Jurisdiction over border security has reportedly been switched from the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces to the National Security Agency following orders from KJU, seemingly as part of efforts to ramp up control over the border and prevent defections and smuggling.
Efforts to complete new apartment buildings in Pyongyang by KIS’s centenary have reportedly come up short, with authorities passing the responsibility of finishing interior decor on to tenants.
China has released updated NK visitor statistics. Legal visits to China increased 40% in the first quarter of 2012 from a year previously. 48% of NKorean visits were reportedly for work related reasons.
FOOD AID & FOOD SECURITY
Tokyo Shimbun reports that severe food shortages have hit South Hwanghae Province, causing widespread deaths from starvation since the death of KJI.
SK will continue to allow food aid to NK despite the recent rocket launch. Unification Minister, Yu Woo-ik, “[ROK will] maintain humanitarian aid for vulnerable people through international organizations.”
The Economist leader on NK political prison camps: “Perhaps the scale of the atrocity numbs moral outrage. Certainly it is easier to lampoon the regime as ruled by extraterrestrial freaks than to grapple with the suffering it inflicts (The Economist is guilty). Yet murder, enslavement, forcible population transfers, torture, rape: North Korea commits nearly every atrocity that counts as a crime against humanity. A world that places any value on the idea of universal human rights should no longer overlook North Korea’s enormities.”
U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy has voiced concern about NK human rights abuses. “We have vital national security interests at stake in our dealings with the North Korean regime, which has acquired nuclear weapons. I am one who believes that we can fully and effectively pursue these interests through diplomacy and other means, without having to mute our outrage about human rights atrocities like these.”
The Yomiuri Shimbun reported that China has halted repatriations of NK refugees due to displeasure over the NK rocket launch. Daily NK has dismissed the report. There is no independent evidence to support the Yomiuri Shimbun claim, and there have been no official Chinese statements or signals to corroborate it. Further, Hu Jintao has since met with NK’s Kim Yong-il, voicing support for the KJU regime. Tea Leaf Nation has an interesting report on Chinese netizens’ reactions to the Yomiuri report.
Korea Herald on NK refugees who have established successful lives in SK: Cho Myung-chul (recently elected National Assemblyman), Ahn Chan-il (director of the World North Korea Research Center), and Lee Ae-ran (first female NK doctorate earner).
Interview with recently elected SK National Assemblyman Cho Myung-chul. “The government should support defectors individually considering their different backgrounds, including employment, medical care services and education.” “If we think this is an issue of basic human rights, we should publicly criticize any forced repatriation of refugees.” “I think the North Korean government is losing its control compared with earlier times.”
LMB expressed a desire to increase SK military capabilities in order to deter NK. “Strong capabilities are needed to maintain peace, but their purpose lies not in destruction, but in realizing peace and deterring war.” SK also announced the deployment a new cruise missile capable of striking anywhere in NK “to assure to the people that [SK] remains unshaken.”
A transporter-erector-launcher vehicle displayed in the recent NK military parade appeared to be of Chinese origin, a suspicion shared by Leon Panetta, US Secretary of Defense. An administration official told the NYT “We think this is poor Chinese performance in sanctions implementation, and not willful proliferation… The Chinese system is so sprawling and poorly organized that they are not good at enforcing sanctions.” The UN panel of experts is reportedly investigating, as supplying such a vehicle may violate UN sanctions. Chinese FM spokesman Liu Weimin claimed that China is abiding by all UNSC resolutions.
ANALYSIS & OPINION
ORNK analyzing KJU’s recent speech, noting visual, vocal, and mannerism similarities to KIS. A Pyongyang citizen “interviewed” by KCNA also noticed that “He is fully identical to President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il in appearance, personality and voice.”
Doug Bandow on future U.S. relations with NK, suggesting that the U.S. open up dialogue, establish consular relations, and remove troops from SK, while collaborating with regional allies to put pressure on China to reach a solution.
Sabine van Ameijden on China’s naval interests in Rason SEZ, discussing its usefulness for trade and military maneuvers near China’s landlocked NE coast.
Lankov on NK marketization and wages, past and present.
SK broadcasters Open Radio for North Korea, North Korea Reform Radio, Free North Korea Radio, and Radio Free Chosun have joined to form the Association of Broadcasters for North Korea with the purpose of promoting change in NK .