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North Korea has a policy of 선군, or “Military-First”, so we’re putting military-related stories first!
Later yesterday, North Korea issued a 48-hour ultimatum telling South Korea to stop their propoganda loudspeaker broadcasts, with a deadline of tomorrow 5pm Korea time, “or else”. This after…
…Yesterday, in protest of South Korea’s loudspeaker propaganda resumptions, North Korea protested yesterday, by firing off 14.5mm anti-aircraft rounds (possibly from a ZPU 2 or 4, according to NK News) off the 비무장지대 (非武裝地帶/DeMilitarized Zone [DMZ]) at 3:52pm. South Korea responded with firing back 76.2mm rounds (most likely a ZiS-3) at 4:15pm. No damage or injuries were reported.
…The UN Command has stepped in to talk to North Korea regarding the issue, asking them to refrain from escalating tensions on the peninsula.
…Of course while all this is going on, US House of Representative member Charles Rangel, a Korean War Veteran is on the peninsula, meeting with South Korean legislators, and said that North Korea is a threat to the entire region.
…South Korea says it will not back down, and President 박근혜 (朴槿惠/Park, Geun-Hye) has repeated to her troops to sternly retaliate against any North Korean provocations.
…North Korean media basically says “bring it!” And that it is ready to conduct “surprise operations” against the South.
…However, some analysts are doubtful anything will come of this event.
Ulchi Freedom Guard (을지 프리덤 가디언/乙支焦點透鏡) began on Monday August 17th. Two days before that, North Korea issued their own threats against the US. Then followed up on Tuesday, calling for an end to the exercises. The US and South Korea have ignored those demands, and have continued.
…This, after South Korea has blamed North Korea for planting landmines across the DMZ, killing two South Korean soldiers. South Korea’s 합동참모본부 (合同參謀本部/Joint Chiefs of Staff), 최윤희 (崔潤喜/Choi, Yoon-Hee) 대장 (大將/Admiral) had a non-tempered response. Threatening powerful retaliation against the North for planting the landmines.
…Chinese expert on North Korea, 張璉瑰 offers a brief commentary about the landmines, noting that this is really part of a long-line of border clashes, and isn’t a new rise in military tensions.
…South Korea has sent a letter to the UN addressing the landmine issue and showing their investigation results as to why they believe the North planted the mines. However, just because the letter is brought to the UN, does not mean it will become an agenda issue that will be brought up.
…The military exercise was temporarily suspended due to the rise in tensions and troops being placed on actual combat readiness, but have resumed.
…Some believe that the North is preparing to launch missiles
New Construction at Engine Test Stand
New Focus International talks about how disease is spread, when several-month tussle over wages at the 개성공업지구 (開城工業地區/ Kaesong Industrial Complex). After unilaterally saying South Korean corporations should raise wages by what was originally reported as 5%, but really 5.18%, and after some back and forth, and threats from both governments, the North backed down from their demands, and both Koreas agreed to come back to the table to discuss the issue. Today, they’ve actually agreed to an actual 5% increase, slightly lower from the 5.18%, which is the same rate as previous raises have been. Monthly wages will from $70.35 to $73.87.
…Despite tensions from Thursday’s cross-border firings, the South Korean businessmen that brokered the deal have returned safely to the South.
The 한국은행(韓國銀行/Bank of Korea) has come out with an estimation for North Korea’s GDP for 2014, and says that it was higher than the year prior, by 1%.
Right after the last episode was released, North Korea declared its own time zone, in an attempt to set itself apart from the time zones of 東京とう きょう(동경/Tokyo) and 北京(북경/BeiJing). This also sets them up half-hour ahead of 서울 (漢城한성/Seoul)
Mr. Marcus Noland looks at data showing North Korea’s growing trade deficit, where the commodities it exports isn’t earning them as much as they used to, while what they import is still much more expensive.
أوراسكوم للاتصالات (Orascom), the Egyptian company with a majority stake behind North Korea’s cellphone network 고려링크 (Koryolink), is no closer to getting its hands on the money it’s earned from the North Korean venture. The problem is that it needs government approval to move the cash out, which brings in the next issue of the exact value of the money: What should you go by, official rates, or black market currency rates? This, while the government run cellular network is in direct competition with them.
New Focus International looks at the misconceptions North Koreans have about tuberculosis. Many North Koreans believe that it’s a hereditary disease, and not a matter of having a strong enough immune system thanks to malnutrition. Tons of vaccines get donated from all over the world, but credit goes to the leaders.
A couple of months ago, it was reported that the vice Forestry Minister was executed for not respecting the Supreme Leader, it turns out it was actually the Vice Premier 최영건 (崔英健?/Choe, Yong-Gon). Supposedly, he used a quote from 김일성 (金日成/Kim, Il-sung) about how cutting down trees and forests were good for economic development. However, considering North Korean politics, I’m sure 김정은 (金正恩/Kim, Jong-un) can also pull some other quote from his grandfather about preserving nature. And here lies the duel that got Choe some unnecessary attention. Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein wrote a good piece for NK Econ Watch, that analyzed 김정은‘s speech on forestry. He noted the departure from previous speeches that blamed flood disasters on natural causes, to pointing the fingers at government policies and peoples’ actions. He criticized the planting of full-grown trees on specific days to commemorate his predecessors, saying they should actually plant baby trees and keep raising them. He also noted that because of famine issues, people have been doing what they could to get by, but in so doing, are destroying the forests, and said that local authorities should crack down on such actions. Enforcement in this area may be an issue.
A South Korean researcher, via a third-party institute, conducted a study of North Koreans and how market forces in the past 20 years have changed their mindsets. He concluded that the North Koreans equate wealth to happiness, but not success. However, the sample number was very small (100 people in all), and most (67) were from the capitol.
UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) set aside $6.3 million to deal with North Korea’s drought situation.
In North Korea, insurance products are popping up for all sorts of things. They’ve been offering compensation packages for cell phones lost and damaged, and are working on compensating fruit farmers for natural damage issues. Most insurance products are offered by Korea National Insurance Corporation, a state-run insurance company.
요! Here’s the 411 on North Korea’s propaganda and information flow!
In response to a landmine blast that killed 2 South Korean soldiers, South Korean authorities are blaming it on North Korea, and on August 10th have resumed loudspeaker propoganda campaigns aimed at the North. In response to this, on Monday, August 17th, North Korea resumed their loudspeaker campaigns aimed at the South, making threats to the US and South Korea, as we had mentioned earlier.
…This, after President 박근혜 (朴槿惠/Park, Geun-Hye) said the nation should remain vigilent.
…North Korea said that she “should be buried as soon as possible”.
On the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japan, North Korea published 4 newspapers in color. A special edition of the 로동신문, 민주조선, 청년전위, and the 평양신문
Do you know where the Supreme Leader might be? [(PAWStamp) “A CLUE! A CLUE!”]
When 김정은 (金正恩/Kim, Jong-un) inspects an area, how is it that everything runs properly? Apparently, people pull tooth and nail to get things working for a couple hours, asking other departments for extra supplies, and even electricity to get the factories in running condition.
38North.org looks at 김여정 (金與正/Kim Yo-jong)‘s rise to be the new head of their Propoganda department, what positions she held before this, who may have groomed her, and is she wearing more than one hat?
김정일(金正日/Kim, Jong-Il) was afraid of flying but his son LOVES it! Which is why, next to some common spots he goes to, they’re building private runways close to his palaces and villas throughout the nation.
And, we bring you a link from two weeks ago, from the Kim Jong-un Looks at Things Tumblr blog, where the Supreme Leader is looking at pebbles.
This week however, he’s looking at a pistol demonstration.
But wait, there’s more! A link to him looking at tomatoes. You can check out all of these links, in our shownotes.
Now, we’ll get to North-South relations, reunification issues, life in North Korea, & refugee matters.
One of the articles missed while I was gone last week, was a piece from Mr. Andrei Lankov on the dangers of people dismissing defector testimony, while also noting the other issue of defectors’ incentives to invent or change their stories.
Yesterday, South Korea legislators were beginning work on new legislation on how to plan for a peaceful reuinification.
Monday, South Korean police took 4 defectors and one ethnic Korean from China into custody. The 4 defectors are suspected of having used illegal drugs, and the ethnic Korean from China is suspected of smuggling them into the country. They found methamphetamines and marijuana.
통일부부장 (統一部部長/Unification Minister) 홍용표(洪容杓/Hong, Yong-Pyo) said that despite the landmine issue, both Koreas should still try to move towards a peaceful unification, and retaliation should be avoided.
38North.org admits that in the West, North Korean elections are simply a rubberstamp, and not very democratic, but what significance does it have for North Koreans? If the intention isn’t to promote “Western-style democracy”, what is it meant to do for the North Korean state?
According to Daily NK, 량강도 (兩江道/Ryanggang Province) is being fitted with more wired fences in an attempt to prevent further escapes from that province, further cutting off the paths that defectors can take.
…This may be a larger call to secure the borders ahead of the 70th anniversary of the 조선로동당 (朝鮮勞動黨/ Korean Workers Party [KWP]). Possibly planning on releasing prisoners but not allowing them to escape again? Who knows.
Wednesday, August 19th, South Korea demanded that North Korea not link the reunion talks with the military drills. South Korea said that the annual drills are transparent, and for defensive purposes, while the reunions should be looked at under a humanitarian perspective.
정몽규(鄭夢奎/Chung, Mong-kyu), the head of the 현대산업개발(現代産業開發/Hyundai Development Company) will request permission from the South Korean government to visit North Korea, because he’s also the President of the 대한축구협회(大韓蹴球協會/Korea Football Association), and on September 19th, the 46th East Asian Football Federation (EAFF/동아시아 축구 연맹/東亞足球聯盟) Executive Committee meeting will be held in 평양 (平壤/Pyongyang).
The Korea Economic Institute has a good article chronicling some of the efforts in making a Joint North-South dictionary, to track the changes in vocabulary between the two Koreas. Sadly, this joint-Korean effort is being overshadowed by current events.
This is our final segment. A hodgepodge of stories we didn’t know where to put, like this one:
NK Econ Watch has tracked down one of the oldest buildings in 평양 (平壤/Pyongyang), and says that there’s construction going on over the site.
In response to 安倍 晋三 (あべ しんぞう/Abe Shinzo) speech regarding Japan’s loss in the war, yet was missing the “genuine” apology that Korea and China were looking for, a joint statement by Korean, Japanese and international scholars entitled “Freedom from the Past” signed the statement against his speech, saying that 安倍 and his political party within the country haven’t done enough to preserve history, and have done a lot more to put political elements within it, that are detrimental not just to history, but to Japan’s relations with neighboring countries, and its standing within the international community.
President Park will meet with Chinese leaders on September 3rd, but will not be attending the event celebrating Japan’s defeat in WWII. Although, Japanese prime minister 安倍 晋三 has confirmed his attendance to events after the military parade as well.