Two Years Later

Amidst the frenzy of North Korea’s recent rocket launch, another very important day came and passed. For many of you, this may have been just another day in your life. But whether you knew it or not, March 26th marked the second anniversary of the sinking of the Cheonan naval ship.

March 26th 2010 was just an average day for the 104 crew members of the Cheonan. They were on a routine patrol near Baekryong Island, which is an extremely tense maritime border with North Korea, when they were suddenly torpedoed. The ship tore apart into two and sank to the bottom of the sea, killing 46 soldiers. Continue reading

A German Story, Part 2 of 3

We open in medias res of Horst’s story. If you haven’t read Part 1, you should go back and read it before continuing.

When we last left our hero, around 2100 hours on the night of November 9th, 1989, he had been confronted by Italian friends telling him the Wall had fallen. He did not believe them for a second, and denied their news with such authority that they believed him and returned to bed.  Horst returned to his apartment and shut the door.

“So I went back to my reading and then I closed the book and really listened to the radio, no more in one ear and out the other. And there I heard it, the Wall is open, and then it all made sense, before with the . . . Continue reading

In the News – Lee criticizes pro-N. Korea groups in S. Korea

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In the News – Lee criticizes pro-N. Korea groups in S. Korea

SEOUL, May 28 (Yonhap) — President Lee Myung-bak on Monday urged “pro-North Korea” groups in South Korea to wake up to reality and stop blindly accepting nonsense assertions Pyongyang makes, calling their unconditional following of the communist regime “problematic.”

It was the first time Lee, who has tried to avoid ideological remarks, has openly criticized those sympathetic to North Korea by using the word, “jongbuk,” which means “blindly following the North.” Pro-Pyongyang followers are criticized as jongbuk forces in South Korea.

Lee made the criticism in his biweekly radio address, saying North Korea has made “wild assertions” denying its involvement in attacks on South Korea, including a 1983 terrorist bombing targeted at the then South Korean president in Myanmar and the 2010 sinking of a South Korean warship.

“The North has repeatedly made such wild assertions, but what is more problematic are some pro-North Korea groups within our society,” Lee said. “Just as the international community is demanding the North change, those people who unconditionally support North Korea must change; they are, after all, living in the Republic of Korea that has joined the ranks of advanced countries.”

Criticism of pro-North Korean groups has risen sharply in South Korea in recent months after some lawmakers-elect of the leftist opposition Unified Progressive Party displayed strong leanings to the communist nation and reluctance to criticize the regime.

Earlier this month, Lee visited Myanmar as the first South Korean president to visit the country in 29 years since the North’s 1983 terrorist bombing ripped through a Yangon mausoleum. The attack killed 17 South Koreans, including some Cabinet ministers.

Lee visited the mausoleum during this month’s trip.

“What wrong did they do and to whom? They were the victims of the division of the country and a ruthless terrorist attack. I could not hold back my anger thinking about who took their lives. I felt all choked up,” he said in the radio address.

Lee praised Myanmar for opening up to the outside world with sweeping democratic reforms, saying he hopes the North will follow in Myanmar’s footsteps, “change its thinking, make new friends and open a new age.”

South Korea and Myanmar can become good business partners, Lee said.

“It is significant for Korea to have another big market the size of Vietnam in the region,” he said. “Our country can be assured of the abundant resources of Myanmar and actually invest in it. If our two nations consult and make thorough preparations this year, Korean businesses can make inroads in earnest, beginning next year.”

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – S.Koreans Unlawfully Detained in N.Korea, UN Finds

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In the News – S.Koreans Unlawfully Detained in N.Korea, UN Finds

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has concluded that the wife of a prominent South Korean activist and their daughters were forcefully detained by North Korea. The finding by the UNHCR Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will be mentioned officially in all UN reports related to North Korea in the future, a government official here said Monday.

Shin Suk-ja and her husband Oh Kil-nam were lured to North Korea from Germany in 1985 with the promise of free medical treatment for Shin’s hepatitis. Oh later escaped and last year received word that his wife was still alive despite spending decades in concentration camps.

In November last year, the International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea submitted a petition to the UN seeking the rescue of Shin and her daughters. Pressed by the UN for a response, North Korea sent a curt letter this month claiming Shin had died of hepatitis and her daughters disowned Oh.

Based on the working group’s findings, the UN is expected to press North Korea to send Shin’s remains to her husband and seek the release of her two daughters.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – Disabled N. Korean Defector Finds Hope in Seoul

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In the News – Disabled N. Korean Defector Finds Hope in Seoul

For North Korean refugees, the journey to freedom can be physically grueling. Many swim across a river into China and then travel undercover, avoiding authorities before they reach Southeast Asia and head to South Korea.  Imagine making the trip with only one foot and one hand.

Every week, Ji Seong-ho holds a silent demonstration against North Korea. He is one of the 23,000 defectors in South Korea who have fled the repressive Pyongyang government.

Ji’s journey south was more challenging than most. During the famine of the mid-1990s, when Ji was 14, he suffered a terrible accident.

“I was helping my parents make a living by stealing coal off trains and selling it in the market. I got dizzy once and I ended up falling off a moving train. It ran me over,” Ji explains.

He lost his left hand and foot.

Eventually, Ji crossed into China to find food. But on the way back, he was caught by North Korean guards.

“The police severely beat me for a week, maybe more than other escapees. They told me that because I am disabled I brought shame to North Korea and that someone with only one leg should stay home,” Ji recalls. “That is when I lost my trust in the North Korean government.”

In 2006, Ji escaped again and made it to South Korea, where he was given a prosthetic foot and hand.

Many refugees arrive with traumatic injuries that leave them emotionally impaired. Kion Won-hyoung is a psychologist at a government resettlement facility for defectors.

“Because of their experience, many refugees are afraid of even the security guards at the facility,” explains Kion. “They have nightmares about being tortured in North Korea, or being chased by animals.”

Ji Seong-ho is now a law student. He says he had never imagined how much easier life is for the disabled in South Korea.

“I don’t feel any discrimination toward disabled people in South Korea,” Ji says.”I think that’s because of its democracy and good education. I really feel it’s like heaven here.”

Ji says he is waiting for the Koreas to be unified. He says that’s when he will finally be able to step back onto his homeland.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – N. Korea condemns U.S. human rights report

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In the News – N. Korea condemns U.S. human rights report

SEOUL, May 30 (Yonhap) — North Korea has lashed out at the United States for its recent annual report critical of Pyongyang’s dismal human rights conditions, calling the move a “product of the U.S. hostile policy” toward the North.

“We bitterly condemn the despicable human rights report worked out by the U.S.,” the foreign ministry said in an English-language statement carried late Tuesday by the country’s official Korean Central News Agency.

The ministry claimed that the U.S. report is based on rumors concocted by a handful of traitors and criminals who left their homeland, referring to North Korean defectors in the South.

South Korea is home to more than 23,500 North Korean defectors. Many of them have testified about a wide range of human rights abuses in the communist country, including torture, public executions and political prison camps.

The North’s angry reaction came days after the U.S. State Department said in an annual report that the North’s human rights conditions remain “extremely poor.”

The report said that North Korea subjected its 24 million people to rigid controls over many aspects of their lives and that there continued to be reports of a vast network of political prison camps in which conditions were often harsh and life threatening.

Amnesty International, a London-based human rights advocacy group, also estimated in its separate annual report last week that up to 200,000 prisoners were held in horrific conditions in six sprawling political prison camps.

The North has flatly denied accusations of its alleged rights abuses, describing them as a U.S.-led attempt to topple its regime.

“The U.S. unchanged human rights racket against the (North) is, in essence, a product of the U.S. hostile policy toward the (North) to isolate and stifle at any cost its socialist system,” the foreign ministry statement said.

It also accused the U.S of being the “world’s worst human rights abuser,” claiming the U.S. has massacred hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in different parts of the world through aggression and interference.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – U.S. Denies Sending Commandos to Spy in N.Korea

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In the News – U.S. Denies Sending Commandos to Spy in N.Korea

U.S. military officials are rejecting a report that U.S. military commandos have been parachuting into North Korea to gather intelligence on Pyongyang’s underground military installations.

The Tokyo-based political journal The Diplomat carried a report on Monday alleging that a senior U.S. special operations commander revealed the purported commando program at a conference in Florida last week.

U.S. Defense Department press secretary George Little told reporters Tuesday that the report misquoted Army Brigadier General Neil Tolley.

“My understanding is that the general’s comments were contorted, distorted, misreported, and that, you know, there is in no way any substance to the assertion. Again, that was misreported that there are U.S. boots on the ground in North Korea. That is simply incorrect.”

Little said the United States works closely and on a daily basis with its allies in the region to develop information on North Korean intentions and capabilities.

Colonel Jonathan Withington, a spokesperson for the United States Forces Korea, said Tuesday that “great liberal license” was made with Tolley’s comments, and that some of the quotes were “made up and attributed to him.”

The Diplomat quoted Tolley as saying that U.S. and South Korean commandos were taking part in the reconnaissance mission, which it said is aimed at uncovering information on “thousands of tunnels” built by Pyongyang since the Korean War.

Withington said it is well-known that North Korea uses tunnels to hide its sensitive military operations. But he said “at no time” have U.S. or South Korean forces parachuted into North Korea to conduct special reconnaissance.

The author of the report in The Diplomat, David Axe, rejected suggestions that he fabricated the quotes attributed to the general. He said that if the general was speaking hypothetically, “he did not say so” and that “he spoke in the present tense” and “at length.”

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – UN Rapporteurs to Make Statement on N.Korea

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In the News – UN Rapporteurs to Make Statement on N.Korea

Special rapporteurs in the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights are to issue statements next month detailing instances of torture as well as the food shortages and health problems in North Korea. The move follows the decision by a working group under the OHCRC to take up the case of a South Korean family unlawfully detained in the North.

“Human rights abuses are more serious in North Korea than in other countries, and there have been calls from within the UN that it should have done more to address the problem,” a diplomatic source in Seoul said. “As a result, five to six UN special rapporteurs will make statements about the situation soon.”

In addition to the special rapporteur on North Korean Human Rights, Marzuki Darusman, there are UN rapporteurs specializing in around 40 different fields, including torture, freedom of expression, hunger and poverty. Some of them gather next month for an annual meeting and discuss the human rights situation in North Korea.

It is rare for several special rapporteurs to issue a joint statement on a specific country. “The fact that several of them are joining hands to speak out underscores how seriously the UN takes the situation in the North,” the source added. “This will have a major impact on the international community.”

Meanwhile, the International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea in a press conference on Tuesday unveiled the OHCRC’s finding that the wife of a prominent South Korean activist and her daughters were unlawfully detained in North Korea. The coalition first filed a petition to the UN seeking their rescue in November last year.

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Shin Suk-ja and her daughters are still being detained against their will. It also demanded the North free them immediately and take steps to compensate them.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – U.S. to ‘never’ accept N. Korea as nuclear state: State Dept.

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In the News – U.S. to ‘never’ accept N. Korea as nuclear state: State Dept.

By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, May 30 (Yonhap) — The United States made clear Wednesday that it will never recognize North Korea as a nuclear state.

“The United States has long maintained that we will never accept North Korea as a nuclear power,” a spokesperson for the State Department told Yonhap News Agency.

The official’s comments came in response to a report that North Korea revised its constitution to describe itself as a nuclear power.

Earlier in the day, a North Korean Web site, monitored in Japan, carried the full text of the reclusive communist nation’s amended constitution.

It shows three new sentences that highlight the works of its late leader Kim Jong-il, including “the transformation into a nuclear power.”

The contents of the website, named “Naenara (my country),” have not been officially confirmed. It is also unclear when North Korea rewrote its constitution.

Pyongyang has carried out two underground nuclear tests, in 2006 and 2009, and has sought to be acknowledged as a nuclear state by the international community.

The department official said, speaking on the customary condition of anonymity, North Korea should comply with its international obligations under a 2005 agreement and U.N. Security Council resolutions that call on it to abandon all nuclear weapons.

“The leadership of the DPRK has a very stark choice,” the official said. “They must take a hard look at their policies, stop provocative actions, put their people first — ahead of their ambitions to be a nuclear power, and rejoin the international community.”

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – S. Korean police arrest two suspected spies for N. Korea

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In the News – S. Korean police arrest two suspected spies for N. Korea

SEOUL, May 31 (Yonhap) — South Korean police said Thursday they have arrested two men suspected of spying for a North Korean intelligence agency.

The two men, aged 56 and 74 and both involved in business with North Korea, were arrested in early May on charges of collecting military intelligence after being instructed by a man believed to be a North Korean agent in Dandong, a Chinese city along the North Korean border, in July last year, police said in a statement.

The 74-year-old received equipment capable of disturbing global positioning system (GPS) signals and other intelligence on high-tech military equipment from the 56-year-old.

Police said they referred the case to prosecutors last week.

It was not immediately clear whether the 74-year-old passed the equipment and other military intelligence to the suspected North Korean agent.

Repeated calls to police seeking a comment went unanswered on Thursday.

The 74-year-old was sentenced to life in prison on a separate espionage charge in 1972, though he was released on parole in 1990. Still, he retains his allegiance to North Korea, according to the police statement.

The arrest of the alleged spies coincided with North Korea’s jamming of GPS signals, a satellite-based navigation system widely used by planes, ships and the military as well as ordinary drivers.

South Korea has said North Korea disrupted GPS signals between April 28 and May 13, affecting more than 650 flights by South Korean and foreign airlines, including Korean Air, FedEx and United Airlines.

However, North Korea has denied responsibility for the jamming attacks, calling Seoul’s accusation a “new farce and smear campaign” against Pyongyang.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – N. Korea ‘can’t have’ status of nation with nuclear weapons: Seoul

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In the News – N. Korea ‘can’t have’ status of nation with nuclear weapons: Seoul

SEOUL, May 31 (Yonhap) — North Korea “can’t have” the status of a nation possessing nuclear weapons, South Korea said Thursday, responding to a report that North Korea recently revised its constitution to proclaim itself as a nuclear-weapon state.

An official Web site run by North Korea and monitored by Yonhap News Agency on Wednesday in Japan, carried the full text of the reclusive communist nation’s revised constitution that included the term “a nuclear-armed state.”

“At first, nuclear-weapon state status is in line with the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but North Korea itself has admitted that it is not a member of the NPT,” foreign ministry spokesman Cho Byung-jae said.

North Korea backed out of the NPT in early 2003, right after the outbreak of the so-called second nuclear crisis in late 2002.

Cho called on North Korea to “implement its commitments and give up all nuclear weapons programs from the September 19 joint statement.”

Under the 2005 agreement, North Korea pledged to give up its nuclear programs in return for security guarantees and economic assistance from five nations participating in the six-party talks. But Pyongyang boycotted follow-up negotiations by making a series of unacceptable demands.

There are concerns that North Korea, which conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, may soon carry out a third nuclear test to make amends for the failed launch of a long-range rocket on April 13.

North Korea has been under U.N. sanctions following the two nuclear tests.

“As North Korea continues to ignore promises with the international community and breach international laws, it will only deepen its isolation,” Cho said.

The text of the North’s amended constitution reads that its late leader Kim Jong-il, who died last December, “has turned our fatherland into an invincible state of political ideology, a nuclear-armed state and an indomitable military power, paving the ground for the construction of a strong and prosperous nation.” The revision was made during a parliamentary session in April.

The North’s previous constitution last revised on April 9, 2010 didn’t contain the term nuclear-armed state.

Some analysts in Seoul said the North Korean constitution’s proclamation of a “nuclear-armed state” is expected to cast further clouds over the prospects of resuming the long-stalled six-party talks that bring together the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the U.S.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – AusAID On The Road In DPR Korea

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In the News – AusAID On The Road In DPR Korea

Australian aid officials recently went on a field mission to Wonsan, Hamhung and Nampo port to monitor Australian assistance to women and children through WFP in DPR Korea.

The mission visited a pediatric ward and a private household in Wonsan city before overseeing the arrival of Australian funded soya beans at Nampo port.

One third of all Korean children under 5 are suffering from under nutrition, mainly caused by insufficient food and lack of protein. Soya beans are a key ingredient for ‘Super Cereal Corn Soya Milk Blend’, which is distributed to children and pregnant and breastfeeding women to combat hunger.

The impact of AusAID’s contribution to the WFP’s operation ‘Emergency Assistance to Vulnerable groups in DPRK’ is significant, with almost 2.5 million children and women in DPRK benefitting from Australian support throughout the life of the operation. Australia has provided over US$7.5 million to WFP’s current DPRK operation.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – China allows N. Koreans to leave for Seoul: reports

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In the News – China allows N. Koreans to leave for Seoul: reports

Seoul, May 18, 2012 (AFP) – China has allowed six North Korean refugees to leave for South Korea after they spent months holed up in Seoul’s consular offices in China, news reports said Friday.

Following their departure last week there are no more North Koreans left at South Korean diplomatic missions in China, the Korea JoongAng Daily and the Seoul Shinmun Daily said.

A South Korean foreign ministry spokeswoman declined to comment.

Beijing allowed the six defectors, who had been holed up at the South Korean missions in Shenyang and Shanghai for many months, to travel to the South through a third country, the dailies said, quoting sources.

China’s decision to let the defectors leave was apparently made as a goodwill gesture before a meeting between South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak and Chinese President Hu Jintao, the Korea JoongAng Daily said.

Lee met Hu on Monday in Beijing following an annual trilateral summit with China and Japan.

The six included two relatives of a South Korean prisoner of war, captured by the North during the 1950-53 Korean War. Of the remaining four, two were identified as men and two as women, the reports said.

China last month reportedly allowed another five North Korean defectors to leave for South Korea after they were confined to Seoul’s Beijing embassy to avoid arrest. Some spent months there but others spent years.

China arrests and repatriates fugitives from North Korea, considering them to be economic migrants rather than potential refugees.

South Korea and international rights groups have urged it to change the policy, saying returnees can face harsh punishment.

Tens of thousands of North Koreans have fled poverty or repression in their homeland, almost all of them across the border to China.

Some hide out among — or marry into — the ethnic Korean community in China’s northeast. Others try to travel on to Southeast Asian nations before flying to Seoul.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – N. Korean defectors fall prey to financial pyramid scams

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In the News – N. Korean defectors fall prey to financial pyramid scams

SEOUL, May 18 (Yonhap) — The National Police Agency (NPA) on Friday alerted North Korean defectors to the dangers of financial pyramid scams touting investment in Chinese real estate.

The alert was issued after several tens of defectors from the North fell for the fraud after being lured to invest large sums of money in China’s property development projects for huge, quick profits, the NPA said.

In a typical case, the defectors were told to invest 30 million won (US$25,570) in Chinese real estate and receive 3 million won in dividends after a month. They were also asked to recruit new investors for additional allowance payments, said the NPA.

The agency noted that the defectors failing to attract at least 10 new investors were forced to forfeit their initial investments.

The South Korean government provides each defector with a subsidy of 6 million won in cash in an effort to help them better assimilate, while they can also receive up to 13 million won to finance their housing.

The scammers mobilized various methods to deceive the defector investors, including on-the-spot tours and the introduction of fake success stories, and refused to draw up contract papers, citing China’s domestic laws regulating foreign property investments.

The NPA said it has sent warning text messages to North Korean defectors here and will continue to educate them about various financial scams.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – Starvation Deaths Reported in Southern Areas

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In the News – Starvation Deaths Reported in Southern Areas

Food shortages in the North Korean agricultural heartland of Hwanghae Province are leading to starvation deaths, Daily NK has learned. A significant percentage of cooperative farm workers are reportedly too malnourished to work, and a number are leaving their farms to seek help.A North Hwanghae Province source told the Daily NK in recent days, “Local people are in pain from hunger, but the only help that households short of food are receiving from the authorities is 1 or 2 kg of corn; it’s emergency relief but only sufficient to stop them starving. Seeing the situation getting worse and with help from the authorities being so inadequate, there are people leaving for other areas to get help from family.”

The source gave an example of one village, saying, “Hangae-ri in Shingye County alone has seen a total of six children and elderly people die of starvation. At the same time, all the authorities are doing is telling everyone to try and overcome the difficulties.”

A second resident of the area, this time from South Hwanghae Province, recently came out into the North Korea-China border region to get food. Speaking with Daily NK by phone, the source mirrored the same sentiment, painting an alarming picture of the late winter food situation in and around Haeju, a coastal city just a few kilometers from South Korean Yeonpyeong Island.

“A few dozen very weak people could be found on each farm,” the source explained. “The farms put in place measures to deal with it, but these were fairly useless. By the time April had passed, something like ten people had died of starvation on each farm.”

“Food shortages were so serious that the 1st and 2nd Corps patrolling the military demarcation line around Kaesong were malnourished,” the source went on, adding that many of the soldiers from those units are now doing farming themselves because farm workers are deserting their posts. Continue reading

In the News – Amnesty International report: North Korea executes 30 officials who were involved in talks with South Korea

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In the News – Amnesty International report: North Korea executes 30 officials who were involved in talks with South Korea

(FILES) This undated file picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on February 24, 2012 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un aiming a gun during an inspection tour of the Sporting Bullet Factory in Pyongyang.  North Korea has announced it will suspend its nuclear tests and uranium enrichment programme in return for US food aid, in a breakthrough less than three months after the death of leader Kim Jong-Il.  Following talks with the United States last week, the regime led by Kim's young and untested son Kim Jong-Un late on February 29, 2012 promised also to suspend long-range missile tests and allow the return of UN nuclear inspectors.            AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS      ----EDITORS NOTE ----  RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / KCNA VIA KNS" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS  (Photo credit should read KCNA/AFP/Getty Images)

KCNA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Amnesty International reports that the Kim Jong-Un regime killed 30 officials for not improving relations between North and South Korea. Some were rounded up and shot by firing squad while other died in staged traffic accidents, the report says.

Thirty North Korean officials involved in talks with South Korea have been executed or died in “staged traffic accidents,” according a shocking new report.

The Amnesty International investigators say another 200 people were rounded up and executed or sent to political prison camps.

The 30 men were killed – sometimes using a firing squad, according to reports – for failing to improve relations between the North and the South, and are considered scapegoats for the new low point in inter-Korean relations.

North Korea appears to be putting the final touches on the test detonation of a nuclear device.

Kim Min-seok, a spokesman for South Korea’s Ministry of Defence, said intelligence reports indicate the North is ready to carry out the long-awaited test

Original article can be found here.

In the News – N. Korea steps up fight against drought

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In the News – N. Korea steps up fight against drought

SEOUL, May 27 (Yonhap) — North Korea is stepping up its fight against drought as a prolonged dry spell in the rice-planting season could deal a blow to food production and negatively impact the rule of the its new young leader.

The impoverished nation’s main Rodong Sinmun newspaper, state television and other media outlets are urging citizens to utilize every possible source of water to irrigate rice paddies, while also offering advice on how to help other crops overcome drought.

Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Friday that western regions of the North have received little rain for a month since April 26. If no rain falls by the end of the month, it will be the driest May for most western regions of the nation since 1962, the agency said.

KCNA reported Saturday that many people have been mobilized across the nation to minimize damage from the drought and that the cabinet and the agriculture ministry are putting together emergency measures.

The North’s premier, Choe Yong-rim, visited farms in the western Hwanghae Province on Saturday to check the situation, KCNA said. Choe was quoted as urging farmers to finish rice planting successfully, saying resolving food problems is one of the country’s most important issues.

New leader Kim Jong-un has stressed the importance of food production in the two personal statements he has made to the people this year. A bad harvest could deal a blow to his regime as he tries to consolidate his grip on power.

The North has relied on outside food aid to feed its 24-million population since natural disasters and mismanagement devastated its economy in the mid-1990s.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – N. Korea’s west coast affected by severe drought

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In the News – N. Korea’s west coast affected by severe drought

SEOUL, May 26 (Yonhap) — North Korea’s western coast region is experiencing severe drought that could seriously affect food production this year, a report by the communist country’s state-run media said Saturday.

The (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), picked up in Seoul, said that if there is no rainfall by the end of the month, the drought will be recorded as the worst since 1962.

It said from April 26 onwards, the capital city of Pyongyang received 2 millimeters of rain, while 5 millimeters fell in Haeju of South Hwanghae Province.

The KCNA added that Sinuiju, just across from the Chinese border city of Dandong, reported getting just 1 millimeter of rain in the past month.

The wire service said advanced weather forecasts indicate that little rainfall is expected in June, which can pose challenges for farmers in the region.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – Progressive party takes first step to expel four disgraced members

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In the News – Progressive party takes first step to expel four disgraced members

SEOUL, May 25 (Yonhap) — The minor opposition Unified Progressive Party will refer two lawmakers-elect and two other candidates accused of being involved in an alleged rigged primary to an internal disciplinary committee, an official said Friday.

It is the first specific step by the left-wing party to expel the four who defied a second ultimatum to voluntarily resign by Friday noon.

The four include Lee Seok-gi and Kim Jae-yeon, the two lawmakers-elect, who were both convicted of engaging in pro-North Korean activities in the past.

The party made the move after the four again refused to resign, said Lee Jeong-mi, a spokeswoman of the party’s emergency committee tasked with reforming the party following the primary fraud.

The party has called for the resignation of all 14 people who participated in the primary to run for the April parliamentary elections as proportional representation candidates.

The other 10 have either tendered their resignations or expressed their intention to do so, according to the party.

It is not immediately clear how long the internal process will take before the party can expel the two lawmakers-elect. Lee and Kim would become independent lawmakers-elect if expelled from the party.

The looming expulsions could set the stage for an escalation of factional infighting over how to revive the UPP, which is torn apart over the primary fraud.

The five-month-old party is in a separate crisis over accusations some of its lawmakers-elect and rank-and-file party members embrace North Korea’s guiding “juche” philosophy of self-reliance.

Also Friday, Lee Sang-kyu, a UPP lawmaker-elect who won a directly contested seat in a southern Seoul district, said in an interview on the local MBC radio station that the North’s three-generation hereditary power succession should not be considered wrong, though it is problematic.

Lee also said he is opposed to North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs.

His remarks came amid public criticism over Lee’s recent refusal to answer questions during a live television program about North Korea’s human rights record, nuclear programs or the power succession.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un took over the country following the December death of his father, long-time leader Kim Jong-il. The late Kim similarly inherited power upon the 1994 death of his father, the country’s founder Kim Il-sung.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – King to visit Brussels for discussions on NK human rights

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In the News – King to visit Brussels for discussions on NK human rights

By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, May 25 (Yonhap) — A U.S. envoy will travel to Brussels next week to discuss North Korean human rights with the European Union, the State Department announced Friday.

Amb. Robert King, the special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, will participate in the European Parliament subcommittee on the human rights situation in North Korea on Tuesday, the department said in a press release.

King also plans to meet with officials from the European Parliament, the European External Action Service, nongovernmental organizations and countries that share their deep concerns about the human rights situation in the communist nation, it added.

King is scheduled to return to Washington on Thursday after the three-day trip.

Earlier this week, the department issued a far-reaching report on the human rights record in 199 nations, including North Korea, which it graded as “extremely poor.”

 

Original article can be found here.