In the News – Defectors, activists hold rally to condemn rights abuses in N. Korea

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In the News – Defectors, activists hold rally to condemn rights abuses in N. Korea

By Kim Kwang-tae
SEOUL, Jan. 27 (Yonhap) — About 150 activists and North Korean defectors held a symbolic rally in central Seoul Friday to protest against human rights abuses in North Korea.

The protest is timed to mark the 67th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp where an estimated 1.1 million Jews died during the Holocaust.

Human rights advocacy groups have long called for international efforts to stop genocide and crimes against humanity which they claim are being systematically carried out by North Korean authorities. Continue reading

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In the News – North Korea Warns South Over Military Drill but Accepts Food Aid

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In the News – North Korea Warns South Over Military Drill but Accepts Food Aid

South Korean trucks loaded with sacks of flour for North Koreans left for the North Korean city of Kaesong on Friday.

By 

Published: January 27, 2012

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea warned on Friday that a South Korean military drill around frontline islands could lead to a “full-scale war,” even as it allowed South Korean trucks carrying privatefood aid for North Korean children to cross the border.

One hundred and eighty tons of flour from the Korea Peace Foundation was the first such aid shipment since the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il died last month, leaving his youngest son,Kim Jong-un, as his heir and leaving the peninsula jittery.

As the North Korean government has focused on consolidating the leadership succession, it has vowed never to deal with the government of President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea, who has taken a tougher stand on the North than his predecessors did. Continue reading

Madeleine Albright and Kim Jong-Il

On Friday 3rd of December 2011, former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright addressed the future of US foreign policy and the leadership of women in helping to build prosperity, foster peace, and promote democracy across the globe at the London School of Economics in London, United Kingdom. This lecture was part of her tour to the UK to promote the Madeleine Korbel Albright Institute for Global Affairs with Wellesley College, her alma mater. The first female secretary of state had an hour-long Q&A session following giving a speech on women’s need to be more active and supportive of each other. After a number of questions about her experiences as a woman, Dr. Albright was asked to talk about her experience in North Korea. She gave the audience a detailed narrative on her trip. Continue reading

Exploring the Connection between China and North Korea: Part II

In Seoul Train, often the Chinese government did not seem to consider the North Korean defectors as eligible for asylum. Therefore, I will first clarify the definition of refugee and asylum-seeker as stated by the United Nations Refugee Agency. According to the 1951 Refugee Convention that established the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, “a refugee is someone who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his [or her] nationality, and is unable to, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself [or herself] of the protection of that country,” and an asylum seeker is “someone who says he or she is a refugee, but whose claim has not yet been definitively evaluated.”[1]

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Cheonanham

There is a difficult balance between honoring the dead and the living.

This summer I visited Cheonanham, the memorial for a Korean Navy corvette that had sunk in March 2010. At that time, I had been teaching English in Jeollanam-do. We heard that a ship had sunk off of the coast, and 46 Korean sailors were dead. I remember the televised funeral services.

The ship was recovered from the seabed in two halves; upon investigation by an international team (South Korea called in foreign experts to increase the investigation’s credibility), the investigators determined that the ship broke in two from something called a bubble jet, caused by the explosion of a torpedo a few meters from the hull of the ship. The resulting pressure differential tore the ship in two.

Approaching the Cheonanham (author’s photo)

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Exploring the Connection between China and North Korea: Seoul Train Part 1

Last year I had first joined Yale University’s branch of THiNK, There’s Hope in North Korea, the group that I had addressed in my previous article. Thinking back to the year I joined, one of my first experiences as a member of THiNK was watching the documentary Seoul Train produced by Lisa Sleeth and Jim Butterworth. I knew that it left a strong impression on me as well as a bit of bitterness toward China, but rather than work from memory, I think that it is a better idea to take another look at the film itself. Continue reading

North Korea and Football (soccer)

There is no sport that shakes this planet as hard as football does, according to numerous psychologists, neurobiologists, and economists. If you have read a chapter from Soccernomics by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski, you would know the magnitude of the industry, the impact it has on people’s lives, and how it can improve a country’s image. Despite its isolated nature, North Korea has made its athletes visible at sporting events. Some of them have won medals at the Olympics and successfully played several World Cup games, the last one in 2010. Continue reading

In the News – Kim Jong Nam Says N.Korean Regime Won’t Last Long

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In the News – Kim Jong Nam Says N.Korean Regime Won’t Last Long

Former North Korean Leader Kim Jong-il’s eldest son Jong-nam has said the isolated regime will eventually fail with or without reforms. The comment appears in e-mail conversations exchanged over seven years between Kim Jong-nam and a Japanese journalist and obtained by the Monthly Chosun.

The nearly 100 e-mails were sent from 2004 until December last year to Yoji Komi, an editor at the Tokyo Shimbun daily. The two also spoke in person in January and May last year. Continue reading

Concert for Unification

On November 19th 2011 I was invited to go to the Unification Concert sponsored by the Ministry of Unification and hosted by the radio station SBS Power FM’s corner called Love Game with actress So Hyun Park. A good friend of mine, who happens to be a domestic correspondent for MOU, called me a few weeks earlier and bribed me into going to this concert by telling me that a lot of famous singers would be there and who could say no to that? And besides, it was for a good cause: unification! Continue reading

OneKorea 2011 in Review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,500 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The MOU Internship: Pt. 1

Imagine an internship where your interests are a priority. Now add being treated with respect. And then add on top of that field trips every week to some of the most interesting places in South Korea. And as a bonus, go ahead and add the opportunity to eat some of the best food in Seoul with some of the most important people within the Ministry of Unification. Sound too good to be true? Usually, it would be. But, believe it or not, all of this, and so much more, is what the MOU summer internship was like for me. Hopefully I have your attention by now, so let me give you some more details. Continue reading

An Interesting Pair

My mentee wished me a happy belated birthday this morning. I was surprised. I was convinced he had forgotten me after I tried sending him letters and emails. He was a funny kid. The first time I met him was when all mentors were paired with their mentees; he said something to me in Korean and then suddenly left. I did not understand what he said other than that he was leaving and I didn’t know if or when he was coming back, so I chased him down the corridor calling after him. I clarified the matter then, but I could tell it would be an interesting two weeks. Continue reading

He Told Me He Was from North Korea

Just before heading back to the United States, I took a detour to London for three weeks to meet family and friends. Among my friends who are currently studying in London, one of them is currently enrolled at the school of economics in Regent University. It had been two years since I had last seen her; however, unfortunately, I had arrived in London while she was still in the middle of her dissertation and finals. I decided to stay over for a couple of nights and spend some time at her university so that I could be with her for a few days before I left for America.

Regent University – sits quietly in the middle of Regent Park – no sign announces its presence. My friend tells me that everyone knows it hides in the middle of the trees abreast the lakes of Regent Park. I did not know anything about the university or its students, but I could tell as soon as I walked passed the front gates and into its halls that the students were not from average families. There was a scent about them that suggested the elite. Continue reading

In the News – Kim Jong Nam Again Critical of Succession

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In the News – Kim Jong Nam Again Critical of Succession

Kim Jong Nam, Kim Jong Il’s eldest son, has again criticized North Korea’s 3rd succession, Tokyo Shimbun reported today.

The newspaper revealed an email allegedly sent by Kim on January 3rd in which he stated, “Nobody in their right mind would find it easy to accept the 3rd generation succession. Doubts linger over whether 37 years of absolute power can be carried forward by a young leader after just two years of training.” Continue reading

In the News – Harsh Punishments for Poor Mourning

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In the News – Harsh Punishments for Poor Mourning

The North Korean authorities have completed the criticism sessions which began after the mourning period for Kim Jong Il and begun to punish those who transgressed during the highly orchestrated mourning events.Daily NK learned from a source from North Hamkyung Province on January 10th, “The authorities are handing down at least six months in a labor-training camp to anybody who didn’t participate in the organized gatherings during the mourning period, or who did participate but didn’t cry and didn’t seem genuine.” Continue reading

In the News – North Korea Announces It Will Release Prisoners

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In the News – North Korea Announces It Will Release Prisoners

By 
Published: January 10, 2012

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said on Tuesday that it would release prisoners in its first special amnesty in seven years, a day after soldiers paraded in the capital, Pyongyang, vowing to become “rifles and bombs” to defend the country’s new leader, Kim Jong-un. The military rally in Pyongyang on Monday and the special pardon, effective from Feb. 1, came as North Korea escalated a campaign to consolidate support for Mr. Kim.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported that the special pardon was part of national celebrations to observe the 70th anniversary in February of the birth of Kim Jong-il, the new leader’s father, who died on Dec. 17, and the 100th anniversary in April of the birth of Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea. Continue reading

Vice’s Guide to North Korea: Review

I remember going to the DMZ and being curious about what the experience would be like from the other side. Even though we saw documentaries during our internship about North Korea, they involved commonly photographed locations, like the stadium for extravagant displays of gymnastics and the theme park from hell. However, recently I saw the Vice Guide to North Korea online, and, though it made the same conclusions about the process of touring North Korea as a foreigner, it did highlight some different occasions, not to mention a funny host that livens up the grim locations. Here are some interesting locations and details they covered that I had not seen in other documentaries: Continue reading

Thoughts on Kim Jong-il’s Death

Originally I had intended to write about South Korea’s plan to put up a hundred-foot tall Christmas tree. North Korea was quite upset about this affront to their nation, declaring it to be tantamount to psychological warfare, and threatened that “unexpected consequences” would ensue if the tree went up. Where North Korea is concerned, almost all consequences are unexpected, so I found their threat convincing enough.

But a rather unexpected circumstance popped up on its own, a development more compelling to write about: Kim Jong-il died. I found out after work on the 18th; I had called my boss to talk shop on the walk home and as I was about to hang up she told me. We both sounded happy when we got off the phone with each other. I reflect that most people outside North Korea seem pretty happy about the news, though they may not proclaim it loudly. But the tone of the activity seems, on the whole, celebratory. Continue reading

In the News – Kim Jong-un ‘Watched Long-Range Missile Launch’

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In the News – Kim Jong-un ‘Watched Long-Range Missile Launch’

 Korean Central Television on Sunday, North Korea’s new leader Kim Jong-un appears in a military vehicle (top) and a helicopter at an undisclosed place in North Korea. /KCTV-Yonhap”]
North Korean state TV marked new leader Kim Jong-un’s birthday on Sunday with a documentary that claimed he watched the launch of a long-range missile alongside his late father Kim Jong-il in April 2009.

The 50-minute film focusing on Kim junior’s so-called on-the-spot guidance tours said he accompanied his father during a visit to the control center for the launch of the Kwangmyongsong-2 satellite. The launch of the fictitious satellite was a thin cover for what is widely believed to be an attempt to test a long-range missile. Continue reading

The Weight of an Applicant’s Spectacles

“There is great hardship in North Korea.” So runs the first line of a summary of an applicant’s claim for an Australian protection visa.

These court cases are fascinating. At times they are impersonal, filled with case numbers and legal abbreviations and impenetrable prose. But sometimes little details blink out like a star in a hole in the clouds, and it is refreshing. Continue reading