DailyNK: authorities are issuing special exit permits to citizens wishing to visit relatives in China who agree to return to NK with one ton of food within 40 days, perhaps in an effort to accumulate food for the 100th anniversary of KIS’ birth.
The Hyundai Research Institute reported NK per-capita GDP expanded an estimated 4.7%, from 688 USD to 720 USD, in 2011.
Daily NK: A ’survey’ of 30 NKoreans in Pyongan Province which asked whether North Korea needs a drastic change of policy resulted in a majority answering in the affirmative.
Air Koryo will launch a charter flight route between Pyongyang and the Harbin, China.
NK Tech: NK external radio services and jamming operations have been having trouble staying on air in recent weeks.
FOOD AID & FOOD SECURITY
The WFP has clarified that it will end its emergency aid mission to NK in March as originally planned, switching back to a smaller-scale assistance program.
Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to spend 4.4b KRW (4m USD) on humanitarian aid to NK this year.
U.S. Admiral Robert Willard, head of U.S. Pacific Command, seemed to acknowledge that the U.S. links NK food aid to security issues, saying that “preconditions” for assistance “now include discussions of cessation of nuclearization and ballistic missile testing and the allowance of IAEA perhaps back into Yongbyon.”
The UNHCR called on China not to send back the arrested defectors, issuing a statement saying “UNHCR has been in communication with the Chinese authorities on this group and has called on the Chinese Government to uphold the non-refoulement principle.”
The U.S. Congressional Executive Commission on China (CECC) is to hold an emergency hearing next week to, “address the current predicament of North Korean refugees who have been detained by Chinese authorities in recent weeks.”
The SK govt spoke on the issue at the UN HRC in Geneva (video), referring to the repatriation of defectors by “directly involved nations” (China) as a “grave infringement of human rights.” The DPRK delegate responded that “North Korean refugees are not in existence at all” and accused SK of trying to “turn the focus of the international community away from gross and systematic violations of human rights taking place daily as a result of the draconian National Security Law” (video).
LMB stated that, “When it comes to the North Korean defectors, it is right for the Chinese government to handle them in line with international rules as long as they are not criminals.”
The USG is also reportedly quietly engaging China, sending the message that China should not forcefully repatriate detained refugees. The USG is also said to be consulting with the SK govt on the matter.
A SK parliamentary committee has adopted a resolution submitted by Park Sun-young calling on China to stop NK defector repatriations.
Chinese netizens have been outspoken on the defectors’ detainment via China’s Twitter equivalent, Sina Weibo, with a “strong majority” objecting to repatriation.
NK has denounced the SK protests and defended its actions, stating that, “Taking administrative actions in line with domestic laws and relevant treaties is the rightful activity of sovereign nations and is not up for discussion.” NK has also reportedly asked China for quick repatriation of the defectors, promising not to treat them as criminals, while using propaganda about the repatriation to create fear in border regions.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman remarked that “China is opposed to shifting the issue of North Korean defectors into a refugee matter and internationalizing and politicizing it.” Stating also of the defectors that, “There is no abundant evidence that they are refugees… The dignity of Chinese laws should be respected and protected. Crimes including illegal entrances and organizing illegal immigration are not allowed in any country.”
DailyNK: More than 50 NK NSA agents entered China on Feb. 22 in an effort to track down NK defectors.
Bilateral talks between a U.S. team led by Glyn Davies and NK ended after multiple meetings spanning two days. Davies reported that the U.S. was “able to illuminate the issues a bit better and gain a better understanding of [NK] rationale,” but also that from the discussions there was “more continuity and more similarity than difference” shown in the NK stance. Additional comments by Davies.
The Hankyoreh on the need for “quiet diplomacy” regarding NK defectors. “Denouncing the repatriation of defectors in China and turning it into a political and diplomatic issue while allowing inter-Korean relations to become strained could make the problem worse.”
Haggard on NK reactions to U.S./SK military exercises.