In the News – 30 North Korean officials involved in South talks die ‘in traffic accidents’

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In the News – 30 North Korean officials involved in South talks die ‘in traffic accidents’

In its annual study, Amnesty International claimed that in addition to the 30 who died in purges last year, a further 200 were rounded up in January this year by the State Security Agency as Pyongyang carried out the transfer of power from Kim Jong-il, who died of an apparent heart attack in December, and his 29-year-old son, Kim Jong-un.

Of those 200, Amnesty said, some were apparently executed and the remainder were sent to political prison camps. The gulag system presently contains an estimated 200,000 people in “horrific conditions,” the group said.

North Korea has a habit of executing bureaucrats who are perceived to have failed the regime, even though they are often merely carrying out the orders of higher-ranking officials or members of the ruling family.

In 2010, Pak Nam-gi, the former head of the finance department of the Workers’ Party, was reportedly executed by firing squad for the catastrophic attempt to reform the impoverished nation’s currency. The result was rampant inflation and food shortages became even more acute.

The 30 men executed for failing to improve Pyongyang’s ties with Seoul are considered scapegoats for the new low point in inter-Korean ties.

Their task would have been made immeasurably more difficult given North Korea’s insistence with pushing ahead with its development of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

In spite of universal condemnation of its failed attempt to launch what Pyongyang claimed was a rocket to put a satellite into orbit in April, North Korea appears to be putting the finishing touches to a test detonation of a nuclear device.

Kim Min-seok, a spokesman for South Korea’s Ministry of Defence, said on Thursday that intelligence reports indicate the North has completed its technical preparations to carry out the long-awaited test and that it could go ahead at any time.

Satellite images of the Punggye-ri site and other data show that the tunnel that had been excavated for the test has been refilled, indicating that the nuclear device has been put in place.

There is speculation that the test may be timed to coincide with the Memorial Day national holiday in the United States, which falls in Monday.

“The North Korean regime is hell-bent on being a belligerent actor,” said Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chair of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, during a visit to Seoul with a congressional delegation. “And I think that on holidays or sad commemorations like Memorial Day weekend is when the leadership tries to provoke the democratic allies into action.”

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – Amnesty Details Human Rights Abuses in N.Korea

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In the News – Amnesty Details Human Rights Abuses in N.Korea

Up to 200,000 prisoners are being held “in horrific conditions” in six concentration camps in North Korea, Amnesty International said at a press conference in Seoul Thursday to publicize its annual report.

The report said men, women and children are tortured, ill-treated, and forced to work in dangerous conditions in the camps. “The combination of hazardous forced labor, inadequate food, beatings, totally inadequate medical care and unhygienic living conditions, resulted in prisoners falling ill, and a large number died in custody or soon after release,” it adds.

Amnesty made even gloomier forecasts for the human rights situation in the North after the transfer of power to new leader Kim Jong-un. “In apparent preparation for a succession of power, unconfirmed reports suggested that, in January, the State Security Agency detained over 200 officials, some of whom were feared executed, while others were sent to political prison camps,” the report says.

“Thousands were imprisoned in at least 180 other detention facilities. Most were imprisoned without trial or following grossly unfair trials and on the basis of forced confessions.”

According to the report, 30 officials who had led or participated in dialogue with South Korea were either executed or killed in masked traffic accidents, and 37 officials were executed between 2007 and 2010 on economy-related charges.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – North Korea Announces It Will Release Prisoners

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In the News – North Korea Announces It Will Release Prisoners

By 
Published: January 10, 2012

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

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