Yonhap: NK state media reported that NK has experienced an outbreak of bird flu since last month, leading to the culling tens of thousands of poultry so far.
Chosun Ilbo: The KWP department once headed by JST has been shut down and executed or interned 11 high-ranking officials. A source claims the regime is preparing a third purge of officials from the provincial chapters of the KWP.
RFA: Nearly all former high-ranking officials in a government dept formerly overseen by JST have been demoted to the lowest ranks of the ruling KWP and excluded from future political appointments. “The senior officials have been placed in new urban construction and rural construction projects… Some officials who protested against the poor assignments were banished to farm villages and mines with their families.”
Daily NK: Chinese media reported that a special training session to prepare officials in the event of an assassination attempt on KJU took place in PY on March 15th. Global Times: The training session was attended by high-ranking cadres from the military, SSD and other central state organs. This was believed to be the first of its kind in NK, however it is not unusual for countries to conduct training sessions to protect their head of state.
RFA: New food delivery businesses have emerged in NK. Richer NKoreans use them to order food in case they run out during big events such as weddings. (K)
Chosun Ilbo: NK newly elected SPA met for the first time to rubber stamp a reshuffle of high-ranking officials, including the re-election of KJU as 1st Chairman of the National Defense Commission.
Global Post: NK has named a former ambassador to Switzerland, Ri Su-yong, as its new foreign minister, replacing Park Ui-chun. Ri is believed to have served as a guardian of KJU when he studied at an international school in Switzerland in the 1990s.
ECONOMY & FOOD SECURITY
Yonhap: The UN’s FAO plans to provide US$400,000 to NK to help eradicate foot-and-mouth disease. VOA reported that FAO also plans to send quarantine officials to NK after finalizing its aid program.
Korea Herald: A local private group named Devotion was permitted to ship basic medical supplies worth 17 million won ($16,248) to maternity clinics in the North Hamgyong Province, despite renewed tensions.
Yonhap: Seoul-based KITA reports that NK exports of coal to China in Feb fell 26% compared to Jan, while exports of iron ore fell 23%. Total trade with China fell 46% to US$255m. Beijing source: “In January and February this year, North Korea significantly stepped up checks on its coal exports to China,” in a move seemingly related to the Jang purge.
Daily NK: KIC is making little progress. MOU: “The KIC North-South Joint Committee agreed to meet once every quarter, but despite the South’s efforts this has not occurred.” The MOU official added that no progress had been made in bringing internet to the complex, nor had the North attempted to foster a greater international presence.
Daily NK: The exports of Gwangbokseongdae Co., originally stopped by the KWP last October, recently resumed coal exports through the West Sea port of Nampo, presumably to open up flows of hard currency for accounts earmarked for regime maintenance.
Hankyoreh: News of NKorean-Chinese plans for railway and highway between Sinuiju and Kaesong raised questions of possible SKorean involvement; Korail CEO, Choi Yeon-hye, is scheduled to visit NK on Apr. 24.
Chosun Shinbo: NKoreans are using a new smartphone nicknamed the Pyongyang Touch. It is reportedly popular among students and civil servants due to its pre-installed foreign-language dictionaries, however it is unclear which languages are included.
Daily NK: Following on from the recent incarceration of 30 PY residents on charges of making contact with religious groups while in China, the NKorean authorities are investigating a further 100 Pyongyangites on suspicion of similar acts. Source: “Anyone who has ever been on a family visit to China, even just once, is being very careful. People are speaking about it less and less, as they are worried about getting dragged into the mire on almost any grounds.”
Yonhap: Ambassador King: “We will continue to work together with the government of SK and the international community to urge NK to make progress and accept the recommendations of the COI… I think people in NK are reaching out and trying to find additional information about what is happening beyond their borders and as people became increasingly aware of what is happening elsewhere, this blockage of information is beginning to break down.” He cited a survey among NKorean defectors in SK and abroad, which revealed that 34% of people in NK regularly listen to foreign radio broadcasts.
Yonhap: ROK MOFA: “Seoul’s stance is that it will positively review a request [to establish a UN field office to investigate NK HR] if it is made by the U.N. and the human rights council… The South Korean government has coherently supported the U.N.’s resolutions on North Korea under the principle that human rights should be respected as a universal value for mankind.”
Yonhap: MOU stats show that 360 defectors arrived in SK in Q1–a slight increase on the previous two years (352 in 2012, 319 in 2013).
Arirang: In the midst of recently increased scrutiny, the NIS’ defector investigation center was revealed to the media for the first time (video). Defectors have no access to lawyers during the process, and some legal experts argue that the MOU should take on a monitoring role to increase transparency.
RFA: The USG reported that two NKoreans gained refugee admission to the US last month, bringing the number of refugees in the US total up to 166 since the adoption of the NKHRA (2004). The US granted admission to 9 NKorean refugees in 2006; 22 in 2007; 37 in 2008; 25 in 2009; 8 in 2010; 23 in 2011; 22 in 2012; and 17 in 2013. (K)
JoongAng Daily: Han, a defector who testified during a hearing last year in the espionage case of Yu Wu-seong, recently submitted a petition to a Seoul court claiming that his daughter in Hoeryong had been blackmailed by the regime because of his statements, which he suspects may have been leaked to PY. Currently, the NIS believes Yu’s camp may have leaked Han’s information to NK, though Yu’s attorneys have both denied that allegation.
Daily NK: Two Chinese-Koreans suspected of Christian proselytizing have been lured into NK, arrested in Sinuiju and then forcibly transferred to PY. Source: The regime uses hwagyo [Chinese-Korean] families in NK to help lure back their arrest targets with talk of urgent matters to attend to back home. As a result, hwagyo in China have reportedly been avoiding contact with SKoreans.
INTERNATIONAL POLITICS & SECURITY
Korea Herald: Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said that the US remained firmly opposed to NK’s nuclear weapons program but was open to diplomacy. “We have consistently said we are willing to engage when countries show a credible and serious interest in abiding by their obligations. This was true in Burma, it’s the case with Iran, and it can be the case with North Korea as well.”
Yonhap: USFK Army Gen. Scaparrotti: NK is “dangerous and has the capability, especially with an increasing asymmetric threat, to attack SK with little or no warning.”
Korea Times: US SecDef Hagel: The US and China have agreed to set up a high-level consultation channel to discuss North Korea and other regional security issues.
UPI: SK has no plans to lift sanctions against NK. Unification ministry spokesman Kim Eui-do: “The May 24 sanctions should be maintained until NK takes responsible measures that can be understood by our people.”
The Guardian: NK launched a vicious, misogynist tirade against PGH after her speech in Dresden, calling her “Park the bitch,” an “old cat groaning in her sickbed,” and stressing the fact she has never married or had children. Rüdiger Frank: NK was “a bit unhappy over the repetition of attempts by Lee Myong-bak to say: ‘If you behave, we will pay you well.’” Lankov: PY is “annoyed with PGH because she is not bringing the money they wanted… The other reason is because she is a woman. We are talking about a very chauvinist culture.”
Yonhap: NK’s Ambassador to China was summoned by China’s FM and received a message that China would oppose any nuclear tests and medium- and long-range missile tests by NK.
Daily NK: The German govt summoned the NK ambassador over PY’s threats to conduct a ‘new form’ of nuclear test. The German pressure comes soon after PGH’s state visit to Germany.
JoongAng Ilbo: ROK JCS official on capabilities of targeting command-level headquarters of the NK Army: “We can detect the operations that North Korea’s military is planning through various ways, including wiretapping, and confirm the exact location of the headquarters in charge of the operations.” Information on locations is also reportedly obtained through satellite images, tip-offs by high-ranking defectors, and spies in North Korea’s military.
Yonhap: SK’s MOD has concluded that the two drones discovered in Paju and Baengnyeong Island were from NK. The drones were equipped with Japanese camera and Chinese parts, but didn’t have a data transfer system to send data in real time. As the NKorean drones fly autonomously according to a series of prearranged coordinates using the GPS, officials say Seoul is seeking to develop GPS jamming devices. The third drone was discovered on a mountain in Samcheok, SK. An official at the NKorean academy of national defense denounced the drone reports, calling them an “idiotic maneuver by SK to distract public eyes from other issues.” The KCNA: “Such a tired diversion attempt will fool no one in today’s world.”
Chosun Ilbo: In response to domestic criticism in the wake of NK’s drone program coming to light, SK’s MOD unveiled SK’s homegrown drone capabilities.
ROKG source: Libya closed its embassy in PY last year, in an effort to reduce costs and ‘rationalize’ it’s relationship with NK.
WSJ: SK public does not reflect on PGH’s optimism on Reunification “Jackpot.” Polling data shows that 17% of the public are not willing to pay any additional tax to fund reunification and 38% stated they would be willing to pay less than $100. Only 14% stated that North Korea was “one of us”. These results were largely consistent across age cohorts and the political spectrum. If NKorean provocations continue, larger numbers of young Koreans may very well decide that reunification is not a necessity.
ANALYSIS & OPINION
Lankov: North Korea’s dangerous era of dissent may have begun.
NK News: Eleven defector perspectives on “how long until NK collapses?”.
Daily NK: Three NKorean crew members and the remains of two others who were aboard a Mongolian-flagged ship that sank off SK’s coast on Friday have been sent home through Panmunjom. The 4300t freighter was en route to China from Chongjin, carrying steel and oil when it sank, claiming the lives of 13 of the 16 onboard.
Telegraph: “Mr. K,” who fled NK in 2005, claims to have personal knowledge of two assassination attempts on KJI, shortly after he took over as leader. In one attempt, a would-be assassin driving a 20-ton lorry rammed his motorcade but failed to kill KJI, whose car was in a convoy of identical limousines and was not among those damaged.
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