yong-Hyon) of the merchant vessel 청천강 (清川江/ChongChonGang), were handed their sentences for breaking sanctions, where they were smuggling parts out of Cuba allegedly for “repair”, and caught in Panama, where they were tried.
New Focus International has another article on the “cat cigarette” brands that are so popular, they can be used to bribe people.
Andrei Lankov has a good article on NK News about the ever-increasing ways capitalism is seeping through the cracks of “Communist” North Korea. Like how even though many industries are heavily regulated, or state run, many people are running their own businesses (private taxis, buses, non state-own restaurants, and such). The most distinctive of all industries though, is the fishing industry, which saw fishers privately selling some of their catch to other private sellers to make some money, even well before official privatization of their industry began, around the time of the 고난의 행군 (苦難의行軍/Arduous March).
On Tuesday, the 통일부 (統一部/Ministry of Unification) approved of 현대아산 (現代峨山/Hyundai Asan)‘s requests to send people to North Korea to check on assets that they have remaining at the now defunct 금강산 관광 지구 (金剛山 觀光 地區/Mount Kumgang Tourist Region). The site was closed after a South Korean citizen was shot when entering a restricted area. South Korea’s then-president 이명박 (李明博/Lee, Myung-Bak) insisted on an apology before allowing its citizens to continue visiting the region, and a month of stalling, led to North Korea closing off access.
North Korean media says that it’s been hit with the worst drought in 100 years, and is heavily affecting crop outputs. The actual effects remains to be seen. Will they be able to make-up lost crop production with imports, or will it be a serious enough hamper food supplies?
…China says it will help North Korea with aid to weather through the drought. In stark contrast to the US, which will not be sending aid.
…Randall Ireson says we should keep things in check in regards to this “drought”, and reminds us the precipation levels compared to last year are around the same levels. This time last year, as there is every year, very little rainfall, followed by lots of rain in late August. Harvests may be brought down slightly, but the later rainfall usually helps make up for lost crop.
At the “Doing Business in North Korea” conference in Seoul, former UN Panel of Experts member William Newcomb responded to the Women Cross DMZ criticisms, claiming that sanctions are preventing North Korea from getting much needed medical equipment, and developing their economy in general, saying that sanctions placed on North Korea are heavily affected by the enforcement set by member nations, and while some countries are more stricter than others (like Japan), others are not as strict (i.e. Russia & China). He says that the North Korean lack of development is a result of domestic policies that cause hunger, and not the sanctions.
On Tuesday, June 16th, Alexander Medvedev, the deputy CEO of Russia’s Gazprom said, while it’s economically attractive to connect a pipeline from Russia to South Korea via North Korea, it’s not feasible due to the political climate.
요! Here’s the 411 on North Korea’s propaganda and information flow!
North Korea criticized South Korea for not properly handling its Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) epidemic. What do they want South Korea to do? ban all travel?
…North Korea also claims they have developed a cure for MERS.
Unrestricted 3G internet access via cell phone was cut off last Friday. Some speculated it was to limit any information on the 고려 호텔 burning down, from being released to the outside world.
…Earlier today however, connection was restored. It seems that the problem was only with the capital.
Now, we’ll get to North-South relations, reunification issues, life in North Korea, & refugee matters.
5 North Korean fisherman saw their engine fail twice, and they drifted into South Korean waters. They were rescued by the 해양경찰 (海洋警察/Korean Coast Guard) at 울릉도 (鬱陵島/Ulleung Do, aka “Dagelet”) on Tuesday, June 16th. They were repatriated to North Korea earlier today.
Despite not having come to a deal on how to celebrate the 남북 공동선언(南北共同宣言/North-South Joint Declaration), in the spirit of the olive branch, North Korea said that it IS opened to dialogue, as long as South Korea is willing to cancel this year’s upcoming summer military exercises.
…홍용표(洪容杓/Hong, Yong-Pyo), the 통일부부장 (統一部部長/Unification Minister) says the North’s offer is a step in the right direction, but is regrettable that they had set conditions. So despite harping on South Korea for setting preconditions like joint events to not have “political agendas”, they have set the condition of no military exercises.
A 19-year-old North Korean soldier defected across the mine-ridden 비무장지대 (非武裝地帶/DeMilitarized Zone [DMZ]) on June 7th and took a week to fully cross, arriving on June 14th Sunday, into 화천군 (華川郡/Hwacheon County). His claims for defecting were over his mistreatment in the military, and the issues surrounding his country. There are no unusual troop movements by the North, and no fire was exchanged when he came through. To answer domestic critics about the lax border security along the frontline, the 국방부 (國防部/Ministry of Defense) said it was foggy.
…Two days after the incident, the Joint Chiefs of Staff visited the site at 화천, reminding everybody to be vigilant of any North Korean provocation.
…Ironically, North Korea said it would release a South Korean couple they have been holding in their custody. North Korea claims they snuck in the country last month.
Monday KBS featured a poll over unification, where allegedly 97% of Koreans want the peninsula to re-unify. I suspect the sample that they use, especially since most 20-year-olds don’t necessarily share that sentiment.
NK News has an interview with the former chief personal secretary to President 김대중 (金大中/Kim, Dae-Jung), Mr. 김한정 (金漢正/Kim Han-jung) talks about the value of the historic joint summit that was held between the North and South, and what should be done under this administration to improve inter-Korean relations.
According to Daily NK, one of the North Koreans that crossed the border into China back in November, was actually a civilian, and not a military servicemember.
North Korea is starting a “tele-education” service. An initiative created by KimChaek University.
New Focus International talks about earrings being a fashion trend amongst women in North Korea, despite the country’s rules that such fashion accessories are a symbol of capitalism.
A South Korean Human Rights group, the Lawyers for Human Rights and Unification of Korea (LHUK) are putting together a case against the UN’s International Criminal Court (ICC), to sue href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kim_Jong-un” target=”_blank”>김정은 for not releasing the Korean War prisoners. The South Korean government estimates that there are about 500-600 POWs still in North Korea, where they are forced to do hard labor.
A committee was formed in Flushing, NY, to get a North Korean author with the pseudonym 반디 (“firefly”) a Noble Peace Prize. He had written a book called 고발 (告發/”Charge”), describing the harsh realities of Korea’s justice system and corrections facilities. The author still lives in North Korea, and the book’s manuscript was smuggled into South Korea, where it was published last November.
This is our final segment. A hodgepodge of stories we didn’t know where to put, like this one:
North Korean hackers are trying to use e-mail phishing tactics, allegedly providing updates on MERS, but really are trying to install trojan horses on peoples’ computers.
According to Yonhap News, 蕭千(소천/Xiao, Qian), the Ambassador to Hungary, has been appointed as the new deputy representative towards the 六方會談 (육자회담六者會談/Six-Party Talks).
It turns out the all-in-one 푸른하늘 PC is quickly becoming popular in North Korea.
North Korea is ranked 146th, in world rankings for soccer. Recently, they beat out Uzbekistan in a match, and might have a chance to play at the next World Cup again.