- The NKorean regime has held further events to celebrate NK’s successful rocket launch.
- Daily NK: The NK state media acknowledged the victory of Park Geun-hye, but without naming her directly. Some NKoreans in areas close enough to the border with China learned of the election of Park in real-time thanks to Korean-language TV broadcasts from Yanbian, China. People were reportedly shocked that SK had elected a female leader, causing the news to spread quickly. “There are people asking how it is that the daughter of the dictator who annihilated democracy, someone who a majority of South Koreans once opposed, could become president.”
- Despite the national switch to digital TV, SK will maintain analog TV broadcasting into NK so residents on the other side of the DMZ can continue to watch SKorean broadcasts. Defectors say that the proliferation of foreign-made TVs and the lack of effective monitoring means that many are able to access live SKorean broadcasting.
- A senior ROKG official claimed that NK has reorganized its military to allocate more resources to PY, a move seen as designed to increase security for KJU.
- Daily NK source: “In the past, if you expressed even the most minor aggravation or complaint at Kim Jong Il it was punished as a violation of the ‘Ten Principles (for the Establishment of the One-Ideology System).’ However, there are relatively few cases of punishment for criticizing Kim Jong Eun, so disparaging words about him are becoming more popular.”
- National Post on the deportation to SK from Canada of a man who admitted to being a NKorean agent responsible for the abduction of NKorean defectors. The transcript of the ruling reads the Refugee Board as telling the man, “You said with certainty that the people captured would be beaten, tortured or even killed, so I am satisfied that you were well aware of the atrocities taking place at the hands of the North Korean government.”
- The UNGA passed the annual resolution on NK human rights by consensus. The NK delegation rejected the resolution “as a document of political plot and fabrication… This resolution has nothing to do with… human rights, but rather it creates confrontation and blocks potential dialogue and cooperation.”
INTERNATIONAL POLITICS & SECURITY
- Three NKorean fishermen who had been rescued by the SKorean coast guard while drifting in the East Sea have been returned to NK after they expressed their wish to go home. They were reportedly rescued in the early hours of Dec 14, and were returned on Dec 15. Previous NKoreans rescued at sea by SKorean authorities have had to wait much longer to be returned home.
- Park Geun-hye vowed to prioritize national security, citing NK’s successful rocket launch as evidence of the “grave” security reality on the Korean peninsula. Park has also said she is open to dialogue with KJU, but has called on PY to show progress in denuclearization.
- SK’s military retrieved pieces of NK’s rocket debris from the sea and claimed that their analysis shows that it was a test of ICBM technology, and that the Unha-3 rocket has a range of over 10,000km if it were to carry a payload of 500-600kg. However analysts still doubt whether NK has the capacity to miniturize a nuclear weapon that could be placed on an ICBM and survive re-entry.
- UNSC discussions around further sanctions following NK’s rocket launch are expected to roll over to next year. A ROKG official claimed that the new Chinese leadership is still undetermined in its foreign policy and is taking time to consider the sanctions against NK.
- The Iranian Govt denied claims about missile cooperation between Iran and NK, saying that they have never dispatched any official to PY for military cooperation.
- The ROKG has allowed a Christian group to light a 100-foot tall Christmas tree next to the DMZ.
- President-elect Park has appointed controversial political pundit Yoon Chang-jung as her chief spokesperson, triggering angry reactions from the DUP and even surprising Saenuri party officials. Yoon is known for his “lopsided political view and a foul mouth,” and has previously called elder conservatives “political prostitutes” for endorsing Moon Jae-in.
ANALYSIS & OPINION
- Donald Gregg: “President Park is a realist, and as such she will quickly see the need to reestablish meaningful dialogue with North Korea by taking Kim Jong-un seriously and meeting with him. In five years, when her term comes to an I end, I am certain that Park Geun-hye will have left North-South relations in far better shape than they are now, and that her presidency will have gained both support and respect from her neighbors in Tokyo and Beijing, and from Moscow and Washington as well.”
- Alexandre Mansourov argues that in the past year, KJU has reasserted party control over the military, overhauled the military and security establishment, rolled back the military-first revolution, restructured the socio-economic team, and adjusted the foreign policy team to better suit his own leadership style and policy preferences.
- The AP’s David Guttenfelder on being a photographer in NK: Despite the official oversight, we try to see and do as much as we can, push the limits, dig as deeply as possible, give an honest view of what we are able to see. Over time, there have been more and more opportunities to leave the showplace capital, Pyongyang, and mingle with the people. But they are usually wary of foreigners and aware that they too are being watched.
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