Daily NK: More than 200 have been awarded the ‘Hero of the Republic’ title for their role in either the December 12th satellite launch or February 12th nuclear test. “People’s response to that is to ask whether we can really call them Heroes of the Republic when a few hundred were made all at once.”
Daily NK: Kim Young-cheol has apparently been reinstated to director of NK’s General Bureau of Reconnaissance after being demoted three months ago.
New Focus International on North Hamgyeong and its association with regionalism.
A revised compulsory education system that will go into effect in NK soon may face difficulties in the short-term due to a lack of resources needed to put the system into practice.
RFA: Using bribes, NKorean traders are able to smuggle in vehicles illegally from China to ferry those who are stranded by frequent railway stoppages.
Grain and fertilizer imports from China fell sharply in the month of January, grain at 9.2% of the previous month, and fertilizer at 20%. “The biggest reason is because China has recently begun to restrain grain exports in order to meet growing domestic demand. Bilateral tension caused by the North’s rocket launch and nuclear test over the past months may also have affected the two-way grain trade.”
NK will operate a farm in Amur Oblast, Russia, and import the produce for domestic consumption inside NK.
Daily NK: Except for certain foodstuffs, most of the products on sale in these markets come in from China. Therefore, domestic production is only a minor, albeit important, variable; Chinese Yuan exchange rates and foreign trade volumes are the basic determinants of price… Unsurprisingly given recent history, frequent market controls and policy failures incite anxiety in economic actors at the grassroots level. Economic measures lead to skyrocketing inflation.
NYT: Part of China’s 11b USD trade with NK includes the crab industry. From the port in the Rason special economic zone, the crabs are trucked in ice to the Chinese border town of Quanhe, and then brought to the market in Yanji or flown to cities across China as a delicacy for the affluent.
China has been cracking down on NKorean migrant workers since February 10th, before the nuclear launch. There are estimated to be 79,600 N Korean migrant workers in China, and are 30% cheaper to employ than native Chinese and also cannot change jobs without violating their work permits.
NFI: NKorean refugees carry rat poison pills or razor blades to commit suicide in case they are caught. “Suicide is considered a subversive crime against the North Korean state, so I planned to commit suicide if I was caught. I wanted my last act to serve as a protest against the state.” Sleeping pills are also given by brokers to refugee families to silence the cries of infants or children while traveling at night.
KINU reports that with the closure of Camp 22 last year, the number of N Koreans living in political prison camps may have been reduced to between 80,000 and 120,000.
Two days after PGH’s inauguration, the SK govt pledged that it would “actively” support the establishment of a UN commission of inquiry into NK human rights abuses.
INTERNATIONAL POLITICS & SECURITY
President Park: “When North Korea abandons its nuclear ambitions and ceases its provocations, it will be able to become a responsible member of the international community. Only then will the path toward shared development by South and North be opened to us and only then will the trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula begin in earnest.”
Choson Sinbo responds to PGH’s inaugural address: “[We are] unable to hide our rage at the way Park emphasized the ‘abandonment of nuclear weapons’ and ‘change’ without a single syllable about implementing North-South agreements.”
After three weeks of negotiations, the U.S. and Chinese govts have reached agreement on a new draft UNSC resolution to punish NK for its third nuclear test. Susan Rice said the resolution will target, “the illicit activities of North Korean diplomatic personnel, North Korean banking relationships, illicit transfers of bulk cash and new travel restrictions.”
NK propaganda website Uriminzokkiri: “The U.S. should know that it now lies within the range of our strategic rockets and nuclear weapons.”
KCNA: “The KPA Supreme Command will make the Korean Armistice Agreement totally nullified. The war maneuvers being staged by the U.S. imperialists and the south Korean puppet forces are a vivid expression of their systematic violation of the AA. Accordingly, the Supreme Command of the KPA will completely declare invalid the AA, which has existed for form’s sake from March 11, the day when the war maneuvers will enter into a full-dress stage.”
SK military spokesman: “If North Korea attempts a provocation that threatens the lives and security of our people, our military will forcefully and decisively strike not only the origin of provocation and its supporting forces but also its command leadership. We make it clear that we are all prepared.”
ANALYSIS & OPINION
NFI: “The existence of a 10% or a 1% means that there also exists a 90%. We should remember that these ordinary North Koreans are barred from sharing in the life of the North Korean elite, whose lives are the only ones we have access to as outsiders who engage with ‘North Korea’.”
Editor of China’s CCP journal: “North Korea is pulling away from Beijing.The Chinese like to view their relationship with Pyongyang through their shared sacrifice during the Korean War instead of reality. They describe it as a ‘friendship sealed in blood’. But North Korea does not feel like this at all towards its neighbour.”
Hui Zhang: “Chinese policymakers, however, face a dilemma. Amid growing tensions with other nations over disputed islands in the East and South China seas, they are suspicious of Washington’s long-term strategic intentions in the region, particularly its rebalancing toward the Asia Pacific. They are concerned that, if freed from the North Korean nuclear crisis, Washington will turn its focus to containing China instead. Moreover, to the extent leaders in Beijing are interested in solving the North Korean crisis, they believe their strategic influence on Pyongyang is limited. From China’s perspective, the crisis is driven by Washington and Pyongyang.”
Lankov: “Kim Jong-Il cannot escape responsibility for the famine that caused hundreds of thousands of people to starve to death. And he is completely responsible for not enacting economic reforms when he had the chance to turn the country’s economy around. Still, it is no exaggeration to say that most of North Korea’s problems during the Kim Jong-Il era arose from the policies of his father’s regime.”
Bit Torrent tracking site The Pirate Bay has come clean from a hoax that stated it was relocating its servers to NK.
Part 1 of 5 in the life one of the first and last Guinean exchange students in NK in the 1980s. “Despite the comfortable living conditions, the African students became aware within the first year that North Korea was not the socialist paradise that the North Korean government had led them to believe.”
Young NK couples are frequent targets and sources of bribe money for authorities, and typically have to go to private homes run by traders, mountains, ruins or abandoned buildings to go on dates.
Dennis Rodman visited NK to film a documentary with Vice Media and met with KJU. Rodman: “I don’t condone what he does, but as far as a person to person, he’s my friend.” The story was widely covered in NK media, and criticised by the White House.