Daily NK: Starting May 1st, new education regulations introduce a 12th year of mandatory schooling. This forces extra costs on students and families including maintaining classrooms, buying bicycles (60 USD for a second hand one), uniforms (3-4 USD), etc. However, “contrary to most people’s expectations, people starting Year 12 this semester have actually received their textbooks from the state.”
Daily NK on citizens making money from the mandatory spring cleaning mobilizations that require, for instance, powdered lime: “I worked for a long time at a cement factory, so I had the right skills and saw an opportunity to make money. I saw there was massive unmet demand for powdered lime during spring, so I figured that I ought to start producing it. At first I loaded it on my back, but I started needing more so I did it by car. It was fun to turn rocks into money… March and April, the sanitation months, are peak season. It was unbelievably tough.”
Chosun Ilbo: KJU appointed his sister Kim Yeo-jung chief secretary of the Worker’s Party. The party secretariat is in charge of providing daily necessities for the leader’s family and handles the delivery of official reports from the Party, the Cabinet, the National Defense Commission and other state organizations. Source: KJI “ordered his chief secretary not to filter the reports being sent up to him, but KJU often loses his temper when he gets bad news, so KYJ appears to be selecting which ones are passed on.”
WSJ: Unlike his father, KJU appears to be unafraid of flying.
Chosun Ilbo: A single source reports that 200 officials in the Workers Party, the government and military who received orders directly from Jang Song-taek have been sentenced to death. The executions will supposedly take place at the shooting range at Kang Kon Military Academy and will be watched by high-ranking party, government and military officials, in order to set an example.
ECONOMY & FOOD SECURITY
RFA via Chosun Ilbo: Russia’s Far East Development Minister conducted a five day visit to NK to explore ways of increasing business cooperation. Russia and NK hope to boost bilateral trade to US$1 billion by 2020 and will discuss the possibility of Russian companies opening factories in the KIC.
Reuters: Defectors say 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. Defector Kim Young-il: “Money talks in NK. If you have money, send it to somebody you trust. You can buy a decent house in the border region with China.” A survey of defectors who left NK in 2012 found that 67% had bought their own homes, compared to 14% who had been given accommodation. The practice is technically illegal but officials can easily be bribed to alter the names on residency documents. The property market is even enriching a new class of private construction contractors.
The UN HRC passed a resolution (A/HRC/25/L.17) condemning “long-standing and ongoing systematic, widespread and gross” human rights violations in NK, expressing grave concern at the findings of the UN COI, and extending the mandate of the Special Rapporteur for one year. Votes: 30 in favour, 11 abstentions abd 6 against (China, Cuba, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Venezuela and Vietnam). NKorean official response: “In the DPRK, we have a proverb saying ‘Mind your own business’, which means that one needs to see his or her face in the mirror to check how nasty it is before talking about the others.”
Amnesty International: “The international community must build on this momentum and increase pressure on North Korea to end its incomprehensible crimes. Human rights must take centre stage at the UN Security Council when it considers peace and security in the Korean Peninsula.”
USG’s NKHR special envoy Ambassador King will visit Seoul and Tokyo next week for talks with officials.
Daily NK: The NK authorities are asking NKoreans visiting China legally to report on defectors, offering incentives of opportunities for repeat visits if they comply. Defector: “No matter the extent of surveillance and control, people will always find their way around it and discover ways to cope.”
INTERNATIONAL POLITICS & SECURITY
The UNSC, including China, unanimously condemned NK for launching two mid-range missiles.
NK threatened that it “would not rule out a new form of nuclear test for bolstering up its nuclear deterrence.”
SK’s FM warned NK against a nuclear test: ”If North Korea carries out a nuclear test, (it) will certainly have to pay severe costs. The NKorean leadership must choose between isolation from the international community, including China, that have resolutely opposed further nuclear tests and the path toward greater cooperation (with them).”
NK state media criticised PGH’s Dresden speech on NK policy, saying “Park put thick makeup on her old, wrinkled face and rambled on” and that her policy amounted to “bits of useless junk scraped together.” “She can’t dump her true nature of the peasant woman who babbles to herself at home… No wonder she is being criticised by the whole world as a ’low-quality politician’ who does not know what and what not to speak about.” Some of the comments came from a ‘man-on-the-street’ interview format. Korea National Strategy Institute’s Kim Chang-soo: “It doesn’t look like North Korea has formed its official position just yet. It seems more like they’re trying to indicate the internal climate.”
ROKG: “The North is showing senseless behaviour in using unspeakable language to attack our head of state’s diplomatic activities.”
After a warning from NK, NK and then SK fired artillery shells either side of the NLL (disputed West Sea maritime border). Shortly afterwards, a drone thought to be from NK was discovered crashed into a SKorean island in the area. Expert: “It is like a toy. But for surveillance purposes, it doesn’t have to be a high-tech, top-notch military product like Predators or Global Hawk drones… This type of toy-like equipment can find a blind spot.” Another drone that recently crashed in Paju, near the DMZ, was found to have a camera that had taken photos of central Seoul, including the Blue House.
USG’s Russel: “Without a doubt, they [China] are struggling. They have a strong bias in favor of coaxing tactics that have not yielded results in the past and that don’t seem likely to yield results. The steps that the United States along with the Republic of Korea and Japan are taking to deter North Korea and to defend against the risks posed by North Korea’s behavior and its nuclear program are not steps that China appears to want to see.”
NK’s space agency, the National Aerospace Development Administration (NADA), has released a logo which looks extremely similar to NASA’s logo.
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