NK NEWS BRIEF | Feb 6, 2013
Posted February 6, 2013 by SPark
Players from SK (in blue) and NK (in red) sit together at an International Young Women’s Football Tournament in Hainan Island, China. The teams were refused permission to play by SK’s Ministry of Unification, but were able to spend some time chatting in their hotel | Photo: Hankyoreh / Lee Jeong-ah
- New Focus International: NKoreans are continuing to receive SK analogue TV broadcasts. Houses located in areas with better reception are also reported to be more highly valued.
- Daily NK: KJI and KJU are undergoing “quiet criticism” from Cabinet cadre officials for botching the Heechon power station and dam construction project. KJI is criticized for telling them to, “bring the ten-year construction period forward by roughly seven years”, while KJU is criticized for the, “diversion of a thousand tons of high-strength cement from the power station construction site to the construction of apartments in Hoiryeong”, resulting in leaks in the dam’s construction.
- New Focus International gives a brief introduction to cell-phones in NK.
- Daily NK: NK authorities are reportedly limiting movements of people and goods during the current state of heightened military mobilization, and cracking down on unlicensed traders operating outside officially sanctioned marketplaces. In addition, there are more cases of mobilized troops taking food and firewood from local homes, causing public annoyance.
FOOD SECURITY & ECONOMY
- Shanghai Rotarian Randal Eastman assisted ShelterBox in distributing winterized tents, helping homeless typhoon survivors by providing insulation against sub-zero winter temperatures.
- Chinese company “Weijin Investment Group” will invest 20m USD in an NK goldmine, and what is to be NK’s first 30-story, five star hotel.
- Reports from Chinese businessmen suggest that NK may have changed its policy that only allowed trade officials to serve one term abroad. The previous revolving-door personnel policy was aimed at limiting the amount of time an official could spend outside of the country. Li, a Chinese merchant: “A North Korean trade representative who had worked in Dandong five years ago returned [to China] as a representative working in Beijing, which was surprising.”
- YNA reports that the Korea Taep’ung International Investment Group has dissolved, most likely due to poor performance. Established in 2010, Taep’ung began as an energy provider selling oil and gas (via Sinu’iju) to the KPA and KWP Central Committee.
- SK’s Joongang Ilbo reviews recent events concerning NK defectors. MOU spokesman on the recent re-defectors: “It seems they were forced to return and not voluntarily. We have some clues that lead us to think so.” Park Sang-hak, NK defector and activist, and friend of recent re-defector: “I confirmed that she visited a border region in China and North Korea to get her children and bring them to the South. She told her friends that she would come back soon, leaving her residential apartment. And there, I guess she was abducted by North Korean security guards in China.” Park comments, “We fear the regime is stirring up prejudice against defectors in the South with those press meetings.”
- Saenuri Party lawmaker Hwang Woo-yea, co-chair of the International Parliamentarians’ Coalition for NK Refugees and Human Rights (IPCNKR), has sent a letter to the 46 members of the UN Human Rights Council urging them to establish an inquiry to investigate NK human rights abuses.
- The International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK), consisting of over 40 human rights organizations welcomes Japan’s support for a UN “Commission of Inquiry” on NK’s human rights violations.
- Reporters Without Borders ranks NK as the second worst country for press freedom, ranked behind only Eritrea. SK’s rank fell from 44 to 50.
INTERNATIONAL POLITICS & SECURITY
- Evidence of an impending nuclear test mounts as NK erects a covering over the entrance to a tunnel in the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. Activity has been detected around a second tunnel at the same site leading to speculation of a double nuclear test. KJU has also reportedly made an “important decision” about security and sovereignty at a meeting of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers’ Party.
- ROK Ambassador to the UN’s response to potential nuclear test: “I would expect very firm and strong measures to be taken once they [NK] go ahead with such provocations.”
- Consultations are underway between the SK and US on what kinds of joint sanctions will be taken against NK.
- Global Times (China): “China is unlikely to punish NK as harshly as countries like the US, Japan and S Korea would prefer, and the friendship between the two sides is not going to end.”
- NK state media (KCNA, KCTV, Rodong, Radio PY, Chosun Central TV) have had almost no mention of China following the passage of the UNSC resolution on Jan 23.
- SKorean and U.S. troops began naval drills on Feb. 4 in a show of force partly directed at NK amid signs of the impending nuclear test.
- After previous denials, the NIS admits that an agent surnamed Kim wrote posts on left-leaning website “Today’s Humor.” Kim is being accused of trying to sway public opinion before last December’s presidential election, however the NIS claims that the comments were part of the department’s psychological warfare against NK.
- NK, official website “Uriminzokkiri” posted a video depicting a US city on fire (footage from the popular game, Call of Duty) after a missile strike. The video is set to the song, “We Are the World”.
ANALYSIS & OPINION
- Pollack: Pyongyang’s long pursuit of uranium, “is the clearest indication that NK intends to retain and enhance its nuclear weapons capabilities and has no intention to give up these capabilities. That is the fundamental fact that all outside powers must address.”
- Daily NK: Experts say that the potential Chinese delegation to NK to dissuade a nuclear test will have little effect unless it incorporates an official from the highest echelons of the Chinese leadership. Dr. Choi Chun-heum of KINU: “There will [be] substantial results only if someone in a position of real power like a member of the Politburo Standing Committee is on the visiting delegation. The current effort will certainly not yield any results.”
- Daniel Sneider: “Neither Seoul nor Washington can or should abandon the goal of rolling back North Korea’s nuclear weapons capability. But we need to place that goal within the broader framework of promoting the transformation of North Korea.”
- Bill Richardson on his visit to NK: “Our societies are very different, no doubt. But North Koreans desire and deserve a better quality of life than the one they have. And if their young leader is true to the statements he has made to his people about improving their livelihood, the ﬁrst thing he should do is break the cycle of escalation, refrain from additional tests and, along with the United States, engage in direct dialogue.”
- Haggard on recent institutional developments in NK: “We look closely at institutional developments in North Korea for signs of hope: that Kim Jong Un would shift his attention to bodies that would constrain his impulses for the grand gesture or represent a somewhat wider array of economic and social interests. Lost amidst the focus on the likely nuclear test is the ample evidence that precisely the opposite is occurring. Kim Jong Un is picking institutional venues that showcase—and cheerlead—his militaristic impulses.”
- Football player Jong Tae-se was recognized as having dual NK and SK citizenship by the AFC, and will be allowed to play both for the NK national team in international matches and in AFC Champions League matches as an SK player. Jong has both SKorean citizenship and a NKorean passport.
- Vice Magazine on the jokes people make about NK.
- Don Kirk on Tony Namkung’s behind-the-scenes role in exchanges between the US and NK.
- Global Post on the unique bond shared between Cambodia’s King-father Norodom Sihanouk and Kim Il-sung.
- New Focus International: In NK, even children’s toys aren’t exempt from propaganda.
- CNN on private NKorean high schools in Japan.
- Gianluca Spezza on the political and propaganda role of women in NK, separating them into four categories: “1) iconic female figures created and amplified by the propaganda apparatus since the inception of the DPRK; 2) a few, relatively unknown workers and revolutionaries, portrayed as labour heroes; 3) women who acquired a certain political power, but remain behind the scenes and 4) North Korean women who involuntarily gained fame, mainly outside of North Korea, through the internet and the relative opening of the DPRK to foreign visitors.”
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