RFA: The proliferation of DVD writers in NK is significantly increasing access to “illegal” films throughout the country as NKoreans copy and smuggle DVDs to be sold on the black market. NK authorities reportedly arrested “mass numbers” in Wonsan this April after investigating absences from mass games rehearsals and discovering large scale DVD production and distribution operations.
Good Friends: NK is to hold a “Homeland Meeting” in Pyongyang to devise measures to deal with the nationwide food crisis, examining farm labor shortages and farmland inefficiencies.
Daily NK: Well-off NK parents are reportedly paying bribes to hospital staff for medical certificates to be used to keep their children from being required to participate in this year’s Arirang mass games.
The WFP has revealed that food distribution by NK authorities to the citizenry during April, a month of widespread celebrations for KIS’ birth, were no greater than that of the month prior.
NK authorities have claimed that the wife of NK activist Oh Gil Nam is dead and that his daughters no longer regard him as their father. Oh, who has long advocated on behalf of his family trapped in NK, has refuted the statement as a lie.
Song Sang-ho on the success of recent demonstrations in SK on behalf of NK refugees. Assemblywoman Park Sun-young: “The biggest achievement we have from our rallies is that people now understand the excruciating pains of North Korean defectors. Internationally, China has started to feel ashamed.”
Upcoming developments in Jilin Province are to include railway connections that will link all of NK’s major border cities to China. This may increase trade and legal cross-border movement but may disrupt commonly used defection routes. Other recent developments have included installations of security devices into 6,000 homes in areas bordering NK which can be used to inform local police of the presence of NK refugees.
INTERNATIONAL POLITICS & SECURITY
SK govt officials have accused NK of using jamming signals in attempts to disrupt civilian and military air, ground, and shipping traffic. The International Court of Justice has reportedly launched a legal review to determine whether this action and other recent threats are criminal.
NK is estimated to have enough weapons-grade uranium for up to six nuclear bombs. This is in addition to NK’s weapons-grade plutonium stockpiles expected to be enough for up to seven devices. NK is believed to employ some 3,000 nuclear experts, with total nuclear expenditures totalling at least 6.58b USD.
Three “very significant” NK state companies have been added to the UN list of sanctioned organizations following consent by China. The U.S. and others had originally called for the sanctioning of 40 firms. The total of sanctioned NK companies is now up to 11.
Chu Shulong, professor at Tsinghua University, predicted that a NK nuclear test would result in “China halting fuel and humanitarian aid to North Korea, and the strongest sanctions it has ever faced.”
SK and China have agreed to designate KIC as an outward processing zone as part of discussions regarding a bilateral free trade agreement. Neither the EU nor the U.S. recognize KIC as such.
Interview with Suzanne Scholte on progress for North Korea. Speaking to the importance of changing the “elites” way of thinking, calling out specific human rights abusers, and promoting SK pressure on China to change its policies.
Lankov on NKoreans’ reverence of portraits and badges of KIS and KJI. “Stories of heroes who risked or even sacrificed their lives to save the sacred visage[s] are a staple in North Korean media… Some of these stories might be fakes, to be sure, but one cannot rule out that some North Koreans indeed risk their lives to protect the images.”
SJ Park on building on international attention on the NK human rights crisis. “Focusing on the North Korean people’s crisis is more important than focusing on the security issues or its reclusive leaders. This is not just because the North Korean people’s stories ought to be known as they are the ones who have suffered the most out of this whole situation. It is also because, ultimately, change in North Korea will have to come from within, so a focus on the people is an important part of changing the whole situation.”
Blaine Harden on journalistic approaches to NK: “Real journalism, I think, is talking to these 23,000-24,000 (defectors) … the cup is replenished every year with newcomers. “The ore is there to mine for those who have the patience and the stomach for it.”
GPS tracking devices used to track Bibles and gospel flyers launched into NK by NGO Seoul USA have provided precise verification of successful distribution into the country.