Number of NK defector arrivals in South Korea | Image: Korea Herald.
Roughly matching the period of SK’s ‘Hoguk’ military exercise, NKorean authorities have declared a quasi-state of war, according to sources inside the country. This state is considered one step below ‘state of war’ and all sections of the NKorean military, security forces and ordinary citizens are on alert and are participating in military and civil defense exercises.
Daily NK: After the SKorean govt stopped broadcasting analogue TV signals on the SKorean side of the border in the shift to digital TV, NKoreans who used to watch SKorean TV in secret are “very disappointed” that it has suddenly been shut off. Digital TVs are available in NK, but costs are too high for most. Currently there are no plans to deliver a separate analogue broadcast signal for NKorean viewers.
Daily NK: NK authorities have cautioned against thoughts of defection in recent lectures following the sending of leaflets from SK. The lecturer said that any person who dares to step out of our heaven on earth is a traitor, and that ‘Judging by the fact that the world media is now revealing the names and faces of defectors, it is clear that the South Chosun government is not protecting them anymore… Even though they ordered people not to look at them, anybody who can see is going to read them. All they have to do is say they didn’t, or just read them in secret then burn them or throw them away. People assume that the lecture was meant to discourage defection and incite anger.”
The SKorean NIS reported that NK is spending 330m USD on amusement parks and the Kim family personality cult. The NIS pointed out that 330m would be enough to buy 1.1m tons of corn, enough to feed the entire NKorean population for 3-4 months.
Ri Sol-ju, as expected, is pregnant (or is hiding a pillow under her coat).
ECONOMY & FOOD SECURITY
NK is building a management office for the Rason SEZ to be jointly developed and operated by China.
The same SKorean relief group that sent 500 tons of flour to NK earlier this month has delivered a second batch of flood aid worth 3.2b KRW (3m USD) to NK.
Haggard notes that the International Food Policy Research Institute’s Global Hunger Index was incorrectly reported in the SKorean press (and relayed in this news brief) as indicating that conditions are worse now than they were in 1997.
RFA: Trade is booming between China and NK, thanks to the link between Hunchun and Rason. Some 250,417 people traveled through the Chuanhu customs checkpoint in the first nine months of 2012, up 30.7% from the same period last year. Bilateral trade reached 5.67b USD in 2011, up 62.4% from 2010, and for the first half of this year reached 3.14b USD, up 24.7% on 2011 H1. China, which lacks a port in its northeastern region, has recently made significant investments in Rason’s infrastructure—including the city’s roads and electrical grid—to gain access to northeastern NK’s Najin Harbor, which is on the Pacific Ocean and remains ice-free throughout the year.
Daily NK reports that lower class families from local counties are farming the land that was formerly within the confines of Political Prison Camp No. 22.
UNSG’s 2012 report on the Situation of human rights in the DPRK available here.
MOU statistics revealed that the number of NKorean refugees arriving in SK during the Jan-Sept period was 1,086. The number is expected to reach around 1,440 for 2012. It will be the first time since 2005 that fewer than 2,000 NKorean refugees have arrived in SKorea. The sharp decline is attributable mainly to the increase in security on both sides of the Sino-NK border, with political transitions happening on both sides this year.
According to a survey by the Gyeonggido Family and Women Research Institute, 43.1% of defectors said they felt fear or anxiety during routine questioning by SKorean officials prior to resettlement.
A study of 140 female NKorean defectors found that 26.4% suffer from some form of depression. 27.1% reported having experienced sexual abuse while in NK, SK, or a third country.
A former high-ranking SKorean official claimed that NK demanded half a billion dollars for a N-S summit between LMB and KJI. “During the Roh administration, a probe was launched into the Kim Dae-jung gov’t following an allegation that Kim had transmitted $500 million to NK in return for the 2000 summit. For that reason, the Lee administration couldn’t offer large sums of money for the talks. We put in a lot of effort for a third summit, and we felt sorry it was scrapped.”
SKorean NGOs released balloons carrying 200,000 anti-NK leaflets despite threats from NK that their military would retaliate. Over a hundred local Imjingak residents protested and clashed with the NGOs while trying to prevent the balloons from being launched.
UNSG Ban Ki-moon: “I am ready to work toward a peaceful and denuclearized Korean Peninsula, including through my own personal engagement such as a visit to NK when the situation seems right… I also look forward to the day when NK heeds the int’l community’s call for abandoning nuclear weapons and for improving the lives of its people through respect for human rights.”
ANALYSIS & OPINION
Former US envoy James Kelly: “Since North Korea has nothing else to be proud of, they are proud of having nuclear weapons, so it can be very difficult to get them to give these up and perhaps impossible.”
Luke Herman on ‘ KJU’s purges’: “Just based on the sheer number of personnel changes that can be confirmed, there is clearly a great deal of turnover occurring within the North.”
Lee Tae Hwan of the Sejong Institute: “As time passes, China is only likely to become more comfortable intervening in Asian regional circumstances with policies that help to keep the peace. In terms of Northeast Asia and North Korea, this means that China will try to keep North Korea stable, promote modest economic development and simultaneously solidify its position as a member of the G2.”
Tom Sullivan on the popularity of Gone With the Wind in NK: “Perhaps more than anything, though, North Koreans found what readers everywhere ask of a good novel: an escape and a comfort. And in a country with little in the way of entertainment, a police state that keeps the entire population relentlessly on edge, Mitchell’s well-told (if relentlessly soapy) tale of lost love, mansion life, war and honor became an important refuge.”