North Korea has a policy of 선군, or “Military-First”, so we’re putting military-related stories first!
김정은 (金正恩/Kim, Jong-un) inspected a pilot unit, that features North Korea’s first female supersonic jet pilots, 조금향 & 림설.
Over 90% of South Korean men in their 20s are allegedly willing to fight against North Korea in case of an attack, according to Yonhap. The lowest group at 75%, were those in their 30s. It was thought this is because most people in this age are preoccupied with taking care of their newborn children, as more people start families at this age range.
Adm Cecil D. Haney, the head of US Strategic Command (StratCom) met with South Korea’s 합동참모본부 (合同參謀本部/Joint Chiefs of Staff), 대장 (大將/Admiral) 최윤희 (崔潤喜/Choi, Yoon-Hee), where they discussed security issues over the peninsula. When asked about the Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) deployment on the peninsula, Adm Haney said that it was “off the table”.
North Korea has installed some bouys along the 북방한계선(北方限界線/Northern Limit Line [NLL]). Some speculate this is more of a warning for Chinese fisherman who disregard these borders, and constantly fish in North AND South Korean waters.
“How’s the view from Room 39?” The economic performance sure looks different on the ground:
Despite the reports of the droughts and warnings from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) some speculate that with the ever-increasing markets, and the allawance for farmers to keep more of their own crops, the dependance on the state has lessened.
…However, a NY Times article says that the drought is not just bad for food, it’s taxing on the energy resources the country needs, and is dragging down its economy. Specifically, without rain, the hydroelectric dams that the North Koreans rely upon for energy, won’t have enough water to run.
Based on the United Nations’ World Population Prospects Report, North Korea’s working-age population will peak by the year 2020. This is because birth rates have fallen down to 2%, 0.3% less than it was in the 1990s, the decade that saw mass starvation known as the 고난의 행군 (苦難의行軍/Arduous March).
North Korea launched a charter flight to 延吉市 (연길시/Yanji City), an area where a lot of Chinese and South Korean business activities take place, as well as some North Korean trade. They are increasing flights to other Chinese cities to try to attract more foreign tourists and business people.
Choson Exchange mentioned a new beer from 라선특별시 (羅先特別市/Rason Special City) called 삼각 맥주 (三角 麥酒/Triangle Beer). Apparently the 라선 area is called the “Golden Triangle”. However, they also noted the availability of 대동강 맥주 (大同江 麥酒/Taedonggang Beer) up in the region, since it used to be rare to find things made from the capitol that for North. This means that supply lines and infrastructure has improved to facilitate the availability, rather than merely relying solely on local food makers.
38North.org took a look at the relationship between North Korea and Singapore, and how shell companies registered there, are helping North Korea avoid sanctions for its legitimate and illicit trades.
North Korea has apparently added two new oil tankers, and both ships appear to have been previously owned by South Korean companies. However, sales from South Korea directly to the North is highly unlikely. Rather, they were sold to third-party countries (like the Virgin Islands), where they are then registered under shell companies in other nations.
Flights in and out of 평양 (平壤/Pyongyang) have increased, and their airport is trying to accomodate. Luckily, on July 1st, a new airport terminal will be opening up. According to state media, it featured images of Mars Bars and Werther’s Original butterscotch candy that can be sold at duty-free shops within the airport. 마원춘 was allegedly behind the project, and YTN suspects was possibly purged for not having finished the project fast enough.
أوراسكوم للاتصالات (Orascom), the Egyptian company with a majority stake behind North Korea’s cellphone network 고려링크 (Koryolink), isn’t just running into an issue with getting its money out of North Korea, it’s also going to be met with some competition in the North Korean cell phone market. Even though the government has a minority stake in the same company, they are going to make a rival network.
South Korea’s Foreign Minister 윤병세 (尹炳世/Yun, Byung-Se), has urged North Korea to return to the table to talk about the nuclear issue, on Thursday, June 25th. He cited the upcoming deal between Iran and the US as a perfect example of North Korea possibly gaining something by giving up its nuclear weapons.
Because there has been a lack of progress on the Japanese abductee reinvestigations, Japan looks set to reinstitute the financial sanctions. The sanctions were suspended in hopes that the investigation would bring more information favorable to the Japanese.
South Korea set some financial sanctions on six Taiwanese and one Syrian entity, including individuals involved with these corporations, that are known to deal with arms trade with North Korea.
요! Here’s the 411 on North Korea’s propaganda and information flow!
June 25th marked the 65th anniversary of the start of the Korean War. Everybody knows that the North Koreans attacked South Korea, and started the whole ordeal. However, in North Korea, it’s a different story. The South provoked North Korea, attacking it all throughout the perimeter, and got 2 kilometers into North Korea, until North Korea counter-attacked. Jean H Lee brings us a translated copy of a telegram the North Koreans had sent to the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Andrei Gromkyo.
…New Focus International talks about how North Korean history is taught. Ironically, a quote from 김일성(金日成/Kim, Il-Sung) admits that North Korea didn’t win the war alone, and should be taught as such. Unfortunately, contrast that to the way the history is actually taught in schools: “It’s all because of him, that the ‘US and Japanese imperialists’ were repelled.”
North Korea urges foreigners not to smuggle in media on memory sticks. Especially your porn! Yes, porn was specifically mentioned.
One of the North Korean bookstores in Tokyo has finally shut down. Another resource of North Korean propoganda materials is now lost.
When 김정일(金正日/Kim, Jong-Il) was promoted to Marshall, it was a big deal. However, 오진우 (吳振宇/O, Chin-u) was also promoted to the same rank. Huh? A mere mortal, and not a god of the royal 백두 bloodline? Apparently, under 김정일‘s administration, titles were conflated, and contrasted his father’s rule, where he was the central authority. However, in a recent documentary over the subject, they featured a 로동신문 (勞動新聞/”Rodong Sinmun” [Laborer’s News]) article, but it was different from what was remembered by Fyodor Tertitskiy. He goes through the various possible reasons behind the discrepancies. Check it out, the link is in our shownotes.
Do you know where the Supreme Leader might be? [(PAWStamp) “A CLUE! A CLUE!”]
최태복 (崔泰福/Choe Thae Bok), the Chairman of the 최고 인민 회의 (最高人民會議/Supreme Peoples’ Assembly [SPA]) went to Russia, where he met with Valentina Ivanovna Matviyenko, the highest-ranking woman in Russian politics, according to NK News.
And, I’m glad to say we end this section with a link to the Kim, Jong-un Looks at Things Tumblr blog. This time, looking at the 모란봉악단 (牡丹峰樂團/Moran-Bong Band [“‘Peony Peak’ Band”]).
Now, we’ll get to North-South relations, reunification issues, life in North Korea, & refugee matters.
최하영 wrote a piece for NK News about the shortage of women who work in the National police force, looking over the North Korean refugees that enter despite the fact that most defectors are women themselves.
The mayor of 서울 (漢城한성/Seoul), 박원순 (朴元淳/Park, Won-Soon) has shot across the national government’s bow, and is proposing to start a joint-Korean industrial complex similar to the , 개성공업지구 (開城工業地區/Kaesong Industrial Complex), in the capital city.
New Focus International recently translated a phone conversation they had with one of their informants in North Korea, around 무산군 (茂山郡/Musan County), 함경북도 (咸鏡北道/North HamGyong Province). When asked about the execution of 현영철(玄永哲/Hyon, Yong-Chol). The informant said that she didn’t know about it, but then she didn’t even know that he was the 인민무력부장 (人民武力部長/Defense Minister). However, the informant did confirm that family members of defectors are indeed being monitored, and contrasted the inspections between 김정일(金正日/Kim, Jong-Il) and 김정은 (金正恩/Kim, Jong-un). Under the late 김정일, inspections were done, and everybody was miserable. Now, everybody’s is still miserable, but the inspections are done for everybody’s welfare supposedly, but everybody knows it’s a show.
On Monday, June 22nd, North Korea released images of 김국기 & 최춘길, who were captured in China, under the charge of being spies against North Korea.
…North Korea sentenced the two men to a lifetime of hard labor on Tuesday, June 23rd.
…The announcement comes on the day the UN has opened up its Human Rights office in 서울 (漢城한성/Seoul)
NK News has an article about the founder of the 두리 하나 church 전기원, who helps North Korean refugees. However, he addresses a specific issue amongst the refugee community, in that kids who are half-Chinese are treated unfairly, and how it causes other issues within the family. He also talks about how he got involved with the North Korean refugee issue on his trip to China many years ago. Check out the article, the link is in our shownotes.
The NK News Podcast hosted by Kurt Achin, talks to 이현서, the famous defector who released a TEDTalk. It’s a very good interview. She openly admits her insecurity with life in South Korea, and has some criticisms for the show 이제 만나러 갑니다, a show where defectors come on and talk about life in North Korea. She says that although she was on the show, she has stopped going, because the direction went a certain way, and it seems that quite a few people tend to exaggerate or lie about certain details.
New Focus International talks about the differences North and South Koreans have when reacting to a woman’s first 월경 (月經/Menstruation), or as the South Koreans like to call it 매직. You can read more details on their site.
German artists will put up a recreation of art that was featured on the Berlin Wall, as part of the upcoming “DMZ Story Exhibition”, and will be on showcase from November 20th to February 20th. More details can be found at NK News.org, the link is in our shownotes.
Andrei Lankov wrote a piece for NK News, which made note of some false coverage over North Korea’s past purges. People who were believed to be dead, later made appearances decades later, because they were actually merely banished. However, he did note that compared to prior periods, 김정은 seems to prefer executions over banishment.
이희호 (李姬鎬/Lee, Hee-Ho), Former first lady, and widow of the late South Korean President 김대중 (金大中/Kim, Dae-Jung), will visit the Kaesong Industrial Complex next month.
Using defector testimony from those who have escaped prison camps, a list of names of those they remembered to be held at prison camps were gathered, and submitted to the UN office on Human Rights. They are requesting that these people be released from the prisons.
This is our final segment. A hodgepodge of stories we didn’t know where to put, like this one:
On June 19th, North Korea announced that it would not be attending the upcoming Universiade games, allegedly because of the latest UN Human Rights office being set up in 서울 (漢城한성/Seoul). The Universiade an olympic-style competition amongst different university and college students from all over the world. The competition will be held in 광주 (光州/GwangJu), 전라남도 (全羅南道/South Jeolla Province).
…South Korea expressed its regrets that the North wasn’t able to come.
North Korea won over Uzbekistan 4-2 in their soccer match on June 16th, but that’s not what NK News was concentrating on: They noticed the abundance of ads that were designed to capture the attention of foreigners who MIGHT want to do business with them.
고려 호텔‘s burning lead to the internet connection becoming shut off in the capitol region, briefly before bringing it back up. However, they’ve decided to block Instagram, which has helped get some of the photos of the burning out to the public.
경남대학 (慶南大學/KyungNam University)‘s Institute of Far Eastern Studies took a clipping from the 조선신보 (朝鮮新報/ちょうせん しんぽ/Choson Sinbo), which talked about the details on who’s behind the domestic computer-manufacturing company 푸른 하늘 (“Blue Skies”) Electronics. It mainly consists of new graduates from 김일성종합대학 (金日成綜合大學/Kim, Il-Sung University), 김책공업종합대학 (金策工業綜合大學/Kimchae University of Technology), and the College of Natural Sciences.
The Science and Technology Complex being set up on the 썩 islet, which sits on the 대동강 (大同江/Taedong River), is being constructed at a very fast pace, according to Google Earth images.
Mr. Stephen Haggard let us all know that the documentary “Big Bang in PyongYang” is out. It’s the documentary chronicling Dennis Rodman’s efforts in implementing “Basketball Diplomacy”. Check it out, the link is in our shownotes.