In the News – China Warns N.Korea Off Nuclear Test

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In the News – China Warns N.Korea Off Nuclear Test

A high-ranking official in China’s Foreign Ministry has issued a rare public warning to North Korea against another nuclear test, saying it would violate China’s national interest. The comments were made by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai to reporters at a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

“I am opposed to any act that damages peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia, since such acts can damage the national security and interests of not only other countries but China’s as well,” Cui said. “No side should commit acts that raise tensions.”

This is the first time for China to comment publicly on the North’s nuclear development since the possibility of Pyongyang conducting a third nuclear test was raised.

But Cui resisted U.S. demands that China step up pressure on North Korea. “Maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia is the joint responsibility of all of the concerned countries, not just China alone,” he said.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – N.Korea Boasts of Ability to Destroy U.S. Military in ‘Single Blow’

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In the News – N.Korea Boasts of Ability to Destroy U.S. Military in ‘Single Blow’

North Korea’s army marked its 80th anniversary Wednesday with a vow to retaliate against what its chief of staff terms the traitors in the South. The remarks are the latest in a series of harsh threats directed at Seoul in recent weeks.

◆ N.Korea’s Provocations

North Korea is boasting of “powerful, modern weapons” that can defeat in a single blow the United States, which it accuses of plotting a war against it.

Chief of general staff, Ri Yong-ho, gave no further details about the weaponry in his speech to mark the North Korean army’s 80th anniversary. His address, from Pyongyang’s House of Culture, was broadcast later in the day on North Korean television.

Vice Marshal Ri says the blood of North Korea’s military and civilians is boiling in anger with a desire for revenge against South Korea’s president, Lee Myung-bak. He reiterates a threat of “sacred war,” transmitted earlier in the week, to crush the bases of provocation in the South. Continue reading

In the News – North Korea Parade From Space

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In the News – North Korea Parade From Space 

In North Korea, the choreography can be part of the geography.

The country is famous for organizing crowds of thousands of people using colored cards to spell out political slogans and images in stadiums or large squares, and the gathering last week to celebrate the 100th birthday of national founder Kim Il Sung was no different.

This time, however, the spelled out message in a central square in the capital of Pyongyang was big enough to be visible from space.

An April 15 image of a celebration taken by a satellite and distributed by DigitalGlobe shows people in red and gold clothing gathered in Kim Il Sung Square and spelling out the word “glory” in Korean.

The parade culminated with the unveiling of a new missile, although analysts who have studied photos of a half-dozen ominous new North Korean rockets say they were fakes.

This April 15, 2012, satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows a parade held to mark the 100th anniversary of Kim Il-sung's birthday Pyongyang, North Korea. (AP Photo/DigitalGlobe)

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – North Korea’s Missiles Displayed At Parade Are Fake, Say Analysts

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In the News – North Korea’s Missiles Displayed At Parade Are Fake, Say Analysts

By ERIC TALMADGE, Associated Press

TOKYO — Analysts who have studied photos of a half-dozen ominous new North Korean missiles showcased recently at a lavish military parade say they were fakes, and not very convincing ones, casting further doubt on the country’s claims of military prowess.

Since its recent rocket launch failure, Pyongyang’s top military leaders have made several boastful statements about its weapons capabilities. On Wednesday, Vice Marshal Ri Yong Ho claimed his country is capable of defeating the United States “at a single blow.” And on Monday, North Korea promised “special actions” that would reduce Seoul’s government to ashes within minutes.

But the weapons displayed April 15 appear to be a mishmash of liquid-fuel and solid-fuel components that could never fly together. Undulating casings on the missiles suggest the metal is too thin to withstand flight. Each missile was slightly different from the others, even though all were supposedly the same make. They don’t even fit the launchers they were carried on.

“There is no doubt that these missiles were mock-ups,” Markus Schiller and Robert Schmucker, of Germany’s Schmucker Technologie, wrote in a paper posted recently on the website Armscontrolwonk.com that listed those discrepancies. “It remains unknown if they were designed this way to confuse foreign analysts, or if the designers simply did some sloppy work.” Continue reading

In the News – N. Korea’s Neighbors Oppose New Nuclear Test

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In the News – N. Korea’s Neighbors Oppose New Nuclear Test

South Korea and China are warning North Korea of consequences if it goes ahead with a third nuclear test.

There is increasing speculation North Korea will attempt to conduct another nuclear test, perhaps within the next one or two weeks.

South Korean foreign ministry spokesman Cho Byung-je warns any such action will violate international sanctions and further isolate the impoverished country.

Cho says, as far as the South Korean government knows, there are no signs North Korea is about to conduct such a test. Continue reading

In the News – U.S. warns N. Korea not to conduct hostile acts

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In the News – U.S. warns N. Korea not to conduct hostile acts

By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, April 24 (Yonhap) — Amid growing worries that North Korea may soon carry out a nuclear test or launch attacks on South Korea, the U.S. urged Pyongyang Tuesday to use its energy and resources instead to improve the livelihood of its people.

“We strongly suggest that the North Koreans refrain from engaging in any other — any more hostile or provocative actions,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters.

He reiterated Washington’s concern for the North’s people in need.

The North Korean leadership does “nothing to help the North Korean people, many of whom are starving because of the predilection of the North Korean regime to spend the money it has on weapons systems rather than food and economic development,” added Carney.

Media reports based on unidentified intelligence sources suggest that the North may have almost completed preparations for another underground nuclear experiment.

It has also threatened to carry out “special military actions” against the South.

“No launching, no testing, no nothing if you want to have a better relationship with the international community,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at a press briefing. “All of these are provocations. All of them take the DPRK in the wrong direction.”

The DPRK is the acronym for the communist nation’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

She emphasized that Washington has lost trust in Pyongyang’s commitment to dialogue, especially since its rocket launch in April.

“Unfortunately, now we’re going backwards,” she said. “So it’s really up to the DPRK to demonstrate that it wants a better relationship with all of us and that it wants to put its energy into peace and stability and taking care of its people, rather than expensive weapons.”

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – 8 N.Korean Defectors Arrive in Seoul

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In the News – 8 N.Korean Defectors Arrive in Seoul

Eight North Korean defectors who fled a logging camp in Russia arrived in South Korea earlier this month. According to a government source, the eight defectors arrived in Seoul aboard a Russian passenger jet on April 13 with the aid of the South Korean Embassy in Moscow.

They are being interviewed at a government facility in Siheung, Gyeonggi Province about the motive for their defection. The eight are just part of 40 North Korean loggers who are waiting in Moscow to go to South Korea.

The loggers were sent to Siberia seven to 10 years ago to earn foreign currency but apparently fled because they could not endure the harsh weather, extortion and constant surveillance. With the help of religious support groups, they were granted refugee status by the UN, but Moscow refused to let them leave after former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s visit to Russia in August last year.

Kim Hee-tae, head of one religious group, vowed to maintain contact with the remaining 32 and make sure they too can come to South Korea.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – North Korea Boasts of Ability to Destroy US Military in ‘Single Blow’

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In the News – North Korea Boasts of Ability to Destroy US Military in ‘Single Blow’

North Korea’s army marked its 80th anniversary Wednesday with a vow to retaliate against what its chief of staff terms the traitors in the South. The remarks are the latest in a series of harsh threats directed at Seoul in recent weeks.

North Korea’s provocations

North Korea is boasting of “powerful, modern weapons” that can defeat in a single blow the United States, which it accuses of plotting a war against it.

Chief of general staff, Ri Yong Ho, gave no further details about the weaponry in his speech to mark the North Korean army’s 80th anniversary.

His address, from Pyongyang’s House of Culture, was broadcast later in the day on North Korean television.

Vice Marshal Ri says the blood of North Korea’s military and civilians is boiling in anger with a desire for revenge against South Korea’s president, Lee Myung-bak. He reiterates a threat of “sacred war,” transmitted earlier in the week, to crush the bases of provocation in the South.

North Korea’s new, young leader Kim Jong Un was in the audience for Ri’s remarks. But Kim – who holds the rank of a four-star general – did not address the gathering. Continue reading

China, Refugees… and Repatriation?

If you’ve been on our blog during the past few months, you may have noticed the news articles about the North Korean refugees being held in China. These refugees have gotten international notice from human rights activists, politicians, and celebrities alike but unfortunately it may not make a difference.

Let me give you some background information on this incident. Early in February, Chinese officials arrested a group of North Korea refugees who had crossed the Sino-Korean border in order to escape the grips of the North Korean government. This issue was first exposed to the world on February 14th through Donga News. It is believed that China eventually arrested 31 refugees and their fate has been up in the air since then. Among those captured, it is said that there are young children and maybe even an infant. Many of these people have family waiting for them in South Korea, family members that can do nothing but wait for their safe arrival. Continue reading

In the News – No Orders to Stop Repatriation

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In the News – No Orders to Stop Repatriation

Yomiuri Shimbun reported on the 18th that the Chinese government has stopped forced repatriation of the North Korean defectors in China however no guidelines or situations have changed. Rather, crackdowns on the defectors have intensified.

The Japanese newspaper citing a Chinese official revealed, “The Chinese government stopped forced repatriation for reasons that North Korea did not give them advance notice on their long-range rocket launch”. The Shimbun stated, “The Chinese government even after the death of Kim Jong Il in December of last year has repatriated roughly 30 defectors to North Korea everyday”.

But it appeared that the Chinese government, even after North Korea’s announcement of rocket launch last month, has continued to repatriate North Korean defectors. In addition, the Chinese frontier guards and public security officials have been strengthening its inspection and enforcement activities at the North Korea-China border.  Continue reading

In the News – U.S. backs single name of ‘Sea of Japan’: State Dept. official

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In the News – U.S. backs single name of ‘Sea of Japan’: State Dept. official

By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, April 23 (Yonhap) — The United States remains firm on a decision to use a single name for the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, an official said Monday.

Using only one name to refer to all high seas is a longstanding U.S. policy, the State Department official told Yonhap News Agency on the condition of anonymity.

“The U.S. government uses names decided by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN). The U.S. Board on Geographic Names’ standard name for that body of water is the Sea of Japan,” the official said,
Washington’s position is a setback to joint efforts by South and North Korea to add “East Sea” to international maps.

A sea-naming conference of International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) opened in Monaco earlier in the day. A South Korean delegation, supported by North Korean delegates, is making a final pitch to the IHO to name the waters as the East Sea and the Sea of Japan alike.
South Korean officials point out that the waters have been called the Sea of Japan in the international community since Japan’s colonial rule of Korea in the early 1900s. They say East Sea is its original name. Continue reading

In the News – U.S., China set for high-level talks amid tensions over N. Korea

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In the News – U.S., China set for high-level talks amid tensions over N. Korea

By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, April 23 (Yonhap) — The United States and China have North Korea on the agenda when they hold annual high-level talks next week in Beijing, officials said Monday.

At the 4th Strategic and Economic Dialogue, slated for Thursday and Friday, the U.S. will be represented by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to the Treasury Department.

Their Chinese counterparts will be Vice Premier Wang Qishan and State Councilor Dai Bingguo, it added.

The talks between the world’s superpowers, dubbed “G-2,” are designed to discuss far-reaching economic and security issues.

This year’s session comes as their partnership on regional security has again been put to the test after North Korea’s attempted rocket launch this month. It is suspected that the North may also conduct another nuclear test or take provocative action against South Korea in the near future. Continue reading

In the News – German experts dismiss N. Korean missiles at parade as mock-ups

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In the News – German experts dismiss N. Korean missiles at parade as mock-ups

SEOUL, April 24 (Yonhap) — The new intercontinental ballistic missiles displayed in a military parade in North Korea were mock-ups and the presentation was “a nice dog and pony show,” according to two German experts on North Korean missiles.

The North showed off the missiles on transporter-erector-launchers during the parade to mark the centennial of the April 15 birth of the country’s late founder Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un. The display sparked intense speculation on the North’s ballistic missile capability following its botched rocket launch earlier this month.

“At first glance, the missile seems capable of covering a range of perhaps 10,000 kilometers. However, a closer look reveals that all of the presented missiles are mock-ups,” Markus Schiller and Robert H. Schmucker, analysts with Schmucker Technology in Germany, wrote in an English-language report posted on a nuclear arms control and nonproliferation blog last week.

“There is still no evidence that North Korea actually has a functional ICBM.” Continue reading

In the News – China Reaffirms Ties with N.Korea Despite Rocket Launch

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In the News – China Reaffirms Ties with N.Korea Despite Rocket Launch

Despite joining the international community in condemning North Korea’s recently attempted rocket launch, China has reaffirmed its commitment to expanding amicable ties with its long-time ally.

According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Sunday, State Councilor Dai Bingguo met with senior North Korean party official Kim Yong-il in Beijing, where Dai stressed the importance of the two countries’ traditional friendship.

The ministry did not say whether the two officials discussed the failed rocket launch.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – North Korea’s nuclear test ready “soon” – source

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In the News – North Korea’s nuclear test ready “soon” – source

By Benjamin Kang Lim

BEIJING, April 24 (Reuters) – North Korea has almost completed preparations for a third nuclear test and has the capacity to carry it out “soon,” a senior source with close ties to Pyongyang and Beijing told Reuters.

“Soon. Preparations are almost complete,” the source said when asked whether North Korea was planning to undertake a nuclear test.

North Korea said last week it was ready to retaliate in the face of international condemnation over this month’s failed rocket launch, increasing the likelihood the hermit state will push ahead with a third nuclear test in defiance of U.N. sanctions.

The source has correctly predicted events in the past, telling Reuters about North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006 days before it took place. Continue reading

In the News – South Korea ‘On Alert’ for Possible North Attack

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In the News – South Korea ‘On Alert’ for Possible North Attack

South Korea appears to be taking seriously the latest attack threat from North Korea.

Police say they have increased patrols around headquarters of nine conservative media outlets in Seoul after North Korea vowed to soon carry out a “special military action” on them by “unprecedented means and methods.”

South Korea’s government says it is concerned about Pyongyang’s threat to reduce to ashes, in several minutes, the support base for the country’s president, including several broadcasters and a leading daily newspaper, the Dong-a Ilbo.

Foreign ministry spokesman Cho Byung-je characterizes the latest threat from Pyongyang as “very dangerous and harsh.” Continue reading

In the News – Defense reform bills fail to pass in parliament

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In the News – Defense reform bills fail to pass in parliament

SEOUL, April 20 (Yonhap) — A South Korean parliamentary committee dealing with national defense failed Friday to pass a set of reform bills aimed at bolstering military readiness against North Korean provocations, as the meeting lacked a quorum.

Only six of the minimum nine lawmakers needed to reach a quorum attended the meeting of the National Defense Committee, making it unlikely the bills will pass in the outgoing National Assembly before its term ends next month. The committee has 17 members.

The reform plans centered on making the military’s command structure more efficient, and giving the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff more power to control the Army, Navy and Air Force.

Reforming the military has been one of the government’s top policy goals, especially since North Korea’s two deadly attacks on the South in 2010.

“(We) tried to pass urgent bills such as those related to defense reforms during our final meeting today, but it is regrettable that the meeting could not proceed smoothly due to the aftereffects of the April 11 parliamentary elections,” said Rep. Won Yoo-chul of the ruling Saenuri Pary, who chairs the committee.

The defense reform bills had been pending in parliament for 11 months mainly due to fierce opposition from opposition parties over their possible destabilizing effects.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – Lee urges N. Korea to carry out privatization of farmland

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In the News – Lee urges N. Korea to carry out privatization of farmland

SEOUL, April 20 (Yonhap) — President Lee Myung-bak on Friday urged North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to give up the collective farm system and privatize state-owned agricultural land to help enrich the North and its residents.

In a special lecture given at Seoul’s Education Center for Unification, Lee also called on the young North Korean leader to pay greater attention to the human rights and defector issues.

President Lee Myung-bak gives a special lecture at the Education Center for Unification in northern Seoul on April 20, 2012. (Yonhap)

“North Korea should abandon its collective farm system and shift to the privatization of agricultural land. If so, rice will be abundant in two to three years. Farmland privatization will help individuals earn more and the state increase revenues,” Lee was quoted by his spokesman Park Jeong-ha as saying in the lecture.

“(Farmland reform) is a must for North Korea. All the young leader has to do is the (reform). It is the most urgent matter and has to precede its market opening. Continued dependence on aid will only produce beggars.”

Lee went on to ask Pyongyang to pay more attention to the defector and human rights issues.

“Human rights is an issue as important as the North Korean nuclear problem. I believe what is most necessary for the North Koreans is human rights,” Lee was also quoted as saying.

“Bread is important. But in this 21st century, freedom of individuals is as important as bread,” said the president, noting it is getting increasingly difficult to maintain a dictatorial regime in this informatization era.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – N. Korea, China hold first high-level talks since failed rocket launch

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In the News – N. Korea, China hold first high-level talks since failed rocket launch

SEOUL, April 22 (Yonhap) — Senior officials from North Korea and China held their talks in Beijing and exchanged views about matters of mutual concern, Pyongyang’s state media reported Sunday, in the first high-level meeting since the North’s botched rocket launch.

The “strategic dialogue” between Kim Yong-il, the secretary for international affairs at the North Korean Workers’ Party, and Wang Jiarui, the head of the Chinese Communist Party’s international department, took place on Saturday, the North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

“Both sides exchanged views on further developing the friendly and cooperative relations between the two parties and two countries, and matters of mutual concern,” the KCNA said in the report.

North Korea defied international warnings and launched a long-range rocket on April 13, but the launch flopped as the rocket crashed after flying for a couple of minutes.

Pyongyang claimed the launch was designed to put a satellite into orbit, but Seoul, Washington and others blasted it as a cover for testing improved ballistic missile technology.
Last week, China joined a statement by the United Nations Security Council that “strongly condemned” the North’s launch and warned it will impose new sanctions if Pyongyang carries out another launch of a long-range rocket or a nuclear test.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – North Korea leader spent nine years in Switzerland: reports

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In the News – North Korea leader spent nine years in Switzerland: reports

State media film North Korea leader Kim Jong-un (L) waving to soldiers and civilians during a ceremony at a stadium in Pyongyang April 14, 2012, one day before the centenary of the birth of North Korea founder Kim Il-sung on Sunday. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

(Reuters) – North Korea’s young leader Kim Jong-un spent more of his childhood being educated under a pseudonym in Switzerland than originally thought, Swiss newspapers reported on Sunday.

Jong-un first travelled to Switzerland in 1991, aged eight or nine, rather than in 1998 as has previously been established, Le Matin Dimanche and the SonntagsZeitung reported, citing official Swiss police documents.

Little is known about the leader of the reclusive communist state, who took over from the late Kim Jong-il last year, not even his exact age.

Local education director Ueli Studer told Reuters in December that a boy known as Pak Un, registered as the child of a North Korean embassy employee, had attended a school in Berne from 1998 until late 2000.

School friends have identified Pak Un as Kim Jong-un and Swiss newspapers say they have proven – through a scientific comparison of a school photo and current pictures of the North Korean leader – that the two were one in the same.

On Sunday, the newspapers said it was not clear where the boy had gone to school between 1991 and 1998.

Berne’s international school has declined to comment on whether he attended that school, where his older brother reportedly spent some time.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week that the fact that Kim Jong-un had lived outside North Korea might mean he would change political course despite his country’s recent rocket launch and the threat of a new nuclear test.

 

Original article can be found here.