The Coalition for North Korean Women’s Rights: Part II

 

Before looking into the individual experiences of the women of the Coalition for North Korean Women’s Rights, it is worthwhile to explore North Korean society, the women’s struggles within that society and also in China. Notorious for male dominance and paternalism, North Korean society relies on women to sustain the system that has been in place since the leadership of Kim Il Sung. Although Journey for Survival indicates that women became a larger part of the economy after the financial crisis of the 1990s, the testimonies that follow its introductory pages reveal that violence has been projected against them both while they lived in North Korea and when they journeyed abroad in search of food and work to provide for their families.

According to Journey for Survival, most defectors come from Hangyeongbuk-do and Yanggang-do because these regions, which are closest to the border between North Korea and China, are the first victims of any standstill in the distribution of food. This is especially because the region is home to people from the lower classes. Consequently, most of the early defectors originated from this area; however, as of late, members of the middle class have also started to migrate in search of something new because information about possible escape routes have spread and the opportunity for a different kind of life in South Korea has grown more attractive to the masses (Journey for Survival, 14). Continue reading

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The Coalition for North Korean Women’s Rights: Part I

 

During last summer’s Ministry of Unification internship program, we interns visited a small local clothing factory where some of the North Korean women who recently defected have found work after getting adjusted to life in South Korea. While visiting the factory, we got a look around the workstation. There were a few stations set up for sewing with rows of sewing machines, large tables for cutting, and poles hanging with new coats for the upcoming fall and winter seasons. The organizers of the fieldtrip also told us a little more about the increasing number of women who have been defecting from North Korea. It was still difficult for me to keep up with the spoken Korean language, but, fortunately, they also supplied us with small books describing the women’s journeys from North to South Korea in both Korean and English. The small books, Journey for Survival: A Report on Female North Korean Refugees and Human Trafficking,were published by the Coalition for North Korean Women’s Rights explaining their humble origins and including a collection of testimonies from coalition members. Continue reading

In the News – Fewer N.Korean Defectors Come to S.Korea

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In the News – Fewer N.Korean Defectors Come to S.Korea

The number of North Korean defectors arriving in South Korea in the first half of this year dropped to half that of the same period last year. According to the Unification Ministry on Thursday, 751 defectors arrived from January to June, down 45.4 percent from 1,375 on-year.

The number of defectors arriving here mostly rose every year since 2001, when it first exceeded 1,000. The figure only dropped in 2005, by 27 percent, and in 2010, by 19 percent. But this is the first time that the number has fallen so drastically

A tougher crackdown by the North Korean regime seems to be the main reason. A ministry official said, “Around the time of former leader Kim Jong-il’s death late last year, more guard posts were set up along the North Korea-China border, and the brakes were put on North Korean border guards taking bribes to turn a blind eye to defectors crossing the river.”

“Since the North imported electromagnetic wave detectors from Germany last year, it has been difficult to make phone calls to anybody in the North,” points out Kim Hee-tae of Group for North Korea Human Rights, an NGO helping defectors. “The broker’s fee for arranging a defection has increased by more than 50 percent.”

Until last year, about equal numbers fled to China in search of food or traveled to a third country right after escaping the North with the help of their families or acquaintances in South Korea.

But now more than 80 percent who arrive here fled to China in search of food first and then come to Seoul later, suggesting that the regime’s crackdown has crippled South Korean NGOs’ organized assistance, and only those who had already fled and lived in China manage to get to South Korea.

China’s crackdown on illegal aliens this year also probably plays a part.

Original Article 

In the News – UN: North Korea needs immediate food aid due to flood

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In the News – UN: North Korea needs immediate food aid due to flood 

UNITED NATIONS –  North Korea needs immediate food assistance after heavy rains killed scores of people and submerged vast swaths of farmland, a U.N. office said Thursday.

That assessment was released by the U.N. resident coordinator’s office in Pyongyang following visits to flood-stricken areas in North Korea earlier this week. Floods caused by two storm systems last month killed at least 119 people and left tens of thousands homeless, according to the North’s state media.

The United States said it would consider a request for assistance but has not received one, and it was not aware of Pyongyang making such requests to other states.

“If requested, it would be something that that we would carefully evaluate but we are not at that point,” State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told a news conference in Washington Thursday.

The flooding, which occurred on the heels of a severe drought, renewed concerns about North Korea’s ability to feed its people. In June, the U.N. said two-thirds of the country’s 24 million people are coping with chronic food shortages.

Thursday’s U.N. report said torrential rains caused severe damage to homes, public buildings, infrastructure and farms, affecting maize, soybean and rice fields. The worst-hit areas are Anju city and Songchon County in South Phyongan Province, as well as Chonnae County in Kangwon Province, where residents are in dire need of emergency food aid, it said.

Some 36,000 families in Anju do not have access to clean water; wells are contaminated due to overflow of pit latrines and open drainage, raising the risk of a diarrhea outbreak, the report said. A city official told The Associated Press earlier this week that it was the worst disaster in Anju’s history.

North Korean officials are asking for food, fuel, medicine, water and purification supplies, while farmers are requesting seeds and fertilizer for the next season, the U.N. said.

Aid groups have donated emergency supplies, including the British-based charity ShelterBox, which dispatched 270 tents to North Korea, according to Howard Chang, a spokesman for Rotary International, who provides funding to ShelterBox.

The U.S. government gave $900,000 in relief supplies for North Korea after deadly floods last year. A subsequent plan this year to send 240,000 tons in food aid in return for nuclear concessions was scuppered when North Korea tested a long-range rocket in April. Washington said that step undermined confidence that North Korea would stick to its agreement to allow proper monitoring of food distributions.

Original Article 

In the News – North Korea says nearly 120 killed after July rainfalls

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In the News – North Korea says nearly 120 killed after July rainfalls

(Reuters) – Recent torrential rain and a typhoon inNorth Korea have killed 119 people, made more than 84,000 homeless and destroyed some 46,000 hectares of crops, the official news agency said on Wednesday.

It is now feared that the rains and typhoon that led to floods in many parts of the impoverished country will deal a severe blow to North Korea’s already malfunctioning economy and exacerbate its already serious food shortages.

“Downpours swept some east and west coastal areas of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on July 29-30, leaving 31 people dead and 16 missing,” the KCNA news agency said on Wednesday, using the country’s official name.

This was on top of the damage KCNA previously reported as resulting from about a week of heavy rainfall and floods earlier in July, which led to 88 deaths and left thousands left homeless.

A United Nations inter-agency team was already deployed to the two hardest-hit areas to assess the damage from recent floods with a view to developing an aid plan, a U.N. official said on Tuesday.

Since the mid-1990s, North Korea’s farm sector has frequently been devastated by floods and drought. The floods could weigh on Kim’s efforts to buoy the moribund economy.

Landslides and lightning storms also led to some casualties while floods damaged some coal mines, North Korea’s primary energy source, KCNA also reported on Wednesday.

North Korea remains one of the most isolated states in the world. That has not changed since new leader Kim Jong-un took power seven months ago.

A recent United Nations report classified 7.2 million of the 24 million population as “chronic poor” and said one in three children were stunted due to poor nutrition.

Original Article

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

North Korea Flood Dam_Leff(1).jpg

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 

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 – Pyongyang Says Floods Kill Scores, Hurt Crops

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In the News – Pyongyang Says Floods Kill Scores, Hurt Crops

SEOUL—North Korea said heavy rain caused by a typhoon killed nearly 90 people, destroyed thousands of homes and submerged a large amount of farmland.

Seoul-based analyst Kwon Tae-jin said the flooding is expected to worsen North Korea’s chronic food shortage because it comes soon after a severe drought.

The official Korean Central News Agency said Saturday that rains over the past month killed 88 people and left more than 60,000 homeless.

It said that about 11,860 hectares of cropland were washed away and 63,500 hectares submerged.

The United Nations said last month that two-thirds of North Korea’s 24 million people face chronic food shortages.

Original Article 

In the News – N.Korea Needs Bold Reforms to Feed Its People

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In the News – N.Korea Needs Bold Reforms to Feed Its People

North Korea has embarked on agricultural reforms, reducing basic farming units in some areas from the present 10 to 25 people to family units of just four to six, and increasing cash crops the farmers can sell in the market. These and other agricultural measures announced late last month appear aimed at boosting crop output through incentives.

There are unconfirmed reports that the agricultural reforms are being carried out on a trial basis in three provinces, with 30 percent of grain output being allotted to individuals.

North Korea has no choice but to bring about fundamental changes to farming if it wants to stop turning cap-in-hand to other countries to feed its people. In 1978, China scrapped its collective farming system, which North Korea emulates, and allowed family units to profit from their crop yields depending on output. Seven years later, incomes in farming communities had risen 2.5-fold. North Korea must waste no time in walking down that path.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un pledged in a speech in April this year that he would make sure his people will never starve again. “It is our party’s resolute determination to let our people… not tighten their belts again and enjoy the wealth and prosperity of socialism as much as they like,” he said. The state media quoted Kim as vowing to build “an economically powerful state” and strive for the “improvement of the people’s livelihood.” The latest measures appear to reflect these pledges.

But North Korea announced similar reforms in 1997 that were also to have cut the size of each communal farming unit to seven to eight people and lowered the quota of crops that had to be submitted to state coffers. In 2002, the North announced measures to increase the amount of land farmers could use to produce crops they could sell in the market. But the regime each time scrapped the reforms shortly afterward because they had unwelcome side effects and purged the officials in charge of them.

The regime feared that the changes would cause the communal farming units to collapse entirely and undermine the state’s far-reaching network of informants and minders that had been keeping a close watch over the populace.

North Korea’s foreign policy in the coming months and years will be a good gauge of whether the latest reforms are temporary measures aimed at appeasing an increasingly disaffected population or whether they signal the start of major changes. The North will face severe limits to improving its economy as long as the international community upholds sanctions. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un must realize that he will never be able to feed his hungry people through window dressing.

Original Article

In the News – Romney camp views China as key to resolving N. Korean issue

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In the News – Romney camp views China as key to resolving N. Korean issue

By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, July 25 (Yonhap) — Former Gov. Mitt Romney, the presumptive presidential candidate of the Republican Party, believes China holds the key to resolving the North Korea problem, a close aide to Romney said Wednesday.

“North Korea is a tremendously difficult problem,” Rich Williamson, senior adviser for foreign and defense policy for Romney, said at a forum in Washington.

He said the Romney camp recognizes that China is “the leverage point” to try to change North Korea, armed with nuclear weapons and various missiles.

“As you know, North Korea is sustained by Beijing’s food support,” he said, citing Washington’s years of efforts to put more pressure on North Korea through China.

He pointed out Romney has not outlined the details of his strategy on Pyongyang yet, but hinted that he supports the six-party talks on the communist nation’s nuclear program.

“On a bipartisan basis there has been support for the six-party talks,” he said.

Williamson, who served as U.S. special envoy to Sudan during the George W. Bush administration, was debating with Michele Flournoy, former under secretary of defense for policy.

Flournoy represented the Obama government in the session hosted by the Brookings Institution on the foreign policy agendas of the two sides.

Original Article 

In the News – Seoul central bank: North Korean economy logs 1st growth in 3 years on agricultural boost

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In the News – Seoul central bank: North Korean economy logs 1st growth in 3 years on agricultural boost

SEOUL, South Korea — The central bank in Seoul says North Korea’s economy grew for the first time in three years, thanks to a boost in agricultural production.

The Bank of Korea in South Korea said Sunday that the North’s gross domestic product grew 0.8 percent in 2011.

The bank credits favorable weather and more use of fertilizer in boosting crop production in North Korea. It estimates the North’s gross national income at $28 billion – compared to $1 trillion last year for South Korea.

The bank provides annual estimates of the North’s economy by analyzing data gathered by South Korean government agencies. Pyongyang has not publicly released detailed economic data for decades.

The United Nations says North Korea continues to face chronic food shortages affecting two-thirds of the population.

Original Article

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

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 – 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 – 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 executed at least three over cannibalism: think tank

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In the News – N. Korea executed at least three over cannibalism: think tank

SEOUL, May 10 (Yonhap) — North Korea has held public executions of at least three people on charges of cannibalism in recent years, a South Korean state-run institute said Thursday, the latest development that could support what has long been rumored in the isolated country.

There have been accounts among North Korean defectors in the South that some North Koreans ate and sold human flesh during the massive famine in the late 1990s that was estimated to have killed 2 million people.

A North Korean man in the northeastern city of Hyesan was executed in December 2009 for killing a preteen girl and eating her flesh, the Korea Institute for National Unification said in a white paper on human rights in North Korea, which is set to be released next week.

The man committed the crime because of a lack of food following Pyongyang’s botched currency reform in late 2009 that caused massive inflation and worsened food shortages, the white paper said, citing an interview with an unidentified defector in June last year.

The institute held in-depth interviews with 230 North Korean defectors in the South last year as part of efforts to glean fresh information on the North’s situation ahead of publication of its annual white paper.

An activist calls for a stop to public executions in North Korea during a rally in Seoul in mid-April. (Yonhap file photo)

The interviewees account for just a fraction of the more than 23,500 North Korean defectors who have settled in the South since the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty.

The white paper, the gist of which was obtained by Yonhap News Agency, also said a father and his son were shot to death in the eastern town of Doksong in 2006 on charges of eating human flesh, citing an eyewitness account of a North Korean defector.

The institute also said there was an account of cannibalism in the country’s northeastern town of Musan in 2011, though it was not known whether any punishment was meted out.

Last year, Caleb Mission, a small South Korean missionary group, unveiled a 2009 North Korean police document, which, among other things, chronicled several cases of cannibalism amid an acute food shortage in the communist country.

In one account, a male guard who could not bear his hunger killed his colleague using an ax, ate some of the human flesh and sold the remainder in the market by disguising it as mutton, the North Korean police report said, without giving any further details such as when the alleged crime occurred.

A former North Korean official who defected to the South 2001 said Thursday that he heard about more than a dozen cases of cannibalism from a North Korean intelligence official around 1999.

He said the practice appears to have ended in the North, citing his recent telephone conversation with another former North Korean official in the North. He asked not to be identified, citing safety concerns.

Still, the claim could not be independently verified as the North strictly restricts outside access to the country.

Despite the North’s crackdowns, some North Koreans near the border with China use Chinese mobile phones to keep in touch with their relatives and friends in South Korea and China, according to defectors.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – Clinton says U.S. willing to work with North Korea if it reforms

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In the News – Clinton says U.S. willing to work with North Korea if it reforms

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) gestures as she speaks next to China's Vice Premier Wang Qishan at the joint statement reading for the closing of the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing May 4, 2012. Clinton told Chinese President Hu Jintao on Friday that relations between their two countries were the strongest they had ever been, even as the two countries are engaged in a spat over China's treatment of a blind dissident. REUTERS-Jason Lee

By Andrew Quinn

BEIJING | Fri May 4, 2012 9:01am EDT

(Reuters) – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday that the United States was willing to work withNorth Korea if it changed its ways, and also said more pressure should be brought to bear on Sudan and Syria.

Speaking in Beijing at the end of two-days of high-level meetings overshadowed by a crisis over a Chinese dissident who had sought refuge at the U.S. embassy, Clinton sought to underscore that Washington and Beijing could still work together on key international issues.

“We see two nations that are now thoroughly and inescapably interdependent,” Clinton said in prepared remarks in the closed door meeting.

On North Korea, where the United States wants China to put more pressure on the isolated nation’s leadership to reign in its nuclear ambitions, Clinton said Washington was still willing to work with Pyongyang if it changes its ways.

“The new leadership in Pyongyang still has the opportunity to change course and put their people first. If they focus on honoring their commitments and rejoining the international community, and on feeding and educating their citizens, the United States will welcome them and work with them,” she said. Continue reading

In the News – N. Korea faxes propaganda messages to S. Korean groups

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In the News – N. Korea faxes propaganda messages to S. Korean groups

SEOUL, May 8 (Yonhap) — North Korea has sent faxed messages to 13 South Korean civic and religious organizations in recent weeks to criticize South Korea’s alleged insult to the North’s dignity, an official said Tuesday.

The messages came in response to South Korea’s accusation that the North wasted millions of dollars on celebrating the centennial of the April 15 birth of the country’s late founder Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un.

South Korea has said the North should have used the money to buy much-needed food for its 24 million people.

Some South Koreans have recently held anti-Pyongyang events in Seoul.

One of the messages claimed that Seoul’s insult to the North is a provocation by conservative forces to win the presidential election in December, according to the official who is familiar with the issue.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s single five-year term ends early next year and by law, he cannot seek re-election. North Korea has repeatedly condemned Lee as a traitor and called for his ouster in an apparent protest of his hard-line policy toward Pyongyang.

The latest faxed messages came as Pyongyang has threatened to launch special military actions to reduce Seoul to ashes in minutes over Seoul’s defamation of the North’s leader.

 

Original article can be found here

In the News – N.Korea ‘Spent Enough on Nukes to Buy Food for 8 Years’

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In the News – N.Korea ‘Spent Enough on Nukes to Buy Food for 8 Years’

Chronically hard-up North Korea has spent a total of US$6.58 billion on nuclear weapons development and now has a dozen bombs, including three uranium weapons, a South Korean expert claims. The expert, who requested anonymity, said the money would have been enough to buy 1,940 tons of corn from China or eight year’s worth of rations for the North Korean people.

Since the 1980s, North Korea spent $2.01 billion on building nuclear facilities including those in Yongbyon, $310 million on related research, $2.72 billion to operate the facilities, $1.34 billion to develop nuclear weapons, and $200 million on nuclear tests, he claimed.

North Korea says it operates 2,000 uranium-enrichment centrifuges. If that is true, it would be able to produce 40 kg of highly enriched uranium per year. Since it takes 15 to 25 kg of uranium to produce one nuclear weapon, North Korea may have developed one to two uranium bombs a year, the expert explained.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – South Korea to Continue Aid to North Despite Rocket Launch

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In the News – South Korea to Continue Aid to North Despite Rocket Launch

Despite the provocative rocket launch by North Korea last Friday, South Korea is to continue providing humanitarian aid to its impoverished neighbor, with whom it remains technically at war.

Private aid agencies

South Korea’s key official dealing with Pyongyang says his government is not cutting off humanitarian assistance to the North.

Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik says while other punitive steps will be taken against Pyongyang for the missile launch, Seoul is allowing private relief agencies to continue providing aid for vulnerable people in North Korea. Continue reading