An undated photo used on 12/10 by NK state media depicts NKoreans mourning for KJI. Part of the image has been duplicated, presumably to boost the crowd size | Photo: Rodong Shinmun
Daily NK: NKorean authorities declared a nationwide period of mourning this month for the first anniversary of KJI’s death and have issued regulations prohibiting a list of things such as “cell phone usage, alcohol consumption, traditional ceremonies, gambling and games.”
Yonhap: The regime has been tightening its efforts to weed out “ impure elements” among the NKorean people that could pose a threat to the KJU’s control of the country.
Chosun Ilbo: Out of fear of a military coup or uprising, KJU has reportedly stationed around 100 armored vehicles at his home, summer home and other facilities. An informed source stated that “Kim is extremely nervous about the possibility of an emergency developing inside NK” and ordered officials to “place top priority” on his personal security.
Guardian: Despite NK’s massive efforts to commemorate the late KJI in the upcoming anniversary of his death, “[NKoreans] don’t really have energy to be interested, we are too busy trying to survive and thinking of how we are going to get the money for our next meal… no one thinks about this stuff”.
ECONOMY & FOOD SECURITY
NPR reports on ongoing malnutrition in NK: “The markets are full of food…but most ordinary people can’t afford to buy it”.
Korea Eximbank, the agency which controls inter-Korean cooperation funds, has again called upon NK’s Foreign Trade Bank for the fourth time to repay the first installment of the 5.83m USD of food loans made by SK between 2000-2007. There has been no response from NK.
Daily NK: One of the latest developments in a long line of idolization projects for KIS and KJI is that NKorean authorities have “requested” the NKorean people “voluntarily” give funds for the work on parkland at Keumsusan Sun’s Palace. However, because people are assuming their loyalty is going to be judged according to their donation, stress has been mounting for the public.
Daily NK: As the first anniversary of KJI’s death approaches, market prices and exchange rates are fluctuating significantly after stabilizing in recent weeks. In preparation for an expected disruption of the markets people are buying up goods, resulting in a price hike.
The November issue of DPRK Business Monthly is available. CanKor’s brief on this month’s business report with a note from the editor is available here.
Preventing defection has been a particular concern for KJU and in recent months border guard units on major defection routes have been operating on a 24-hour patrol schedule. Barbed wire and CCTV have also been installed to prevent defection.
SKorean court documents appear to confirm that the poisoning of a 46-year old SKorean missionary in the Sino-NKorean border region last August was done by a NKorean undercover agent.
The Guardian reports on one woman’s journey, and the risks she took, in order to cross NK’s border. “She had been to Yanji twice before, driven by economic necessity – to earn cash and acquire basic goods for her family – and like most of those who cross, she soon returned. But those brief trips had shown her another life.”
A second Hanawon opened for NKorean defectors in Hwacheon. “The new resettlement center was built to prepare ourselves for the steadily increasing defector inflow and carry out advanced education,” the Unification Ministry added, “It will offer not only the mandatory three-month training but also re-education for graduates and upper-level lessons for highly educated North Koreans”
An American citizen, Kenneth Bae, who has traveled to NK several times before, has been detained in NK for more than a month. The US govt does not believe that Bae is being mistreated and is relying on the embassy of Sweden to deal with NK authorities in-country.
A SKorean court handed down a four-year jail sentence to a convicted NKorean spy who was involved in a bid to attack KJI’s eldest son.
INTERNATIONAL POLITICS & SECURITY
NK launched its long-range rocket at 9:51AM on December 12th (local time), from its launch site in Cheolsan County, North Pyongan Province. Japanese government officials revealed that the rocket passed the island of Okinawa and debris fell into the water 300km off the Philippines at 10:05AM. LMB convened an emergency meeting with the National Security Council in response. Initial reports from NORAD suggested the launch my have been successful in putting a satellite in orbit.
The US and SK believe that Iranian missile experts secretly entered NK to help with technical problems after the previous rocket launch failure in April.
UN SG Ban Ki-moon expressed concern that NK’s missile launch could negatively impact prospects for peace and security in the region. NATO, Russia, New Zealand, India, Britain, China, Japan, SK, and the US were quick to condemn the launch.
SK’s Ministry of Unification has a 24-hour emergency contact and response system in place at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, and is now reviewing the security of SKorean civilians residing in the zone.
NK is claiming that the July 2008 killing of a SKorean tourist at the Mt. Gumgang Resort by a NKorean soldier was the “product of a deliberate scheme from Seoul”.
According to a SKorean official, China has strengthened inspections of NKorean cargoes to check for any banned items under UNSC sanctions, a sign that may suggest Beijing is increasing pressure on NK. The move came after a Chinese freighter, heading for Syria, was caught at the SKorean port of Busan carrying a cargo of graphite cylinders, which were believed to be made in NK to be used as missile parts.
The Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, advised that more Chinese firms should make use of business opportunities in NK, stressing that economic ties between the two countries could be beneficial.
ANALYSIS & OPINION
Germany’s Wolfgang Jamann of Welthungerhilfe, one of the few foreign aid organizations operating in NK, recently visited the country and shares his impressions in an interview.