NK NEWS BRIEF | September 26, 2012
Posted September 26, 2012
Farmers working in the field of a collective farm in South Hwanghae province | Photo: Damir Sagolj / Reuters
- NK’s Supreme People’s Assembly session ended without any mention of economic policy changes. A ROKG official surmised that economic measures do not need to be put out through the SPA and that it could be done by the SPA Standing Committee. The SPA has, however, approved extending compulsory education from 11 years to 12 years. Chris Green’s commentary here, Luke Herman’s here.
- 38 North: NK has halted work at the Musudan-ri rocket launch pad which may be due to damages from recent heavy rains.
- Daily NK: Pyongyang is planning to decree new market prices in an attempt to bring the market under control. However, because prices in the Sino-NK border cities are rising uncontrollably, new market prices may not have any practical value.
- NK has reportedly exported more than 2 tons of gold to China in the past year to earn about 100m USD. NK produces 1-2 tons of gold a year and mines in NK provinces are reported to hold 1000-2000 tons of gold deposits.
- Last month’s Typhoon Bolaven caused the collapse of the Ryongha Tunnel crippling rail services to and from the border city of Hyesan. Hyesan Railroad Bureau railroad workers and locally-based soldiers have been mobilized to fix the tunnel.
- The 8th Pyongyang Autumn International Trade Fair has opened in Pyongyang where a total of 215 companies from 12 countries showcased their machines, electronics, cars and garments.
ECONOMY & FOOD SECURITY
- According to the director of AsiaPress, there is severe food insecurity in Hwanghae Province and crime rates are increasing as people fight to get enough food: “With rations having been cut plus natural disasters like drought, flooding and typhoons, coupled [with] the indifference of the authorities, the situation has become very serious.”
- In hopes of strengthening diplomatic ties with NK, Indonesia will send 2m USD worth of food aid to NK through the WFP.
- The SK chapter of World Vision will send 250m KRW (220,000 USD) worth of flour to NK’s flood victims.
- Russia has delivered over 4000 tons of flour to NK via sea in accordance with a signed agreement between Russia and the WFP.
- Kim Young-hwan, the activist allegedly tortured in the custody of Chinese authorities, has put off a plan to take his case to the UN, because “the issue has been made public in SK, China, and in international society.” However, according to a diplomatic source, due to increased attention from Kim Young-hwan and the ROKG, China said it would further restrict the activities of SK groups helping NK defectors and has apparently started another investigation on the activists in China who aided Kim.
- Kim Young-hwan also lent his backing to the idea of a privately funded ‘North Korean Human Rights Foundation’ with the role of strengthening relations between domestic North Korean human rights NGOs. “Currently, the North Korean human rights movement is overrun with small groups that have no solidarity and are simply unable to offer new alternatives. It is time for these small organizations to make an effort to join the policy debate, undertake joint projects and cooperate to strengthen their solidarity.”
- U.S. Special Envoy for NKHR Issues Ambassador King arrived in SK to continue the U.S.’s “close coordination with the ROK on NKHR issues with his counterparts at MOFAT and MOU”. King is expected to also meet with unspecified National Assembly lawmakers, NGOs and NK experts prior to his departure on 26 Sept.
- The U.S. House of Representatives passed the North Korean Refugee Adoption Act, aimed at streamlining procedures for US families wanting to adopt NK orphans. In an op-ed for 38 North, Christine Hong roundly criticised the bill (comment from LiNK is included in the comments).
- The Mulmangcho (forget-me-not) School, an alternative boarding school reserved for NK refugee students, opened in Yeoju, SK.
INTERNATIONAL POLITICS & SECURITY
- The ROK Navy fired two warning shots at a group of NK fishing vessels crossing the disputed Northern Limit Line in the West Sea. All six NK vessels have retreated. ROK reportedly believe this to be an intentional attempt to provoke SK so that NK may have an excuse to launch an attack. It may also be designed to make solutions for the disputed West Sea maritime border an election issue in the south.
- Diplomatic sources have stated that SK and the US have reached a tentative deal to allow the ROKG to develop ballistic missiles that can reach deeper into NK.
- Representatives of SK companies operating in NK’s Kaesong industrial park have submitted a letter of protest to Pyongyang over the unfairness of the new taxation rules imposed on firms in the park. An example of such rules is that for those caught with accounting fraud may be fined up to 200 times the money involved.
- An NK delegation will reportedly attend talks between the six parties involved in the Six Party Talks (without being SPT, whatever that means) in China. Representatives are expected to exchange views on the current state of regional security and on how to promote strategic trust and engagement on reducing the risk of conflict in NE Asia.
- Iraq rejected a request from NK to fly a plane through its airspace to Syria out of suspicion that it would be carrying weapons. Cue praise from the USG.
- In light of recent US plans to build a new radar base in Japan to “enhance US’s ability to defend Japan” from a potential attack from NK, NK lashed out responding that it would escalate an arms race and develop ‘more powerful nuclear weapons’. In addition, several leading figures in China have also reacted strongly against the radar base stating that it was also aimed at China.
- Yukiya Amano, head of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency, called out NK for being uncooperative in resolving outstanding issues regarding their nuclear program, including uranium enrichment activities and the construction of a light water reactor. Canada also expressed worries over security risks from NK’s nuclear proliferation as Canada has “significant economic and strategic interests in this region that could be at risk”.
- In accordance with a law established in 2007, SK’s MoU has started devising general plans for the development of inter-Korean relations for 2013-2017. The draft will be available around the end of this year, just in time for a new administration to come in with their own plans for NK policy.
- The UN committee in charge of overseeing implementation of UN Security Council resolutions relating to NK has confirmed that World Intellectual Property Organization technical assistance to NK does not violate UN resolutions.
ANALYSIS & OPINION
- Andrei Lankov’s take on the balance between a reforming NK and it’s stance on nuclear proliferation, and his analysis on the merely ‘symbolic nature’ of the RF-NK relationship.
- Kim Seung-chul of NK Reform Radio on the likelihood of KJU “falling into the foolish trap of enjoying guidance visits, thinking they represent his power itself” and the follies of “the politics of the show”.
- Jeffrey Robertson compares NK’s emergency response planning to the four stages of standard national emergency response plans: prevention and mitigation; pre-event preparedness; immediate response; and recovery and consolidation.
- Dean Ouellette on Canada’s relations with NK and Canada’s NK aid policy.
- WashPo report on Pak Jong-suk, one of the only cases on record of a defector returning to the North. Those who knew Pak in SK, and ROKG officials, say that her story is largely false and likely state-fed in order to protect her son living in NK.
- The 13th Pyongyang International Film Festival opened with around 30 feature and documentary films from over 50 groups in 30 countries. More than 90 films will be screened during the festival including NK’s first two co-produced movies “Meet in Pyongyang” (PRC-DPRK), and “Comrade Kim Goes Flying” (DPRK-UK).
- Interview with Melanie Kirkpatrick, author of Escape from North Korea: the Untold Story of Asia’s Underground Railroad.
- NYT mention of NK’s ‘parody’ of Gangnam Style, mocking Park Geun-hye’s political roots.
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