North Korea has a policy of 선군, or “Military-First”, so we’re putting military-related stories first!
Back in May, Vipin Narang asked what exactly would a nuclear North Korea and Iran actually use their weapons for? Every country that has a nuclear arsenal has a specific strategic goal. He posits that Iran’s is possibly just to use it as a deterrent against any nation that might want to use nuclear weapons against it (i.e. the US or Israel). If China was North Korea’s protector, then the North wouldn’t have much to worry about. But considering its education system, which promotes how the US is constantly out to attack them, and saying that South Korea was the nation that first struck in the Korean War, it looks like they may actually go with a first-strike initiative. That’s not exactly what the US or the rest of the world want. However, this article also sparked a series of follow-ups, all the links are in our shownotes.
South Korean and US officials got together to discuss North Korea’s nukes.
On Tuesday, June 30th, at 10:22am, 2 North Korean Patrol boats had crossed the 북방한계선(北方限界線/Northern Limit Line [NLL]), and were quickly prompted by the South Korean Navy to move back.
The SLBM launch back in May, was controversial. Some say it didn’t even happen, due to the many doctored up images. However, North Korea has released more information and pictures of their launch.
NK News talks about the 정신교육 (精神教育/Psychological Education) that every South Korean servicemember receives upon entering mandatory service. Sadly, the education they receive completely dehumanizes the North Koreans, and praises leaders like 이승만(李承晩/Syngman Rhee) and 박정희(朴正熙/Park, Chung-Hee) for their hardline stances against communism. However, this anti-communist, anti-North Korean education runs counter to unification efforts and education, and the article emphasizes updating the information to not dehumanize the North Koreans, while highlighting their human rights atrocities to fall in line with unification methods.
“How’s the view from Room 39?” The economic performance sure looks different on the ground:
While secret military ties between North Korea and Iran have been known, thanks to the illicit arms trade and nuclear technology deals between the two countries; North Korea has asked Iran for something not related to the military or nukes: It wants aid. North Korea is so desperate for aid, that it’s now asking Iran’s Red Crescent Society. The Director-General of the organization has not been reached by the media for comment.
…And despite their concerns over the drought, they didn’t prepare for it by importing more grains. Compared to last year, their grain imports actually fell. NK News’ Leo Byrnes suspects this may be due simply to a lack of funds.
…Or it may be due to the fact that overall aid to North Korea hasn’t been increased this year.
최경환(崔炅煥/Choi Kyoung-hwan), the head of the 기획재정부 (大韓民國企劃財政部/Ministry of Strategy and Finance) said that South Korea could invest in North Korea via the Chinese-led 亞洲基礎設施投資銀行 (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank [AIIB])
Mr. Andrei Lankov provides a nice summary of the North Korean financial network, and how the Chinese, and especially the 華僑 (화교/Chinese outside China) help in facilitating money transactions in and out of the country, since they are technically PRC citizens who aren’t under the same travel restrictions the North Koreans are under. He then talks about how along the DPRK-PRC border, the 元 (원/Yuan) is the de facto currency in use, while the further South you go, the US Dollar is used as the de facto currency, because no one really trusts in the domestic currency. This speaks to the overall risk of the business environment in North Korea. Loan rates used to be in the triple-digits, but has fallen down to 50-60%. Still high, but an improvement nonetheless.
NK Today says that Russian businesses will build wind farms in the 라선특별시 (羅先特別市/Rason Special City) area: 2 plants capable of generating 70MW tons, and 4 capable of generating 40MW tons of power.
New Focus International looks back to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) incident, to compare with the Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) incident of today. Back in those days, in order for anyone to enter and exit the country during this period, had to obtain a medical examination –and that wasn’t cheap. This time around, things shouldn’t be that much different.
In the past 15 years, North Korea has executed 1,400 people, according to a South Korean thinktank. To put this in perspective, it took all of the US 29 years to reach that number of death penalty executions, since those statistics were collected in 1976.
North Korea will provide Russia with copper ores from 온성군(穩城郡/Onsong County), according to RBTH, back in May. In exchange, they requested that Russia provide electricity to the 라선 area, 청진시(清津市/Chongjin City), 단천시(端川市/TanChon City), and the 원산-금강산 국제관광특구 (元山－金剛山 國際觀光特區/Wonsan-Mt KumGang International Tourist Zone).
DailyNK says that when officials and cadres who work abroad defect, their family members that remain in North Korea aren’t put in prison, however, they are under surveillance.
CJ Kang records his time going to the 마식령 스키장 (馬息嶺 스키場/Masikryong Ski Resort), where he has all sorts of pictures of the military toiling away at creating the facilities to make the place ready.
요! Here’s the 411 on North Korea’s propaganda and information flow!
로동신문 (勞動新聞/”Rodong Sinmun” [Laborer’s News])‘s website went through a minor facelift, according to North Korea Tech. Some things on the website were merely rearranged.
Do you know where the Supreme Leader might be? [(PAWStamp) “A CLUE! A CLUE!”]
Now, we’ll get to North-South relations, reunification issues, life in North Korea, & refugee matters.
홍용표(洪容杓/Hong, Yong-Pyo), the 통일부부장 (統一部部長/Unification Minister) says that the North and South should come up with a way to fight natural disasters together. Including the drought.
박연미 (朴娟美?/Park, YeonMi) is rumored to make $41,000 per speech. However, her contracting agency Royce Carlton, has come out to refute it. They say the rates actually start at $12,500 for universities, and $17,500 for corporations. Then, whatever fees will be taken and reduced, before it gets to her.
The kids of North Korea’s officials stationed abroad, get into quite a bit of trouble. After having been overseas for so long, when they get back to their homeland, the boundaries of what’s acceptable speech is different, and they may land in trouble with the state. To avoid this, their parents admit them to asylums, and bribe the doctors and other people there to provide their kids with special treatment.
Some South Korean news outlets have started following the 조선신보 (朝鮮新報/ちょうせん しんぽ/Choson Sinbo)‘s “인기 처녀 (人氣 處女/Popular Virgins)” series. No, it’s not what you may be thinking. It’s a series that interviews North Korean women to help reveal a North Korean view of life in their country. This time, they interviewed traffic officer 류정혜. You can check out a summary of her introduction at NK Today, the link is in our shownotes.
In 무산군 (茂山郡/Musan County), 함경북도 (咸鏡北道/North HamGyong Province), a clash between authorities and merchants broke out, when one merchant’s goods were confiscated by authorities. It got the attention of other merchants around, and an all-out brawl broke out.
For the leadership, cadres are supposed to carry out your bidding, and keep those beneath them in check. So what happens when they get out of hand and you need to lock them up? Apparently, there’s a 교화소 (教化所/Correctional facility) in 사리원시(沙里院市/Sariwon City) made just for them. It’s also used for propaganda purposes, because of the slightly better treatment these folks get compared to other folks in regular gulags. One thing that’s obvious about that, is the fact that the walls are painted, which is a stark contrast to the gray slab of bare concrete one would see in a gulag. Apparently, there are two other such facilities in the country.
This is our final segment. A hodgepodge of stories we didn’t know where to put, like this one:
The National Committee on North Korea (NCNK) has an interesting report on North Korea’s relations with various countries since its inception. First, during the 1950s and 60s, you had the obvious ties with other soviet nations. Then, the 1970s saw a substantial increase in relations, thanks to the Sino-Soviet split, which meant many developing nations were looking for a reliable socialist partner that wasn’t busy getting in a spit-fight. The 1980s saw an increase in nations that would help with its terrorist activities. In the 1990s, they started opening up to the US and South Korea. Then, with the continuation of the 햇볕 정책 (햇볕陽光 政策/Sunshine policy), everybody (except for the US) was getting on the bandwagon, and many European nations (that weren’t previous Soviet states) began opening up relations, including Canada.
North Korea and New Zealand are cooperating on tracking birds and their migratory patterns.
The SS Meredith Victory, known as the “Ship of Miracles”, got the name for its humanitarian mission in helping 14,000 refugees from North Korea. Rear Admiral J. Robert Lunney talks about his time on the ship, and their mission.