NK NEWS BRIEF | January 31, 2012
Posted January 31, 2012 by Justin
- Dong-a Ilbo reported that thousands of fliers denouncing KJU, seemingly made within NK, have been found in Chongjin (North Hamgyeong Province), NK’s third largest city.
- KCNA reported on revised and supplemented laws on foreign investment, a move seemingly designed to attract foreign resources into the country. In November 2011 the NK Academy of Social Sciences released an article outlining improvements to be made to SEZ tax investigation systems emphasizing the establishment of a tax system acceptable to foreign companies.
- 400 NK workers are expected to be added to the Kaesong Industrial Complex workforce, bringing the total to over 49,000.
- NK media has reportedly referred to KJU as “Dear Father”, a title in line with similar designations used for KJI and KIS.
- Daily NK reports on indications that purges and propaganda will be used to solidify KJU’s rule. The NK Central Party is reportedly taking steps to “destroy the forces” who are doubtful or critical of KJU, including increased propaganda and criticism sessions.
- The status and authority of National Security Agency (NSA) agents have reportedly been elevated by KJU, seen as a victory among NK security forces.
- NK is reportedly preparing for what may be the largest military parade ever held in the country. Parade logistics analyzed by NK Economy Watch.
- NK citizens are reportedly being required to provide funds and resources for the erection of statues of KJI and the eternal tower.
- DailyNK on the NK homicide rate.
FOOD AID & FOOD SECURITY
- IFES: NK is expected to attempt to resume nationwide food distribution. This would mark the first such distribution in seven years, although the amount of rations to be provided is unclear.
- Daily NK: Rations and coupons for government-run stores were reportedly distributed for the Lunar New Year by order of KJU. Recipients included “ordinary people,” but the rations varied in type between rice and corn and in amount by neighborhood, with some people reportedly getting 5 days worth, some 3 days, and some nothing.
- According to a WFP source in Pyongyang food distributions to NK citizens have steadily increased since October 2011, possibly a result of improved harvests in 2011.
- Daily NK: Authorities have stepped up efforts to secure fertilizers and agricultural tools in order to increase agricultural production.
- DongA Ilbo reports that the Russian Govt is mulling the lease of farmland in its far east that NK is interested in.
- China reportedly made a decision to send 500K tons of food and 250K tons of crude oil to NK the day after KJI’s death was announced. The move is thought to be aimed at ensuring NK’s internal stability, and photos taken at the border suggest that rice aid may have already started flowing. The Chinese Foreign Ministry stated that China “want[s] the international communities to offer aid to North Korea, just like China.”
- NK is to receive 11m USD in humanitarian aid from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund. UN CERF funds are often allocated to NK because of a lack of donations to the country-specific fund.
- The SK National Election Commission is reportedly reviewing plans to collaborate with Chinese police to prevent NK refugees from entering SK diplomatic missions in China during the upcoming overseas voting period. Officials are concerned that during this period NK refugees will pose as SK voters to gain access to the missions. An NEC official reportedly described such measures as “unavoidable” due to the wish to avoid diplomatic friction with China, but the plans have drawn criticism that they would be an abuse of power.
- The SK Red Cross will expand its assistance to NK refugees in expectation of increased numbers of refugees in the future.
- Canada reportedly accepted 83 NK refugees in 2011, double the number of 2010. It is unknown how many of these are ‘double-defectors’ that had previously resettled in SK.
- Ha Tae-keung, longtime NKHR activist and president of ORNK, has declared his candidacy for the upcoming National Assembly elections, seeking to raise the profile of NKHR.
INTERNATIONAL POLITICS & SECURITY
- SK’s ruling Grand National Party has released a new policy platform which seems to soften its stance towards NK ahead of upcoming elections (Hankyoreh analysis).
- NK accepted 180 tons of food aid from the SK Korea Peace Foundation, but also warned that SK military exercises could lead to “full-scale war.” SK staged the live-fire artillery drills from Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong islands, the first such drills since the death of KJI.
- SK and U.S. troops will reportedly go ahead with scheduled fortnight-long Key Resolve joint-military exercises starting Feb. 27, citing a continued threats from NK. Last year’s exercises included 12,300 troops from the U.S. and 200,000 from SK and passed without incident.
- SK humanitarian assistance to NK decreased 51.5% from 2010-2011. Govt aid was down 68.1% and private aid was down 35.4%.
- The USG’s Kurt Campbell stated that NK must improve relations with SK before it can have better relations with the international community, also saying that “hope of diplomacy rests on the reality of a very strong deterrence and military commitment.” The DOD’s Michele Flournoy similarly said that “the ball is in their court” to take the steps necessary to restart the SPT, adding that “our top concern” is nuclear weapons moving in and out of the country. State Dept’s Jack Sullivan also said that “Our message to the leadership of NK… is to say we have a roadmap, a set of steps that you could take that over time would be as much in your interests as everybody else’s, and that in response to those steps, the international community would be prepared to take steps of its own.”
- U.S. military personnel will travel to NK on March 1 to recover MIA remains from the Korean War, a move perceived as an easing of tensions.
ANALYSIS & OPINION
- DailyNK on societal shifts in NK, changes to to the perceived importance of songbun and an unlikely triumvirate of the ‘well-off’’: Party cadres, fishermen, and ‘attractive widows’.
- Bosworth said that he thinks it will be a “fairly quiet year” diplomatically, adding “I don’t think that the senior generals and that the senior party people are going to give Kim Jong-Un anything approaching the level of authority that Kim Jong-Il had… I think they need Kim Jong-Un as a figurehead.”
- Asahi Shimbun analysis of the Chinese military response to the death of KJI. Beijing was reportedly unofficially informed of KJI’s death a day before it was announced.
- Daily NK on the Korea Employer’s Federation report on labor market changes in case of reunification.
- Haggard on Cathcart’s analysis of the Chinese reaction to the death of KJI, suggesting strong support for the new regime.
- Geoffrey K. See on commercial life in NK, including comment on the rising income inequality and young NKoreans interest in business.
- Siegfried Hecker is concerned for the safety of NK’s Yongbyon nuclear facility.
- Nak-chung Paik on the importance of leadership change in NK and SK.
- Lankov on the KJI era.
- NK has been ranked second-worst country in the world for press freedom by Reporters Without Borders, consistent with rankings of previous years.
- SK and NK teams will likely participate in the 2012 Incheon Peace Cup International Youth Football Match in China, the first sports exchange between the nations since the death of KJI.
- KCNA: New propaganda posters focusing on economic construction.
- SK is planning to launch “The Open Source Center,” a service designed to collect public foreign information on NK issues.
- The Onion: Disco jump-rope gala in Pyongyang suggests a return to normalcy after the death of KJI.
- NK striker Jong-tae Se has signed for Bundesliga side Cologne.
- The average NKorean male is shorter than his Chosun Dynasty ancestors.
- Video of a NK technology trade fair, featuring an android app that reads barcodes and NKorean voice-to-text software.
NK News Brief acronyms.
Sign up to receive the NK News Brief by email here.