Interview with Andy (March 20th, 2012) on his August 2011 visit (10 days long)

On a sunny afternoon, I sat down with Andy. I met Andy during my visit to London over spring break, when I was visiting my sister who works for a consulting company. Andy recently graduated from Oxford University, where he studied Politics, and he recently started working with my sister at a consulting firm based in London. When I first met him Andy struck me as a well-travelled person; the type of guy who would mention a new place he visited every time you strike up a conversation with him. But one of the most interesting places that he had been to recently included Pyongyang. For 10 days last summer (August 2011), Andy travelled to North Korea with a group of other tourists. I had actually never met anyone who had been to North Korea for pure tourism purposes. I was curious to hear about his perspective on the country, and also his experiences during the trip.   Continue reading

Dinner at Pyongyang Restaurant at Seven?

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – an area renowned for isolation, shrouding itself in mystery – runs a chain of restaurants throughout Asia. Named after North Korea’s capital city, the restaurants, originally conceived to entice travelling South Korean businessmen hungry for Korean classics like kimchi or northern specialties like Pyongyang cold noodles or dangogi, have emerged in areas near the China-North Korean border, Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Jakarta, and, most recently, Amsterdam. In the words of Australian journalist Sebastian Strangio, who enjoyed a meal at the Pyongyang restaurant in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, the restaurant is brimming with curious customers, an overwhelming majority of which is South Korean. At Pyongyang Restaurant, customers can get an intriguing view of the lifestyles of North Koreans allowed to work outside of the borders of the DPRK. Continue reading

In the News – ASEAN to discuss North Korea rocket launch


In the News – ASEAN to discuss North Korea rocket launch

PHNOM PENH – Southeast Asian nations will discuss North Korea’s planned rocket launch at a summit this week, ASEAN chief Surin Pitsuwan said Sunday, after the Philippines lodged diplomatic protests over the matter.

“The foreign ministers are taking up that issue tomorrow and the day after tomorrow,” he told reporters in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, where officials are preparing for a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“I think we are all very concerned that any instability in the peninsula will lead to further possibility potential for (an) arms race, for nuclearization of the region, which will not be good for the region as a whole,” Surin told reporters when asked about ASEAN’s position on the launch.

“And it will certainly affect trade confidence, investment in the region, including in ASEAN,” he added.

Pyongyang announced last month it would launch a rocket between April 12-16 to place a satellite in orbit, sparking alarm in the region.

The United States and other nations say the planned launch is a disguised ballistic missile test, and would breach a UN ban on North Korean missile launches.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said earlier on Sunday his country had filed diplomatic protests about the launch to Pyongyang representatives at the UN, in China, and in fellow ASEAN member states.

Del Rosario also said he intends the raise his country’s stance on the launch at the annual ASEAN summit, a two-day meeting which starts in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, though foreign ministers will begin talks early on Monday.

A top US diplomat has previously said that debris from the launch are expected to land off the Philippines, an archipelago made up of thousands of islands. — AFP


Original article can be found here.

North Korean Defectors in the United States

Image representing face of refugees from Eritrea

Officially back on campus, I decided to get involved with Yale’s branch of THiNK, There’s Hope in North Korea, once again. Thinking back to my previous year as a volunteer for the organization, I remembered that we had been fortunate enough to hear the story of a North Korean defector now living in America. She had described how she had tried to defect from North Korea on more than one occasion. After the first attempt, she, her brother, and mother had been captured and sent to a detention center where they had been tortured. After she had one day escaped, she started a new life in the United States. Unfortunately, I do not remember enough of her story to form a narrative of her personal journey to America, whether or not she spent a lot of time in a third country or in South Korea before coming here. I only remember that she occasionally shares her experiences with others in the same way that she had for us undergraduate students. Continue reading

In the News – N. Korea accuses U.S. of seeking to create crisis on Korean Peninsula


In the News – N. Korea accuses U.S. of seeking to create crisis on Korean Peninsula

SEOUL, Jan. 30 (Yonhap) — North Korea accused the United States Monday of seeking to create crisis and maintain tension on the Korean Peninsula in an attempt to keep the Asia-Pacific region under its control.

North Korea routinely denounces the U.S. over its policy on the divided peninsula as well as its regular joint military exercises with South Korea. The latest criticism came weeks after Washington unveiled a new defense strategy that called for a bigger role for U.S. asiatroops in Asia despite a planned troop reduction due to budget constraints. Continue reading