North Korea has a policy of 선군, or “Military-First”, so we’re putting military-related stories first!
Monday, July 27th., marks the 62nd anniversary for the end of the Korean War. In a speech, 김정은(金正恩/Kim, Jong-Un) said that “The past Korean War brought about the beginning of the downhill turn for the US, but the second Korean war will bring the final ruin to US imperialism.”
Riding off the high of their successful deal with Iran where Iran will give up nukes for lifting sanctions, the US says that it is still willing to talk to North Korea, as long as they are willing to open up, which the US claims they haven’t been. This, despite the DPRK saying that they were not interested.
Preparations for Engine Testing Identified
김정은 inspected the Combat Aeronautics Contest. He flew on his 참매1 aircraft to 원산 (元山/Wonsan)‘s yet to be finished airport, on Monday, July 27th to mark their anniversary of the 전쟁승리기념일 (戰爭勝利紀念日/Fatherland Liberation War Victory Commemoration Day)
“How’s the view from Room 39?” The economic performance sure looks different on the ground:
Supposedly, North Korea has no taxes. That’s great! They just have to bribe officials, and pay other fees that taxes have replaced. Like your utilities. Unlike in other countries, where every housing unit would have a separate electric meter to figure out how much electricity has been used, the authorities make estimates based on how many light bulbs and electricial appliances you have, and then come up with a random number for you. New Focus International talks about how car batteries are used during the frequent blackouts.
NK News talks about how the mindsets of North Koreans had changed from supporting the state out of self-sacrifice (like marrying late, to complete military service), but after the failures of the state to produce basic commodities, and seeing people who made decisions for themselves survive, broke down the idea that sacrificing ones self for the sake of the state was a noble thing. Now, people are making more and more individual decisions.
There were no imports of Swiss watches last year, but that has changed. This year swiss watch imports have resumed to the DPRK.
Daily NK says that North Korean overseas laborers in Russia are fed up with the pay, and are escaping. Most of their pay is given back to the North Korean state as “loyalty remittance”.
Although the drought wasn’t as bad as North Korea made it out to be, it was still enough to reduce crop levels by 12% when compared to last year, according to UN estimates.
요! Here’s the 411 on North Korea’s propaganda and information flow!
South Korean police prevented a conservative anti-North Korean group from flying balloons in their originally decided location. 400 police were there to prevent the flyers from releasing any of their balloons. The group decided to meet at another location for their launch.
“평양 속도” (Pyongyang Speed) an old 1958 slogan is now being resurrected, to apply to building in the capitol. Economic advancments to be shown through architecture and massive buildings. What’s new?
There is a new electric band in North Korea. Move aside, 모란봉악단 (牡丹峰樂團/Moran-Bong Band [“‘Peony Peak’ Band”]), here comes the 정봉! A “band for this age”.
According to South Korean analysts, 김정은 has an insane amount of media coverage, and more and more “commemorative photos” taken of him. More than even his father or grandfather.
Do you know where the Supreme Leader might be? [(PAWStamp) “A CLUE! A CLUE!”]
Foreign Minister 리수용(李洙墉/Ri, Su-Yong) will be in Malaysia next week, August 6th. Possibly to attend the upcoming ASEAN conference. However, he would be arriving just in time for the last day of the meeting, which would be a bit of a rush.
김평일(金平一/Kim, Pyong-il), half brother to the late 김정일(金正日/Kim, Jong-Il), was long banished to Poland as an ambassador to make sure he doesn’t contend for power back home. Recently, he, along with other ambassadors (many of which are also relatives) were called back to the country to discuss foreign diplomacy issues with 김정은. Daily NK says that he’s essentially been ostracized. Twice. First by his own home country, then once he’s abroad, the fact that he’s involved with North Korea is enough to ostracize anyone.
And we end this section with a picture from the Kim, Jong-un Looks at Things Tumblr blog, this time a link of him looking at Dennis Rodman’s neck.
Now, we’ll get to North-South relations, reunification issues, life in North Korea, & refugee matters.
Willem van der Bijl, the Dutchman who was a former North Korean trinkets trader before he was arrested, has revealed the exact location of his holding cell. It was in 손내동, 망용대구역. This is the same location 이은아 and Lisa Ling were held, and seems to be a site that specifically holds foreigners.
A group of 현대아산 (現代峨山/Hyundai Asan)‘s forestry experts under permission of the government, have crossed into North Korea to check up on pine trees that may have been damaged by the drought in North Korea.
When North and South Korean civic groups met to plan out a joint Korean event to celebrate 70 years of liberation from Japanese colonial rule, things looked like they were going well. Then, before they were supposed to meet up again, the North said they should just handle the meeting over fax, and that joint events like this shouldn’t be held, when inter-Korean hostilities are still so high. But that’s the point of these meetings to plan out these events. To prove that inter-Korean cooperation can actually work. So much for that though.
A group gathered in 서울 (漢城한성/Seoul), at a conference to discuss what Korea could learn from other countries in solving its abduction issues against North Korea. One of the speakers was a former ethnic Korean from Japan who had escaped in 2003, had proposed that opening up tourism with North Korea would actually keep them honest, leaving spotlights on them that would prevent them from doing such things.
임현수, a Canadian pastor held in North Korea since February, has just made a media appearance, where he admitted to wanting to overthrow the North Korean government earlier today.
This is our final segment. A hodgepodge of stories we didn’t know where to put, like this one:
The man who goes by the pseudonym “James Church” has a new “Inspector O” entry out on 38North.org, check it out, the link is in our shownotes.
It’s that time of year in summer. In South Korea, people all crowd around in 부산 (釜山/Busan)‘s beaches, to the point that everyone’s just soaking themselves in the water, and not swimming. In North Korea, people are now going to a place called 마전, and they’re even encouraging foreign embassy staff to take a break from the summer heat at such spots.
South Korea declared that their Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) outbreak is over.
Robert Carlin writes a piece for 38North.org, where he pays tribute to Don Oberdorfer, a journalist who had some good insights on events surrounding the Korean peninsula, and just passed away last week on July 23rd.
The Wilson Center has a translated archive of the Heads of State from the US, Republic of China, and Russia at the Cairo conference discussing the new future government of Korea. The US envisioned a unified Korea where all parties could take part in a national representative congress, while Russia was opposed to a unified Korea.