The recent rumor about the death of LMB which was said to have circulated widely through NK was reportedly distributed by the Workers’ Party Propaganda and Agitation Department.
NK is reportedly to hold an international art festival to include 800 artists from 23 countries April 11-19 as part of celebrations to mark the birth of KIS.
AP on renovations taking place in Pyongyang to mark the succession of KJU.
FOOD AID & FOOD SECURITY
Swiss organizations SDC and Agape plan to continue food aid to NK into the foreseeable future.
The U.S. North Korean Human Rights Act 2012 reauthorization bill has been passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The International Coalition to Stop Crimes against Humanity in North Korea submitted a petition to the UN HRC calling for action to help close NK political prison camps. Further.
British Deputy PM Nick Clegg said of his meeting with NK refugees alongside the Nuclear Security Summit that it was “the most powerful memory” of his trip.
Five NK refugees that had been holed up in the SK embassy in Beijing for almost three years have safely arrived in SK after the Chinese govt allowed them to leave the country. The group included the daughter and two grandchildren of a SKorean POW. Seven more NK refugees are reported to have been holed up in SK consulates in Shenyang and Shanghai for at least two years, with the Chinese govt reportedly also considering permitting their departure.
INTERNATIONAL POLITICS & SECURITY
The U.S. suspended food aid plans for NK in response to the nation’s announced “satellite” launch, stating that “[The launch] reflects [North Korea’s] lack of desire to follow through on their international commitments.” Victoria Nuland, discussing the linkage of food aid to political considerations said, “There’s a link in the sense that we don’t have confidence in the good faith of the government.”
NK criticized the food aid suspension, accusing the USG of connecting politics with humanitarian efforts and calling the suspension a “violation of the core provisions” of the Leap Day Deal.
NK American affairs head, Ri Gun, met with former U.S. officials Thomas Pickering and Christopher Hill in Germany for unofficial talks, calling them “frank and useful” but reiterated NK’s launch plans.
Experts invited to view the launch will reportedly be allowed to “watch the preparation for the launch of the carrier rocket with satellite on it” in a NK move to “organize special visits going beyond the international usage to show with transparency the peaceful, scientific and technological nature of the satellite.”
Vietnamese and Danish PMs have expressed concern about the launch, as have EU leaders who also called on NK to improve its human rights situation.
SK, Chinese, and Japanese diplomats are to hold trilateral talks which will reportedly include discussions of the NK launch “on the sidelines.”
Japanese Defense Minister, Naoki Tanaka, has ordered missile units to intercept the NK rocket if it threatens to hit Japan.
U.S. Army General James Thurman reported that NK is growing its cyber warfare capabilities with “sophisticated computer hackers.” The general also expressed concern about the future of NK leadership saying, “The first thing I worry about every day is a miscalculation on somebody’s part that causes a conflict,” and suggested that the U.S. should reinstall a full combat aviation brigade in SK.
The U.S. is reportedly still in support of family reunions for Korean-Americans with their relatives in NK.
SinoNK summary of approaches put forth by various analysts that the USG could take towards NK.
Lee Jong-seok with thoughts on NK interests in SK elections. “[T]he reason the Pyongyang regime acts in a way that hurts the opposition candidates is because it thinks that it helps its own stability to have an administration in Seoul with an authoritarian character like its own.”
Carl Baker with suggestions for U.S. moves in regards to the NK “satellite” launch. “Washington should test the North Korean claim that it is launching a satellite and not a missile by accepting Pyongyang’s offer to allow experts and journalists to observe the launch.” “Maybe it is time to call North Korea’s bluff rather than get sucked back into the tactical tit-for-tat that has allowed Pyongyang to control the strategic game for years.”
NK News Brief’s SJ Park on China’s NK refugee problem, making the case for the Chinese govt to return to a policy of benign neglect. “China’s long-term interests are better served by building trust and better relationships with the Korean people and the rest of the international community by demonstrating its commitment to developing as a responsible global power… Ceasing their crackdowns on North Korean refugees is not just the right thing to do, it is also in China’s national interest.”