China has reportedly sent hundreds of thousands of tons of rice to North Korea to help the Stalinist country maintain stability after leader Kim Jong-il’s death.
Do Hee-yoon of South Korean activist group Citizens’ Coalition for Human Rights of Abductees and North Korean Refugees on Monday said thousands of Chinese cargo trucks carrying bags of rice entered the North between Jan. 9 and right before the Lunar New Year holidays. As proof, he showed pictures taken near the customs office in Tumen in the Chinese province of Jilin on Jan. 12 . Continue reading →
SEOUL, South Korea — President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea vowed on Monday to “deal strongly with any provocations” from the North, predicting a “big change” on the divided Korean Peninsula following the death of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, and his young, untested son’s rise to power.
In his nationally televised New Year’s speech, Mr. Lee did not elaborate on what momentous change he foresaw. But policy-makers and analysts in the region are closely watching whether the designated successor in the North, Kim Jong-un, who is believed to be in his 20s, can consolidate his dynastic grip on power or will depend on caretakers and even regents to run the country, and how such scenarios might affect the country’s external policies, especially its nuclear weapons programs. Continue reading →
In the News – U.N. chief expresses hopes for easing tensions on Korean Peninsula
UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 30 (Yonhap) — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Friday he hopes to see tensions on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia ease next year, saying 2012 will be a very important one for Koreans.
In a New Year’s message to the people of his native South Korea, Ban also said he will provide unsparing support as U.N. chief to help reduce tensions on the divided peninsula and in the region.
Ban said that the year 2012 will be “very important” for the Korean Peninsula, apparently referring to the leadership change in North Korea after the Dec. 17 death of Kim Jong-il. South Korea is also set to elect a new parliament and a new president next year.
Ban also praised South Korea’s economic development and democracy as an exemplary success case of realizing the ideals and goals the United Nations pursues.
He also called for South Koreans to make greater contributions to the international community.
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 →