NK state media has also acknowledged the drought. The Pyongyang Times reported on June 2 that “in most parts of the country, except Ryangang and Jagang Provinces, there has been no rainfall since April 26. [...] The water volume of the major irrigation reservoirs is 110 million cubic meters less than in the same period of last year. A KCNA article on June 19th warned that “rain is hardly expected for the western coastal area until June 26.”
SK Foreign Ministry spokesman Cho Byung-jae cast doubt on the severity of the drought, saying “Our general assessment is that it is not so serious as to fall into a level of crisis [...] At present, no plan is in the offing with regard to government-level food assistance to North Korea.” More from Yonhap.
Robert King’s recent comments that the US government is working to break the “information blockade,” this being “the key to positive change in North Korea,” is receiving national coverage through an article by the AP. LiNK blog post.
In anticipation of increasing numbers of NK immigrants, the Canadian Senate is debating a bill that would stop North Koreans already in SK from applying for refugee status.
SK has launched an investigation into alleged abuse of NK refugees by embassy staff in China and Southeast Asia. More from Yonhap and Korea Times.
Elements of the Indian government are questioning the appointment of a stenographer as their new ambassador to Pyongyang. The stenographer was apparently chosen because no one in the Indian Foreign Service wanted to be posted to Pyongyang.
Sources within the Japanese government are rumored to have confirmed that a Chinese company provided military trucks to NK in violation of UN sanctions. Meanwhile China’s MFA spokesman once again denied that China has broken any international agreement.
Responding to rumors that the US asked Japan and SK to ignore Chinese cooperation with the NK missile program, State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland commented that “what I can say on this is relatively limited, given intelligence issues involved. But I will say that we have raised our own concerns with China about allegations that Chinese entities have assisted the [NK] missile program. And we will continue to work with China and others in the international community to enforce the UN’s sanctions on North Korea’s ballistic and nuclear missile programs.” Full transcript here.
A US aircraft carrier is scheduled to join US-ROK-Japan trilateral naval exercises on June 21-22 in Korean waters followed by a “routine carrier operation” on June 23-25. For more see articles by the Hankyoreh and Stars and Stripes. NK responded by denouncing the exercise as a violation of the 1953 armistice.
The USG extended its sanctions on NK for another year. The Pyongyang Times reported that “the US slapped economic sanctions on the DPRK again by finding fault with its satellite launch for peaceful purposes.”
A task force charged with formulating the policy of the United Progressive Party (UPP) issued report on June 18 which described the party’s position as “opposed to the human rights situation, hereditary transfer of power, and nuclear program in North Korea.” Some in SK view this as an important change in the party’s views on NK. Article in the Korea Times and an editorial in the Hankyoreh.
The WSJ recently interviewed Moon Chung-in (Professor at Yonsei University and former advisor to SK presidents KDJ and NMH), who promotes re-instituting the sunshine policy. He argues that the Bush administration effectively ended the policy after only nine months, thus not giving the program a chance to work.
An Op-Ed in China Daily argues that the international community should abandon sanctions and make “full scale contact with DPRK society” and provide security assurances, in order to encourage NK reform inside the country.