On North Korean Money

Money is often said to be the “great equalizer” because no matter how poor or rich you are, you at least have some, just like everybody else. Since everybody is exposed to it on a daily basis, it is also something relatable and familiar. And while central banks, exchange and interest rates are rarely seen as interesting, the history of the North Korean Won (KPW) is just that.

Perhaps the most interesting fact about the KPW is that its official exchange rate was pegged to the United States Dollar (USD) at a rate of 2.16 KPW per 1 USD for more than 20 years. And while this fact may or may not be interesting, the reason for this exact exchange rate almost certainly is – as it is said to be based upon Kim Jong-il’s birthday, the 16th of February. This exchange rate regime has been abandoned in 2001, but, as an economist, I cannot even begin to describe the economic and financial consequences of sticking to an official exchange rate of 2.16 for more than 20 years, bearing in mind that the unofficial rate is somewhere between 4000:1 and 5000:1.

In 2009 the North Korean government, without prior notice, revalued the KPW effectively overnight in order to curb inflation. This implied that an old 1,000 KPW note could be exchanged for a new 10 KPW note. Furthermore, a maximum cap was introduced and it was only possible to exchange a maximum of 100,000 old KPW (officially valued at 690 USD and unofficially at 35 USD). This revaluation therefore effectively meant cutting private savings by two zeros. The effects were so severe that, according to an article by the New York Times1, people took to the streets – an event that can be best described as “rather uncommon”. As a result, the maximum cap was raised to 150,000 KPW.

So where has this left the KPW, the North Korean people and what does it have to do with unification? Unfortunately, the KPW ceased to be accepted as a legal tender in certain department stores in Pyongyang, according to an article by the BBC2. Likewise, this implies that foreign currency is being increasingly used (especially the Euro and Chinese Yuan), which will be a source of further uncertainty for the North Korean people. Aphra Behn once said that “money speaks sense in a language all nations understand”, which is even and perhaps especially true for North Korea. As such, it is not just interesting to deal with the KPW, but through better understanding how it influences the North Korean people, we can better prepare for unification.


Photo Credit:


Citation Credit:

1)     http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/02/business/global/02korea.html?pagewanted=all

2)     http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_pictures/8256890.stm


The “German Comparison”, Part I (History)

During my time at MOU, Korean unification was often, quite understandably, compared to German re-unification. Being from Germany I found this particularly interesting, especially as the sentence “if the Germans can do it, we can do it too” was uttered more than once or twice. As compelling of an example this may be and as much as Korean unification is a desire shared by everyone, one should not forget that this comparison can, at best, be made partially.

As with almost everything, “history matters” and is therefore a good starting point. Despite the obvious post-cold war comparison, one tends to forget that Germany is a country that has been unified three times (1871, 1957 and 1990). Germany therefore has significantly more experience with respect to unification than Korea, a fact that I personally believe to be extremely important but that is unfortunately rarely talked about. While the first Germanic tribes date back to 750BC, the concept of “one Germany” did not really exist and only came into existence in 1871, as a result of Bismarck’s efforts. Simon Winder neatly summarizes this in his entertaining yet informative book Germania: “But one of the oddities of German history is the degree to which no boundaries are every really fixed, with each major national group and sub-group gaining power over its neighbor at different points and generating a variety of tragically overlapping myths as to who rightly rules over whom and in what area”.

By contrast, the Korean peninsula enjoyed a shared history for more than 1000 years during the Goryeon and Joseon dynasties. According to Korea Unmasked by Won-bok Rhie (a great, entertaining and informative read), “Korea bolted its doors, and its people were prevented from mixing and mingling with foreigners”. As such, Korea developed its own unique culture and customs. Given this, one can understand that Korea has a very strong sense of national identity and common/shared history. This rigid bond is much stronger than in Germany and now having been unfortunately broken for almost 60 years, is all the more difficult to repair. Rather than drawing the one-hundredth comparison to the West/East German case, I therefore believe that it is vital to recognize the uniqueness of the situation on the Korean peninsula. Doing this will lead to a much-needed unique solution with respect to achieving Korean unification.

Photo credit:



What Lies Ahead for the Korean Peninsula: Three Presidential Candidates’ Stances on North Korean Policy

From left to right: Saenuri Party candidate Park Geun-hye, Democratic United Party candidate Moon Jae-in, Independent candidate Ahn Cheol-soo. Photo credit Korean Broadcasting System (KBS)

With little over a month until the 18th Republic of Korea Presidential election, campaign tempo of the three major candidates— Park Geun-hye, Moon Jae-in, and Ahn Cheol-soo—has been heightened. The three candidates’ platforms differ in various key policy issues, one of which is North Korean policy.

On October 24th, The National Election Commission released the ten key policy promises of each registered presidential candidate on its website. All three major candidates’ “Ten Manifestos” included their policy stance regarding North Korea.

Park Geun-hye of the conservative Saenuri Party points out that neither the engagement policy of past left-wing administrations nor the hard-lined policy of the right-wing Lee Myung-bak administration was able to bring about substantial change within the North Korean society. She also claims that sustainable peace on the Korean peninsula is difficult to achieve due to North Korea’s failure to abide by inter-Korean or international agreements. To remedy the current situation, she calls for a “Korean Peninsula Trust Process” to rebuild broken South-North Korean ties and lay foundations for peaceful unification.  She aims to initiate the Trust Process by resuming South-North dialogue, increasing humanitarian aid, and urging North Korea to comply with existing inter-Korean or international agreements. Since the main focus of the policy is to rebuild trust between two Koreas, she considers any type of financial aid other than humanitarian aid to be extraneous.

Moon Jae-in of the liberal Democratic United Party heavily criticizes the incumbent administration for the regression of inter-Korean relations; he contends there were two factors that caused this regression. First, he states that the 5.24 sanctions in response to the Cheonan ship incident have completely halted trade and still poses as an obstacle to economic cooperation between the two Koreas. He also asserts that because the MB administration’s foreign policy stance is heavily weighted toward the United States, diplomatic relations with other Six-Party Talks worsened. Moon plans to end the current hostile inter-Korean relations and actively pursue economic cooperation with North Korea. He believes economic cooperation is a comprehensive approach that could simultaneously address the issue of denuclearization and peace treaty. Specific projects of economic cooperation will include building infrastructure for North Korean industries, and resuming 48 joint business projects that was agreed upon at the 10.4 declaration. With “balanced diplomacy,” Moon seeks to build a “Northeast Asian Cooperation Growth Belt” that will include the two Koreas, China, Japan, and Russia.

Ahn Cheol-soo, the independent candidate who is known to be a moderate liberal, also criticizes the MB administration for responding inappropriately to conflicts and reaching political stalemate with North Korea. He also argues that the absence of inter-Korean economic cooperation has led North Korea to strengthen its economic ties with China and Russia. His agenda regarding the North Korean policy is to take on South-North cooperation, denuclearization, and establishment of Korean Peninsula peace system, simultaneously. Specific projects include “119 (equivalent of 911 in Korea) Plan to Save Small Businesses,” which is a plan to expand the Kaesong Industrial Region and participate in the Rason Special Economic Zone that was established by China and North Korea. Similar to Moon, Ahn also pledges to develop a cooperative Northeast Asian economy.

Three candidates all seem to agree that the current “Denuclearization/Openness/3,000 initiative” of North Korean policy needs to be replaced with a softer method. Their difference lies in the detail of approaches in rebuilding inter-Korean relations. The essence of Park’s approach is the necessity of North Korea to show authenticity in rebuilding trust between two countries.  The essence of Moon and Ahn policies are some somewhat similar in that they believe inter-Korean economic cooperation will induce denuclearization and stability in the Peninsula. Ahn and Moon both seem to be gearing towards a policy that is similar to the late President Roh Mooh Hyun and President Kim Dae-jung’s Sunshine Policy. Ahn even explicitly stated that he wants to follow and improve the Sunshine Policy of Kim. Distinguishing point of Ahn’s North Korean policy from that of Moon is that he emphasizes the need for transparency in aiding North Korea, since the main criticism of the Sunshine Policy was that it funded the development of nuclear weapons in North Korea.

Many experts find the North Korean policy promises of the candidates to be vague and impractical. For instance, Ahn’s open criticism towards North Korean human rights violation could clash with his policy towards restoring relations. In the past, direct approach to resolving human rights violation in North Korea was avoided during times when the administration was trying to improve inter-Korean relations. Experts also argue realization of Park’s “Trust Process” is somewhat improbable because of North Korea’s unpredictable nature and its obvious intention not to follow some of existing agreements.

The reason for candidates hesitating to announce detailed North Korean policy plans may be due to the two impending events that will have great impact: the reordering of North Korea policies by the re-elected Obama administration and the likely emergence of a single liberal candidate (Ahn or Moon). Once the results for these two events come out, we will hopefully see more clarity and practicability of North Korean policies through deliberation and open debate.


“Yoduk Story” – a musical about North Korea’s human rights situation

After finishing up my internship with the Ministry of Unification, I decided to spend my last month touring around Korea. I visited the cities Daegu, Busan, Daejeon, Pohang, Ulsan and Gyeongju in the process.

My trip to Gyeongju was perfectly timed and was rather coincidental after having spent my last few months learning about North Korea and issues surrounding reunification. During my time in Gyeongju, I had the opportunity to participate in the 78th PEN International Congress. PEN promotes, among other values, writing and freedom of speech. This year’s theme was “Literature, Media and Human Rights.”

Photo credit PENKorea: http://www.penkorea2012.org/congress01.html

One of the programs included attending a musical titled “Yoduk Story”, which addresses human rights abuse in North Korea. Some may argue that this musical is a form of a political activism, but under PEN’s principles, it is a performance showcasing freedom of expression, and that of art.

The executive director of the musical, Jung Sung-san aims  to raise global awareness about the shocking reality of the concentration camps in North Korea, and send a message of hope as well. There have been attempts previously by international NGOs to stop the human rights abuses in North Korea, but we still need to work persistently in putting a final stop to this situation. Ultimately, I believe the only way to solve this problem is through reunification.

I will now give a brief outline of the musical “Yoduk Story,” which is set in one of North Korea’s labour camps located in the Hamkyung Province. Unsuccessful defectors and political dissidents are captured and held here. They are persecuted for any sort of allegations involving their association to the South.

The storyline of the musical follows the life of a famous North Korean actress, Kang Ryun-hwa, who is suddenly imprisoned at the Yoduk concentration camp following speculations of her father working as a spy for the South Korean Intelligence. In North Korea, the entire family is punished for the crime of one member.

I won’t spoil the plot, but one witnesses the starvation, torture and violence, the suffering, as well as rape of women inside the prison camp of Yoduk. Amidst the hatred and horror, a tragic love story unfolds between the female lead actress and a prison guard. The theme of forgiveness is highlighted, as well as the fact that anything is possible even against the odds. I was very moved watching this musical. Nevertheless, I could not help but feel angry and helpless at the indiscriminate purging of the innocents in a nation where freedom of speech is non-existent.

This musical provides yet another example of the need for Korean reunification. I want to stress the urgency for reunification, not soon, but now. Overall, the set, the singing, the dancing and the cast of the musical were of very high quality. Simply, exceptional! I recommend everyone to go see the production. It is a masterpiece!


All the photos are the property of the author’s, unless otherwise credited

The Truth of the NLL Issue

(English Version)

Hello, everyone. I’d like to speak about the Northern Limit Line that you have frequently heard about in the recent news reports. It is generally accepted that most people think North Korea flouts international laws, but in fact it acknowledges them. North Korea has not ignored international laws themselves, but has taken advantage of them, asserting that its actions are not against any international laws. In October 1973, North Korea penetrated the NLL that had implicitly been agreed for 20 years or so, and this date can be seen as the start of both large and small Korean maritime border incidents.

1. The background of the setting of the NLL

During the Yalta conference in February 1945, the representatives of the Western Allies agreed on Soviet recovery from Japan of a sphere of influence in Manchuria in return for the Soviet Union joining the war against Japan. America had frequently discussed the issue of governing Korean peninsula with the Soviet Union. However, according to the report on May 4th, 1944 of the Institute for Policy Studies of U.S. Department of State, U.S. warned if the Soviet Union controlled Korea exclusively for the interim period, it would lead to serious political problems. That is, US was concerned about the communization of the Korean Peninsula. The Soviet Union happened to declare war against Japan just before the Japanese announcement of surrender. The war was concluded as Japan surrendered on the condition of maintaining its constitutional monarchy on August 9th, 1945, but the Soviet Union launched an all-out attack that day and occupied the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. However, the US Army then managed to arrive at Okinawa in Japan from the Philippines; and if the Soviet Union had refused the US suggestion of 38th parallel as a border, it might not even have been assured that Seoul would not be occupied by the Soviet Union. Hilldring, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Occupied Areas, said in a speech on March 10, 1947, that “The demarcation line was no more than a form of military convenience agreed by two amicable powers under all circumstances. It was intentional and temporary, and was only set to clarify where the responsibility between US and the Soviet Union lies in order to surrender Japan.” While US insists that it did not expect the line to be the artificial dividing wall of Korea, in the long run it became just that, a wall dividing one nation into two.

There was a discussion on limits on territorial waters between the United Nations Command (UNC) and North Korea in late January 1952, during an Armistice Agreement after North Korea invaded South Korea in June of 1950. The United Nations Command suggested 3 nautical miles, then the international standard, but North Korea refused it for fear of a naval blockade. The UNC insisted that it would not matter, on account of the regulation that naval forces should not engage in a blockade of any kind in Armistice Agreement 15, but North Korea continued to resist the notion, and asked for the overall elimination of the related clause. Eventually, the UNC accepted its argument and did not include any regulations on the maritime border in the controversial Article II, 2 of the Korean Armistice Agreement. Article II 15 of the Armistice Agreement states that “This Armistice Agreement shall apply to all opposing naval forces, which naval forces shall respect the water contiguous to the Demilitarized Zone and to the land area of Korea under the military control of the opposing side, and shall not engage in blockade of any kind of Korea.” As a result, the UNC had to move to the south of the land demarcation line in the sea, and unilaterally set the NLL as the maritime border. The North has resisted the NLL since 1973, as it did not participate in the negotiations on the NLL. However, the UNC drew the line in accordance with international practice as it commanded the sea then, and North Korea tacitly accepted it for about 20 years.

Northern Limit Line

(Photo Credit :http://terms.naver.com/entry.nhn?docId=1214155&mobile&categoryId=200000301)

2. North Korea’s position on the NLL

The most controversial part mentioned above, is the Armistice Agreement Article II 13 (b). North Korea resists the NLL on the basis of this clause.

<Article II 13. (b)>

Within ten (10) days after this armistice agreement becomes effective, withdraw all of their military forces, supplies, and equipment from the rear and the coastal islands and waters of Korea of the other side. If such military forces are not withdrawn within the stated time limit, and there is no mutually agreed and valid reason for the delay, the other side shall have the right to take any action which it deems necessary for the maintenance of security and order. The term “coastal islands”, as used above, refers to those islands, which, though occupied by one side at the time when this armistice agreement becomes effective, were controlled by the other side on 24 June 1950; provided, however, that all the islands lying to the north and west of the provincial boundary line between Hwanghae-do and Kyonggi-do shall be under the military control of the Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army and the Commander of the Chinese People’s volunteers, except the island groups of Paeyong-do, Taechong-do, Sochong-do, Yonpyong-do, and U-do, which shall remain under the military control of the Commander-in-Chief, United Nations Command. All the island on the west coast of Korea lying south of the above-mentioned boundary line shall remain under the military control of the Commander-in-Chief, United Nations Command.

Dotted line is what North Korea claims to be the legitimate maritime border.

(Photo Credit: http://blog.naver.com/hamarine1?Redirect=Log&logNo=110014669991)

North Korea concedes the western 5 islands shall remain under the military control of the UNC on the basis of this clause, but it maintains that as the waters off these western 5 islands shall remain under its control, all ships should receive its prior approval for navigation through these waters. In addition, North Korea says that as the so-called armistice waters were not regulated in the Armistice Agreement, it shall interpret the border line between Hwanghae-do and Kyonggi-do as a demarcation line and then the northern and western waters including these western 5 islands shall remain its control.

3. South Korea’s position on the NLL

The Armistice Agreement II 13 regulated that within 10 days after the agreement became effective, both sides should have withdrawn all of their military forces, supplies, and equipment from the rear and the coastal islands and waters of Korea of the other side as of June 24, 1950. It meant going back to the situation before the Korean War. North Korea should have withdrawn from all islands such as Mahap-do, Changrin-do, and Kirin-do as well as those western 5 islands. However, as the remaining islands, except for the western 5 islands were then under the control of North Korea, considering the situation then, the obligation of the withdrawal of North Korean army from those relevant islands was not regulated in Article II 13 (b).

Furthermore, if you draw an extension line from the western ends of Kyonggj-do and Hwanghae-do, North Korea maintains as its border line, you can see Yonpyong-do and U-do are located to the south of the line and cannot be accepted as groups of islands like the western 5 islands. This means North Korea’s border line cannot be seen as a base line.

The more essential basis of it is the Armistice Agreement Article III. As Article III says, “The purpose of the above mentioned border line between Hwanghae-do and Kyonggi-do shall not have any sense except for marking the control of those western coast islands and any other meaning shall not be attached in the article,” the military demarcation line set by North Korea is to add a new meaning to it and does not have any sense.


4. Conclusion

The NLL issue has continuously been a topic as important as the nuclear issue of North Korea. South Korea and North Korea should solve this problem to prepare for reunification and resolve their conflicts. However, it is unlikely that we might surrender the territorial sovereignty of the Republic of Korea apparent under international law in the name of peace. We do not accept North Korea as a nation under the Constitution of the Republic of Korea, and in reality do not have any control north of the 38th parallel, but as we have continuously worked toward peaceful reunification; it is time we must accept North Korea as a valid nation.

As the mentioned in the preface, it is not true that North Korea flouts international laws; it tries to make a thorough study of international laws to find any loopholes and then takes advantage of them. Therefore, we have no other option but to point out their contradictions in old documents to solve the historically and interpretatively controversial problems. Laws have to be interpreted in view of the situation in which laws were established and the purpose of the parties; it is apparently wrong that North Korea has tried to stage an armed protest and make threats by using the Armistice Agreement for peace. However, in spite of these conflict situations, we should bear in mind our obligation to seek peaceful reunification more than anything else.


Foreign Relations of the United States, The Conference at Cairo and Tehran, 1944 Vol.V(1965)

日本外務省編 戦争史録 4,東京 北洋社,1997

Taejin Yang, Is the NLL the border line or the demarcation line? – in the middle of western maritime border area

NLL 문제의진실

(Korean Version)

안녕하세요? 여러분도 뉴스로 자주 접하시는 북방한계선(NLL: Northern Limit Line) 문제에 대해서 다뤄보려고 합니다. 일반적인 인식으로, 북한은 국제법을 인정하지 않는 나라라고 생각하시는 분들도 많으실 텐데요, 북한은 국제법을 인정하고 있습니다. 국제법 자체를 부정하는 것이 아니라, 북한의 행동은 국제법에 위반되지 않는다고 주장하며 교묘하게 국제법을 이용하는 것을 확인할 수 있습니다. 북한은 1973년 10월, 약 20년간 묵시적으로 인정해오던 NLL을 침범하고, 서해사태를 일으키게 됩니다.

  1. 1.   NLL 설정의배경

1945년 2월 얄타에서 이루어진 회동에서, 연합국 대표들은 소련의 참전 대가로 일본으로부터 만주의 통치권을 되찾아 오는 것에 합의하였습니다. 미국은 이후 한반도 통치 문제에 대하여 소련과 자주 협의를 하게 되었습니다. 그러나 1944년 5월 4일 자 미국무성 정책연구소의 발표에 따르면, 만일 소련이 조선을 과도기간만이라도 단독으로 관리하게 된다면 심각한 정치 문제가 발생할 것이라고 경고하였습니다. 즉, 미국은 대한민국 공산화에 대해 우려를 하고 있던 것입니다. 소련은 공교롭게도, 일본의 패배선언 직전에 일본에 대한 선전포고를 하게 됩니다. 1945년 8월 9일 일본은 천왕의 존속만을 조건으로 항복하였기에 전쟁이 끝났어야 했지만, 소련은 1945년 8월 9일 전면 공격을 시행하고 한국의 북반부를 점령하게 됩니다. 그러나 당시 미군은 필리핀에서 일본의 오키나와에 간신히 도달한 상황이었습니다. 즉, 만일 소련이 미국의 38선 제안을 거부했다면, 서울도 장담할 수 없는 상황이었던 것입니다. 미 국무부 힐더링 극동 담당 차관보의 연설(1947년 3월10일)에 의하면, “여하한 경우에도 2개의 우호 열강 간에 이루어진 군사적 편의 이상의 것은 아니었다. 그 분계선은 의도적이며, 잠정적인 것으로 일본군의 항복을 받기 위하여 미소 간에 책임을 정하기 위한 것뿐이었다”고 하였습니다. 미국은 인위적 장벽이 되리라고는 생각하지도 않았다고 주장하지만, 결과적으로 민족을 나누는 벽이 된 것입니다.

1950년 6월 25일 북한의 남침 이후, 휴전협정이 진행 중이던 1952년 1월 말경 연해 수역에 관한 논의가 있었습니다. 유엔군은 국제적인 관행상 영해 3해리를 제기하였지만, 북한은 해상봉쇄를 우려하여 거부합니다. 유엔군 측은 정전협정 제 15항에 영해 봉쇄를 하지 않는다는 규정이 있기 때문에 문제가 없다고 했지만, 북한이 계속해서 거부하며 관련 조항 전면 삭제를 요구하였습니다. 결국, 유엔군측은 이들의 주장을 받아들여 문제가 되는 휴전협정 제13항 ㄴ항에 해상경계선에 관한 규정을 포함시키지 못하게 된 것입니다. 휴전협정 제2조 15항에서, 본 휴전협정은 ‘적대 중(敵対中) 일체의 해상 군사역량에 적용되며 이러한 군사역량은 비무장지대와 상대방의 군사통제하에 있는 육지에 인접한 해역을 존중하며 어떠한 종류의 해상 봉쇄도 하지 못한다’ 고 규정하였습니다. 이로 인하여 유엔군은 해상에서 육상 분계선까지 남하, 철수해야 했고 해상경계선의 설정 필요성에 따라 NLL을 유엔군 일방적으로 설정하게 된 것입니다. 북한 측이 참여하지 않았다는 이유로, 북한 측은 1973년 이후 이 경계선을 거부하고 있지만, 당시 유엔군 측이 제해권을 장악하고 있었기에, 일방적으로 국제적 관행을 따른 적절한 선을 긋게 되었고, 북한은 이 결정에 대해 약 20년간 묵시적으로 인정해 온 것입니다.


(사진 출처:http://terms.naver.com/entry.nhn?docId=1214155&mobile&categoryId=200000301)


2. 북한의 NLL 해석

가장 문제가 되고 있는 조항은 위에서 언급한 휴전 협정 제2조 13항 ㄴ. 입니다. 북한은 이 조항에 근거하여 NLL을 거부하고 있는 것입니다.

<2 13>

본 정전협정이 효력을 발생한 후 10일 이내에 한국에 있어서의 후방과 연해제도와 해면으로부터 그들의 모든 군사 역량 보급 물자 및 장비를 철거한다. 만일 철거를 연기할 이유 없이, 또 철거 연기를 유효한 이유 없이, 기한이 넘도록 군사역량을 철거하지 않을 때에는 상대방은 치안을 유지하기 위하여 그가 필요하다고 인정하는 어떠한 행동이라도 취할 권한을 가진다. 상기한 연해 섬이라는 용어는 본 정전협정이 효력을 발생할 때에 비록 일방이 점령하고 있더라도 1950년 6월 24일에 상대방이 통제하고 있던 섬들을 말하는 것이다. 단, 황해도와 경기도의 도계선 북쪽과 서쪽에 있는 모든 섬 중에서 백령도, 대청도, 소청도, 연평도 및 우도의 도서 군들은 국제연합총사령관의 군사통제하에 남겨두는 것을 제외한 기타 모든 섬들은 조선인민군 최고 사령관과 중국인민지원사령원의 군사통제하에 둔다. 한국 서해안에 있어서 상기 경계선 이남에 있는 모든 섬들은 국제연합총사령관의 군사통제하에 남겨둔다.

북한이 주장하는 해상 경계선

(사진 출처: http://blog.naver.com/hamarine1?Redirect=Log&logNo=110014669991)


북한은 이 조항에 근거하여, 서해 5도는 유엔군 통제하에 있음을 인정하지만, 서해 5도 주변 해역은 북한의 관할 수역에 해당하기 때문에 주변 해역을 통항하기 위해서는 북한의 사전승인을 받아야 한다고 주장하고 있는 것입니다. 또한, 북한은 휴전협정에 정전해역이라는 것이 규정되어 있지 않으므로 , 황해도와 경기도의 도계선을 하나의 경계선으로 해석하여, 북쪽과 서쪽의 서해 5개 도서를 포함한 수역이 북한 측에 있다고 말하는 것입니다.

 3. 대한민국의주장.

휴전협정 2조 13항에 의하면 1950년 6월 24일에 상대방이 통제하고 있던 섬들에서 발효 10일 이내에 모든 군사력을 철수해야 한다고 했습니다. 그렇다면 한국전쟁 이전을 의미하는 것으로, 북한은 서해 5도는 물론 마합도, 창린도, 기린도 등 모든 도서에서 북한은 철수해야만 했습니다. 그러나 서해 5도를 제외한 도서들은 북한이 장악하고 있었기에, 당시의 상황을 고려하여 13항의 ㄴ목에서는 해당 도서에서의 북한의 철수 의무를 해제한 것입니다.

또한, 북한 측이 주장하는 경계선인 경기도와 황해도 끝단에서 연장선을 그어보면, 연평도와 우도는 기준선의 남쪽에 위치하게 되어, 하나의 그룹으로 볼 수 없게 됩니다.

즉, 기준이 될 수 없다는 근거라고 말 할 수 있습니다.

보다 근본적인 근거로는, 휴전협정 제3조입니다. 3조에 의하면, “상기 경계선이라는 황해도와 경기도의 계선 목적은 단지 서부 연안 섬들의 통제를 표시하는 것일 뿐 다른 의미는 없으며 조문에도 이에 다른 의미를 첨부하지도 못한다.”라고 되어있기 때문에, 북한이 설정한 군사경계선은 새로운 의미를 첨부하는 것이며, 억지주장이 되어 버리는 것입니다.


4. 결론

북한 핵 문제 이상으로, 계속해서 이슈가 되고 있는 것이 NLL 문제입니다. 즉 양국이 통일을 준비하며 갈등을 해결하기 위해서는 이러한 문제의 해결이 촉구됩니다. 하지만 평화라는 명목으로, 국제법적으로도 명백한 대한민국의 확실한 영토의 주권을 포기하는 것은 있을 수 없는 일입니다. 대한민국의 헌법상으로는 북한을 ‘국가’로 인정하고 있지 않지만, 현실적으로는 38선 이북 지역에 대한 관할 능력을 갖고 있지 않으며, 동시에 통일을 하기 위해 평화적인 노력도 계속해서 해 왔습니다. 즉, 북한을 하나의 실체로 인정할 수 밖에 없는 상황인 것입니다. 서두에서 언급한 것과 같이, 북한은 국제법을 인정하지 않는 것이 아닙니다. 다르게 말하여, 국제법의 철저한 연구를 통해 허점을 발견하고 그것을 교묘하게 이용하고 있는 것입니다. 그렇다면, 역사적인 문제, 해석의 여지가 있는 문제를 양방이 해결하기 위해서는 문헌적인 대결을 통하여 그들의 모순점을 지적하는 방법밖에 없을 것입니다. 법은 당시의 제정된 상황과 당사자들 간의 목적을 반영하여 해석되어야 할 것입니다. 즉, 평화를 위하여 제정된 휴전협정을 도구로 사용하여, 무력적이고 협박적인 행위를 하고 있는 북한의 행동은 분명히 문제가 있는 것입니다. 그러나 이러한 갈등의 상황에서도 우리는 무엇보다 평화통일을 추구해야 하는 의무를 잊지 말아야 할 것입니다.



Foreign Relation of the United States, The Conference at Cairo and Tehran, 1944 Vol.V(1965)

日本外務省編 戦争史録 4,東京 北洋社,1997

양태진, NLL 국경선인가 분계선인가? –서해 해상경계지역을 중심으로- 예나루, 2011


Have you ever heard about “Judicial Affairs Explainer”?

(English Version)

Does North Korea have its own legal system?

Yes, absolutely. North Korea has its own laws, and its own system for applying them to the people. In the core of this system lies “Judicial Affairs Explainer”.

A judicial affairs explainer is a post in factories or companies, and anyone selected as a judicial affairs explainer plays a role in legal education, while performing his or her own function in their respective business or organization.

The North Korean encyclopedia defines it as follows:

Judicial Affairs Explainer: a worker who explains, propagates, and educates people on the country’s laws. There are judicial affairs explainers in all state institutions, companies, and social institutions in North Korea. Selected among the workers of their respective organization, they should have such qualifications as loyalty to the party and the revolution, and a strong sense of responsibility. They pursue legal education while performing their own functions in their organizations.… A judicial affairs explainer always works and lives with his or her colleagues, and conducts the business of legal education within the boundary of his/her co-workers in their affiliated institutions, companies, or social institutions.

North Korea takes advantage of international laws by applying their domestic laws in regard to international affairs such as nuclear crisis, or the NLL (Northern Limit Line) dispute. On the surface, North Korea seems to flout international law, but in reality North Korea puts in claims in its own way on the basis of legal logic after making a thorough study on the international laws. The business of legal education centered on its judicial affairs explainers reflects such confidence

The legal education in North Korea–called Law-abiding Education(준법교양) in the country–is the state policy applied to all members of the nation, not just to its legal profession. Any other legal education excluding the Socialist Constitution has not become a regular subject, but they are naturally educated through activities offered by various curricula starting from kindergarten, people’s school through secondary school until university.

North Korea emphasizes in its legal education that by abiding to their legal education, they are living up to the will of “Great Leader”, and that they should obey the country’s law unconditionally.

However, a judicial affairs explainer does not always perform their legal education according to the preset guidelines. North Korea tends to keep away from the “Formalism”; a judicial affairs explainer should find ways to fit individual’s needs through his or her own method, and apply them to every individual, as humans will have different characters according to their sex, educational background, or age.

As stated above, the basic role of judicial affairs explainer is essentially legal education of all members of the country to ensure everyone abides by the law, however it is not confined to the Socialist Constitution but goes well beyond to cover the “Forest Protection Act,” “Traffic Regulations,” as well as “methods to improve productivity.” It was warned, however, workers seem to have difficulty in having a break for education session as the schedule of legal education is not clearly set up. The aim is to ensure there is no decrease in productivity or labor morale amid such frequent legal education.

What lessons can we learn from the distinctive legal education system in North Korea? We, South Koreans, do not seem to feel comfortable with the law. I think a lot of people consider that laws are only for the elite group, such as law students, making it seem accessible. Moreover, as law students tend to focus only on tests such as the bar examination, it is still uncertain whether they can apply laws to their daily lives. As mentioned above, however, there is a difference between legal education to train legal professionals and that for laymen. We should recognize the law of our country. And to live as a member of the nation who puts the country first, it is necessary to change our attitude toward laws. We must also modify our legal education system to receive North Korean defectors or North Korean people after the reunification in the future. To do so requires us to first establish good law education policy that can be practiced in the daily life.


Korea Encyclopedia Vol. 28, Pyongyang: Paekkwasajeonchulpansa, 1999, p.30

Youngtae Kwon, Legal Education in North Korea: Korean Studies Information Co. Ltd, 2009

The Pyongyang International Film Festival

An invitation card welcomes filmmakers to attend the 2012 Pyongyang Film Festival in this screenshot from the PIFF website. Photo credit http://www.pyongyanginternationalfilmfestival.com.

It’s prime movie season in much of the world: the summer blockbusters are all played out, and the year’s awards contenders are being released in anticipation of winter film awards like the Oscars. I always like awards-y films; I tend to like those better than all but a very few of the big Hollywood blockbusters, anyway.

With awards-y films come film festivals. Venice, the world’s oldest film festival and one of the industry’s “Big Three” along with Cannes and Berlin, happens every year in early September. Toronto, perhaps the most popular and influential festival outside of the so-called Big Three, took place over ten days from September 6th to the 16th.

Following these two festivals came one of the world’s least-known film festivals: the Pyongyang International Film Festival. It happens every two years, but it’s not surprising that few people know about it; Pyongyang is a city much less amenable to international tourism than, say, Venice, or Toronto, or Berlin. But if you had a chance to visit Pyongyang, you might be surprised at the films you could see.

The opening sequence of a video presenting the 13th Pyongyang International Film Festival plays the opening fanfare of Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra in the background at the time of this screenshot. Image credit stimmekoreas via YouTube.

At the Pyongyang festival, North Koreans and foreigners can watch these films side-by-side (though surely most of the North Koreans at the festival are the well-to-do people of Pyongyang). The films ranged from selections produced in country to films from China, France, Egypt, and even Pakistan.

Pyongyang’s roster of films isn’t as industry-leading as the other major festivals, but it is surprisingly diverse for an event far outside the typical reaches of the film world. This year, the festival screened films for diverse tastes, including:

  • A romantic comedy from Britain (“The Decoy Bride”),
  • A kung fu film by Jet Li (“Flying Swords of Dragon Gate”),
  • A Swedish vampire movie (“Frostbitten”),
  • A social drama about family troubles in Pakistan (“Bol”),
  • And a comedy about Spanish émigrés set in 1960s Paris (“Les femmes du 6e étage”).

North Koreans have a surprising love for cinema, and the diversity of the films in this festival is certainly surprising to me. The Pakistani film “Bol” is certainly a good example. “Bol” raises questions about male-dominated societies, the place of religion in families, and the acceptance of transgendered people; it’s hard to imagine how North Koreans would react to seeing such a film.

A poster presents the Pakistani film “Bol”. Image credit Eros International via Wikipedia.

The festival also screened films from, among other places, Russia (“House of the Wind”, “White Tiger”), China (“Qian Xuesen”), the Philippines (“Dive”), Switzerland (“Tones of Passion”), Indonesia (“Day In Day Out”), and Egypt (“Asmaa”).

Prizes were announced on September 27th. The grand prize went to a film from Germany, “Der ganz große Traum”. That film also won the prize for Best Actor.

One of the more interesting selections was “Comrade Kim Goes Flying”, filmed in North Korea but co-written, edited, and directed by a British/Belgian/North Korean team. It won Best Direction.

Entertainment may not be as much of a cause célèbre as politics or human rights, but celebrity—even in entertainment—isn’t really what’s important. Entertainment arts have the capacity to bring people together, whether they are audiences sharing a theater together or viewers communing with the makers of a film through the medium of a screen. We can watch films made in a different language, in a different culture, and still love them. Sometimes we can watch them without any dialogue at all—Pixar’s wall·e is a great example—and still understand everything we need to.

The Pyongyang Film Festival is a surprising and wonderful attempt to cross cultural boundaries. It brings people together through something shared more deeply than politics, language, or even culture.

The next festival is scheduled for June 2014.


A Movie in Review: “Comrade Kim Goes Flying”


The Pyongyang Film Festival finished up at the end of September. Among its selections was the film “Comrade Kim Goes Flying”, a joint project between Belgian, British, and North Korean film companies. It is unusual for international filmmakers to gain access to North Korea to make a movie, but a collaboration such as this one, filmed inside North Korea with an entirely North Korean cast, is especially noteworthy.

A promotional image from the 2012 film “Comrade Kim Goes Flying” shows the title character at work in the coal mines. Photo credit http://www.comradekimgoesflying.com.

The film was directed by Nick Bonner, who has considerable experience with North Korea as the leader of Koryo Group, a tourism agency based in Beijing that has offered cultural visits to North Korea since 1993. According to Danwei, the Koryo Group’s genesis was when Bonner played soccer with the British Embassy team in the early nineties; he got to know a North Korean teammate and by 1993 the company was up and running its first tour inside North Korea.

Since then, Bonner has become one of the most notable Westerners engaged with North Korea; in addition to running regular tours, his company also sponsors the Pyongyang International Film Festival, and Bonner has completed four documentaries about the DPRK. The first one covered the 1996 World Cup team (“The Games of their Lives”, 2002); the second, the training of two young Pyongyang athletes for the Arirang Mass Games (“A State of Mind”, 2004); the third, a U.S. army soldier who defected from South to North Korea (“Crossing the Line”, 2006).  “Comrade Kim Goes Flying” is Bonner’s fourth film.

I watched “A State of Mind” a few years ago and loved it; it was a quiet, insightful, and objective perspective on the small details of lives of two girls in North Korea. I highly recommend it.

Given this fact, I’m excited to watch Bonner’s newest film, though it seems very different from his earlier productions. First, Bonner co-produced this newest film, “Comrade Kim Goes Flying,” with Anja Daelemans, a filmmaker from Belgium. She had screened a film at the Pyongyang Film Festival in 2002, where she met Bonner; he told her his idea about a coal-mining girl becoming a trapeze artist, and they decided to collaborate on the film.

But the most notable aspect of the movie’s production is the third foot of the movie’s filmmaking tripod. The film was produced in close cooperation with North Korean writers, directors, and actors. It was filmed entirely in North Korea, with a North Korean cast. Filmmaker Kim Gwang-hun was the principal director, and Ryom Mi-hua co-produced. So everything Bonner and Daelemans wanted to do had to get a stamp of approval from the North Korean government.

Bonner has mentioned in a 2009 interview that his goal is engagement—of Westerners and North Koreans alike. He notes, “A local in New York knows about as much about North Korea as a North Korean in Pyongyang knows about New York. There is a great lack of information which allows one-sided views to remain unquestioned.”

This story is about bridging that gap: the collaborative aspect of its production brings North Korean filmmaking to a Western audience as it also brings a Western style of filmmaking to North Korean audiences at the Pyongyang Film Festival.

A promotional image from the 2012 film “Comrade Kim Goes Flying” shows the title character in an aerial stunt. Photo credit http://www.comradekimgoesflying.com.

The film’s plot centers around a coal-miner trying to realize her dream of becoming a trapeze artist. A film focusing on individual self-determinism is new for North Korea; most North Korean films follow relatively narrow themes of ideological education. In an article in the New York Times, Bonner describes how he pushed the writers and actors away from conventional ideological lines toward more universal human emotions; they sought to “access a part of the world we all have in common—dreams, laughter, romance”.

The final portrait of North Korean life that the film presents is admittedly unrepresentative of ordinary life in the country; some reviews harp on that, but how representative of ordinary American life are most of Hollywood’s films? Bonner emphasized that his goal was never to provide an insider’s view of North Korea. The goal, he said, was simple entertainment; the film is just “a girl-power fairy tale about dreaming to fly.”

“Comrade Kim Goes Flying” premiered at the Toronto film festival, then hit Pyongyang, and was recently shown in October at South Korea’s Busan film festival. It’s remarkable for a film from North Korea to make it to South Korean audiences. “All we ever wanted,” Bonner said, “was for Korean audiences to see the film on both sides of the border and be entertained.”

A promotional image from the 2012 film “Comrade Kim Goes Flying” suggests peace and unification. Photo credit http://www.comradekimgoesflying.com.


The Orphan Master’s Son

The cover of The Orphan Master’s Son, by Adam Johnson. Photo credit Penguin Books via Goodreads.

I picked up The Orphan Master’s Son at a local bookstore in a going-out-of-business sale (sad, the death of bookstores). I had already grabbed Haruki Murakami’s wonderful 1Q84, but I noticed a striking cover near the register and recognized the title as one I’d read about in connection with North Korea. The woman behind the desk saw me notice it and chimed in that it was an incredible book. On her authority, I added it to my loot.

But, as I read through the first hundred pages of The Orphan Master’s Son, I realized a sad truth: I am almost totally uninterested in fictional accounts of North Korea.

How could I be, when the truth is so wondrous and strange?

It’s odd—I like to read most any fiction, especially historical fiction about real-world places. Even though the The Orphan Master’s Son is set in the very recent past, it feels like historical fiction. North Korea is as inaccessible as the past, for most of us; we might read about it, and maybe we can talk to people who have been there, but we can’t go there.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Johnson expressed a similar feeling. He said, “It didn’t quite feel like I was writing about a place that was far away as much as it felt far ago.” For him, that was partly because of how anachronistic North Korea seemed (he spent six days there in 2007); they haven’t been able to modernize their factories, for instance, so they are still churning out brand-new 1958-style pickup trucks and 1963-style refrigerators.

That kind of small detail is fascinating to me when I find it in interviews, but I feel unable to trust it in the framework of fiction. I didn’t realize how much I crave true information about North Korea, but it seems I do. There is so little truth to go on; I don’t like reading anything that will confuse fact and fiction or perpetuate simple stereotypes in my mind.

I can’t really review the book fairly without having read it. So I won’t do that; instead, I want to share some of the fascinating things Johnson learned while he was researching the book.

A photo of Adam Johnson, author of The Orphan Master’s Son. Photo credit L.A. Cicero via Stanford University.

What Johnson Learned

As part of his research, Johnson visited North Korea for six days in 2007; he was part of a special “VIP tourist” group arranged by a friend who worked with an NGO. He has photos from the trip on Flickr; they are beautiful.

He has a wonderful knack for spotting details that really make a place come alive. This is evident in the photos themselves, and in the description of his visit in the captions and in other interviews.

He was struck by the absence of planes in the sky. There was just one flight per week from Beijing, and one flight every two weeks from Vladivostok. Add to that the general lack of cars, and everything seemed eerily quiet.

He rode the Pyongyang Metro while he was there; it lies 400 feet below ground, to double as a bomb shelter. The escalators coming out of it are so long, and run so slowly (half the speed of Moscow’s, Johnson says) that many people sit down while they ride, though signs warn against it. Riding the subway cars themselves, there was a calming effect because of the lack of electricity.

He flew in on Air Koryo. The plane took the long way around by following the coastline from China to the Korean peninsula; that told Johnson the pilots didn’t have functional guidance systems. The airport runway was tiny, and cattle wandered freely across it.

These details drove his depiction of North Korea in the book; in a long radio interview with Diane Rehm, he said, “I wanted to go there to get that verisimilitude, those real-life details you’d never know unless you were there.”

For further information, Johnson also read whatever non-fiction he could find; he “became just kind of obsessed with these narratives,” he said in the same interview.

He read the Rodong Shinmun—the most widely read newspaper in North Korea and the daily newspaper of the Worker’s Party of Korea—every morning for six years to get a sense for the propaganda voice that figures prominently in the book’s narrative. And he read books; in 2004 he read The Aquariums of Pyongyang, a memoir by Kang Chol-hwan about life in a North Korean prison camp. He was also fascinated by the story of Shin Dong-hyuk (the subject of the newly-released biography Escape from Camp 14) and David Hawk’s The Hidden Gulag.

So, Should You Read It?

Barbara Demick, the LA Times’ Beijing bureau chief and the author of Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, gave the novel a very positive review. She said that Johnson “managed to capture the atmosphere of this hermit kingdom better than any writer I’ve read.”

That’s high praise. Demick did worry that readers might have “a hard time figuring out where fact leaves off and fiction begins.” She hits the nail on the head for me; I worry the same thing, but I trust that readers who bear in mind the fact that they are reading fiction will be just fine.

The Orphan Master’s Son is published by Penguin Books.

Mount Baekdu

Heaven Lake on Baekdusan

Heaven Lake, in Mount Baekdu’s caldera. Photo credit Bdpmax via Wikipedia, licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.

I love famous mountains. Kilimanjaro. Uluru. Mount Fuji, Puncak Jaya, Aconcagua. Olympus Mons, the tallest mountain in the solar system. The deadliest, Annapurna. The Matterhorn. Citlaltepetl. Cerro Torre. Such beautiful names, such mysticism.

These mountains have a great cultural power over the people who live their lives below them. They have a powerful hold on me, too, though I grew up in the flatlands of Maryland, where 150-foot Eagle Hill was the highest topographic prominence for five miles around.

I stumbled across a great post on AnotherAsia.com describing Mount Tai in China. The descriptions stumble into that lyric, almost poetic beauty of surprising usage found in many casual translations from other languages. Listen: “the picturesque from the Mount Tai,” according to this article, “has various sceneries like cragged cliff, deep canyon and gorge, grotesque peak and strange rocks.” It goes on to note that the mountain “boasts the initial marvelous wonders: the increasing sun at dawn, the jade plate of sea of clouds, the aura appearing around Bixia Temple, rosy clouds at sunset etc.”

It is a very “steepy” mountain too.

Even when we can’t get our words right, that post makes it clear: mountains are cool.

* * * * *

You probably recognized most of the names that begin this article. The mountain-lovers like me will know all of them and more; but one mountain in particular is lamentably unsung. I tried to include it in the list up top, but even to me, it read like an imposter hiding in the ranks. That mountain’s name? Baekdusan.

Rising over the border between China and North Korea, Baekdusan (or Mount Baekdu) is the foundational peak of the Baekdudaegan, the mountain range that runs the five-hundred-mile length of the Korean peninsula. I read about it in an article by Shin Ik-cheol, professor at the Academy of Korean studies. Baekdudaegan is the spiritual spine of the peninsula, and Baekdusan is the mountain that anchors that spine. As early as 1357, the writer U Pilheung said of the Korean nation, “our country begins at Baekdusan.”

Koreans have even used their knowledge of the mountain to prove that they are true Koreans. Shin Ik-cheol, professor at the Academy of Korean Studies, tells one story:

Choe Bu (1454-1504), a Seongjong era scholar-official, was lost at sea during his trip back home for his father’s funeral in 1488. He had been on official duty on Jeju Island. He and his entourage drifted to Ningbo of Ming China’s Zhejiang province. He and his entourage were moved to Shaoxing, where they were investigated by Ming officials. To prove that they were Koreans, Choe Bu was asked to speak of Korea’s history, geography, famous people, customs and rites. Speaking of Korea’s geography, Choe Bu first mentioned Baekdusan—“for mountains and rivers, Jangbaeksan is in the northeast and it is also called Baekdusan. Its width is some 1000 li and the height is some 200 li. The lake on the top of it has a circumference of some 80 li. It flows east becoming the Duman River, flows south becoming the Abrok River, flows northeast becoming the Suping River, and flows northwest becoming the Songhua River. The lower part of Songhua River is Huntong River (Choe 1488: gwon 1).

Through his extensive knowledge of the details of his country’s foremost mountain, Choe was able to prove himself a Korean.


Manchu veritable records: Changbaishan

A painting of Baekdusan from the Manchu Veritable Records. Its name is written at left in Manchu (top), Chinese (middle), and Mongolian (bottom). Image credit Yuje via Wikipedia.

By 1767, King Yeongjo formally recognized Baekdusan as the seat of Korean national identity, adding rites for it into the official book of state rituals, and Seo Myeongeung wrote, “All features of our mountains and rivers, regardless of their height and steepness, originate from Baekdusan. It is similar to that of the polar star—the polar star does not move, but remains as the source of all other stars.”

* * * * *

The mountain remains hugely significant to modern culture in South Korea. Tapestry-sized paintings of its caldera’s Heaven Lake adorn the walls in the schools I taught at in Jeollanam-do, South Korea. The first line of the national anthem prays for God to protect and preserve Korea “until the East Sea dries up and Mount Baekdu is worn away.”

Mount Baekdu is equally important for North Korea; it figures prominently in their stories of national identity, rooting Kim Il Sung there through his fighting for the Korean resistance against Japanese occupation. It’s also the mythical birthplace of Kim Jong-il.

And for both countries, it is the legendary site of the birth of Dangun, the “grandson of heaven” who founded Korea in 2333 BC. (The myth is fascinating).

* * * * *

Mount Baekdu is at the top of my list of places to visit in North Korea. There is a crater lake high at the top of it, encircled by mountain walls and sky; its blue waters are a thousand feet deep.

Tourists can visit the mountain from the North Korean or Chinese side, but South Koreans (since they’re not allowed to visit North Korea) have limited access. Division of the peninsula blocks off this treasured mountain from two-thirds of its people.

But it’s one more reason to look forward to unification: when it happens, the Korean people will be able to walk the entire length of the Baekdudaegan, the spiritual spine of their country, from Jirisan in the south all the way to Mount Baekdu in the north. That’s a day to look forward to.

Baekdusan in Winter

Snow and ice on Mount Baekdu’s Heaven Lake shine under winter sunlight. Photo credit Farm via Wikipedia, licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.

「법무해설원」에 대해 아시나요?

북한에도 법이 존재할까요?

그렇습니다. 북한에도 법은 존재하며, 그 법을 국민들에게 적용시키는 시스템을 갖고 있습니다. 이 시스템의 핵심에는 「법무해설원」이 있습니다.

법무해설원이란, 공장이나 기업소에 있는 직역(職域)입니다. 즉, 법무해설원으로 선발된 사람은, 본인의 본래 임무가 따로 있으면서, 법무해설사업을 진행하는 역할을 하게 됩니다.

북한 백과사전의 정의는 아래와 같습니다.

법무해설원 → 근로자들속에서공화국의법을해설하고선전하며준법교양을담당수행하는일군.・・・우리나라에는모든기관, 기업소, 사회협동단체들에법무해설원이있다. 법무해설원은해당기관의종업원들가운데서당과혁명에충실하고책임성이강한일군들로선정되며본신임무를수행하면서법무해설사업을진행한다.・・・법무해설원은언제나근로자들과같이일하고생활하면서자기가속한기관, 기업소, 사회협동단체안의종업원들속에서법에대한해설선전사업을직접담당수행한다.


북한은 북핵문제나 북방한계선(NLL: Northern Limit Line)문제와 같은 국제관계 이슈에서 자신들의 법을 활용하여 적극적으로 활용해 나가는 모습을 볼 수 있습니다. 그러므로, 국제법을 무시하는 것처럼 보이는 북한도, 국제법을 철저하게 연구하며, 나름대로 근거에 의거하여 주장 해 나가고 있는 것입니다. 법무해설원을 중심으로 한  법무해설사업은 이러한 자신감의 바탕이 되는 것입니다.

왜냐하면, 북한의 법교육(북한에서는`준법교양`으로 사용됨) 은 법조인을 위한 것이 아닌, 일반 구성원 전체를 대상으로 한 국가의 정책이기 때문입니다. 사회주의 헌법 외에 교과목으로 지정되지는 않지만, 유치원, 인민학교, 고등중학교 , 대학교까지의 모든 교육과정 중의 조직활동을 통해 자연스럽게 훈련이 되는 것입니다.

북한이 법교육을 통해 강조하고 있는 것은, 모든 구성원들이 준법교양을 따르는 것이 ‘위대한 수령님’의 뜻을 따르는 것이며, 국가의 법을 무조건적으로 지켜야 한다고 인식시키는 것입니다.

그러나, 법무해설원이 어떠한 지침에 맞추어서 법무해설사업을 해야 하는 것은 아닙니다. 즉, 북한에서는 ‘형식주의’에 대해 주의를 하고 있습니다. 사람은 성별, 학력, 연령에 따라 수준 차이가 있기 때문에, 각 개개인에 맞추어 알맞은 방법을 ‘스스로’ 창조하여 시행해 나가야 하는 것입니다.

법무해설원의 기본 역할은 위에서 기술한 바와 같이, 나라의 법을 잘 지키기 위한 ‘법무해설사업’이지만, 그것은 헌법에 국한되지 않으며, ‘산림보호규정’,’교통규정질서’ 나아가서는 ‘생산성의 향상을 위한 방법 고안’까지도 법무해설원의 역할이라고 할 수 있습니다. 한편, 이 사업에서 주의해야 할 점으로는, 그 시간이 정해져 있지 않기에, 근로자들은 쉬는 시간을 잃게 될 염려가 있다는 것입니다. 이러한 지나친 개입에 의해 생산력, 근로의욕이 떨어지는 것은 경계해야 할 문제입니다.

이와 같이, 북한의 독특한 법교육을 통해서 우리가 배울 수 있는 것은 무엇일까요? 대한민국 국민들은 아직 `법`이라는 것에 친숙함을 느끼기 어려워 보입니다. 법이란 법학도가 될 엘리트들만 배울 수 있고, 범접할 수 없는 영역이라고 생각하시는 분들도 많을 것이라고 생각합니다. 더구나, 법학도들도 사법시험 같은 시험에 집중하게 되며, 그것을 일상생활에 적용할 수 있을지는 미지수입니다. 그러나, 위에서 말한 것과 같이 법조인을 기르는 법학교육과 법교육은 다릅니다. 대한민국의 국민도 대한민국의 법에 대해 잘 인식하며, 국가를 최우선으로 생각하는 한 명의 국민으로서 살기 위하여 법에 대한 인식의 변화가 필요하며, 북한 이탈 주민 또는 통일 후, 북한주민들을 받아들이기 위해서도 이러한 법교육시스템이 정비되어야 한다고 생각합니다. 그러기 위해서 우선, 일상생활에서 실천할 수 있는 올바른 법교육 정책을 마련해 나가야 할 것입니다.



권영태 , 『북한의 법교육』(한국학술정보㈜,2009)


North Koreans in America

Not many North Koreans make it to America. I know that there have been a few; “six” is the number that first comes to mind as a result of my research last summer. I don’t think six is accurate. But it comes to mind.

The vast majority of North Korean refugees are in China (some 300,000), and then there are many in South Korea (well over 20,000) and a few in scattered countries like Thailand or Australia. But the U.S. gets peculiarly few.

The distance is a clear factor; the U.S. is 7,000 miles and the world’s largest ocean away from North Korea, so a refugee requires particular resolve to make it all the way to the United States. Most refugees probably don’t have the U.S. in mind as an end point; South Korea is the standard destination, as it shares North Korean language and culture. Still, the U.S. has admitted some North Korean refugees since the 2004 passage of the North Korean Human Rights Act (NKHRA).

My “six” that I had in mind was not the right number, but it was a right number: a group of six refugees in 2006 were first ever to be admitted to the U.S. under the auspices of the NKHRA. The right number—the total number of North Korean refugees in the U.S.— is higher, but not by much.

In 2010, the New York Times reported that there were 99 North Korean refugees in the United States. That’s so few as to be almost none. The article noted that federal officials weren’t even allowed to say the exact number of how many refugees there are in any particular city, claiming that if North Korean representatives knew exactly how many individuals to look for, they could track them down.

Those ninety-nine do not include North Koreans here with a visa but no refugee status—that number may be in the thousands, the article said, and the number of undocumented North Koreans in-country is probably higher.

The U.S. government supports incoming refugees, contracting with agencies such as the International Rescue Committee provide food, housing, clothing, employment training, medical care, English language classes, and counseling for the first 90 days of resettlement. This is a much-needed help, as refugees come with very few resources. Still, government support alone is inadequate.

It’s tough to find information on individual North Koreans in the United States; they tend to lead low-profile lives, for good reason, and there simply aren’t that many of them. Earlier this year, though, Korean newspaper The Hankyoreh profiled the difficulties faced by North Koreans in America. There is a pervasive sense of hardship and isolation; professional advancement is blocked to them, and cultural and language barriers make connecting with other Americans especially difficult for older refugees. The Korean church is a powerful networking organization, but opportunities remain limited.

In many ways, refugees face the same situation wherever they go, whether it’s America or Korea: the cultural, technological, educational differences between refugee and country of refuge make a sense of belonging very difficult to come by. Even someone with a degree from a North Korean university will often be reduced to low-wage labor, since their outdated education and training are largely unvalued by American employers.

Immigrant life in the U.S. is rarely easy, and it’s especially tough for North Koreans due to the cultural gap between the two countries. But it hasn’t been long since North Korean refugees were first admitted to the U.S., and their numbers are rapidly growing since those first six in 2006. As their ranks increase, support systems need to grow beyond what the government offers. Genuine assimilation requires widespread and sustained commitment at the community level, and such support requires awareness to grow.

Photos: http://www.busanhaps.com/article/photos-exclusive-look-inside-north-korea

북한의 6조달러 상당의 지하보물, 중국 투자의 골드러쉬를 이끌다

북한의 200종 이상의 풍부한 미네랄과, 6조달러 이상의 가치를 가진 지하매장량, 중국 본토보다 유리한 투자정책 환경이 중국 투자자들로 하여금 큰 관심을 받고있다.

북한 역시 2012년 9월 이후 200개 이상의 풍부한 종의 미네랄과 철광석, 알루미늄, 아연, 구리, 금, 등 6조달러 상당의 지하자원을 앞세워 이런 집중 투자 진흥활동을 베이징과 단둥에서 지속적으로 시행하면서 중국 투자자들의 이목을 집중시키고 있다. 또한 김정은 노동당 1비서도 투자유치를 적극적으로 독려하고 있는 점으로 미루어 볼 때 이번 투자유치는 이전과 비교해 큰 수확을 낼 수 있을 것이라고 중국 전문가들은 전망하고 있다.



북한 무역성 산하 조선대외경제투자협력위원회와 중국의 민간기구인 지비디(GBD)공공외교문화교류센터는 9월 26일부터 27일까지 이틀 동안 이곳에서 중국 기업가들에게 ‘유망 투자 분야’를 소개해 투자 유치에 나서고 있다. 9월 26일 베이징에서 열린 북한의 경제특구 투자설명회 자리엔 중국 기업인 100여명이 참석해 북한의 국영기업 관계자들이 준비해 온 동영상과 함께 황금평과 나진특구에서의 40여개 투자 대상 프로젝트를 경청했다. 행사를 주최한 북한 대외경제투자협력위원회는 북한은 평화를 보장할 수 있으며 체제도 안정돼 있다고 장담했다.

북한은 최근 중국 각지에서 계속해서 투자설명회를 열고 있다. 지난 9월 7일 지린성 창춘에서 ‘북한의 날 및 중국-조선 무역투자프로젝트상담회’를, 9월 9일에는 푸젠성 샤먼에서 열린 제16차 중국 국제투자무역상담회 기간에 별도로 북한 투자설명회를 개최했다. 또한 지난 22일에는 북한의 외자유치 창구인 합영투자위원회 산하 북한투자사무소와 중국해외투자자연합회가 베이징에서 30억위안(한화 약 5400억원) 규모의 ‘북한투자 전용 기금’을 조성하기로 계약을 맺었다.


10월 18일 중국경영보(중국 경영신문)는 중국의 투자기업들이 북한에 주목하고 있는 양상에 대한 기획기사를 내었다.

일단 중국의 반응은 긍정적이다. 북한이 과거에 비해 더 유연한 태도로 개혁개방의 정책을 취하고 있다는 것과, 북한이 가진 지하자원의 양이 엄청나다는 것이 그 이유다. 특히 북한은 조세정책에서 상당히 유연한 태도로 나오며 중국 투자자들의 관심을 끌고있다.

하지만, 이를 경계하는 목소리 또한 적지 않다. 베이징의 소식통은 “북한이 투자설명회 개최를 통해 경제와 민생을 위해 변화하겠다는 방향을 확정했음을 보여주었다” 라면서도 “중국은 북한이 투자 기업들을 안심시킬 수 있는 법과 규정 등이 아직 미비하다고 판단하고 있어, 북한이 경제발전을 위해 실질적으로 필요한 투자로 이어지기까지는 시간이 걸릴 것”으로 전망했다.

기자는 현재 중국 기업의 북한에 대한 투자양상에 대해 북경대학교 정치행정학과 학생들을 대상으로 의견을 들었다. 학생들의 반응은 대부분 긍정적이었다. 먼저, 북한이 개혁개방 정책을 견지한다면 동북아의 정세에 있어서도 발전적인 영향을 미칠 수 있을 것이고, 비교적 발전이 더딘 동북삼성 지역도 북한과 접경지대라는 점에서 함께 발전의 발판을 마련할 수 있을 것이라는 의견이 우세했다. 북한에 투자유치가 늘어나면 관련 산업도 동북지역에 집중될 수 있을 것이고, 남북한의 통일 후에 중국 동북지역이 얻을 수 있는 이점보다는 훨씬 못 미치겠지만 그래도 어느 정도의 도약할 수 있는 장을 열었다는 것에 만족하는 모습이였다.

Balloons to Attack?

(Lee Jae-won/Reuters)

Within the past couple of months, there seems to be a new feeling of openness towards the international community in North Korea:

  •   In July, North Korean state-run television showed footage of unapproved costumed versions of Tigger, Minnie Mouse and other Disney characters prancing in front of the new leader, Kim Jong-Un.
  •  Back in early September, North Korea and Japan held their first talks for the first time in four years.
  •  With the recent boom of popularity of “Gangnam style” by Psy, the North Korean government drew imagery from this highly successful pop video to poke fun at a South Korean presidential candidate.
  • North Korea and China signed agreements to push forward their joint development of economic zones.
  • North Korea opens its first foreign-funded university in 2010.

Whether this openness can be measured through instances of Western influence on the media or through a relative diplomatic détente with several other countries, the relations specifically between North and South Korea remains strained and tense, if not more heightened than ever. North Korea has demonstrated that they are not afraid to launch an attack on South Korea in response to any military threat. In the past, this response occurred whenever the South Korean army and US had joint-military exercises or South Korean military drills were deemed too close to the North-South Korea borders on land or sea.

As South Korea remains politically sensitive right now due to its upcoming presidential elections in December, relations with North Korea remain uncertain. Current President Lee Myung-bak maintained a reciprocal policy, which links Seoul’s aid to the denuclearization of the North. He recognized that his liberal predecessors’ unconditional aid to Pyongyang was diverted only to strengthen its military and to aggravate starvation.

North and South Korea have consistently threatened each other militarily, causing an escalation of belligerent commentaries. On October 19th, North Korea violently threatened to attack South Korea if activists proceeded with its anti-North Korea propaganda campaign. These activists, mostly led by North Korean defectors, aim to send propaganda balloons/leaflets to North Korea on within a few days. Activists have done this before, but the responses from North Korea were not as violent in the past.

The successor of Lee Myung-bak will have the job to reduce the tensions between the North and South before their diplomatic relations can be restored.  In order to achieve unification, South Korean administrations must have some consistency in its North Korean policies. As of now, we can see North Korea becoming a little bit more involved with the international community, but still unwilling to patch things up with South Korea. Hopefully, as North Korea gets more involved, it’ll soon become less aggressively involved with South Korea.