- Arirang TV on NK’s best selling products of 2011, gauged by the Samsung Economic Research Institute. Products in the top ten reportedly include cell phones, USB sticks, SK clothing, and other foreign products.
- NK has reportedly disposed of thousands of “perfectly sound” Japanese made vehicles following a 2006 KJI decree.
- NK observed World No Tobacco Day on May 31st. NK has one of the highest rates of smoking in the world, with the WHO reporting that 52.3% of individuals over 15 are smokers.
- Hankyoreh: KOTRA reported 2011 NK export increases of 84.2% and import increases of 32.6%. Its biggest export was coal, at US$1.17 billion, followed by minerals (US$400 million) and textiles (US$390 million). The largest import was petroleum and other fuels (US$810 million), followed by machinery (US$300 million) and electronics (US$270 million).
- A total of 20,000 children, members of the Chosun Children’s Union, gathered in Pyongyang to commemorate the 66th anniversary of the organization’s founding and pledged their allegiance to KJU.
FOOD AID & FOOD SECURITY
- Mainichi Shimbun: An internal NK document produced by the KWP reportedly admits that nationwide starvation has been caused by “excessive food quotas for the military.”
- The Indonesian govt is working with the WFP and UNICEF on plans to give 2m USD worth of aid to the NK govt to help address the ongoing food crisis.
- UN Overview of Needs and Assistance in DPRK 2012, describing the current situation and efforts towards improvement. 16 million NKoreans continue to suffer from chronic food insecurity.
- DUP lawmaker Lim Su Kyung issued an apology after reportedly berating a NK refugee she had met while drunk in a restaurant. She caused considerable anger among the NK refugee community in SK by saying “Defectors who have no roots should just shut their mouths and live quietly in the Republic of Korea.” She also threatened and criticised NKHR activist (and fellow new-lawmaker) Ha Tae-kyung as a “turncoat.” Lim Su Kyung is well known to NKoreans as she made an unauthorized visit to Pyongyang in 1989 for the World Festival of Youth and Students, and was hailed by NK state media as the “flower of reunification.” She became popular, although many NKoreans assumed she was condemning herself and her family to severe punishment in SK and therefore some people privately thought she was naive or even irresponsible. Video of Lim Su-kyung in PY here.
- Interview with Joseph Baek, the young refugee who was insulted by Lim Su Kyung, here.
- Ji Seong-ho embodies the NKorean people’s resilience even more than most. He lost a hand and a foot after falling off a train in North Korea when he was 14, but he still managed to escape the country. Now, he has a prosthetic foot and hand and is studying law in South Korea.
- Chinese crackdowns: According to NKIS’ Kim Heung-kwang, Beijing is carrying out a once-in-a-decade security operation. “I heard that police and security staff are in every nook of the streets. All defectors must take shelter and cannot come out of it,” he said. “Most of the brokers appear to have returned home due to the crackdown. Chinese residents also refuse to help defectors in dire need of their support.” Peter Jung of Justice for NK: “In recent weeks, more and more missionaries and activists have been ordered to leave the country. (The Chinese authorities) even threatened to punish them out if they don’t return home quickly.”
- Chosun Ilbo on growing pressure on NKHR from the international community.
- Linda Chavez on NKHR in the Boston Herald: “While much of the world’s attention is focused on the Assad regime’s appalling assaults against Syrian citizens… another human rights atrocity occurring on a much larger scale garners far less attention.”
INTERNATIONAL POLITICS & SECURITY
- NK state media ramped up threats against SK news outlets, mentioning specific target coordinates for organizations. Embarrassingly, the coordinates do not match actual office locations.
- Recent amendments to the NK constitution include a multitude of references to KJI, notably that the leader turned the nation into a “nuclear-armed state.” In response to the statement, an unnamed USG official stated that “The United States has long maintained that we will never accept North Korea as a nuclear power,” while SK made similar denouncements, and an editorial in China’s Global Times stated that, “China needs to make efforts to deter North Korea from possessing nuclear capabilities, or at least openly oppose North Korea’s move to attain them.” Analyzed by KGS Nightwatch.
- The U.S., SK, and Japan agreed to strengthen trilateral defense cooperation to deter NK on the sidelines of the 11th Asia Security Summit in Singapore.
- Director General of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, said that he sees little hope of sending a mission to NK soon, given the fallout after NK’s rocket launch.
- The USG announced the replacement of the commander of U.S. Special Forces in SK, Brig. Gen. Tolley, after comments made by him at a conference were misinterpreted to mean that U.S. and SK troops had been parachuting into NK on spy missions.
- Two men were arrested in SK on suspicion of passing military secrets to NK.
- A Seoul man has been arrested on suspicion of colluding with a NK reconnaissance unit in China and engaging in various forms of cyber warfare against SK.
- The SK NIS arrested a female NK defector who admitted to working undercover for the NK NSA.
- The Committee for the Release of Kim Young Hwan plans to urge Robert King to take action concerning the activist’s detention in China. NYT article on how the case is testing relations between SK and China.
- Japan stated intentions to position warships nearer to NK in order to more quickly detect future rocket tests.
- Cambodian foreign minister Hor Namhong is visiting NK on a mission to boost bilateral ties and lobby the NK govt to return to the SPT. “We want the DPRK to abandon the nuclear weapons program and long range missile test.”
- Sweden has agreed to work alongside SK for the release of SKoreans held in NK.
ANALYSIS & OPINION
- LiNK blog post on NK’s “grassroots glasnost” – NK’s changing media environment and its effects.
- A survey by the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses has found that NKoreans are more likely to obtain information about the outside world via DVDs and CDs than other methods. 48% of those surveyed cited inquisitiveness as the primary reason for seeking outside information, while 38% said they used the information for economic purposes (N=71) .
- Bauerova and Vitelli on NK clean energy projects usable to accumulate tradable carbon credits. NK’s seven dams could reportedly generate as many as 241,000 CERs a year, worth nearly 1.3m USD. “[NK] immediately grasped that this is a way to make money.”
- Lankov recalling his first visit to NK: “Even in the 1980s, when it would be no exaggeration to describe North Korea as the world’s most oppressive dictatorship, the average North Korean worried more about their health and the health of their loved ones. They were concerned if their children brought home a bad report card from school. They fancied attractive members of the opposite sex. They loved delicious food, and of course they enjoyed a beautiful sunset… In other words, they lived normal human lives.”
- Former pro-North student activist Koo Hae-woo was one of 20,000 students who were members of the “Group for Independence, Democracy and Unification,” a secret organization that was in active contact with the North Korean regime. “When the Korean Air flight was blown up by North Korean spies in 1987, Pyongyang ordered us to condemn the incident as a ‘plot of the U.S. CIA and the South Korea’s national intelligence agency,’ through a North Korean state radio station,” Koo said. “We believed that was the truth.”
- The Sun on circus animal cruelty in NK.
- KJU visiting a Pyongyang zoo.
NK News Brief acronyms.
Sign up to receive the NK News Brief by email here.