NK has announced plans to launch a “polar-orbiting earth observation satellite” between April 12-16. According to Daily NK, the authorities are conducting lectures featuring the upcoming launch. A source within the country said the general populace “really couldn’t care less.”
Previously announced amnesties for NK prisoners are reportedly being used to extract money from detainees and their family members.
NK authorities have reportedly issued orders for the collection from the citizenry of 10kg of scrap iron per person “in every area of North Korea.”
USD and RMB are reportedly back in widespread use in NK markets following bans immediately after the death of KJI, resulting in Yuan price increases. Authorities are also reportedly implementing strict limitations on movement within the country, hindering product circulation and causing a rise in food prices.
RFA: NK is increasingly sending govt officials and specialists abroad for training.
NK has published new laws regarding the Hwanggumphyong and Rason SEZs.
KBS: Various NK officials were reportedly killed or dismissed for misdeeds during the mourning period for KJI.
FOOD AID & FOOD SECURITY
Chosunilbo: NK has apparently agreed to increase the number of independent food distribution monitors in the country to 70 ahead of possible U.S. shipments. However that deal may now be off because of NK’s upcoming “satellite” launch.
Dong-a Ilbo: China has reportedly begun sending aid to NK as part of a large package pledged last month.
A group of ten NK refugees and their guide were reportedly arrested by Chinese authorities in January near the border with Mongolia.
Advocacy on behalf of NK refugees in China has continued despite the recent repatriation of a large group, with demonstrations being organized in Geneva, the U.S., Canada, and SK. An estimated 300 protested in Vancouver, Canada, an estimated 400 students, professors, and personnel gathered at Kyung-In Women’s University in SK, and an estimated 500 participated in a “walkathon” in Seoul. An association of 500 civic groups haslaunched a campaign aiming to collect 10m signatures to stop the Chinese repatriations.
UK Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, is to meet with NK defectors in Seoul on the sidelines of the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit.
Chosun Ilbo reporter and former political prison camp inmate, Kang Cheol-hwan, is to run as a proportional representation candidate for the Saenuri Party in upcoming SK elections.
Director of the Institute for Unification Education, and first NK defector to reach the top level of SK civil service, Cho Myung-chul, has been confirmed as the Saenuri Party no. 4 proportional representation candidate, seemingly setting him up to become the first NK defector elected to the SK National Assembly.
The U.S., SK, Japan, Russia, China, France, the EU, and the UNSG all voiced their concerns about the recent NK “satellite” launch announcement.
State Department’s Victoria Nuland stated that the test would be a violation of UN sanctions, a threat to regional security, and “inconsistent” with the recent Leap Day Deal, saying further that during the recent Beijing bilaterals the U.S. “did warn [NK] that we considered a satellite launch of this kind would be an abrogation of that agreement.”
Japanese Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka stated that Japan is considering intercepting the launched device if it passes through Japanese airspace.
Chinese special representative for the Korean Peninsula, Wu Dawei, and NK nuclear negotiator, Ri Yong Ho, have met twice to discuss the launch, having “frank, in-depth talk.”
NK has rejected the criticism, calling the launch “peaceful” and the “legitimate right of a sovereign state,” and stating further that it “has nothing to do with” the recent U.S. agreement. NK has said that it will invite foreign experts and journalists to observe the launch, and has notified the International Telecommunication Union and the International Maritime Organization of its plans. David Wright on the West coast launch site. NK Tech on the launch trajectory.
The IAEA received an invitation from NK to visit the country following the Leap Day Deal. IAEA spokeswoman: “Details will be discussed. Nothing has been decided yet.”
NK has stated that criticism of its nuclear weapons program at the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul would be considered a “declaration of war.”
A senior NK official reportedly stated in talks with U.S. representatives in NYC last week that, “unlike the previous generation, the new leadership [of North Korea] wants peace and will not fight with the United States.”
Five U.S. Senators wrote a letter to Hillary Clinton stating “serious concern” about the Leap Day Deal.
The U.S. has stated that it will suspend efforts to recover Korean War MIA troop remains from NK (a key confidence-building measure).
Japan is reportedly to extend sanctions against NK for another year, citing no tangible progress on resolving the abduction of Japanese nationals issue.
China’s Ministry of Commerce announced that bilateral trade between China and NK increased 18% this January over January 2011, reaching a total of 418m USD. NK exports to China increased 7% to 139m USD while imports from China increased 24% to 278m USD.
The Korea Customs Service revealed that NK/SK trade increased 36% in the first two months of 2012 over Jan/Feb 2011 exchanges, totalling 320m USD.
NK VFM Ri Yong-ho and Russian First VFM Andrey Denisov reportedly discussed the construction of a NK/SK gas pipeline and “promised to consult closely on Korean Peninsula denuclearization” at a meeting in Moscow.
ANALYSIS & OPINION
Nolandand Haggard on the Leap Day Deal and NK launch, discussing legality and NK rationale.
Andray Abrahamian on U.S. options concerning NK mixed messages, drawing comparisons with the Cuban missile crisis, “responding to the right message is key.”