NK NEWS BRIEF | May 30, 2012
Posted May 30, 2012 by Justin
- KCNA is ramping up coverage of visits by KJU in an apparent attempt to help the untested young leader bolster popular support.
- RFA: Sources suggest that the regime has stepped up efforts to jam foreign television and radio broadcasts, although these efforts are constrained by a lack of power.
- Chosun Ilbo: The Chinese govt will provide visas for 20,000 NKoreans to work legally in NE China. The NK regime wants the money and the Chinese govt wants the cheap labour.
- Daily NK: NK-China trade volumes have been increasing dramatically in the period 2009-2011. The increase is partly attributed to a throttling of N-S trade under LMB’s sanctions after the 2010 Cheonanham sinking. In 2001, NK exports to China were worth a mere $166 million, while imports weighed in with $570 million. In 2011, the last year on record, exports were worth $2.4 billion and imports $3.1 billion (all USD).
- Joongang Ilbo: “After stopping trade with South Korea, factories in Pyongyang and Nampo cities turned to Chinese companies and now work for them,” a SKorean businessman said on condition of anonymity. “It took so much time and money for us to teach North Korean employees and now Chinese companies enjoy the fruits of our labor.”
- Hankyoreh: According to Unification Ministry figures, some 319 of the 1,106 companies involved in inter-Korean economic cooperation, or 28.8%, have shut their doors since the Lee administration took office in 2008.
- Daily NK: The people of Chongjin are being squeezed by the demands of showpiece construction projects that ordinary people and local Party cadres see as an attempt by Provincial Party Chief Secretary Oh Su Yong to publicly display his loyalty to the regime of KJU.
FOOD AID & FOOD SECURITY
- KCNA reported that its western coastal region is suffering from severe drought, threatening crop production.
- USG’s Glyn Davies: “Should the opportunity present itself, if we can reach a stage where we can once again have faith in the North Koreans’ ability to abide by its undertakings and its promises, we would like very much to get back to the provision of nutritional assistance.”
- LMB, on meeting with US lawmakers: “The human rights issue is no less important than nuclear tests or missile launches… Indeed, the problem of North Korean people’s human rights is the problem that must be dealt with more urgently.”
- CNN on NK prison camps. “We received 120 grams of rotten corn for daily food. So many people with the same year and a half sentence as me didn’t survive their term and died of hunger.”
- The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention said that the continued detention since 1987 of Oh Gil-nam’s family in NK “has been and is arbitrary,” according to the International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea.
- US State Dept Country Report on Human Rights Practices (DPRK).
- AI Annual Report on NKHR 2012.
- KINU white paper on NKHR 2012 (Korean).
- China has again intensified crackdowns against NK refugees and the NGOs assisting them, particularly around Yanbian, Jilin Province.
- Security forces said the crackdown will continue until October and aims to wipe out all the places where NKoreans hide. Yanbian immigration chief Li Yong-xue pledged to “root out activities by foreign NGOs or religious activists that violate laws or have a negative impact on national security and social stability.”… “Some overseas organizations seek to commit large-scale illegal activities, such as illegal migration to a third country via China.” Li highlighted a case where a NKorean stabbed a policeman after burglarizing a local household in Yanbian this April. “We will check in villages where foreigners gather and in sectors such as the service and processing industries and farms to look at passports and see if they have residence permits.” A police officer from Jilin province told the BBC that it was a sensitive year in China, with officials stressing the need for stability ahead of a leadership change this year.
- Chosun Ilbo: Some pundits feel the crackdown aims to stabilize the regime of new NK leader KJU. China has already been cracking down on NK defectors since early this year, with police busting several extensive people-smuggling networks that helped North Koreans reach third countries.
- These reports come in the broader context of a recent increase in foreigner-bashing in China, which some suspect may be designed to divert attention from the failings of the CCP.
- The European Parliament passed a resolution condemning China’s treatment of NK refugees and calling for the release of the four SK activists currently detained in China.
- US Congresswoman and Chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ileana Ros-Lehtinen protested China’s forced repatriations of NK refugees while in Seoul.
- At the end of her current term, Rep. Park Sun-young will leave politics to teach law at Dong-gook University and campaign on NKHR, and lead a new group called Dream Makers for North Korea, which will assist NK refugees.
INTERNATIONAL POLITICS & SECURITY
- LMB said that a ROK-PRC FTA can be concluded within 2 years.
- SK’s VFM summoned the Chinese ambassador to Seoul to demand that Beijing protect the four SK activist detainees (including Kim Young-hwan) from unjust treatment or abuse of their human rights.
- The US military was forced to deny crazy reports that special forces operatives were parachuting into NK to do reconnaissance.
ANALYSIS & OPINION
- Tony Hall (via Steph Haggard): “The United States has taken the public position that withholding food aid to innocent starving people is a legitimate policy tool… It is wrong to use starving children as a policy tool.”
- Cha: “We really do not know what forces are at play [in NK] and what is driving behavior right now… Frankly, if tomorrow morning, you were to pick up the newspaper and find that something has happened to KJU and the situation has started to spiral out of control, we wouldn’t be surprised. On the other hand, if we meet one year from now, and the situation hasn’t changed much, many of us sitting here wouldn’t be surprised either.”… “Denuclearization… only really comes with unification. But we don’t know how to get to unification.”
- Adam Cathcart on China’s simultaneous crackdowns on NK refugees and opening up of public discussion on the issue of NK refugees in China. “The public discussion in China about defectors has expanded and can finally said to have planted some roots in Chinese “civil society.””
- Kosuke Takahashi on SK’s new military agreement with China. “For left-leaning political elites in Seoul, China is a key partner to form a bridge between them and Pyongyang. On the other hand, for conservative South Korean leaders, China is a strategic collaborator to pre-empt North Korea’s military and diplomatic provocations.”
- Chris Nelson on secret US-NK contacts and the USG’s approach to NK in the run-up to the election.
- Ted Carpenter in the China Daily: A new, radically different approach is needed. Instead of continuing the futile strategy of isolating the DPRK, Washington should adopt a comprehensive strategy to normalize relations with Pyongyang. And China has a crucial role to play as the primary facilitator in that process.
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