In the News – More heavy rain causes flooding and cuts off power in North Korea

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In the News – More heavy rain causes flooding and cuts off power in North Korea 

North Korea Flood Dam_Leff.jpg

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ANJU, North Korea –  Heavy rain pounded North Korea for a second day Monday, submerging buildings, cutting off power, flooding rice paddies and forcing people and their livestock to reach safety on dry rooftops.

The latest rain follows downpours earlier this month that killed nearly 90 people and left more than 60,000 homeless, officials said. The floods come on the heels of a severe drought, fueling renewed food worries about a country that already struggles to feed its people.

Two-thirds of North Korea’s 24 million people face chronic food shortages, a U.N. report said last month, while asking donors for $198 million in humanitarian aid for the country. South Korean analyst Kwon Tae-jin said the recent flooding, coming so soon after the dry spell, is expected to worsen the North’s food problems.

On Sunday and Monday, rain hit the capital Pyongyang and other regions, with western coastal areas reporting heavy damage.

In Anju city in South Phyongan Province, officials reported 1,000 houses and buildings were destroyed and 5,680 acres of farmland were completely covered.

The Chongchon River in Anju city flooded on Monday, cutting communication lines and submerging rice paddies and other fields, said Kim Kwang Dok, vice chairman of the Anju City People’s Committee, who told The Associated Press that the disaster is the worst in the city’s history.

Boats made their way through the muddy waters that covered the city’s streets Monday. Many residents sat on their homes’ roofs and walls, watching the rising water. A young man wearing only underwear stood on a building’s roof with two pigs; four women sat on another rooftop with two dogs.

Helicopters flew to various areas to rescue flood victims, state media reported. Casualties from the latest rains were not immediately reported.

If it rains again before the water drains, Kim said, the damage will be greater.

Earlier this year, North Korea mobilized soldiers and workers to pour buckets of water on parched fields, irrigate farms and repair wells as what officials described as the worst dry spell in a century gripped parts of both North and South Korea.

North Korea does not produce enough food to feed its people, and relies on limited purchases of food as well as outside donations to make up the shortfall. North Korea also suffered a famine in the mid- and late-1990s, the FAO and World Food Program said in a special report late last year.
Original Article 

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In the News – UN Aid Workers Assess North Korea’s Flooded Regions

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In the News – UN Aid Workers Assess North Korea’s Flooded Regions

U.N. humanitarian agency says it has sent aid workers to two North Korean regions hit by severe floods to assess the need for relief supplies.

UNICEF spokesman Christopher de Bono said U.N. personnel based in North Korea left the capital, Pyongyang, on Tuesday to visit the flood-ravaged provinces of South Pyongan and Kangwon.

Week-long deluge

North Korea flooded provinces

Heavy rains have triggered deadly floods across much of North Korea since July 25. State media last reported a death toll of 88 people on Saturday. There was no immediate word on casualties from downpours on Sunday and Monday.

North Korea said the floods also have left tens of thousands of people homeless and caused widespread damage to farmland. It has not made any formal requests for foreign assistance.

Government pledges reconstruction

In a report Tuesday, Pyongyang’s official news agency KCNA said Premier Choe Yong Rim visited several hard-hit towns, consoling residents and promising government support for reconstruction. It says he also called for planting more trees to prevent soil erosion. Many parts of North Korea have become prone to flooding because of deforestation.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson said that Washington continues to be concerned about the North Korean people, but has no plans to make its own assessment of the impact of the floods. She said the United States does not link the provision of humanitarian assistance to political or security issues.

A recent U.N. report said two-thirds of North Korea’s 24 million people face chronic food shortages. Analysts say the latest flooding could make matters worse, since it came at the end of a drought.

Original Article 

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 – Stop crackdown on N. Korean refugees

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In the News – Stop crackdown on N. Korean refugees

By Sokeel Park

Western media attention on North Korea has recently been dominated by the U.S.-DPRK “Leap Day Deal” of food aid for nuclear concessions, and by Pyongyang’s subsequent announcement of a “satellite” launch to mark the centenary of Kim Il-sung’s birth, which would be a deal-breaker for the U.S. However, as usual, beneath all the high politics and focus on security concerns, there is quite a different story involving the North Korean people.

Away from the back and forth in U.S.-DPRK negotiations on security concerns, South Korea has been battling with the Chinese government over its forced repatriations of North Korean refugees. China is hemorrhaging soft-power on this issue, alienating the South Korean people and government and damaging its reputation before the international community. In the long run this is a strategic mistake.  Continue reading

In the News – Emergency Hearing on North Korean Refugees in China

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In the News – Emergency Hearing on North Korean Refugees in China

From L to R, T. Kumar, Director, International Advocacy for Amnesty International USA; Greg Scarlatoiu, Executive Director, the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea; and Michael Horowitz, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute testifies before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, March 5. They said that China’s forced repatriation of North Korean refugees violates International law. (Gary Feuerberg/ The Epoch Times)

WASHINGTON—The Congressional Executive Commission on China (CECC) held an emergency hearing to draw attention to the over 30 North Korean refugees who had fled to China and are facing the imminent danger of repatriation. If returned, they face certain persecution, torture, and even execution.

“The international community—especially the United Nations, the Obama Administration, and the U.S. Congress—must insist that China at long last honor its treaty obligations, end its egregious practice of [forced return to North Korea], or be exposed as hypocrites,” said Rep. Chris Smith, Chairman of the CECC, March 5 in his opening remarks. Continue reading

In the News – China has repatriated North Korean defectors, South Korean official says

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In the News – China has repatriated North Korean defectors, South Korean official says

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) — Ignoring international protests, China may have repatriated around 30 North Korean defectors who had been caught while trying to escape their homeland, a South Korean official said Friday.

Park Sun-young, a South Korean lawmaker who had been on hunger strike protesting such repatriations, told CNN she believes the North Koreans have been sent back.  CNN cannot independently confirm the assertion. Continue reading

In the News – China to Repatriate ‘Hundreds’ of N.Koreans

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In the News – China to Repatriate ‘Hundreds’ of N.Koreans

Hundreds of North Korean defectors were awaiting repatriation as of last Friday after being arrested in various parts of China, rights activists say.

“Some 220 defectors have been interrogated by regional security departments in China and are being held at about 10 detention centers near the North Korea-China border,” said Kim Hoe-tae of Solidarity for North Korean Human Rights. “They’ll be sent back to the North one by one.” Continue reading

In the News – S. Korea to call on China to comply with refugee law for N. Korean defectors

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In the News – S. Korea to call on China to comply with refugee law for N. Korean defectors

SEOUL, Feb. 19 (Yonhap) — In what appears to be a policy shift to step up efforts to avoid repatriation of North Korean defectors detained in China to their communist homeland, South Korea said Sunday it will urge Beijing to comply with an international refugee law. Continue reading

The Death of Kim Jong-Il: Painting Perspective Part I

After the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il became known internationally, several friends and relatives who had known that I had worked as a volunteer English tutor at Hangyeore, a boarding school for North Korean refugee students, asked me if the emotional outburst and fits of tears that news reports presented were real. But I found that I did not know how to answer them because I think that a lot of the media already implies that the feelings of devotion expressed by the people to such a leader as Kim Jong-Il have no potential for authenticity. Taken out of context or applied to the messages that the media wants to convey, perhaps the tears of the North Korean people seem far-fetched or unjustifiable.

Although I do not intend to ignore violations of human rights occurring in North Korea with my more critical approach to the media, I think that it is unfair to put so much trust into the media’s portrayal of North Korea’s situation when understanding of North Korea still has its limitations since the North Korean state continues its policy of isolation. In my next few articles I hope to explore the way the death of Kim Jong-Il has been portrayed by a few different perspectives in the media to show how the media creates different images of the truth.

In this article, I would like to take a look at the image Fox News presents in regards to North Korea. I have chosen to look at Fox News because of its prevalence in the United States – the channel is estimated to air in about 102 million households – and its international presence – Fox News airs in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Israel, Pakistan, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and several other nations. Also I would like to take a look at Fox News because of its notoriety for promoting conservative political positions. Continue reading

Thoughts on Kim Jong-il’s Death

Kim Jong-Il in August 2011

Originally I had intended to write about South Korea’s plan to put up a hundred-foot tall Christmas tree. North Korea was quite upset about this affront to their nation, declaring it to be tantamount to psychological warfare, and threatened that “unexpected consequences” would ensue if the tree went up. Where North Korea is concerned, almost all consequences are unexpected, so I found their threat convincing enough.

But a rather unexpected circumstance popped up on its own, a development more compelling to write about: Kim Jong-il died. I found out after work on the 18th; I had called my boss to talk shop on the walk home and as I was about to hang up she told me. We both sounded happy when we got off the phone with each other. I reflect that most people outside North Korea seem pretty happy about the news, though they may not proclaim it loudly. But the tone of the activity seems, on the whole, celebratory. Continue reading

Decoding Images from North Korea

This footage, seen by countless Americans on YouTube, leaves many with images that are easily misunderstood and are not easily decoded. To the common viewer, it most likely underlines the assumptions that Westerners already have of North Korea—that Kim Jong Il’s citizens loved him and Kim Il Sung and that the citizens have the same goals and ideals as the government. This footage, however, just like the propaganda videos broadcasting happy civilians, is state controlled, and therefore requires another look. The ultimate question is whether or not this act of grieving is voluntary or not, shedding light onto the real loyalty and culture of the citizens. Continue reading