NK NEWS BRIEF | September 12, 2012
Posted September 12, 2012
A still from a WFP video about flooding in NK, documenting local farmers struggling in the driving rain to save their village’s farmland | Source: WFP
- NK authorities have announced domestically that the 6.28 reform measures will begin on October 1st.
- Daily NK: The IFRC reported in a bulletin that official North Korean statistics showed 59 dead and 50 disappeared, 7,900 homes flooded, damaged or destroyed, and 1,273 roads and 283 bridges cut.
- Experts speculate the unusual event of the upcoming second SPA session may focus on the 6.28 economic reforms. Chang Yong-seok of SNU: “I think the very fact that [the country] is handling a major national concern transparently through a Supreme People’s Assembly meeting is a sign of the new leadership from Kim Jong-un.” Haggard and Herman’s analysis here.
- RFA on train rides in NK: Train rides are delayed so often that people attempt to bring adequate food for the long journey. However people who live near train tracks welcome such mechanical problems because they can profit from selling food and water to passengers.
- Noa Sharabi’s (Hanns-Seidel Foundation) comparison of the 2010 and 2011 versions of the Law of the DPRK on the Rason Economic Trade Zone.
- NK Economy Watch on NK’s Rajin port: “Theoretically, the port as a handling capacity of 3 million sq. tons, however the maximum real handling was 800.000 tons in 1979, while last year it was 200.000 tons.”
- NK and China have also agreed on the joint use of the port at Chongjin.
- The two Sino-NK SEZs have increased their efforts to draw investment.
- August issue of DPRK Business Monthly available here.
- WFP video on the effects of the flooding in DPRK.
- The NK govt has said that it will accept aid from SK, but things are still at the negotiation stage. This would be the first official SK aid to NK in over two years. In a later report from a different news source, Daily NK, DPRK officials “refused South Korea’s call for face-to-face meetings to deal with the flood aid request, instead suggesting that the issue be dealt with through document exchanges”.
- The MOU has granted World Vision permission to transfer 500T of wheat flour to NK in response to recent floods in NK.
- Ireland has donated 200,000 EUR to NK through the WFP. The donation will provide 33,000 women and children with WFP nutritional support for a month. The EU has also provided 200,000 EUR to the Red Cross to support aid operations in NK.
- The MOU announced that it believes the NKorean harvest will be 600,000T less than last year due to drought and flooding. It also predicted that the overall food deficit will be between 800,000 and 1 million tons.
- In mountainous farming regions of NK, it has been reported that thieves pull sheaves of crops and replant them in the woods or their own private plots to reduce their risk of hunger the next year. This poses a problem for the farmers themselves who are left with very little after seed procurement, military deliveries and central quotas.
- The Database Center for North Korean Human rights has released its 2012 white paper on NKHR: The average number of reported human rights violations by each North Korean defector interviewed has decreased from 9.8 in the 1980s, 9.6 in the 1990s down to 7.7 in 2012. On the other hand, Kim In-sung, the head of the research said that “abuses of freedom of speech, property, belief, the rights of detainees and the right of abode are still being reported in greater numbers, all of which shows that the civil and political rights of the people remain in dire condition.”
- An appeals court upheld a sentence for a NKorean refugee accused of plotting to kill human rights activist Park Sang-hak. He was sentenced to 4 years in prison.
- In light of recent events surrounding sexual assault and abuse of power in South Korea, Daily NK reports on the prevalence of sexual abuse in NK through evidence gathered from the testimonies of defectors. A defector commented, “sexual abuse is a violation of human rights, and the human rights situation in North Korea is in desperate need of improvement.”
- The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill calling for the US Secretary of State to develop a strategy to facilitate the adoption of orphaned NK refugee children by American families.
- The MOU is to review its use of terms for NKorean refugees after receiving some complaints over current terminology.
- A suspected NKorean man was found apparently drunk and wearing only underwear on the SKorean island of Ganghwa. He appears to have drifted to the south clinging on to driftwood.
- Kim, a refugee accused of kidnapping a 25-year old NKorean woman working in a restaurant, located within Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, has been released from custody in Cambodia and returned to South Korea.
- SK authorities detained an alleged NKorean spy posing as a refugee. The women he traveled with is still under investigation.
INTERNATIONAL POLITICS & SECURITY
- POSCO and Hyundai Group began construction of an international distribution complex in Hunchun, a Chinese city bordering the Rason Special Economic Zone in North Korea. At first the complex will rely on ports in Russia, however, investors hope that if relations improve, the center could utilize the port in Rason.
- US Secretary of State Clinton met with LMB at the APEC summit and discussed the situation in NK. U.S. officials made it clear that Washington believes North Korea should carry out reform to improve the lives of its people and give up its nuclear programs, but reform without denuclearization cannot be an alternative. The USG also wants greater SK involvement in regional anti-missile initiatives.
- A touchy KCNA responded to Xiyang Corp, the Chinese corporation that publicly complained about their nightmare investment in NK and have been warning off other investors. KNCA said Xiyang was “chiefly” to blame since “it has carried out only 50 percent of its investment obligations though almost four years have past since the contract took effect.” However KCNA notably also said that “We will in the future, too, improve and round off the investment environment to further expand the international investment relations to meet the demand of the developing times and the lawful requirement of the international investment relations under the condition that the security of the country is guaranteed by dint of Songun. We will also ensure the legitimate rights and interests of all investors willing to develop international investment relations on the principles of mutual respects, equality, reciprocity and law-observance.” Cathcart has done a useful dig into Chinese and Korean sources on this matter.
- KCNA rejected claims that NK was willing to talk to Japan about abductions.
- Russian FM Lavrov has said that trilateral projects between Russia and the Koreas are moving forward. The projects referred to include a planned pipeline to flow from Russia to SK, via NK.
ANALYSIS & OPINION
- Ian Burrell argues that the BBC World Service should create a Korean language service to broadcast to the NK market. A brilliant idea.
- Haggard analyses the press releases following Jang Song-taek’s trip to China. He concludes that the Chinese govt is largely unhappy with the business environment in NK, and is unwilling to invest more until KJU improves the situation.
- Lankov on Sino-NK economic ties: JST’s trip was largely a failure, and “while talking about economic relations between the two countries, it always makes sense to keep in mind that for China strategic considerations take priority over economic ones, which constitute a rather distant second.”
- Lankov with his strongest published statements on NK reform yet, following his WashPo oped. And another piece looks at the possibilities of a new currency reform in NK.
- Mark Mackinnon examines how NKorean labor helped Vladivostok prepare for the APEC summit last weekend.
- Check out this interview with Jennifer Lind, an expert on Northeast Asian and Korean Security Issues from Dartmouth College (podcast).
- NK Econ Watch presents newly released satellite images of PY from Google maps.
- U.S. Army Master Sgt. Clifford Ryan, a US soldier killed during the Korean War, was finally buried in Southern California after his remains were found by NKorean miners in 2000.
- A NKorean restaurant in Amsterdam, the only of its kind in Europe, has closed due to an apparent disagreement between the Dutch owners and NKorean staff.
- Review of Melanie Kirkpatrick’s new book “Escape from North Korea: the untold story of Asia’s underground railroad”
- KCTV has been given another ‘modern’ upgrade. The old background paintings have been replaced with a video wall.
- NKNB note from SP: Thank you BH for your excellent work on the NK News Brief over the past few months!
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