- At the Fourth Chosun Workers’ Party Delegates’ Conference KJU was named first secretary of the WPK and declared the “supreme leader” of NK, while KJI’s leadership position has been retired, the deceased leader being named the “eternal general secretary” of the nation. More from NK Leadership Watch.
- KJU’s sister, Kim Yeo-jung, was reportedly selected as a delegate to the Conference, seemingly assuming a role alongside KJU similar to that held by KJI’s sister, Kim Kyong-hee, prior to KJI’s death.
- State prizes and medals have been awarded to more than 640 NKoreans, in a likely effort to solidify support for the KJU regime.
- The Ministry of People’s Security and the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces held a loyalty rally for the regime.
- NKoreans in Pyongyang joined to commemorate KIS and KJI with the unveiling of a large mosaic of the leaders.
- NK authorities have reportedly ordered the distribution of at least fifteen gifts to the citizenry to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of KIS.
- NK has completed work on the hydroelectric Huichon Power Station in Jangang Province, now the largest such station in the nation. Further.
- NK has apparently established a second link to the internet, through Washington-based Intelstat.
- The Telegraph: What NKoreans really think of KJU.
FOOD AID & FOOD SECURITY
- The NK agricultural sector is reportedly in decline due to a lack of farm laborers and poor worker performance.
- The U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea released an update of David Hawk’s The Hidden Gulag, reporting on the current status of human rights abuses within NK. Featured in the HuffPo.
- Shin Dong-hyuk’s video message to his father.
- Ben Rogers on the need for a COI on NK.
- Korea Herald: Choi Young-hak’s story, includes details of his forced repatriation from China and his treatment by security forces in NK. “After the daylong interrogation and merciless torture, I was dragged into a dark solitary cell, and lay on the ground. I could not think of anything (because of pain and exhaustion), but just wished to die as soon as possible.”
- Daily NK: Young Sook, elder sister of refugees recently allowed to leave China after three years stuck in a SK consulate, discussing their release.
- The Australian: Lee Su-Bok and Ji Seong-ho’s stories. “The boys tried in vain to contact their father, who had remained behind in Hoeryeong. Later they would learn he too had tried to cross the river but was caught by state security agents and tortured to death. The boys are living in Seoul, where they are studying and running an NGO called Now! Action and Unity for Human Rights to try to raise the profile of the humanitarian crisis in the North.”
- Harvard students will fast for 31 hours on behalf of the 31 refugees repatriated to NK.
INTERNATIONAL POLITICS & SECURITY
- NK completed preparations and has begun fueling for its upcoming rocket launch, which will happen in the next few days.
- Foreign journalists have been allowed entry into the country to visit the launch site and conduct other reporting. Telegraph video, BBC video. Guardian video. Q&A with James Oberg, NBC space consultant, on the visit.
- SK, Japanese, and Philippine airlines have rerouted flights in expectation of the launch.
- The USG has reportedly discouraged international experts from accepting NK invitations to attend the launch, and the U.S., Japan, and Russia have all declared that they will not send representatives.
- NK has threatened the U.S. and SK against taking action to intercept the soon to be launched “satellite,” proclaiming that any action would be followed by a “ruthless exterminatory attack.”
- SK, Japan, and China jointly voiced concern about the rocket launch. ASEAN leaders met and discussed NK issues, agreeing to statements urging “restraint” and calling for a resumption of the SPT.
- Chosun Ilbo: NK may be building a missile even larger than that to be used in the upcoming launch.
- A high ranking SKorean military officer estimated that NK has 10,000 people working on missiles and has spent 3.1b USD on its missile programs so far.
- SK’s NIS suspects that NK is preparing for an underground nuclear test. NK experts have predicted that NK is likely to conduct its third nuclear test soon, following past patterns.
- The IAEA has responded to a recent NK invitation to visit the country by stating that it will “follow up… in a constructive spirit.” Jeffrey Lewis has a copy of the NK invitation. Discussed by Haggard.
- The Korea International Trade Association reported that NK/China trade increased 62.4% from 2010-2011, NK exports by 107.4% and and NK imports by 38.9%. NK/SK trade reportedly decreased 10.4% over the same period.
- Five American scientists visited NK for an ecological and environmental exchange. Q&A with scientist Margaret Palmer.
- LMB has reiterated the idea of a joint SK/NK NK reforestation project, stating that it would be helpful to both nations.
ANALYSIS & OPINION
- Lankov on international efforts to control NK actions. “The outside world – including the stronger states in the world – is without a lever when it comes to controlling or moderating North Korean behavior.”
- Unofficial NK spokesman Kim Myong Chol on recent U.S. actions towards NK, stating of the NK “satellite” launch that the U.S. should use the situation to “recapture [the] moral high ground” and reaffirm that it has no hostile intent toward NK.
- Georgy Toloraya with thoughts on the Leap Day Deal/”satellite” launch, suggesting that the U.S. and NK were both “well intentioned to achieve meaningful results.”
- Nicolas Levi on the power families of NK.
- AP on the veneration of KIS, visiting Mt. Paektu and analyzing his memoirs.
- In SK’s National Assembly elections the ruling Saenuri party (former GNP) surprisingly held on to its majority. Out of 300 parliamentary seats, the Saenuri Party won 152 as against 127 for the main opposition Democratic United Party and 13 for the DUP’s coalition partner, the Unified Progressive Party. However looking to the upcoming presidential elections, Saenuri confidence will be dented by the fact that they won only 16 out of 48 seats in Seoul, which accounts for almost 50% of voters. The Hankyoreh (among others) attributed Saenuri’s success to Park Geun-hye’s strategy of remaking her party and distancing themselves from LMB, and lamented the DUP for a lack of leadership strategy.
- Ahn, an NK defector accused of trying to assassinate an anti-NK activist, has been found guilty.
- Two Japanese men have reportedly been arrested on suspicion of conspiring to export cars to NK.
- AP: Pyongyang students’ first day of school.
- The Telegraph: “Daily life in North Korea.” Pictures from Pyongyang.
- Pictures: Snowy weather in NK.
- AP account of the foreign journalists’ bus tour of socialist paradise.
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