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North Korea

Kim Jong Il Said to be Planning Trip to China

March 3rd, 2010

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is likely to visit China later this month, Japan’s Mainichi newspaper reported today.

According to the Japanese paper, Kim will meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao to discuss aid issues and the North Korean nuclear program. Kim’s last trip abroad took place four years ago when he visited China in January of 2006.

China remains North Korea’s biggest ally and has helped buffer the regime form increasing pressure by the United States, Japan and South Korea to return to the negotiating table over nuclear disarmament talks. In 2008, China accounted for 73 percent of North Korea’s international commerce, according to figures from the Korea Trade- Investment Promotion Agency in Seoul. Read the rest of this entry »

China Sends Envoy to North Korea

February 8th, 2010

SEOUL (Reuters) – A senior Chinese envoy was in North Korea to prod the reclusive state back to stalled nuclear talks while the South sent a team across the border on Monday for talks to restart tourism projects halted due to political wrangling.

The North will also host the U.N.’s top political envoy later this week, with analysts saying this engagement may bode well for the dormant six-way disarmament-for-aid talks and could lead to Pyongyang reducing the security threat it poses to the region.

The destitute North is feeling pressure to return to the nuclear talks, where it can win aid to prop up its broken economy, due to U.N. sanctions imposed after its nuclear test in May 2009 and a botched currency revaluation that sparked inflation and rare civil unrest. Read the rest of this entry »

Somali Pirates Hijack North Korean Cargo Ship

February 4th, 2010

Somali Pirate

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Somali pirates hijacked a North Korean cargo ship on Wednesday with an unknown number of crew on board, the European Union Naval Force said.

The MV Rim was seized in the Gulf of Aden, outside the internationally recommended transit corridor patrolled by the anti-piracy naval coalition, said Cmdr. Anders Kallin of the EU Naval Force. Read the rest of this entry »

North Korea Resumes Firing near South Korean Border

January 28th, 2010

For the second straight day, North Korea fired artillery shells which fell just north of the Northern Limit Line’s (NLL) maritime border – near the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong.North Korea is Dark

After declaring a no-sail zone in the area earlier this week, the North fired at least 30 rounds yesterday morning as part of an “annual training drill,” which the South responded to with 100 warning shots of their own.

“We have confirmed North Korea’s firing of several artillery shells, but they did not cross (the maritime border)” said Joint Chief of Staff Park Sung-woo yesterday, according to Yonhap. “We are on high military alert.” Read the rest of this entry »

Same Plot, Different Story on the Korean Peninsula

January 25th, 2010

South Korea’s Defense Minister Kim Tae-young stated last week that his country would have no choice but to launch a preemptive strike on North Korea if they thought the threat of a nuclear attack was imminent.

The statement has been met with cross words from the North yesterday, claiming that such words constitute a declaration of war.

“Our revolutionary armed forces will regard the scenario for ‘preemptive strike,’ which the South Korean puppet authorities adopted as a ‘state policy,’ as an open declaration of war,” said a spokesman for the armed forces general staff, according to North Korea’s state KCNA news agency.

North Korea Holding 200,000 Political Prisoners

January 21st, 2010

As many as 200,000 North Koreans are currently being held in deplorable conditions across six political prison camps throughout the country, according to a report issued yesterday by South Korea’s National Human Rights Commission.

Citizens are typically placed in the concentration camps without trial for anti-government comments and actions, or for attempting to defect.

The study, based on interviews with 371 North Korean defectors, including 17 former prisoners, describes life within the camps as a constant struggle for survival due to insufficient food, lack of medical assistance, and physical attacks.

Reports of torture, abuse, execution, and sexual harassment are prevalent within the camps.

The report suggests the political prisons are used to create fear, which is one of the most effective tactics used by the totalitarian regime to control its 24 million citizens.

2010 May See Progress in North Korean Peace Talks

January 15th, 2010

On Monday, DPRK officials issued a statement which claims that the country is ready to discuss signing a peace treaty to replace the Armistice Agreement currently in place and rejoin the six-party talks.

The DPRK has said that diplomacy regarding the country’s nuclear program would be contingent on a peace treaty first being signed and UN sanctions lifted.

Familiar with the political games coming from Pyongyang, the United States has said they would like to see North Korea first rejoin the six-party talks and take steps towards denuclearization before they come to an agreement.

Xinhua reports on the topic.

Koreas Exchange Fire in Naval Conflict Off Daecheong Island

November 10th, 2009

In the first naval clash since 2002, North Korean and South Korean military vessels exchanged fire near the disputed western sea border at 11:27 a.m. today.

While there were no casualties and relatively little damage on the South Korean side, a North Korean naval vessel was reportedly in flames as it retreated north.

The exchange lasted roughly two minutes in which the North Korean ship fired up to 50 rounds at the South Korean vessel at a distance of about two nautical miles.

Baek Seung-joo, a North Korea expert at Seoul’s state-run Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, said Tuesday’s clash would not have a big impact on inter-Korean relations.

Baek speculates that North Korea caused the incident, but that Pyongyang appears to want to create tensions and use them for domestic political consumption as U.S. President Obama prepares to visit Seoul next week.

Unleashing of Dam in North Korea Causes Deadly Flash Flood in the South

September 6th, 2009

At 2 a.m. last night, water released from dams in North Korea came ripping down the Imjin River into South Korea, creating a flash flood that has claimed at least six South Korean lives.

The unannounced release led to the doubling of the Imjin River’s water level to over 15 feet.

Whether this was the result of an accident or to provoke the South remains uncertain. Regardless, this will undoubtedly hurt the already strained relations between the two peninsular countries.

U.S. Reporters Sentenced to 12 Years in N. Korea

June 8th, 2009

Laura Ling and Euna Lee, U.S. journalists arrested in North Korea while covering defectors living along the China-North Korea border, have been sentenced to 12 years in labor camps, North Korean state media reported today.

The two women were convicted by the Central Court of North Korea for the “grave crime they committed against the Korean nation and their illegal border crossing.” The two were sentenced to “12 years of reform through labor.” Read the rest of this entry »