NKorean woman in China: “The biggest difference is that here they respect human rights. You can sell whatever you want and go to foreign countries and do whatever you want; everything is free here. There is no control.”
NK’s finance minister reported details of NK’s budget over the last year: PY allocated 45.2% of its budget to “economic construction,” while funding for national defense was 16%.
NK has named a former ambassador to Switzerland, Ri Su-yong, as its new foreign minister. Ri is believed to have served as a guardian of KJU when he studied in Switzerland in the 1990s.
The percentage of NKoreans who are buying their own home through property brokers – as opposed to waiting for the government to assign one – is growing rapidly, causing prices to rise.
An increasing number of NK factories and enterprises are leasing out parcels of farmland to private individuals to increase production.
NK authorities warned residents in border areas that market prices are “state secrets”, so any information shared with the outside world will result in harsh punishment.
Import figures show that North Korea has begun to procure its fertilizer earlier than usual this year, possibly in connection to the govt’s efforts to increase agricultural production.
“People’s Unit heads are openly critical of the orders, saying that if everyone is doing something illegal, who will report it? If there was a way to make money that wasn’t illegal then people would do that instead.”
JST was formally removed from office and expelled from the KWP during a recent KWP meeting. Unlike many other previous purges, Jang’s dismissal was very public and broadcast on NK state media.
Jang Song-taek, KJU’s powerful uncle and an established member of the regime’s inner circle, has reportedly been removed from power.
NKorean authorities have started granting full internet access to representatives of companies visiting NK for investment meetings.
Fifteen NKoreans were captured by Chinese police last week in Kunming, southern China and it is feared they will be repatriated back to NK.
Joongang Daily: Some 80 people were publicly executed earlier this month in seven cities in NK, excluding PY.
Wage levels for workers in some larger industrial enterprises have risen by a factor of approximately one hundred times.
Authorities are warning citizens about the unhealthiness of choco pies, the danger of foreign tourists, and leaflets being sent over from SK.
From next year the SK military will develop next-generation equipment to broadcast both radio and television across the whole of NK.
149,500 NKoreans legally visited China from January to September, a 12.5% increase on last year. If this rate is kept up this could be the first year that China has 200,000 legal visits by North Koreans.
RFA: Despite good harvests, farmers are reportedly anxious because the authorities have failed to articulate a single clear allocation plan for this year and because of previous broken promises.
In efforts to improve its economy, PY has reportedly asked provincial administrators to select two cities from within their province to serve as potential “Open Cities.”
Last Monday morning the KIC reopened its doors. Operations continued over the Chuseok holiday but some businesses believe it will take several months before production levels are back to normal.
After marathon negotiations, NK and SK have agreed to reopen the KIC. The agreement was reached 136 days after SK workers were initially forced to leave the complex.
SK has promised 8.4 million USD in aid to NK. 6.3 million USD will be used to help finance the WHO’s efforts to improve medical services to children in NK.
ROK MOFA plans to launch a 5-person task force to deal with issues related to NK refugees who are en route to SK.
COI Chairman Kirby: “After today’s evidence, if (NK) seriously expects the international community to disbelieve the existence of such institutions, then they have to really open up their border to allow an independent body to go and have a look at places.”
NK and SK reached a five point agreement on reopening the Kaesong Industrial Complex after a seventh round of talks.
Chinese authorities in NKorean border areas have installed miles of barbed-wire fencing along a stretch the Tumen river, dramatically reducing the number of defectors. Work on the fences began about 2-3 years ago and has now blocked access to China along the Tumen River from its western end to the east.
The ROKG has approved 7.3 million USD in aid to NK. 6.04 million USD of the aid will come via the ROKG and will be allocated towards a project to help NKorean infants, while the additional 1.25 million USD in aid will go toward NKorean children via five private SKorean donor groups. NK has not responded to SK’s “final offer” for N-S talks on the future of the KIC.
80% of Anju city in South Pyongan Province is reported to be now under water due to the monsoon rains hitting the Korean peninsula.
Six people have died and hundreds left homeless after flooding due to heavy rainfall on the Korean peninsula, which also caused deaths in SK.
A high-ranking NKorean military official who defected last year has spoken about an internal struggle for military influence between National Defense Committee Vice Chairman Jang Sung-taek, and the director of the General Political Department of the Chosun People’s Army Choi Ryong-ha.
KREI reports that NK’s imports of Chinese grain in the first five months of 2013 fell by 14.2% compared to last year, possibly indicating improving harvests.
The BBC World Service’s plans to establish broadcasts for the NKorean people have been hit by a 2.2m GBP annual budget cut.
ROK MOFA pledges to increase diplomatic efforts and cooperation to ensure the safety of NK defectors. Meanwhile, KCNA criticised the Blue House for bringing 18 defectors to SK from Laos.
NK’s crackdown on attempted defections and illegal border crossers has swelled the prison population since KJU came to power.
RI Ki Song, NKorean economist: “Last year, we studied reasonable economic management methods in different fields of economic work, and introduced it to some units on a trial basis.” He said North Koreans work hard, but the new incentives give them motivation to work even harder.
SKorean media reported that nine young NKorean refugees who had been detained in Laos have been forcibly taken to Pyongyang via China. In the group were two girls aged (in Korean age) 15 and 16, and seven males aged 23, 20 (x2), 19, 18 (x2), and 16.
Rice-planting season means that the entire population has been mobilized to work on the farms, including children. Official market hours are also restricted.
MOU: The number of NKorean defectors that have arrived in SK this year (up to early May) is 556, leading to a prediction that around 1200 will arrive this year – a 20% decrease on 2012.
“All the workers who used to be in Kaesong have been dispatched to factories, enterprises and cooperative farms in the North Hwanghae Province region.”
A Daily NK source reports that the decision to close the Kaesong Industrial Complex originated from Kim Jong-il.
NK’s National Defense Commission demanded an end to sanctions, a complete withdrawal of “all nuclear war measures deployed in SK and neighboring regions”, and an apology before they would engage in dialogue.
Authorities are stepping up crackdowns on the viewing foreign media, reportedly in response to an increase in the use of USB sticks to view dramas on Chinese-made DVD players.
NKorean workers are not turning up to work in the Kaesong Industrial Complex.
NK authorities have banned entry of SKorean workers into the Kaesong Industrial Complex. 858 South Korean workers, and 7 other foreigners remain onsite and are allowed to return home.
The UN Human Rights Council unanimously passed a resolution establishing a Commission of Inquiry to investigate human rights violations in NK.
The UN HRC is expected to approve a UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) into NK’s human rights violations.
In an attempt to encourage redefectors, the NSA is holding lectures telling the people to convince their family members who have defected to return.
Rodman goes to Pyongyang.
Forced market shutdowns and celebration events regarding the most recent nuclear tests are causing complaints and social tensions.
NK has returned to normal from a heightened state of emergency.
Details have been revealed about the expansion of Camp 25, including an increased parameter with additional guard posts, as well as new buildings and renovations.
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.
NK turned up the level of fierceness of its rhetoric, to the chagrin of everyone, including China.
New satellite imagery shows the addition of a new area next to Camp 14 which bears striking similarity to other known prison camps.
German economists and lawyers are advising the NK regime on ways to open up to western investors, including by improving their investment laws.
1,508 NKorean refugees arrived in SK in 2012, a 44.3% decrease on the number of arrivals in 2011 (2,706).
SK will maintain analog TV broadcasting into NK so residents on the other side of the DMZ can continue to watch SKorean broadcasts.
Park Geun-hye, the conservative candidate, won an absolute majority to become the next president of SK.
The NK regime seemingly has put a satellite in space, with a bit of help from Iran.
NK announced it would launch a rocket around the anniversary of KJI’s death.
KJU seems concerned about internal security, emphasizing the need to root out “dissidents”.
There are now over 1.5 million subscribers to NK’s official Koryolink mobile phone network, representing steady growth along 2011 trends.
The role of NK’s Cabinet in designing and running economic policies is reported by the Choson Sinbo to be increasing.
The WPK Central Committee met in order to establish a State Physical Culture and Sports Guidance Commission, to be chaired by Jang Song-taek
Around 1,440 NKorean refugees are expected to arrive in SK this year. It will be the first time since 2005 that fewer than 2,000 NKorean refugees have arrived in SK.
Reports of changes in regime personnel as well as the abolition of the notorious Rooms 38 and 39.
NKorean sources report that none of the experimental farms will be given 30% of their production because the 6.28 Policy has been put on hold until next year.
KJU instructs the NSA to combat the infiltration of information into the country.
Camp 22, a political prison camp in Hoiryeong, was reportedly shut down after the defection of the warden.
SPA ends with no news of economic reforms.
NK refugee numbers showing signs of rebounding after intense crackdowns on both sides of the border earlier this year.
Further reports of flood damage in NK and international assistance, including from SK – for the first time in two years.
A bonanza of news, analysis and speculation related to possible NK economic reforms this week.
40+ people joined a spontaneous protest after rumours spread that they would not be given new housing they had been expecting.
More signals of possible economic reforms emerge from inside NK, while skeptical commentators on the outside have their say.
Jang Song-taek is in China to discuss economic cooperation projects.
KJU continues to talk up the goal of making the country prosperous and people’s lives affluent.
KCNA reports that recent flooding has left 88 dead, 63,000 homeless, and 74,700 acres of farmland destroyed.
The regime is reportedly explaining the nature of forthcoming reforms, which is getting people’s hopes up.
KJU signals his ‘complete’ control over the military.
Daily NK has obtained interesting information on plans for weak agricultural reforms.
North Koreans are scrambling to be granted one of the 40,000 recently allocated Chinese work visas.
Russia has agreed to write off 90% of NK’s $11 billion Soviet-era debt.
New National ID cards reportedly contain a code to instantly identify individuals blacklisted by the regime.
The NSA is co-opting Korean Chinese smugglers to provide intel on SK NGOs and Christian groups.
Internal document reportedly admits starvation caused by “excessive food quotas for the military.”
China has again intensified crackdowns against NK refugees and the NGOs assisting them.
Food shortages in North and South Hwanghae Provinces reportedly leading to starvation deaths.
NK govt actions against families of defectors have reportedly been stepped up since the NSA took over border security from the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces.
Well-off NK parents are paying bribes to hospital staff for medical certificates to keep their children from being required to participate in this year’s mass games.
The number of NK refugees that arrived in South Korea in Q1 2012 was down 39% on the Q1 2011 figure.
The irregular supply of water in Pyongyang is reportedly becoming a growing source of discontent among residents.
Kim Jong-un speaks! Also, the regime admits the failure of its “satellite launch”, and is condemned by the UN Security Council.
Kim Jong-un named “First Secretary” of Korean Workers’ Party while North Korea readies rocket in defiance of international community.
A weekly summary of news relevant to North Korea and its people