NK NEWS BRIEF | September 5, 2012
Posted September 5, 2012 by Justin
KJU, in another unconventional public appearance, visiting the homes of working people in Pyongyang with his wife | Photo: KCNA via Yonhap
- NK is to convene an unusual second session of its Supreme People’s Assembly on Sept 25, just five months after the previous session. The unusual session could be related to approving laws related to new economic reform programs or the reshuffling of powerful institutions.
- KCNA reports that Typhoon Bolaven killed 48 and leaves more than 21,000 homeless in NK.
- KJU has resumed economic field inspections after a series of front-line military unit visits coinciding with ROK-US military drills. KJU has made 113 public appearances from Jan-Aug, compared to 88 public appearances by his father in the same period last year.
- Yonhap: MOU official says control of economic projects is being shifted from military to the cabinet, in preparation for the 6.28 new economic management system reforms.
- Asahi Shimbun: “NK govt sources” report that from October state-run enterprises and shops will be allowed to retain 70% of their profits, in order to improve worker motivation. As yet no independent verification.
- Washpo’s Chico Harlan on NK’s hints of reform: One foreign govt official said he met with several senior North Korean officials who gave a “consistent message about economic policy and economic development” while never once mentioning the long-favored military. “Obviously, they didn’t use the term ‘economic reform’… Those are dangerous terms and counterproductive. But the clear message I got from senior people was: We know we need to build the economy.”
- NK experts speculate that the regime may be preparing monetary reform as a way to fix its economy, given increasing academic publications and reports in the North about the need for such reforms.
- Daily NK: The impending implementation of the 6.28 reforms is causing concern among the NK people, leading to sudden exchange rate and price hikes. It’s fair to say the people have been burned by previous cases of govt intervention in the economy.
- NK Econ Watch: Choson Exchange update on the current state of Rason’s new highway to China (completed), Russian railway connection (completed), port construction (on hold), energy supply, tourism and investment.
- NKNews: Interview with Fujimoto on meeting KJU.
- VOA: FAO and WFP to conduct annual harvest survey on September 24th.
- The Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies have published their mid-year report on NK.
- AmeriCare has announced that it is airlifting aid to NK this week including “enough antibiotics, hospital supplies and wound-care products to treat up to 15,000 survivors”
- RFA: Recent floods and power outages are forcing more NKoreans to use manual pumps to get clean water. One source revealed that “demand for the pumps is constantly increasing, even though at between 40,000 to 60,000 won (10 to 20 USD based on market exchange rates) they are a significant expense in the impoverished nation.” The official average monthly wage for a government servant is 2,000 to 6,000 won (0.70 to 2 USD), indicating the level of reliance on market activity for procurement of such goods
- SK NGOs have launched a one month drive to provide 3,000 tons of wheat flour for children and flood victims in NK
- Survey: 63 out of 88 of SK National Assembly lawmakers polled thought SK should provide humanitarian aid to NK independent of political or military circumstances. Only 4 disagreed.
- The SK National Assembly has passed a resolution calling for an inquiry into the Kim Young-hwan torture incident surrounding the arrest of four SKoreans on March 29th in Dalian, China on “suspicion of violating Chinese national security”.
- Cho Myung-chul, SK’s first defector-lawmaker, has put forth his own version of the NKHR Act to the legislature. “Cho is the second lawmaker to propose a version of the bill, following another ruling party lawmaker, Yoon Sang Hyun, who proposed his own variation as soon as the 19th National Assembly opened.”
- Chung Eun-chang, a NKorean refugee hired as a professor by the Institute for Unification Education, has donated her salary for this month to the Unification fund. The fund was set up to “help prepare for the two Koreas’ eventual unification, which experts say could cost up to 249 trillion won ($216 billion) in its first year.”
- Markus Bell on NK refugees’ difficulties assimilating into SK society, and the inevitable formation of a NK enclave community.
INTERNATIONAL POLITICS & SECURITY
- Japanese-NK talks concluded with a promise to meet again as early as next month. The abduction issue will be on the table in the next meeting.
- Iranian State TV announced that Iran and NK signed a technology agreement. The report did not provide details about the implications of the deal, but stated that “it will include setting up joint scientific and technological laboratories, exchange of scientific teams between the two countries and transfer of technology in the fields of information technology, energy, environment, agriculture and food.”
- UN SG Ban Ki-moon met with NK’s ceremonial head of state Kim Yong-nam at the NAM summit in Tehran, and expressed hope for improving inter-Korean relations.
- A new survey reveals that more North and South Koreans regard each other as enemies than in the past two years.
- The SK Ministry of Defense announced that it “will develop a variety of offensive and defensive cyberwarfare weapons and reinforce manpower at the military cyber command, as part of its bid to enhance preparedness against threats of cyberattacks from North Korea.”
- Park Geun-hye: SK-China cooperation needed to help transform NK into responsible member of international community. If NK gives up its nuclear weapons program, there is hope for improved N-S relations.
ANALYSIS & OPINION
- Jeffery Lewis and Hannah Rhee translate and discuss important scenes in “The Country I Saw”, a NKorean film about a Japanese professor who learns to love NK’s nuclear weapons, providing great insight into the NKorean perspective of international affairs.
- Paul Tjia on the history, current status, and potential future of NKorea’s garment export sector.
- Mark P. Barry summarizes some of the more thoughtful articles on NK reform prospects, and discusses potential consequences.
- Scott Thomas Bruce: NK has trillions of dollars worth of rare earth metals, but without reform it can only hope to sell off a limited amount on the cheap to China.
- Lankov: NK is taking steps towards Chinese-style reforms. They’ve replaced almost all of the top military leaders, allowing for a shift from the military-first policy to a new emphasis on the economy. KJU knows that his father’s politics have no future, but he faces a really high probability of regime collapse in a few years, and probably does not understand this. However all of this would be easily reversible at its current stage – a hard-line backlash is quite possible.
- Coca-Cola denies selling to NK, after foreign tourists post a video of them being served coke in a restaurant in Pyongyang. The NKoreans apparently described the beverage as “Italian coke”.
- Al-Jazeera on the internet and cyber security in both North and South Korea (video).
- Rev Moon, creator of the Unification Church, has died. KJU expressed his condolences.
- Video: NK Comedy Show from 1990. For non-Korean speakers, it’s the one about the misunderstanding at the shoe factory where the workers did not have enough love for the people and were therefore producing sub-standard shoes. A classic.
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