Archive for September, 2011

DPRK luxury imports 2011

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Pictured above in Wonsan: Possibly a new yacht (see more here)

According to the Choson Ilbo:

The North Korean regime has spent US$1.04 billion since 2008 importing luxury goods in contravention of UN Security Council resolutions.

According to data Grand National Party lawmaker Yoon Sang-hyun obtained from the Foreign Ministry and other government agencies, the regime imported luxury goods worth $272.14 million in 2008, $322.53 million in 2009, and $446.17 million in 2010.

TVs, digital cameras, and video recorders made up the largest proportion, jumping from $115.47 million in 2008 to $215.95 million in 2010.

Luxury cars and parts came second and movie equipment such as film cameras and projectors third.

UN Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874 ban exports of luxury goods and weapons of mass destruction to the North.

The amount the regime spent buying luxury goods was about 10 times the total humanitarian aid of $107.29 million it received from South Korea and the international community over the same period.

Read the full story here.

Additional information:
1. Back in July, there were several estimates of DPRK luxury goods imports based on Chinese data.

2. The DPRK maintains appx 200-300 foreign trade companies.

3. Office 38 is reportedly responsible for engaging in trade deals.

4. On the life of an overseas North Korean trade agent.

5. Here is an American Hummer parked at the Yangakdo Hotel.


DPRK expands arsenal over last decade

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

Pictured above (Google Earth): 1.18 Factory (January 18 Factory), which I am told manufactures tanks

According to Yonhap:

According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), North Korea added about 300 tanks and 1,200 artillery guns over the past decade. The report comparing the armed forces of the two Koreas was submitted to the National Assembly ahead of the annual parliamentary inspection.

The report claimed that over the same period, the number of North Korean troops went up from 1.17 million to 1.19 million. The JCS noted that financial difficulties haven’t prevented the North from bolstering its military.

On the other hand, North Korea slashed the number of its vessels from about 900 to 740, and its submarines from about 90 to 70. There were 870 fighter jets in the North in 2000, but 820 last year.

You can read the full article here.


Friday grab bag

Friday, September 16th, 2011

1. Korean War Historical Images (flickr): This first image is taken at what is now the Ryongsong Machine Complex in Haean-guyok, Hamhung (해안구역):

Click images for larger versions (See area today in Google Maps here)

This image likely comes from what is now Sunan Airport, though it could come from Pyongayng’s Taedonggang-guyok, where an airstrip was located before the Korean War:

And I am not sure where this facility was located, but below is an image of the former Chosen Oil Refinery in Wonsan:

2. NK News posted some rare photos of Chongjin taken by a recent visitor. See them here.

3. 38 North has published a couple of recent interesting reports: One by Andray Abrahamian and this twopart piece by Aidan Foster-Carter.

4. NK Leadership Watch has a roundup of recent DPRK-Russia engagement.

5. Choson Exchange also posted some recent pictures to their Facebook page.  See them here.

6. The DPRK Power Sector: Data and Interconnection Options

7. I am traveling a lot and unusually busy so please be patient for the next few weeks if I don’t get back to you.  Have a good weekend!


North Korea Encourages Investment in Rajin-Sonbong (Rason) Economic and Trade Zone

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

At the seventh China Jilin and Northeast Asia Investment and Trade Expo (NEASIAEXPO), the North Korean delegation actively promoted the Rajin-Sonbong (Rajin) Economic and Trade Zone to attract investment.

During the expo, the DPRK’s Ministry of Trade and China’s Ministry of Commerce and People’s Government of Jilin Province co-sponsored the “(North) Korean Business Day and China-DPRK Trade and Investment Session” at the Changchun International Conference and Exhibition Center on September 7. Hwang Chol-nam, the vice mayor of Rason City, briefed the attendees on the current situation, advantages, and special benefits of his city.

According to Hwang, “The spacious 470 square-kilometer Rason Economic and Trade Zone is one of the largest economic trade zones,” and advertised the geographic and economic advantages of Rason as the “transportation hub of Northeast Asia that connects China and Russia via Tumen River and with Japan across the East Sea.”

He also introduced the three ports in the region. “Rajin Port is equipped with the annual loading capacity of 3 million ton and Sonbong Harbor is able to transport 2 to 3 million ton of oil while Ungsang Harbor is able to handle up to 600,000 cubic-meter of lumber annually.” He also boasted the ports to be deep enough where it does not freeze during the winter.

Rason was also introduced to have received the “special city” designation in 2010 and will grow to have a population of one million. The recently amended “Law on the Rason Economic and Trade Zone” was revised and supplement with over 50 articles.

Hwang also elaborated on the eight preferential policies providing special tax benefits to foreign investors. He asserted, “The government of North Korea will guarantee the investment of the foreign investors by not nationalizing or demanding requisitions. For inevitable cases where such demands occur, proper compensation will be provided.”

The income tax is also at 14 percent, which is 11 percent lower than other areas in North Korea. For companies with business plans over ten years, foreign capital companies will receive three years of tax-free benefit starting from the profit earning year and two years thereon after will receive 50 percent tax-free benefits. According to Hwang, over 100 foreign companies and offices are operating businesses currently in the special economic zone.

He also announced that the current highway construction project connecting Rajin with Wonjung is expected to be completed in October, and that the Tumen-Rajin port railway system is to be upgraded to a broad gauge railway next month.

Specifically, Russian Railways reached an agreement with North Korea to repair the Hasan-Rajin Railway and improve the Rajin port facilities, especially focusing on Pier 3. The plans include upgrading Rajin as a container harbor to be capable of transporting twenty-foot equivalent units annually. Russia and the DPRK have already conducted measurement and geological surveys and reached the process design phase.

However, Seo Gil-bok, the DPRK’s vice minister of commerce, stated in a speech that North Korea would “actively work hard to make the Rason region a successful collaboration between the DPRK and China,” saying further that they would “pull out all the stops to realize the goals agreed by the best leaders from both nations.”

Many foreign media and correspondents were present at the event to cover the “Korean Business Day.” At the event, North Korea actively promoted the Rason Economic and Trade Zone by also presenting a promotional video of the zone.


Rajin market on display to foreigners

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Pictured above: (L) satellite image of the Rajin Market, (R) a ground-level photo taken in 1999

Among the the flurry of activities that comprised the DPRK’s recent public relations campaign in Rason (Rajin-Sonbong), the Rajin Market appeared on the itineraries of a few visiting delegates. Alexa Olsen writes about the market for the Associated Press:

Chinese travel agents, potential investors and foreign journalists recently traveled into the North to get a look at the special economic zone Pyongyang is promoting in Rason. It lies in the far northeastern tip of North Korea, 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) from Pyongyang, but will be about an hour’s drive from China once the road is completed.

Rumbling Chinese cargo trucks already ply the route, churning up plumes of choking dust and ferrying containers of Chinese-made shoes, plastic toys, computer speakers, T-shirts and DVDs to the Rason Free Trade Market.

The market, a 13-year-old experiment in small-scale capitalism, has been so successful that the Chinese managing company, the Tianyu Group, is planning to expand the jam-packed 54,000-square-foot (5,000-square-meter) market to 320,000 square feet (30,000 square meters), Tianyu vice director Zheng Zhexi said.

“As I see it, this is the way of economic development, and it’s something that the people want,” Zheng said. “I think it’s reached a point where it cannot be reversed.”

North Korea declared the area a special economic zone 20 years ago. But after a brief flurry of activity and funding from the U.N. Development Program, the project languished without backing from Pyongyang’s leadership.

Rason has benefited from the shift in Pyongyang’s priorities. When Zheng arrived in 1997 to set up the market, people were hesitant to get involved. Now Tianyu doesn’t have the space to approve even a fraction of the applications from prospective vendors, he said.

“Ordinary people’s sense and the awareness of the market, and their views on the economy — all these have changed a lot,” Zheng said.

Foreign journalists, who typically are barred from local markets, were taken on a strictly controlled, 15-minute tour. No photos, no notes, the guide instructed: “Just use your eyes.”

Vendors, mostly women, stood behind stands loaded with freshly skinned rabbit and live chickens, as well as goods mostly imported from China: blouses, speakers, refrigerators, sofas, shampoo, playing cards, binoculars.

High heels went for 25 yuan (US$4), a Kim Jong Il-style beige suit for 85 yuan ($13) and a container of sea salt for 3 yuan ($0.47).

North Korean tour guide Mun Ho Yong, 25, said his family shops at the market several times a week to supplement state rations of rice, oil and fish.

Everything Mun wore — striped dress shirt, belt, polyester trousers and black dress shoes — was bought at the market except his pin of late President Kim Il Sung attached to his shirt, over his heart.

One major challenge will be to successfully leap from the market’s small-scale commerce to full-fledged manufacturing and trade.

(UPDATE) In an article published later in the New York Times (2011-10-12):

A Chinese company critical to Rason’s development, the Yanbian Tianyu International Trade Company, got involved here 13 years ago. It began by erecting the bazaar, then built the casino, a hospital, a bread factory and a telecommunications building. It is now working on a cement factory, and operates two iron mines.

“The policy environment has been improving continuously,” said Zheng Zhexi, 58, the company’s vice president. “It’s moving towards a market economy.”

He pointed to the official tolerance for the bazaar, where merchants rent stalls from the government to sell goods that they buy from Chinese traders. Prices fluctuate and shoppers haggle. The bazaar has proved so successful that it is expanding to six times the current size.

These kinds of markets have sprung up all over the country to supplement the government’s weak food distribution system. Still, the government is sensitive to their capitalist nature, and some top officials have tried to set limits on them. Foreign journalists were permitted a 15-minute tour of the Rason market on the condition that they not photograph it or take notes.

The market, open just a few hours each day, was bustling, with goods like skinned rabbits, sofas, Sony headphones and Dell computer mice. A soldier with a Kalashnikov slung over his back walked among the aisles, looking to buy, and women running stalls wore red vests, the uniform of officially registered merchants.

In one corner was an office with the English words “Foreign Exchange” above the door. In Rason, currency is exchanged at the market rate — one Chinese renminbi to 350 North Korea won — rather than at the official rate, which values one renminbi at 15 won.

Additional Information:

1. Previous posts on Rason can be found here.

2. Additional information can be found here.

3. Source:
Tending a Small Patch of Capitalism
New York Times
Edward Wong


Dandong customs house is busy, busy, busy

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

In the last decade we have seen the expansion of trade between the DPRK and the PRC.  You can see the data here (KEI) and here (Natuilus). You can also see this trend using satellite imagery:

Above image date: 2002-4-29

Pictured above (2002) is the former coal yard next to the Dandong train station in China.  Through this facility, China managed its DPRK coal trade.

Above image date: 2005-1-19

By January 2005, the coal field had given way to the construction of what was to become the Dandong Customs House, which manages rail and vehicle trade with the DPRK city of Sinuiju on the other side of the Amnok (Yalu) river. There are three things to notice in the picture above: New registration office (yellow box on the right), new main building (blue roof), preservation of nearby apartment blocks (yellow box on left).

Above image date: 2009-10-11

Above is the first photo of the completed facility which was taken in October 2009.  As is usually the case the parking lot is nearly entirely full.

Above image date: 2010-4-5

In the picture above we can see trucks moving in both directions through the registration office.  This facility is the first port of call for vehicles crossing the Friendship Bridge from Sinuiju, DPRK. Again we can see that the customs house is busy.


Above image dates: 2010-6-7, 2010-10-28

The above pictures (most recent on Google Earth) again reinforce the notion that the Dandong-Sinuiju trade route is bustling.

For the record, the North Koreans have expanded their customs facilities on the Sinuiju side of the border in relationship to the growing levels of trade:

Above image dates: 2002-4-29, 2010-10-28

But this is not all.  The North Koreans and Chinese are also building a second bridge and additional trade infrastructure in Ryongchon County, south-west of Sinuiju.  Learn more about that here.


Optimism remains on gas pipeline between North and South Korea

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

An article entitled, “Joint energy project on the agenda” was featured in the KCNA on August 31, which elaborated on the agreement reached between the DPRK and Russia on August 24 for the construction of a gas pipeline. The joint project is also inclusive of South Korea.

The KCNA said in the article, “The three countries have explored various options in transporting gas and have reached a consensus on building a gas pipeline running through North Korea will be the most cost-effective option.”

It also stressed this project will be beneficial for all three parties. In addition, Russia was commended as the major world power in natural gas and oil reserves and production and stressed Russia is turning its attention to expanding the energy sector.

When the Sakhalin – Komsomolsk – Khabarovsk pipeline that began construction in 2009 is completed, it will be equipped to provide enough gas not only domestically but across the Pacific-Asia region, producing a capacity of 30 billion cubic meters of gas per year.

The news also covered the specific plans of the Russian government to expand its energy supply; to boost the exports of oil and gas from three to thirty percent and five to twenty-five percent respectively, until the year 2020.

Therefore, the inter-Korean gas pipeline construction between the DPRK and Russia will be a vital project for Russia.

On August 30, the ROK’s Grand National Party (GNP) chairman Hong Jun-pyo declared, “The trilateral negotiation will be expected to take place sometime in November on the inter-Korean gas pipeline project.”

Hong also stated, “The ROK-Russia and the DPRK-Russia bilateral agreements have already been reached. Once the three parties meet to sign the tripartite agreement, the project will soon take off.” He also added, “President Lee Myung-bak has quietly pushed forward with the gas pipeline project since he first took office and it will be his major accomplishment.”

After the bilateral summit was held between the two leaders of Russia and the DPRK on August 24, the two nations have consented to establish a special commission to work cooperatively on the gas transit project running through the territories of North Korea to South Korea.


Details on the Rason SEZ (version 2.0) emerging

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

China has reportedly agreed to provide electricity to the Rason special economic zone, and the minimum wage investors can expect to pay the North Korean government to employ North Korean citizens qill be approximately US$80.

According to the Korea Times:

China has agreed to provide electricity to a special economic zone in North Korea’s northeast, a source said Tuesday.

The agreement to provide power to the Rason economic zone was signed between Jang Song-thaek, vice chairman of the North’s powerful National Defense Commission, and China’s Commerce Minister Chen Deming, during an economic meeting on June 8, the source said.

The source cited Chinese officials familiar with the project.

The project calls for laying high-voltage power distribution lines between the Chinese border city of Hunchun and the North’s city of Rajin as well as building a thermal power plant in Rason, the source said.

Construction for the power lines is likely to begin soon while the two sides are in talks to work out details for the envisioned power plant, the source said.

“Power is an important infrastructure in developing the Rason special economic zone,” said Cho Bong Hyun, an expert at the Seoul-based IBK Economic Research Institute. “China’s agreement to provide power increases the chances of the zone’s success.”

The North designated Rason as a special economic zone in 1991 and has since striven to develop it into a regional transportation hub, though no major progress has been made. (Yonhap)

According to Yonhap:

The minimum monthly wage for workers at a North Korean special economic zone has been set at US$80, a source familiar with the reclusive state said Thursday, a small enough sum that could attract Chinese firms to invest there.

North Korea designated Rason as a special economic zone in 1991 with the aim of developing it into a regional transportation hub. Amid few signs of progress, the country broke ground in June on a joint project to develop it into an economic and trade zone with China. The northeastern port city borders both China and Russia.

“According to a booklet I obtained on the tax policy of the Rason economic and trade zone, the minimum monthly wage for workers is $80,” said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Under a North Korean law for the Rason economic zone, revised in January last year, the minimum monthly wage for local employees at foreign firms is set jointly by the employer and the municipal authorities.

The amount is higher than the $63.814 recently set as the minimum wage for North Korean workers at the inter-Korean industrial park in Kaesong, the North’s western city bordering South Korea, but less than the average salary of Chinese workers. According to the South’s state-run Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), Chinese workers are paid a minimum of $167 per month.

Experts say this wage gap could attract Chinese investors to Rason, as they have already started showing signs of relocating operations to Vietnam, Indonesia and other countries with cheaper labor than China.

The booklet also contains details of Rason’s tax policy, including a five-year property tax exemption for buildings purchased through private funds and a corporate income tax rate of up to 14 percent, according to the source.

“The booklet was made by Rason’s tax bureau in July-August to introduce foreigners to its tax policy,” the source said.

And according to the Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES):

Hwang also elaborated on the eight preferential policies providing special tax benefits to foreign investors. He asserted, “The government of North Korea will guarantee the investment of the foreign investors by not nationalizing or demanding requisitions. For inevitable cases where such demands occur, proper compensation will be provided.”

The income tax is also at 14 percent, which is 11 percent lower than other areas in North Korea. For companies with business plans over ten years, foreign capital companies will receive three years of tax-free benefit starting from the profit earning year and two years thereon after will receive 50 percent tax-free benefits. According to Hwang, over 100 foreign companies and offices are operating businesses currently in the special economic zone.

Read the full stories here:
China agrees to provide power to NK’s Rason economic zone
Korea Times

Minimum wage at N. Korean special economic zone set at US$80: source


2011 flooding reports, studies

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

UPDATE 9 (2011-9-6): South Korea is slated to deliver flood relief assistance next week.  According to Yonhap:

South Korea’s Red Cross said Tuesday it will send baby food to North Korea across their heavily fortified border next week as its first batch of its emergency aid to North Korea’s flood victims.

The move came a month after Seoul offered to send 5 billion won (US$4.7 million) worth of emergency relief aid, including baby food, biscuits and instant noodles, to North Korea.

South Korea’s Red Cross said in a message to its North Korean counterpart on Tuesday that it will truck 200,000 packs of baby food in the eastern and western sections of the border next Thursday.

The Red Cross said it will send other relief items by the middle of October and it proposed holding consultations with North Korea to ensure Seoul’s aid to North Korea reaches the intended beneficiaries.

Last year, Seoul sent 5,000 tons of rice, 3 million packs of instant noodles and 3,000 tons of cement to North Korea to help it recover from devastating floods.

UPDATE 8 (2011-9-4): The US Government has send flood relief supplies to the DPRK. According to CBS News:

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says the plane is carrying blankets, soap and hygiene kits. It will arrive in Pyongyang this weekend.

The U.S. has said it will provide North Korea $900,000 in emergency aid through U.S. charities.

On September 4th, KCNA posted video of the plane arriving.  See it here (if you are allowed).

Samaritan’s Purse also posted two videos of their departure to and arrival in Pyongyang.

According to the Associated Press:

Samaritan’s Purse said it has pledged $1.2 million in addition to the $900,000 that the U.S. government has allocated for aid to North Korea through U.S.-based charities.

Ken Isaacs, a Samaritan’s Purse vice president, said the group has worked with the U.S. government and several other Christian organizations to send the aid as they try to “continue gaining humanitarian access into North Korea.”

Here is a list of US-DPRK engagement in 2011.

At least one report from Rason seems to indicate that the DPRK’s impending food shortage is not so severe of a problem.

UPDATE 7 (2011-8-23): United Grain Sends First Wheat Shipment to North Korea as Aid. According to the San Francisco Gate:

United Grain Co., Russia’s state grain trader, sent its first shipment of 3,560 metric tons of milling wheat to North Korea as humanitarian aid, the company said in an e-mailed statement today.

The ship arrived at the North Korean port of Hynnam, from Russia’s Vladivostok port on Aug. 20, the company said. It was the first of several shipments.

United Grain will send 50,000 tons of wheat from ports in Vladivostok and Novorossiysk to North Korea, the statement said.

UPDATE 6 (2011-8-22): According to this article in The Telegraph, the North Korean Red Cross has launched a £2.7m emergency appeal to help the victims of a series of floods and storms.  More information can be found here and here.

UPDATE 5 (2011-8-19): The IFRC has posted a map of the counties in which they are involved in flood relief.  See it here. The IFRC has also posted an emergency appeal for assistance.  You can see it here.

UPDATE 4 (2011-8-18): US to provide $900,000 in emergency relief supplies to North Korea after devastating floods. Read more at the AP (Via Washington Post) and Reuters.  Here is a collection of stories related to the DPRK’s alleged food shortage this year.  Here is a list of DPRK-US engagement events this year.

UPDATE 3 (2011-8-10): ROK lists food items it will donate to the DPRK in the wake of flooding. According to the Daily NK:

The South Korean government today transmitted to the North a list of the aid items it will deliver in response to recent flooding.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Unification reported the news this afternoon, saying, “We transmitted a communication containing a concrete list of aid items to the North this afternoon in the name of the president of the Korea National Red Cross.”

The aid includes; 1.4 million units of high protein food, 300,000 units of snacks, 1.92 million Choco Pies and 1.6 million units of instant noodles, but, as previously reported, does not include rice, wheat flour or building materials.

The aid is expected to be conveyed overland along the west and east coasts to areas of Hwanghae and Gangwon Provinces.

“We excluded North Korea’s requested food and cement, but with the exception of medicines the emergency aid was modified mostly as per the North’s request,” the spokesperson explained.

UPDATE 2 (2011-8-10): ROK offers to send relief items to flood-hit DPRK.  According to Yonhap:

South Korea sent North Korea a list of relief items it is willing to deliver to flood victims in the impoverished nation, an official said Wednesday.

The South’s Red Cross delivered the message to the North earlier Wednesday, offering 5 billion won (US$4.6 million) worth of emergency staples including nutritional foods for infants, biscuits and instant noodles, according to the official from the Unification Ministry.

UPDATE 1 (2011-8-9): EU provides resources for flood victims. According to the Korea Herald:

The EU, which shipped food aid to the impoverished state to feed its starving people last month, has donated 200,000 euros ($280,000) to the International Federation of Red Cross in flood aid, Voice of America reported, quoting an EU official.

ORIGINAL POST (2011-8-9): Relief Web has put together a compendium of stories and reports (DPRK, ROK, IFRC, and UN) related to recent flood damage in the DPRK (July and August). Below are links and descriptions:

Briefing kit 1: Situation reports (PDF) on the flooding:

1. DPRK affected by serious floods following torrential rains in July
2. GIEWS Country Brief: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 08-August-2011
3. Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: Floods DREF operation n° MDRKP003
4. Heavy Rain Damage: Situation Report #2
5. Floods: Situation Report #1

Briefing kit 2: This report (PDF) is an update of the August 7 collection and features media clippings and situation reports:

1. Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – Flood Update
2. Russia to Send 50,000 Tons of Food Aid to N.Korea
3. DPRK affected by serious floods following torrential rains in July
4. GIEWS Country Brief: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 08-August-2011
5. Flood Damage Gets Serious
6. Seoul Greenlights Food Aid for N.Korea, But Not Rice, Cement
7. Nationwide Relief Effort Launched for S. Hwanghae Province
8. Downpour Batters DPRK Again
9. Damage from Heavy Rains
10. Red Cross Relief Activities Launched in DPRK
11. S. Korea offers N. Korea flood aid
12. Floods (as of 29 Jul 2011)
13. Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: Floods DREF operation n° MDRKP003
14. N. Korea PM inspects flooded region: state media
15. N. Korea storm, rains ‘kill dozens’: state media16. N. Korea state media says China to send flood aid
17. Rain leaves trail of destruction in North Korea
18. Floods wash N. Korean landmines into S. Korea
19. DPRK Hit by Heavy Rain Again
20. S.Koreans on landmine alert after deadly mudslides
21. Floods – July 2011
22. Heavy Rain Damage: Situation Report #2
23. Floods: Situation Report #1
24. Coal Mines Damaged by Heavy Rain
25. Floods Hammer Homes And Fields
26. Heavy Rains Hit DPRK
27. DPRK Hit by Heavy Rainfalls Again
28. Some Areas of DPRK Hit by Heavy Rain


Light weekend reading

Sunday, September 4th, 2011

Below is some short, light North Korea fare for the holiday weekend (in the USA).

1. Kim Jong-il’s Train

The title “First peek into Kim Jong-il’s train” in a recent JoongAng-Ilbo article (later picked up by the Choson Ilbo) kind of irked me since I posted pictures and video (viewed over 8,000 times) of Kim Jong-il’s train back in May. The article claims such glimpses are rare, but this is not the case.  The train has been prominently featured in all the documentaries of Kim Jong-il’s trips for decades.  I have uploaded six different videos of Kim Jong-il’s train to YouTube which have been released over the years.  You can see them all: here, here, here, here, here and here.

2. Ultimate Frisbee

Pictured above: Taesongsan Park–site of the DPRK’s first ultimate frisbee tourney

Koryo Tours, which sponsored the DPRK’s first cricket match (2008) and first golf tournament (2005), recently wrapped up the country’s first ultimate frisbee tournament. Pictures available on Facebook.

3. Picture Guessing Game

What is in this box behind Kim Jong-il?

What is inside the sleeve of this security agent guarding Kim Jong-il?

4. Early Korea in Film

A reader sent me an hour-long documentary of Korea shot by German monks in the early 1900s. Fantastic footage.  You can watch the whole piece here.

Pictured above (Left) a screenshot from video footage shot in Korea in the early 1900s. The building is the Jangan Temple (장안사) in Kumgangsan. On the right is a Google Earth satellite image of where the temple used to stand before it was destroyed in the Korean War.

5. North Koreans frolicking by the pool

Since the summer has officially come to an end, I thought I would cap it off with this video of North Koreans playing in the water.