Archive for the ‘USA’ Category
UPDATE 1 (2014-9-27): Martyn Williams has posted video (translated into English) of Minister Ri’s full speech.
For those who do not wish to listen to the whole speech, here is a transcript (English, PDF).
ORIGINAL POST (2014-8-30): According to KBS:
North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong is scheduled to visit the United States in mid-September for a United Nations general assembly in New York. This marks the first time a North Korean foreign minister will visit the U.S. in 15 years.
Sources have said Ri has personally requested to make a keynote address at the session as a state representative.
The last time a North Korean foreign minister was present for a United Nations general assembly was in 1999 when Paek Nam Sun held the position. In 1992, Kim Yong Nam had visited the U. S. to attend the session.
As these were the only occasions a high-ranking North Korean foreign ministry official had taken part in the UN general assembly since the North became a member state in 1991, speculations have risen over Ri’s pending visit.
One South Korean diplomatic source said Ri was not attending the assembly “just to make a keynote speech,” but rather to engage in negotiations with Washington for a change in chilled relations.
Read the full sotry here:
N. Korea Foreign Minister to Visit U.S. For First Time in 15 Yrs
In July 2014 a US federal court found the DPRK guilty of proliferating weapons and providing training to Hezbollah.
According to Voice of America:
The U.S. Department of State, in its monthly Refugee Admissions Report, says a total of eight North Koreans have now sought asylum in the U.S. in 2014.
Cheol Park, president of the Association of the Free North Korean American, said in a telephone interview with the VOA Korean service that the refugees came to America via Thailand. “We received information through various activities [that we do],” explained Park.
The association is an organization consisting of North Korean refugees who have settled in the U.S..
North Korean defectors can attain refugee status in the U.S. based on the 2004 North Korean Human Rights Act. However, they are not eligible if they have already settled in South Korea, which gives automatic citizenship to North Koreans and is the preferred destination by the vast majority of those fleeing the communist country.
Park said the refugees in the U.S. receive about $200 in cash, health insurance and food stamps from their respective state government for several months. They are also provided with English education and job offers.
After about a year of living in the U.S., the defectors will be granted permanent residency and are eligible to apply for citizenship five years into their life in America.
The first group of North Koreans, nine in total, entered the United States back in 2006. Since then, 171 North Koreans have entered the U.S. as refugees.
Read the full story here:
Four More North Korean Defectors Arrived in US in July
Voice of America
Yeon Cheol Lee
According to Yonhap:
The Eugene Bell Foundation, which provides medical assistance to the impoverished North, will send 770 million won (US$750,000) worth of TB medication to the communist country, ministry officials said.
In February, the foundation shipped 720 million won worth of TB drugs to the North in an attempt to tackle the growing issue of multidrug-resistant TB in the country.
So far this year, the South has approved 11 shipments of civilian aid worth a combined 2.82 billion won to North Korea.
The latest approval comes after Seoul announced on July 15 that it will provide Pyongyang with humanitarian aid worth 3 billion won through civilian organizations.
It marks Seoul’s first state-funded aid to North Korea since the North torpedoed the South Korean warship Cheonan in the Yellow Sea in 2010, killing 46 sailors. Following the incident, Seoul imposed a blanket ban on cross-border economic and other exchanges.
Read the full story here:
Gov’t OKs civilian medical aid to N. Korea
According to Yonhap:
A U.S. humanitarian group has sent US$800,000 worth of medical aid to North Korea as part of its continued effort to help the impoverished communist nation, a news report said Friday.
AmeriCares, a nonprofit organization based in Connecticut, shipped a package of medicine, sanitary goods and other medical aid in June, the Voice of America (VOA) reported.
The shipment will arrive at the end of this month, the aid group’s communication director, Donna Porstner, told the VOA.
The supplies will be distributed to six hospitals and clinics in Pyongyang, Pyongan Province, and North Hwanghae Province, it added.
AmeriCares said it delivered $1.8 million in medical assistance to North Korea earlier this year.
“Despite the challenging political context, AmeriCares — in its mission to help people in need irrespective of their race, creed or political persuasion — is committed to helping the people of North Korea, who have suffered from acute food shortages, natural disasters and isolation,” it said on its website, www.americares.org.
“A limited number of economic, political and social ties often means that the country faces shortages of key medical supplies,” it added.
Read the full story here:
U.S. NGO ships US$800,000 worth of medical aid to N. Korea
UPDATE 9: Miller sentencing image:
UPDATE 7 (2014-8-2): Fowle and Miller interviewed:
In their first appearance since being detained more than three months ago, Matthew Todd Miller and Jeffrey Edward Fowle told a local AP Television News crew that they were in good health and were being treated well. They also said they were allowed to take daily walks. The brief meeting was conducted under the condition that the specific location not be disclosed.
Fowle said he fears his situation will get much worse once he goes on trial.
“The horizon for me is pretty dark,” he said. “I don’t know what the worst-case scenario would be, but I need help to extricate myself from this situation. I ask the government for help in that regards.”
It was not clear whether they were speaking on their own initiative, or if their comments were coerced. The TV crew was permitted to ask them questions.
North Korea says the two committed hostile acts which violated their status as tourists. It has announced that authorities are preparing to bring them before a court, but has not yet specified what they did that was considered hostile or illegal, or what kind of punishment they might face. The date of the trial has not been announced.
Ri Tong II, a North Korean diplomat, declined to answer questions about the Americans at a news conference Friday at the United Nations. But when pressed in a follow-up question he said their cases were “legal issues” and they had “violated our law.”
Fowle arrived in North Korea on April 29. He is suspected of leaving a Bible in a nightclub in the northern port city of Chongjin, but a spokesman for Fowle’s family said the 56-year-old from Miamisburg, Ohio, was not on a mission for his church. Fowle works in a city streets department. He has a wife and three children, ages 9, 10, and 12.
“The window is closing on that process. It will be coming relatively soon, maybe within a month,” Fowle said of his trial. “I’m anxious to get home, I’m sure all of us are.”
Fowle also produced a letter he said he had written summarizing his experience in North Korea.
The attorney for Fowle’s family said Friday his wife hadn’t seen the video, but had read news reports about his comments.
“I can tell you that she is very upset, as you can imagine,” said attorney Timothy Tepe. He said he and the family were still gathering information and likely would have a statement on Monday.
Less is known about Miller, or about what specific crime he allegedly committed.
North Korea’s state-run media have said the 24-year-old entered the country April 10 with a tourist visa, but tore it up at the airport and shouted that he wanted to seek asylum. A large number of Western tourists visited Pyongyang in April to run in the annual Pyongyang Marathon or attend related events. Miller came at that time, but tour organizers say he was not planning to join the marathon.
“I expect soon I will be going to trial for my crime and be sent to prison,” Miller said. “I have been requesting help from the American government, but have received no reply.”
James Pearson writes in Reuters:
American tourist Jeffrey Fowle was arrested by North Korean authorities for leaving a bible under a bin in the toilet at a club for foreign sailors, a source familiar with Fowle’s case told Reuters.
During his ten day trip to North Korea, Fowle’s fellow travellers described the middle-aged street repairs worker from Miamisburg, Ohio as a warm, amiable, quiet man.
On May 4, towards the end of an evening spent eating and drinking in Chongjin, a large industrial city on North Korea’s east coast, Fowle’s action led to him being thrown in jail, where he is awaiting trial in one of the world’s most inhospitable countries.
He left a bilingual English-Korean bible in the restaurant he and his fellow travellers were about to leave, the source, who wished to remain anonymous because of the sensitivities surrounding the case, told Reuters.
In it, Fowle had written his name and phone number, and inserted photos of himself and his family between its pages.
He was arrested three days later at the airport where he was due to board a flight out of North Korea.
Fowle and fellow detained U.S. tourist Matthew Miller – who was arrested in April for a separate incident – said they will face trial soon and have called on the U.S. government to help secure their release in an interview to the Associated Press, released on Friday.
A hand-written letter from Fowle shown in the interview confirmed he was arrested for intentionally leaving a bible in the northern city of Chongjin.
It is unclear why Fowle left the bible, the source familiar with Fowle’s case said. Media reports in Ohio said the 56-year-old is a church goer and was once a member of his school’s bible club – but there is little evidence to suggest he was a missionary.
The source familiar with Fowle’s arrest also said he did not seem overtly religious.
Yet, at the Chongjin Seamen’s Club – a faded compound originally designed as a hostel for visiting mariners that sells foreign whiskeys and serves local food – Fowle wrapped a bilingual English-Korean bible bound in fake leather in a Chinese newspaper and hid it the restroom, under a bin designed to discard the used toilet paper North Korea’s ageing plumbing can’t handle.
A cleaner found the package, and alerted local authorities.
When his guides asked if anyone had left anything at the club – a small cluster with shops, a sauna and noodle restaurants also open to locals with the cash to spend on cheap drinks – he said it was him, and that he “must’ve dropped it.”
Fowle said at the time the bible had “fallen out of his pocket” when using the squat toilet, but the bible was too big to be pocket-sized, the source said.
While North Korea technically espouses freedom of religion it is ranked as one of the world’s most oppressive regimes in terms of such freedom. Pyongyang has dismissed recent reports on its oppression of religion as an attempt by the United States to “tarnish the image” of the isolated country.
Two months before Fowle visited North Korea, Australian missionary John Short had been arrested for leaving bible tracts at areas open to tourists in the isolated country. Short, 75, was released on account of his advanced age after state media released a written apology.
Fowle appeared in an Associated Press video on Friday alongside Miller, who was arrested for ripping up his tourist visa and attempting to claim political asylum, according to state media.
North Korea has three U.S. citizens in custody, including Kenneth Bae, a missionary of Korean descent who was arrested in November 2012 and convicted and sentenced to 15 years hard labour last year.
Chongjin is one of the most sensitive cities open to tourists visiting North Korea. The scene for much of journalist Barbara Demmick’s ‘Nothing to Envy’ book, based on a collection of interviews, it is the very epitome of the grim, grey Orwellian North Korea recalled by defectors.
“They don’t mess about in Chongjin,” one tourism source with experience of working in the city said.
If Fowle had hidden a bible anywhere else in North Korea, he probably wouldn’t have been arrested, sources in the North Korean tourist industry said. Sources working in North Korea are often forced to remain anonymous when talking to the press for fear of state reprisal or loss of business.
If the staff at the Seamen’s Club who found the bible had told Fowle’s guides, and not the authorities, they might have avoided the arrest too, the source familiar with his arrest said.
Fowle hid the bible on May 4. He later admitted to the group that he had left it there deliberately, for “someone to read.”
The rest of Fowle’s group didn’t talk to him when they heard what he had done. They felt he had put them in danger.
After the incident, Fowle had two days of normal sightseeing in Pyongyang, where he took photos of large bronze statues of North Korea’s former leaders, Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.
He was arrested on May 7, once he cleared customs at Pyongyang’s Sunan airport.
Suspicions about Hostile Acts by American against DPRK Confirmed
Pyongyang, June 30 (KCNA) — The Korean Central News Agency made public the following report on Monday:
The relevant organ of the DPRK has made investigation into American tourists Miller Matthew Todd and Jeffrey Edward Fowle who were detained while perpetrating hostile acts after entering the territory of the DPRK.
According to the results of the investigation, suspicions about their hostile acts have been confirmed by evidence and their testimonies.
The relevant organ of the DPRK is carrying on the investigation into them and making preparations for bringing them before court on the basis of the already confirmed charges.
Contact with an official looking after consular affairs, treatment, etc. in the course of investigation are being made in line with the laws of the relevant country.
Here is coverage of the announcement in the Wall Street Journal,
Reuters offers this helpful summary of related events:
HAPHAZARD LEGAL SYSTEM
North Korea’s haphazard and inconsistent legal system makes it difficult to predict the outcome for the detained tourists.
It has detained and then released other Americans in the past year, including Korean War veteran Merrill Newman, whom it expelled last December after a month-long detention based on accusations of war crimes related to his service history.
Australian missionary John Short was arrested in February this year for leaving copies of bible verses at various tourist sites during his stay. Short, 75, and Newman, 86, were released on account of their advanced age and health condition, state media said in the wake of published confessions from the two men.
Another U.S. national, Kenneth Bae, a Christian missionary who had been arrested in November 2012, was convicted and sentenced by North Korea’s supreme court to 15 years hard labor last year.
Pyongyang has detained a number of U.S. citizens in the past, using them to extract visits by high-profile figures, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton who in 2009 helped secure the release of two U.S. journalists who had secretly entered the country by crossing into the country from China.
The journalists, Laura Ling and Korean-American Euna Lee, were released after being tried by a city court in Pyongyang and given a ten-year hard labor sentence.
But North Korea has twice canceled visits by Robert King, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, to discuss Bae’s case.
UPDATE 5 (2014-6-8): Jonathan Cheng writes more information about Mr. Fowle in the Wall Street Journal:
Jeffrey Edward Fowle, the American citizen detained by North Korea, is a municipal road-maintenance man from southwestern Ohio with a globe-trotting past.
Mr. Fowle, who was arrested by North Korea after arriving for a tour on Apr. 29, is a 56-year-old resident of Miamisburg, Ohio, a city of about 20,000 residents on the outskirts of Dayton. He attends church in nearby West Carrollton, Ohio, and repairs streets for Moraine, Ohio, population 6,307.
But Mr. Fowle’s small-town roots belied a keen interest for the wider world. Before venturing into North Korea, Mr. Fowle made regular trips to Russia with his wife and traveled to war-torn Sarajevo in early 1997, less than a year after the four-year siege of the Bosnian city was lifted.
Timothy Tepe, a Cincinnati lawyer who represents Mr. Fowle’s family, said Mr. Fowle wasn’t on a mission for Urbancrest Baptist Church in Lebanon, Ohio, where he attended church. Mr. Tepe didn’t immediately reply to requests for further comment.
Joseph Shihady, a pastor at Bethel Baptist Church in West Carrollton, where Mr. Fowle attended services on Sundays and Wednesday evenings, said Mr. Fowle traveled to North Korea as a tourist.
“He’s a fine fellow, and we’re praying that he’ll get home safely,” Mr. Shihady said. “We know he’s in danger, and we’re concerned for him.”
In Washington, the State Department said that it was aware of reports about a third U.S. citizen who had been detained in North Korea, but declined to offer more details.
Mr. Fowle and his Russian immigrant wife live with their three children and the wife’s mother, according to a September 2010 interview with Mr. Fowle by the Dayton Daily News.
WHIO, a Dayton-based CBS affiliate, on Saturday cited a family friend as saying that Mr. Fowle’s wife had tried to dissuade him from going to North Korea, calling it too dangerous.
During his eight-day trip to the former Yugoslavia in 1997, Mr. Fowle spent four days in downtown Sarajevo with a Muslim family whose apartment walls were scarred by shrapnel following a missile attack, according to an earlier interview Mr. Fowle gave to the Dayton Daily News.
Nearly two decades later, Mr. Fowle finds himself at the center of a diplomatic tangle. Rep. Michael Turner (R., Ohio), which represents Mr. Fowle’s town, said in a statement that he was “deeply troubled” that Mr. Fowle had been held.
Late last month, North Korea sentenced a Christian missionary from South Korea, Kim Jung-wook, to a life of hard labor, following his October arrest on charges of working to overthrow the regime. Seoul had pleaded for his release.
UPDATE 4 (2014-6-6): WDNT in Ohio has some information on Mr. Fowle and a photo of him and his family.
The Christian Science Monitor has more.
UPDATE 3 (2014-6-6): Choe Sang-hun and Rick Gladstone report in the New York Times that Mr Fowle is a “A municipal worker from Ohio on a tour of North Korea”.
The Korean Central News Agency provided no further details about Mr. Fowle but local media in the Dayton, Ohio, area said that he was a 56-year-old municipal worker in the suburb of Moraine and had a wife and three children. The website of the Dayton Daily News said the Moraine city manager, David Hicks, had described him as a longtime employee. Telephone messages left on Mr. Fowle’s home telephone answering machine and with Mr. Hicks’s office were not returned.
UPDATE 2 (2014-6-6): The Guardian reports (via other sources) that Mr. Fowle was being detained for leaving a Bible in his hotel room.
UPDATE 1 (2014-6-6): According to KCNA:
American Citizen Detained in DPRK
Pyongyang, June 6 (KCNA) — American citizen Jeffrey Edward Fowle entered the DPRK as a tourist on April 29 and acted in violation of the DPRK law, contrary to the purpose of tourism during his stay.
A relevant organ of the DPRK detained him and is investigating him.
ORIGINAL POST (2014-6-5): According to Reuters:
North Korea detained another U.S. citizen in mid-May, bringing the total to three currently being held in the country, Japan’s Kyodo news agency said on Friday, quoting diplomatic sources.
The man was part of a tour group who was detained just before he was set to leave the country, according to the sources.
In April, the North said it had detained an American, Matthew Todd Miller, who had arranged a private tour of the country through a U.S. company. North Korea is also holding Kenneth Bae, a Korean American missionary who was arrested in 2012 and has been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor on charges of state subversion.
According to Yonhap:
U.S. exports to North Korea jumped nearly 20-fold in February from a year earlier, a U.S. radio report said Tuesday.
The volume of trade between the two countries reached US$1.2 million in February, compared with $62,000 a year earlier, the Voice of America (VOA) reported, citing data compiled by the U.S. Commerce Department.
The VOA said that humanitarian assistance provided by U.S. private agencies accounted for 95 percent, or $1.13 million, of the total U.S. shipment to North Korea in February.
The rest of the U.S. exports to the North included poultry, footwear and plastic products, the radio report said.
The U.S., however, imported nothing from North Korea during the cited period, it said.
Read the full story here:
U.S. exports to N. Korea jumps nearly 20-fold in Feb
According to Wellspring’s website:
Wellspring has had the privilege to partner with several Non-Government Organizations (NGO’s) in our work in North Korea. Partnering with other groups allows Wellspring to work efficiently and effectively by focusing on our specialty – drilling water wells in North Korea. We have provided wells for our partners in several areas of the country and desire to work with new partners who are currently working in North Korea.
According to Yonhap:
Private agencies in the United States have provided North Korea with aid to help its people have access to clean water and medicine, media reports said Friday.
According to the Washington-based Radio Free Asia (RFA), Wellspring, a non-governmental organization in the U.S., sent a large truck to the North earlier this week to support its groundwater development project.
The aid was provided at the request of the North’s underground water development research institute, and the lorry was purchased in China, according to the RFA.
Under the vision of “Bringing living water to the people of North Korea,” James Linton, who leads the organization, has visited the communist country every year since 2007 to provide training, equipment, and expertise in the field and has drilled some 200 wells across the country.
The Connecticut-based private agency AmeriCares also recently sent medicine, medical devices and food for children worth $370,000, according to the Voice of America.
They are expected to arrive in the North next month to be delivered to hospitals and local clinics in Pyongyang and North Hwanghae, it added.
North Korea has regularly suffered from acute food and medical shortages caused mainly by isolation and natural disasters.
Read the full story here:
U.S. NGOs offer humanitarian aid to N. Korea
According to the Korea Times:
North Korea’s United Nations (U.N.) Ambassador Sin Son-ho will reportedly be replaced by Ja Song-nam, a former North Korean ambassador to Britain.
“Sin will return home after being the North’s permanent representative to the U.N. for five years and six months,” a diplomatic source was quoted as saying by local dailies.
He added that Ja, who is familiar with U.S. representatives, is a leading candidate for the position.
Ja, who also worked for the North Korean mission to the U.N., was involved in the family reunions for Korean-Americans and other issues with the United States.
However, the swap is seen as a regular exchange of personnel, given that Sin has represented the Stalinist country since 2008.
Meanwhile, the new ambassador is raising expectations that the so-called “New York Channel” could be re-activated.
It has facilitated talks between Pyongyang and Washington on several occasions, but since Jang Il-hoon replaced Han Song-ryol as the deputy ambassador in July last year, the North’s U.S. diplomatic channel has seen its role diminishing.
Read the full story here:
North Korea’s UN envoy to be replaced