The real value of the NK won continues to fall exponentially, however the effect of this is mitigated by the use of foreign currency inside the country, particularly RMB and USD.
The declining value of the NK won has also affected an apparent shortage of fertilizer in NK. Since the 1990’s NK has imported almost all of its artificial fertilizer from China. In response, the NK govt has launched a campaign to stop communal fertilizer from being sold in markets. Emphasizing NK’s continued focus on this issue, the June 16th edition of the PT ran two separate articles on the successes of NK’s fertilizer production.
A severe drought continues to affect much of the country. Because NK relies heavily on hydroelectric power, this is causing many in Pyongyang to go without electricity or running water.
Noland on a recently released NK white paper documenting the “miserable fate of south Korean defectors,” remarking that concerning NK human rights abuses, the government line seems to be “the best defense is a good offense.”
NK reportedly executed four refugees that were forcibly repatriated from China. Another 40 repatriated refugees were condemned to political prisons.
The family of Kim Young-hwan and three other SK human rights activists submitted a plea for their release. Meanwhile, there are rumors that the activists may be released as soon as next week.
Refugees testify for the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights on prison camps for NK citizens who have attempted to flee through China.
INTERNATIONAL POLITICS & SECURITY
Russia agreed to write off 90% of NK’s $11 billion debt to them, with the other 10% to be invested into joint projects in NK in education and the medical and energy sectors. The NK regime is thought to be keen to improve their economic relationship with Russia to avoid over-reliance on China.
The SK govt has added 351 names to the number of accepted cases of NK Korean War abductions, bringing the total to 743. The newly added contain a number of important figures including politicians, journalists, and judicial officials.
SK former presidential chief of staff and aspiring presidential candidate, Im Tae-hee, has admitted that he made secret contact with NK officials in 2009 in an effort to make a deal regarding SK abductees.
A recent survey of SK opinion has reported that 75% of SK citizens are deeply concerned by NK’s nuclear programs, with over half of all respondents supporting a SK military response in case of armed provocation.
Noland and Haggard on the current food situation and the difficulties of accessing the effect of the current drought, and a related piece on whether the situation is more due to nature or the regime’s inefficiencies.
There been much discussion on whether Myanmar’s opening holds any lessons for NK. Frank Ruediger’s thoughts after attending the World Economic Forum on East Asia.
NYT’s Jane Perlez on why China continues to back NK, even though they may be getting increasingly frustrated.
Experts including Senior Sejong Institute researcher, Cheong Seong Chang, believe that political change is happening in NK. “Kim Jong-un has revised six laws relating to foreign investment. This indicates Kim Jong-un’s positive disposition towards economic reform and opening.”
Lankov on Yim Su-kyong, a pro-NK politician in the South, whose actions have inadvertedly harmed the regime.