In the News – N. Korea’s west coast affected by severe drought


In the News – N. Korea’s west coast affected by severe drought

SEOUL, May 26 (Yonhap) — North Korea’s western coast region is experiencing severe drought that could seriously affect food production this year, a report by the communist country’s state-run media said Saturday.

The (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), picked up in Seoul, said that if there is no rainfall by the end of the month, the drought will be recorded as the worst since 1962.

It said from April 26 onwards, the capital city of Pyongyang received 2 millimeters of rain, while 5 millimeters fell in Haeju of South Hwanghae Province.

The KCNA added that Sinuiju, just across from the Chinese border city of Dandong, reported getting just 1 millimeter of rain in the past month.

The wire service said advanced weather forecasts indicate that little rainfall is expected in June, which can pose challenges for farmers in the region.


Original article can be found here.

In the News – Kim Jong Un Bashes ‘Pathetic’ North Korea Fun Park


In the News – Kim Jong Un Bashes ‘Pathetic’ North Korea Fun Park

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un publicly rebuked officials for the “pathetic” management of an amusement park in Pyongyang in an effort to bolster his image five months after taking power in the totalitarian state.

Kim toured the Mangyongdae Funfair in the capital and pointed out a broken pavement and chipped paint on rides while plucking weeds, the official Korean Central New Agency said yesterday. Improving the facility should be “an opportunity to remove outdated ideological views from officials’ heads and end their old work-style,” KCNA quoted him as saying.

Kim, believed to be under 30, became head of the country after his father Kim Jong Il died in December, inheriting an economy isolated through global sanctions and wracked by malnutrition. His condemnation of the conditions at the amusement park may be the latest effort to shore up his power base by reinforcing an image as an engaged leader, said analysts including Park Young Ho.

“This is Kim’s blatant effort to appeal to the public as a young leader thoroughly engaged in improving the people’s economic lives,” said Park, of the state-run Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul. “The strong words he uses to censure the officials show just how desperately he’s trying to gather public support.” Continue reading

In the News – N. Korean leader gets new political titles in key conference


In the News – N. Korean leader gets new political titles in key conference

SEOUL, April 12 (Yonhap) — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has gained new political titles, Pyongyang’s state news agency reported Thursday, ahead of an imminent rocket launch that could tighten sanctions on the already isolated country.

Kim was named first secretary of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party and also elected as a member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the party’s Central Committee, according to the (North) Korean Central News Agency.

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In the News – N. Korea completes electing new leader Kim as party delegate


In the News – N. Korea completes electing new leader Kim as party delegate

SEOUL, April 1 (Yonhap) — After a series of party meetings countrywide, North Korea has elected new leader Kim Jong-un as a delegate to this month’s ruling party conference, the North’s state media said Sunday, in a move seen by outside analysts as another effort to consolidate Kim’s grip on power.

The North’s ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) plans to hold a special session on April 13 and is expected to appoint the young Kim, believed to be in his late 20s, to the post of general secretary of the party. The same post was held by his late father Kim Jong-il.

The young leader became supreme commander of the North’s 1.1 million-strong military shortly after his father’s death in December, as he progressively takes more control of the communist country.

Announcing Kim as a WPK delegate, representatives “praised him as the great statesman who is wisely leading the revolution and construction as a whole with his tested leadership,” according to an English-language report by the Korean Central News Agency. Continue reading

In the News – North Korea to Hold First Parliament Session Under New Leader


In the News – North Korea to Hold First Parliament Session Under New Leader

North Korea announced Saturday it will hold an annual parliamentary session next month around the time of a planned rocket launch that has sparked widespread condemnation.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency said the Supreme People’s Assembly would convene on April 13.  Analysts say the parliament will likely promote the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, to chairman of the National Defense Commission, a post held by his father Kim Jong Il, who died in December.

The news agency also carried a statement by the North’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, who said launching a satellite “is an exercise of an independent and legitimate right in accordance with… international laws.”

The U.S., Russia, South Korea and Japan have condemned the planned launch, saying it violates a U.N. ban on all North Korean launches using ballistic missile technology.

Even Pyongyang’s long-time ally, China, has expressed rare disapproval.  Beijing said it is concerned about the launch’s potential to disrupt regional peace and security.


Original article can be found here.

In the News – Defiant North Korea says rocket launch to go ahead


In the News – Defiant North Korea says rocket launch to go ahead

(Reuters) – North Korea on Sunday rejected criticism of its planned long-range missile launch which threatens to upset its only major benefactor, China, and put relations with the United States back in the freezer just as they seemed to be starting to thaw.

Political analysts say the launch, which would violate U.N. resolutions on the heavily sanctioned state, is aimed at boosting the legitimacy of its young new ruler Kim Jong-un who inherited power after his father’s death in December.

“The peaceful development and use of space is a universally recognized legitimate right of a sovereign state,” the North’s state KCNA news agency said.

North Korea says it is using the rocket to launch a satellite to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, the country’s founding ruler and grandfather of the current ruler.

The United States, and others, say it is much the same as a ballistic missile test and therefore off-limits for the isolated state which has for years been trying to build a nuclear arsenal.

Washington, which last month agreed to supply North Korea with food in exchange for a suspension of nuclear tests, missile launches and uranium enrichment and to allow nuclear inspectors into the country, called the planned launch “highly provocative”.

More troubling perhaps for Pyongyang, which is long accustomed to trading invective with Washington, Beijing called the planned launch a “worry” in a rare attempt to put public pressure on its impoverished ally.

The North has invited foreign observers and journalists to attend the launch.

It announced the planned launch on Friday just weeks after the deal with Washington. It will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the birth of its founder Kim Il-sung.

In April 2009, North Korea conducted a ballistic rocket launch that resulted in a new round of U.N. sanctions, squeezing the secretive state’s already troubled economy and deepening its isolation.

That launch was dismissed as a failure after the first stage fell into the Sea of Japan without placing a satellite in orbit. Another test failed in similar circumstances in 1998.

The new launch is due to take place between April 12-16, to coincide with Kim Il-sung’s centenary celebrations and will coincide with parliamentary elections in South Korea.

Japan has said it would consider deploying PAC3 missile interceptors as it did in a 2009 launch by North Korea.

(Reporting by Sung-won Shim; Editing by David Chance and Jonathan Thatcher)

Original article can be found here.

In the News – Pyongyang Demands Answers from Seoul


In the News – Pyongyang Demands Answers from Seoul

Pyongyang on Thursday issued an “open questionnaire” that demands answers from Seoul if relations between the two Koreas are to improve.

The official KCNA news agency said that the questionnaire came from the policy department of the National Defense Commission, which “solemnly urges” South Korea to answer it “since it loudly trumpets a resumption of inter-Korean dialogue and improvement of relations.”  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