The first of recently revealed KJI medals, dubbed along with the KIS medal to be the “highest honor in the country,” have been awarded to 132 NK citizens, including many core Party, state, and military figures.
NK authorities have reportedly added “KJI remembrance meetings,” to annual “loyalty gatherings” meant to support the regime.
NK officials gathered Feb. 15 for a national meeting to commemorate KJI, and reportedly held a rally earlier in the week to pledge allegiance to KJU.
GIEWS brief: There was an estimated increase in NK cereal harvests in 2011 which are expected to lead to a decrease in imports in 2012. 3 million NKoreans are currently estimated to be vulnerable to food shortages.
U.S. company Korea Pyongyang Trading USA, previously an importer of NK alcohol, is working with NK on plans to attract visitors to Mount Geumgang resort.
Unification Ministry: SK is to “ease sanctions on North Korea imposed May 24 last year to support the operations of plants operating (in Kaesong), including allowing the entry of necessary facilities and construction of warehouses.” The move comes after a bipartisan group of SK lawmakers who visited Kaesong last week called for changes including new building permissions, provisions of machinery, a solution to worker shortfalls, more leisure facilities for workers, and products from the complex to be recognized as SKorean under FTAs.
A former SK chief of staff reportedly met with NK diplomats in China earlier this month and spoke about possibility of future discussions with NK in exchange for flexibility on Kaesong and Mount Geumgang.
U.S. ambassador to SK in his first public statements in office: “If [NK] hope[s] to improve relations with [the U.S.], if they want to make progress in the six-party talks, they have to be more sincere with the South Koreans.”
The SK defense ministry is to restructure its nuclear non-proliferation and information protection departments to bolster defense policy for NK WMD and cyber attacks.
SK’s floundering NK human rights bill is set for automatic termination at the end of the National Assembly term.
Ahn Chan Il, the first NK defector to earn a PhD, has joined the supreme council of the SK K-Party, making him the first defector to enter into SK politics. His stated goal is to “make the [SK] North Korea Human Rights Act a real issue in the National Assembly.” “As a member of the supreme council of the K-Party, my work is to establish unification policy and strategy towards North Korea. I want to join hands with various defector organizations to turn defectors into ‘unification talent’.”
A SK civic group which met with NK counterparts last week against SK govt wishes has reportedly proposed holding a meeting later this year at NK’s Geumgang resort.
China has reportedly secured rights to develop and use docks, a railway, and an airfield at Rason SEZ, in a contract valued at 3b USD.
The number of NKoreans legally visiting China reportedly increased 30% from 2010-2011, setting a new annual high. A vast majority of the 152,300 visits were for work/business related reasons. Discussed by NK Econ Watch.
Former senior advisor to the State Department, Philip W. Yun on USG approach to NK: “This failure to be more proactive is likely to end in a different kind of bad news — another nuclear test.”