DPRK donates to Chongryon in wake of Japanese tsunami

UPDATE 1 (2011-4-10): According to Yonhap:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il donated more than 165 million yen (US$1.94 million) in educational funds to pro-North Korea residents in Japan on the occasion of his late father’s 99th birthday, the North’s state media said Sunday.

The educational aid was sent to the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, also known as “Chongryon,” to mark the 99th anniversary on April 15 of North Korea founder Kim Il-sung’s birth, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

Here is the Original KCNA story:

General Secretary Kim Jong Il sent education aid fund and stipends amounting to 165,200,000 yen to the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan. It was sent for the democratic national education of children of compatriots in Japan on the occasion of the 99th birth anniversary of President Kim Il Sung.

The aid fund and stipends sent by Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il so far total 46 759 450 390 yen on 157 installments.

ORIGINAL POST (2011-3-24): According to Yonhap:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il donated US$500,000 to pro-North Korean residents in Japan to help them recover from a killer quake and tsunami that left thousands dead and missing.

The aid from the cash-strapped country was announced Thursday in a brief dispatch from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Separately, North Korea’s Red Cross sent relief funds of $100,000 to its Japanese counterpart and expressed deep sympathy to the victims of the catastrophe, the KCNA said in a separate dispatch.

The KCNA did not give any further details on whether there were any casualties among pro-North Korean residents.

An official of the pro-North Korean association in Tokyo told Yonhap News Agency by phone that some of the residents could have been killed during the disaster. He did not elaborate and asked not to be identified as he was not authorized to speak to media.

Currently, hundreds of thousands of Koreans live in Japan, many of them descendants of Koreans forcibly brought to Japan as laborers during Tokyo’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

The ethnic Korean community, however, was later divided into two separate groups, with each supporting South and North Korea, respectively. The two Koreas remain technically at war since their 1950-53 Korean War that ended in a cease-fire.

North Korea and Japan have no diplomatic relations.

Despite Pyongyang’s vitriolic language towards the “Japanese colonialists,” the DPRK and Japan have historically enjoyed a uniquely close relationship.

Up until recent economic sanctions were imposed, Japan was the DPRK’s largest non-socialist trading partner.  This relationship was driven in large part by the Japan-based ethnic Korean association: Chongryon (Chosen Soren).  According to the Daily NK, at its peak, the Chongryon’s patriotic projects enabled the remittance of six to eight hundred million dollars every year.  With dividends like that, $500, 000 does not seem like much of a sacrifice.

Chongryon members are responsible for a number of investments in the country such as the Chosun Bank, Moranbong Company,   and Kim Man-yu Hospital in Pyongyang (39.031294°, 125.784566°).

Also worth noting, Ko Yong-hui,  Kim Jong-un’s mother, was from Osaka, Japan.  In fact here are the coordinates of her birthplace:  34.663147°, 135.531080°

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