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North Korea

North Korea Launches Missiles

May 26th, 2009

A day after the test detonation of a nuclear device, North Korea test fired two short range missiles from its eastern coast South Korea’s Yonhap New Agency reports.

“The North is continuing its saber-rattling,” a South Korean official told the news agency, declining to be identified and to say whether the launches were meant as tests.

North Korea’s second nuclear bomb test reverberated around the world Monday. The U.N. Security Council condemned it as a “clear violation” of international law and its closest ally, China, said North Korea “disregarded the opposition of the international community” to conduct the test.

North and South Korea Agree to Talks

April 21st, 2009

South Korea agreed to meet with North Korea on Sunday at the latter’s request, marking the first meeting between the neighboring countries in more than a year.

The upcoming meeting comes amidst a flurry of controversy surrounding the North’s launch on April 5th of a Taepong-2 rocket; which they claimed to be a satellite launch, but what is believed by many countries to have instead been a test of North Korea’s missile launching capabilities.

The meeting will reportedly be held at the Kaesong joint industrial zone in the North, but other details, such as the agenda and nature of the talk, are still unconfirmed and are said to be determined once the delegation arrives.

North Korea Responds to UN Security Council’s Criticism

April 14th, 2009

In the fallout of North Korea’s long-range rocket launch on April 5th, the United Nations Security Council has unanimously condemned the act and has ordered financial sanctions and an arms embargo on the country.

In turn, North Korea has responded to the outcome with outrage – maintaining still that the launch was an attempt to launch a satellite into orbit. An attempt that state-run media propagates to have been successful despite wide reports outside the country that the rocket crashed into the Pacific Ocean.

“There is no need for the six party talks anymore. We will never again take part in such talks and will not be bound by any agreements reached at the talks,” the North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “resolutely condemns” the UN verdict.

In addition, government officials in Pyongyang have said it will restart operations at the Yongbyon nuclear reactor – the plant which provided the fuel for nuclear tests in 2006.

North Korea Completes Launch

April 7th, 2009

North Korea went ahead with the launch of their Taepodong-2 rocket this past Sunday, sparking debate within the United Nations Security Council.

“Rules must be binding, violations must be punished. Words must mean something,” stated U.S. President Barack Obama to an audience in Prague shortly after the launch.

South Korea, Japan, and the U.S., in particular, found the launching of the missile as a provocative act that further illustrated North Korea as real threat to international peace.

“In view of this gravity and urgency, the Security Council should come up with a clear and strong message,” said Japanese Ambassador Yukio Takasu.

The consensus from international experts using tracking instruments is that the “satellite” traveled nearly 2,000 miles before crashing down somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

Despite these reports, state-run media in North Korea has stated that the satellite was successfully launched into the Earth’s orbit and is currently broadcasting patriotic songs.

“It is a striking demonstration that our scientists and technicians developed both the multistage carrier rocket and the satellite 100 percent with their own wisdom and technology and accurately put the satellite into orbit at one go,” North Korea’s Kim Jong Il was quoted as saying.

North Korea Rises to Top of Qualifying Group

March 30th, 2009

With a 2-0 victory over United Arab Emirates on Saturday, North Korea rose to the top of Asia’s Group 2 in the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying round with the hope of making their first appearance at the tournament since 1966.

Pak Nam Chol and Mun In Guk were the heroes of the match, notching a goal apiece in a hard-fought defensive battle between the two teams at a packed Kim Il Sung Stadium.

North Korea, with 10 points, is now two points ahead of rival South Korea with three games left in qualifying play – making the match between the two teams this Wednesday definitely a game worth watching.

Two American Reporters Detained in North Korea

March 23rd, 2009

North Korea confirmed on Saturday that they were holding two American reporters who they apprehended last week near the Chinese-North Korean border.

The two captured journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, were doing a report for the U.S. based Current TV on North Korean refugees in China. Two others, reporter Mitch Koss and an unidentified Chinese guide, were also part of the television crew, but managed to escape back to the Chinese border.

The four seemed to have trespassed onto North Korean lands near the Chinese city of Tumen while trying to get closer footage.

According to human rights activists who have visited the area, the border area in question is said to be tough to distinguish; marked by the Tumen River, which is less than 30 yards across here, it is a combination of dry-river bed and ice this time of year.

Regardless, the Chinese-American Ling and Korean-American Lee are currently being held in Pyongyang on charges of “illegally intruding” into North Korea.

North Korea to Allow Kaesong Industrial Park Workers to Leave

March 18th, 2009

North Korea, which has been holding hundreds of South Korean workers employed at the Kaesong Industrial Park on the North-West coast, has finally allowed them to leave.

The industrial park employs some 450 South Korean managers who have been detained since last week, apparently in response to strong statements about the DPRK made by South Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak.

The Kaesong Industrial Park, which opened in 2004, is one of North Korea’s few sources of foreign currency and is now only operating on a minimum level due to the political dispute. South Koreans and South Korean cargo have also been blocked from crossing the border.

The dispute damages North Korea’s ability to attract foreign investors, with an expert on North Korea at Dongguk University stating that the workers had been detained as “hostages” and that the DPRK was using the project as collateral to serve political, rather than economic purposes.

Date Set for North Korea’s Satellite Launch

March 13th, 2009

North Korean officials have reportedly told regional news agencies that they have set an early April launch date for their controversial satellite.

Many neighboring countries and Western nations believe that North Korea is using the pretense of a satellite launch to test their capability of firing a long range ballistic missile that could potentially reach the continental United States.

The situation has to be dealt with carefully, as North Korea has warned that any attempt to shoot down the satellite would be regarded as an “act of war.”

There has not been an official date set as of yet, but South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted an undisclosed North Korean government source saying the launch would be between April 4th and 8th.

China and U.S. to Look Past Recent Incident, Collaborate on Economic Issues

March 12th, 2009

Officials say the recent incident between a U.S. surveillance ship and China’s naval vessels in the South China Sea won’t adversely affect relations between the two countries as they work together to fight the global financial crisis.

The U.S. ship, Impeccable, was conducting tests designed to seek submarines and other vessels within China’s economic exclusion zone, less than 200 miles south of Hainan Island. The ship was harassed by a group of Chinese naval vessels which performed maneuvers within 25 feet of the Impeccable.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Washington yesterday and both parties have agreed to try and prevent these types of incidents from occurring in the future.

N Korea Threatens War if Satellite Launch is Blocked

March 11th, 2009

North Korea has threatened that interfering with the satellite it plans to launch will lead to war.
The Korean Central News Agency said “ Shooting our satellite for peaceful purposes will precisely mean a war. ” It added: “We will retaliate any act of intercepting our satellite for peaceful purposes with prompt counter-strikes by the most powerful military means.” Sources believe that North Korea is planning to test-fire a long-range missile under the pretense of a satellite launch.

Since the United States and South Korea military exercises began, the North has put its 1.2 person military on full combat alert and cut off communications with the South. It also released a statement last Friday saying that because of the military exercises the safety of commercial flights flying through airspace at its east coast could no longer be assured.

The new U.S. envoy to North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, said any launch by North Korea would be very ill-advised. A South Korea’s defence ministry spokesman said that the threats were just rhetoric although the armed forces was prepared to deal with it should any conflicts arise.The annual military exercise between the two involves about 50,000 U.S. and South Korean troops.