Archive for March, 2012

Human rights and democratic transition in North Korea

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Opening conference of the “EU-Korea Human Rights and Democratic Transition Dialogue Program”
March 20, 2012
National Assembly Members’ Office Building (South Korea)

Recently, the situation of defectors from North Korea has once again been in the spotlight. The outcry against deportations from China revealed once again the humanitarian plight of North Koreans. In light of these events, the Hanns-Seidel-Foundation, PSCORE, NKDB and NKIS, supported by the European Union, are proud to host the Opening Conference of the EU-Korea Human Rights and Democratic Transition Dialogue Programme, “Human Rights and Democratic Transition in North Korea,” on March 20, 2012. Outstanding guests from Europe and Korea will discuss human rights issues and perspectives of democratic transition in North Korea. We would like to cordially invite you to attend this timely conference. Your participation will make the conference more valuable and successful.

Here is a PDF with information on the program.


Friday Fun: A little bit of everything

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

1. A valued reader sends in these photos taken in the DPRK:


The photo on the left was taken in an elevator. Read all of the regulations–they get better and better.

The photo on the right is an advert for the Pugang Pharmaceutical Factory’s “Kumdang-2 Injection”.  It is your best choice for “Radioactive Damages”.

2. Xinhua (the Chinese state media) reports “Girls dress fashionably in DPRK”. Judge for yourself here: Part 1 and Part 2. Apologies to the female readers that there has yet to be published a “Men dress fashionably in DPRK”.  If such a story is published, I promise to link to it.

Ray Cunningham has a DPRK women’s fashion photo set as well. See it here.

Choson Exchange has some DPRK fashion photos here and here.

3. YouTube user “Tyrlop” has provided English subtitles to many North Korean songs. So far, my favorite is the very catchy “The General Uses Wharp!

4. Norway launches their first mass games.  Not nearly as impressive as the DPRK version.

5. The Onion reports on the ways that US-DPRK relations are improving [satire].

6. Earlier I posted information on the Unhasu Orchestra’s performace in Paris this week. Listen to the performance here. Watch it here.  It is beautiful.


DPRK cooking web page launched

Thursday, March 15th, 2012


This week, KCNA announced the following:

The Korean Association of Cooks has opened “Korean Dishes”, an Internet homepage.

The homepage deals with common knowledge and theories on variety of dishes and how to cook them.

It also offers such data as origins and anecdotes about dishes and global trend in cooking development.

It has a distinctive catalogue for serving housewives’ convenience. When a visitor chooses any food material in the
catalogue, she can get detailed information about lists of dishes prepared with it and their cookery.

The homepage contains multimedia on national and foreign dishes. Through homepage visitors can exchange their knowledge and views with each other and acquire a wide-ranging cooking.

An official of the Korean Association of Cooks told KCNA that this homepage serves as a close companion for cooks and housewives.

Although the KCNA story does not mention the URL, it is nearly visible on the screen shot taken in the top left photo.  I talked about it with Martyn Williams (check out his database of North Korean web pages here)  and we agreed that it is This web page, however, is not actually available on the “world wide web”. It appears to be available only to readers of the DPRK’s intranet, Kwangmyong, which is available through domestic computer terminals and I believe partially through the KoryoLink 3-G phone network.

Some other points of interest:

1. The screen shots indicate that that the North Korean intranet web pages are compatible with the Mozilla Firefox browser.

2. The North Korean intranet pages are prefixed with “http://www.” indicating that though they are not currently on the global Internet, it would be very simple to make them so. This means that the computer programmers in the DPRK are building the network with an infrastructure that would not preclude eventual unification with the global Internet.

Additional Information:

1. Read Martyn William’s analysis of the web pages here.

2. The indispensable STALIN Search Engine provides past KCNA articles on the “Korean Association of Cooks“.


Unhasu Orchestra in Paris

Thursday, March 15th, 2012


Pictured above (Google Earth): (L) Unnhasu Theater in Pyongyang where the Unhasu Orchestra normally performs.  (R) The Salle Pleyel in Paris where the Unhasu played their first overseas concert.

You can listen to the performance here.

You can watch the performance here.

Here is KCTV coverage of the performance.

Media on the performance below.



Lankov on North Korean defection numbers

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Lankov writes in the Asia Times:

First, large-scale movement from North Korea is a recent phenomenon. In 2001, merely 1,200 North Koreans resided in the South (the population of South Korea was slightly below 50 million). This number included all former residents of North Korea who had managed to flee to the South since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

One should not be surprised by such low numbers: Until the late 1990s, North Korea remained a hyper-Stalinist society, and escape was next to impossible to all but members of few privileged groups (diplomats and students overseas, soldiers from the front-line units, sailors and fishermen). So until the early 1990s, in the average year merely four of five North Koreans fled to the South. In the early 1990s, the numbers began to be counted in dozens, but the real growth began around 2000 when the number of arrivals came to be counted in hundreds and then thousands.



Choson Exchange presents Rason Legal Code (2010)

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

According to  Choson Exchange:

In 2010, the DPRK revised the laws governing Rason Special Economic Zone.

This booklet, scanned into pdf form, sketches out the new laws in both Korean and English (English is in the back half). It was at this time that the authorities removed Rason from provincial administration, giving it more autonomy in some ways, while also giving authorities in Pyongyang a more direct link to planning for the SEZ.

Potentially interesting clauses include:

– Ships regardless of nationality are permitted to port (article 26)

– Business licenses can be revoked if DPRK law is “seriously” violated. (article 15)

– Prices will be set between the buyer and seller, though some basic consumer goods may be fixed by the local government. (article 26)

– Disputes may be resolved by arbitration either in the DPRK or a 3rd country. (article 45)

Additional information:

1. Download a PDF of the full publication here.

2. Previous posts on this topic here.

3. Choson Exchange home page.


Korea Pyongyang Haedanghwa Foodstuff Company

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012


Pictured above: (L) The location of the new Haedonghwa Center under construction in Pyongyang (Google Earth), and (R) a representation of the building’s exterior

The Korea Pyongyang Haedanghwa Foodstuff Company (조선평양해당화식품회사는)  has launched a new web page  on the Naenara portal providing content in English, Korean, and Chinese.

This new web site hosts pages of information not just on the company, its subsidiaries, its employees, and its products, but also on Korean food, culture and health. Among the more interesting claims made on the page:

Our service workers come from normal families, and they are not ones grown in the special environment or conditions.

The web page also provides addresses and maps of the subsidiary restaurants and factories in China and the DPRK.

Using information from the web page I was able to locate the position of the Haedanghwa Center (pictured at the top of this post).  It is obviously still under construction.  The lot on which the center is being built has been empty for the last dozen years and lies directly across the Taedong River from the new construction on Mansudae Street.


Another malicious email attack….

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

A valued reader (and North Korea researcher) sent me this latest example of an email attack which tries to install malware onto the users computer:

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: John Burba <[email protected]>
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2012 22:43:07 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Dear [DELETED]
I send your photos from last meeting.
I know we took pictures several months ago, but I’m deeply sorry that I’m now sending photos.
Please check your photos, and if you have any queries, give me a reply.

You can download photos on the link below.
Download photos


view the photos on my blog.
Visit my blog

Thank you, and have a nice day~

The phrases “Download photos” and “visit my blog” link to these URLs:



I removed the “h” at the beginning of the URLs to prevent accidental linking.

I have been blogging about these malicious email attacks for a couple of years now.  See information about and examples of past attacks here.

For internet security professionals, I attach the email header below:



South Korea vaccinates 4 million children in DPRK

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

According to Yonhap:

South Korea has helped vaccinate nearly 4 million North Korean children against hepatitis B over the past two years despite tensions on the Korean Peninsula, a German relief agency official has said.

South Korea has provided vaccines worth US$2.37 million to North Korea from 2010 to February 2012 through Caritas Germany as part of its medical aid to the impoverished country, said Wolfgang Gerstner, a consultant of Caritas Germany.

Here is a little information on Hepatitis B:

Hepatitis B is irritation and swelling (inflammation) of the liver due to infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV).

Hepatitis B infection can be spread through having contact with the blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and other body fluids of someone who already has a hepatitis B infection.

Infection can be spread through:

1. Blood transfusions (not common in the United States)

2. Direct contact with blood in health care settings

3. Sexual contact with an infected person

4. Tattoo or acupuncture with unclean needles or instruments

5. Shared needles during drug use

6. Shared personal items (such as toothbrushes, razors, and nail clippers) with an infected person

7. The hepatitis B virus can be passed to an infant during childbirth if the mother is infected.


Pomhyanggi hand lotion

Monday, March 12th, 2012

A friend of mine visited the DPRK and returned with a bottle of hand moisturizing lotion (pictured above). In English it is called “Kaesong Koryo Insam Moisture Milk Cream”. The Korean name is “개성고려인삼 물크림”, and it is manufactured by a company called Pomhyanggi (봄향기). According to Kwang On Yoo, the name translates to mean “Spring Fragrance”.

Popmhyanggi is a product line of the Sinuiju Cosmetics Factory (satellite image here). Sales are promoted through a Joint Venture company–the partner(s) are unknown at this time–called the Korea Pomhyanggi Joint Venture Company. The JV apparently operates out of an exhibition hall in Moranbong-guyok, Pyongyang, which was opened in 2007. Here is a link to an additional KCNA story on the cosmetics line.