North Korea has a policy of 선군, or “Military-First”, so we’re putting military-related stories first!
South Korea invited North Korean presence at a security event, which was a first, but North Korea refused to attend.
For those rejoicing in the deal struck with Iran to give up its nukes for getting rid of sanctions, don’t expect North Korea to do the same. They came out with a statement saying they weren’t interested.
According to South Korea’s 국방부 (國防部/Ministry of Defense), North Korea is almost done with upgrades to their 서해 위성 발사장 (西海 衛星 發射場/West Coast Satellite Launch Facility) in 동창리 (東倉里/TongChang Village). One of the upgrades was a taller, 67-story gantry, and is believed they will launch an upgraded version of the 광명성 (光明星/Bright Star) satellite on a refined 은하 (銀河/Galaxy) rocket.
North Korea placed a 122mm multiple rocket launcher (MRL) battery on 갈도. Being closer to 연평도 (延坪島/YeonPyeong Island)
“How’s the view from Room 39?” The economic performance sure looks different on the ground:
The Merchant Vessel HuiChon was last spotted in a Russian port for three days, before returning to port in 청진시(清津市/Chongjin City)
If you were planning on going to North Korea in October via train, on Koryo Tours train tour package, there have been some new destinations added to your itinerary.
A joint DPRK-Russian venture from the 김정일(金正日/Kim, Jong-Il) era, has recently been known to restart its operations, in producing herbal medicines, specifically ginseng liquid extracts, for sale in the Russian market.
Stephan Haggard, Jaesung Ryu, and Kent Boydston cover funds towards donations and aid to North Korea. Compared to the 이명박 (李明博/Lee, Myung-Bak)‘s administration, 박근혜 (朴槿惠/Park, Geun-Hye) hasn’t increased any donations to North Korea by that much.
According to NK News, North Korea is trying to upgrade its dilapidating rail infrastructure, and to color-code them by function. One of the issues is North Korea’s reliance on imported fuels to make them run. By converting them to electric trains, they can use other methods of generating electricity to make the trains run.
JH Ahn took a look at North Korean media footage for NK News, and noticed there was quite a bit of cars running around in 평양 (平壤/Pyongyang). Meaning that they aren’t as cash-stricken as we’d like to believe. Granted, this can’t compare to the number of cars you’d see in a South Korean suburb, but it is a slight uptick of cars from we’ve typically seen before.
New Focus International says that a lot of the traditional trade routes used in North Korea are inaccessible to smuggle things from the Chinese border, because of intense border controls. However, there are new routes being used.
So far this year from January to May, North Korea has increased its coal production by 20% over last year. This data was reported by North Korean media, and corroborated by Chinese trade data. June figures have not yet been released. Despite this, they are making 3% less revenue.
…the increase, despite the declining trade with China, is thanks to increasing trade with its economic rival Vietnam
NK News says there’s a new law targetted towards foreigners in the SEZs, regarding rent, price control, real estate possessions, and such.
Maternity leave in North Korea is being increased from 150 days, to 240. Which also means 60 days before the expected due date, and 180 days after birth. Meanwhile, according to federal law in the US, women who work in a company with 50 employees or more only get 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave.
Choson Exchange had a little session on assessing whether or not microfinancing would work in the DPRK.
Pyongyang Department Store No. 1, is a store that exclusively sells domestic products. What’s interesting is that they somewhat admit the discrepancy between regional North Korean products needing to catch up to the capitol, and the capitol’s products needing to catch up to international standards.
요! Here’s the 411 on North Korea’s propaganda and information flow!
John Oliver talks about how wierd it is that Slovenian metal band Laibach, will be visiting North Korea, you can check out that video, a link is in our shownotes.
…The band came out and said they were willing to go to provoke a debate amongst those who live outside the country. They criticize everybody’s image of North Korea as a totalitarian regime, saying that totalitarianism is everywhere.
김여정 (金與正/Kim Yo-jong), younger sister to 김정은(金正恩/Kim, Jong-Un), is reportedly in firm control of the Propaganda apparatus, and being a part of the “백두 bloodline”, she’s increasing the deification of the royal family. This means, she had to have replaced 김기남 (金基南/Kim Ki Nam), who according to Japanese sources, say he might be tortured, rather than retired quietly from old age. Although, the latter is more likely.
As July 27th reaches closer, anti-American propoganda is being ramped up. This day is known as the 전쟁승리기념일 (戰爭勝利紀念日/Fatherland Liberation War Victory Commemoration Day), or simply “우리 7.27”, while in South Korea, it’s known as the 정전협정체결일(戰爭協定締結日/Armistice Day).
Daily NK says that several songs featured in a North Korean movie called “임꺽정” have now been banned, including the theme song “나서라 의형제여” (Rise up, brothers!), and other songs featured in the movie like “사무친 원한 풀리라” (Disperse this deep grudge), “눈물 없는 나라” (A country without tears). Cassettes and CDs or 알반 (“egg plates”) are being confiscated. The reason: they may be interpreted as songs encouraging defection, because of references to South Korea. You can check out the original Korean lyrics on Daily NK’s website.
Do you know where the Supreme Leader might be? [(PAWStamp) “A CLUE! A CLUE!”]
Jonathan Powell, Wolfgang Nowak and Glyn Ford, political figures from the EU, were in North Korea from July 13th to the 17th. They followed this with a visit to South Korea on Monday. It was reported when they saw the 통일부부장 (統一部部長/Unification Minister) 홍용표(洪容杓/Hong, Yong-Pyo), they said they were surprised at how sick and pale North Korea’s Foreign Minister 강석주(姜錫柱/Kang, Sok-ju) looked.
Before we end this section, we bring you a link to the Kim, Jong-Un Looks At Things Tumblr blog. This time, looking at a baby in uniform.
And now, we end this section with another link to him looking at studs.
Now, we’ll get to North-South relations, reunification issues, life in North Korea, & refugee matters.
The Unification Desire Festival will take place in 서울 (漢城한성/Seoul), on September 23rd to the 25th. Aram Pan of DPRK 360 will also be featuring a lot of his photos at the event.
Joshua Stanton talks about a National Geographic review of 김은선’s account of nearly starving to death in North Korea during the 고난의 행군 (苦難의行軍/Arduous March).
Both Koreas will hold a youth soccer match next month. Originally, it was supposed to happen in May, but was delayed due to Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and the match will be held in 평양.
Missing the chance to do anything for the anniversary of the 남북 공동선언(南北共同宣言/North-South Joint Declaration), North Korea is going for another shot at a Joint-Korean event. This time, the 70th anniversary of their liberation from Colonial Japanese rule on August 15th. They sent the message to South Korea on Monday, July 20th.
…And on Wednesday July 22nd, the 통일부 (統一部/Unification Ministry) had approved for a South Korean civic group to go up to North Korea, to visit with their counterparts and hash out details.
…However, even though the South Korean government might allow a person from the organization to go, they specifically said they won’t send an envoy to the North for the celebration.
…And while no concrete agreements were made, this will not effect former first lady 이희호 (李姬鎬/Lee, Hee-Ho)‘s visit to North Korea on August 5th through the 8th.
Casper Van der Veen writes about his reflections on the Vice documentary on 김혜숙’s time in 북창군(北倉郡/Pukchang County)‘s Concentration Camp.
NK News has an article about the maintenance of ambulances across North Korea. While ambulances are supposed to be all over the country’s hospitals, the maintenance may vary, and the only ones that can perform emergency response functions are only in the capitol. Conversely, the hospitals outside the capitol, may not provide the same quality of care either. Christine Ahn, one of the organizers of the Women Cross DMZ, said when her daughter was sick, they used one of the vans-turned ambulances to go to the hospital, where it had suffered a blackout.
In South Korea, when it comes to texting on your cellphones, you kinda’ have to learn an all-new language, because everybody is using contracted forms of speech and spelling. In North Korea however, New Focus International says that people actually take time and care to write their text messages, and it’s actually much more formal.
Daily NK says some people are calling July “a month of crying”. Because, July 8th marks 김일성 (金日成/Kim, Il-sung)‘s death, you have to show how sad you still are, even though you might be too young to remember it. Then, there’s no food, and you’re crying over that, plus it’s summer, and you’re sweating so bad, it’s like your whole body is crying all over.
태권도 Grandmaster 정우진 is planning on taking a delegation across the DMZ, as part of some sports diplomacy. He’s been putting together Joint Korean competitions, and even sponsoring competitions for North Koreans to compete in the US as well.
A major setback for those requesting refuge in South Korea. In 2006, the family of 이상군 tried to defect to the South. Unfortunately, during an inspection at a guesthouse near the 瀋陽 (심양/ShenYang) consulate (but not on consulate grounds), they were discovered and caught during a random inspection. The families in the South sued the government for being inattentive in protecting the family. The courts ruled that the government is not responsible for defectors’ well-being.
This is our final segment. A hodgepodge of stories we didn’t know where to put, like this one:
Emil Truszkowski writes about what he saw of Korean schools in Japan, what the lack of funds from the Japanese government has left them, and how they are surviving. He also touches upon some issues of why they aren’t getting support from the government. Aside from Japanese perceptions that these schools are “anti-Japanese” (which they aren’t necessarily), the fact that they don’t follow Japan’s 文部科学省もんぶかがくしょう (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology [MEXT]) guidelines on education is an issue.
Willem van der Bijl, the Dutchman who used to trade North Korean paraphonilia, and was arrested by North Koreans, where upon release,provided interviews about the ordeal, is now taking his collection and digitizing them.