Archive for the ‘Ministry of foreign Affairs’ Category

DPRK makes discreet investor plea to French students

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Pictured above (Google Earth): The University of Toulouse, France. See in Google Maps here.

According to AlertNet (Reuters):

Secretive and isolated North Korea is searching for economic allies in the unlikeliest of ways: showing videos of happy North Korean tourists to young French university students in a 13th century convent.

The reclusive communist state has no official diplomatic relations with France, one of only two European Union countries to cut ties with North Korea until it abandons its nuclear weapons programme and improves its human rights record.

But just weeks after Paris decided to open a cooperation office in the North Korean capital, its ambassador to Paris-based UNESCO accepted an invitation to address students from the University of Toulouse within the gothic surroundings of the Franciscan convent’s capitular chamber.

The meeting marked Ambassador Yun Yong Il’s first public appearance in France.

“They are the future,” said Yun, when asked by Reuters why he picked Toulouse to talk. “I’m here for the students who have been waiting to hear from a North Korean official for a year.”

Tensions have gradually eased on the Korean peninsula since the sinking of a South Korean warship 20 months ago and the North’s revelation of a uranium enrichment facility that opens a second route to make an atomic programme.

North Korea and the United States have also held a series of bilateral meetings geared at restarting broader regional de-nuclearisation talks, giving the North a window of opportunity to raise its diplomatic efforts around the world.

Yun, a former political director at the Foreign Ministry, faced about 100 students.

At times, the future political science graduates looked on bemused and surprised as the four-hour presentation cut from a hazy tourism video of the 1980s showing rolling mountains, happy North Koreans on holiday and copious seafood platters to a well structured monologue about the country’s woes and potential.

“Our country is open to everybody who wants to come. You just have to ask for a visa in Paris!” said Yun, who speaks fluent French, but opted to talk in his native language and let his deputy translate into English.

Pyongyang has slowly opened its doors under strict conditions to foreign tour groups, mostly Chinese as a way of earning hard currency.

Yun, who wears a lapel pin of President Kim Jong-il on his suit, said the country’s lack of hard currency as a result of tighter sanctions has made it turn to foreign investors on the “basis of mutual respect and interests”.

“We are looking forward to multilateral and multifaceted economic co-operation with other countries,” he said.

“We are definitely opposed to monopolistic investment of a single country,” said Yun, adding that the country’s natural resources provided opportunities for investors to tap.


Michel-Louis Martin, director of Toulouse University’s security and globalisation research group said the event was not just propaganda.

“They are trying to go beyond what they usually have to say about North Korea. Don’t forget in France, North Korea is not very well known,” said Martin.

The country’s desire to diversify its economy has echoes of China when it began to allow foreign investment and gave permission for entrepreneurs to start up businesses in the 1970s.

Yun’s presentation attempted to steer clear of its frictions with the United States, South Korea and even its relationship with China, focusing instead on his country’s economic problems.

But by the end he stepped up the rhetoric, firmly laying the blame for Pyongyang’s “misfortune” on the United States.

Michel Dusclaud, a researcher at the University of Toulouse who convinced Yun to speak, said it was normal for ancestral hatreds to come out. Despite this, he said, it was clear the North was beginning to accept that if it did not diversify, it would be engulfed either by its souther neighbour or China, which still has territorial claims to it.

“They have to open up for international cooperation otherwise they will be eaten up by South Korea or China,” Dusclaud said. “It’s imperative, but it’s not because they like us.”

With his speech finished, Yun was quick to shuffle out of the Gothic chapel, declining to speak to Reuters, but also telling a student who attempted to pose a question on whether North Korea’s political system could last:

“I’ll see you in Paris and then we’ll talk.”

Read the full story here:
N.Korea makes discreet investor plea to French students
AlertNet (Reuters)
John Irish


DPRK seeks hike in embassy rent

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

According to the Joong Ang Daily:

North Korea has unilaterally raised rental fees for offices of foreign embassies and international agencies by 20 percent this year, at the same time that it tightens its grip on communications at the establishments, sources said.

A source privy to North Korean affairs said last week that the North Korean Foreign Ministry sent notices to the foreign offices last October and the increase took effect at the beginning of this year. The source also said commodity prices in markets specifically set up for foreigners have soared.

“Following the currency reform last November, the North may have wanted to earn some foreign currency by raising the rents and commodity prices,” the source said. “As far as I know, diplomats and their families are angry that the North has violated diplomatic protocols.”

Pyongyang has diplomatic offices for 25 nations, plus the office for World Food Program among other the United Nations agencies. Most rent out space in buildings owned by North Korea.

Pyongyang-based diplomats have also been asked to celebrate North Korean holidays by purchasing flowers or writing congratulatory messages.

“On Kim Jong-il’s 68th birthday last month, the North asked the diplomats to buy wreaths, made up of ‘the Kim Jong-il flowers,’ and write messages praying for Kim’s health under the ambassador’s name,” one source explained. The source did not know if the diplomats complied.

North Korea is also cracking down on the flow of information within foreign missions and agencies. The North rejected a request by a UN agency to use the Internet to send documents to UN headquarters. When diplomats make international phone calls, North Korean interpreters are there to listen in on the conversation, sources said.

“The North may want to block any details on Kim Jong-il’s health, disruption after the currency reform or other domestic affairs from reaching the outside world,” a South Korean government official said.

One Western diplomat, asking for anonymity, recently complained to a South Korean government official that diplomats in Pyongyang can’t talk to each other freely for fear of others listening in, and that they only vent their frustration when they’re out of North Korea.

In addition to making money from the foreign embassies in Pyongyang, the DPRK earns revenue from its embassies abroad.  See here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Most Pyongyang embassies (aside from Russia and China) are located in Munsudong (satellite image here). Recent photos of Pyongyang’s diplomatic quater here.

This is a fascinating topic.  What are the rental rates now?  How are they determined?  If anyone has an idea, please let me know.

Read the stories below:
Diplomats in North face price hike
Joong Ang Daily
Lee Young-jong


Download glitch fixed: North Korea Google Earth (version 11)

Thursday, August 14th, 2008

The most authoritative map of North Korea on Google Earth
Download it here

This map covers North Korea’s agriculture, aviation, cultural locations, markets, manufacturing facilities, railroad, energy infrastructure, politics, sports venues, military establishments, religious facilities, leisure destinations, and national parks. It is continually expanding and undergoing revisions. This is the eleventh version.

Additions include: Mt. Paegun’s Ryonghung Temple and resort homes, Pyongyang’s Chongryu Restaurant, Swiss Development Agency (former UNDP office), Iranian Embassy, White Tiger Art Studio, KITC Store, Kumgangsan Store, Pyongyang Fried Chicken Restaurant, Kilju’s Pulp Factory (Paper), Kim Chaek Steel Mill, Chongjin Munitions Factory, Poogin Coal Mine, Ryongwun-ri cooperative farm, Thonggun Pavilion (Uiju), Chinju Temple (Yongbyon), Kim il Sung Revolutionary Museum (Pyongsong), Hamhung Zoo, Rajin electrified perimeter fence, Pyongsong market (North Korea’s largest), Sakju Recreation Center, Hoeryong Maternity Hospital, Sariwon Suwon reservoir (alleged site of US massacre), Sinpyong Resting Place, 700 Ridges Pavilion, Academy of Science, Hamhung Museum of the Revolutionary Activities of Comrade Kim Il Sung, South Hamgyong House of Culture, Hamhung Royal Villa, Pork Chop Hill, and Pyongyang’s Olympic torch route. Additional thanks go to Martyn Williams for expanding the electricity grid, particularly in Samjiyon, and various others who have contributed time improving this project since its launch.

Disclaimer: I cannot vouch for the authenticity of many locations since I have not seen or been to them, but great efforts have been made to check for authenticity. These efforts include pouring over books, maps, conducting interviews, and keeping up with other peoples’ discoveries. In many cases, I have posted sources, though not for all. This is a thorough compilation of lots of material, but I will leave it up to the reader to make up their own minds as to what they see. I cannot catch everything and I welcome contributions.  Additionally, this file is getting large and may take some time to load.


US ready to pay for more cooperation. DPRK claims it is owed arrears…

Saturday, July 5th, 2008

According to the Associated Press, the Bush administration is ready to pay $20 million to North Korea to complete the last 3 steps (of 12—not to be confused with these 12 steps) to permanently disable its Yongbyon nuclear reactor.

North Korea for its part, says it does not want to address future dismantling work until it receives the goodies it was promised for the first nine stages of Yongbyon decomission.

The North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it had disabled 80 percent of its main nuclear complex, but that the six countries involved in disarmament talks had made only 40 percent of the energy shipments they had promised. North Korea said it would move to the next phase of the denuclearization process, abandoning and dismantling its nuclear weapons programs, only when it has been awarded all the energy and political benefits it had been promised.

Read the full articles here:
US has $20M to disable NKorean reactor
Associated Press

North Korea: Foreign Quid Wanted Before Providing the Nuclear Quo
Associated Press (via the New York Times)


North Korea Google Earth (Version 7)

Friday, December 14th, 2007

The most authoritative map of North Korea on Google Earth
North Korea Uncovered v.7
Download it here

koreaisland.JPGThis map covers North Korea’s agriculture, aviation, cultural locations, manufacturing facilities, railroad, energy infrastructure, politics, sports venues, military establishments, religious facilities, leisure destinations, and national parks. It is continually expanding and undergoing revisions. This is the sixth version.

Additions to the latest version of “North Korea Uncovered” include: A Korean War folder featuring overlays of US attacks on the Sui Ho Dam, Yalu Bridge, and Nakwon Munitians Plant (before/after), plus other locations such as the Hoeryong Revolutionary Site, Ponghwa Revolutionary Site, Taechon reactor (overlay), Pyongyang Railway Museum, Kwangmyong Salt Works, Woljong Temple, Sansong Revolutionary Site, Jongbansan Fort and park, Jangsan Cape, Yongbyon House of Culture, Chongsokjong, Lake Yonpung, Nortern Limit Line (NLL), Sinuiju Old Fort Walls, Pyongyang open air market, and confirmed Pyongyang Intranet nodes.

Disclaimer: I cannot vouch for the authenticity of many locations since I have not seen or been to them, but great efforts have been made to check for authenticity. These efforts include pouring over books, maps, conducting interviews, and keeping up with other peoples’ discoveries. In many cases, I have posted sources, though not for all. This is a thorough compilation of lots of material, but I will leave it up to the reader to make up their own minds as to what they see. I cannot catch everything and I welcome contributions.


Weekly Report on North Korea (July 30, 2007 – August 5, 2007)

Monday, August 13th, 2007

South Korean Ministry of Unification
Serial No.851 (July 30 to August 05, 2007)

Internal Affairs

  • According to the report by the Central Broadcasting Station on July 30, North Korea held the Election of Deputies to the Provincial (Municipality Directly under Central Authority), City (District) and County People’s Assemblies of the DPRK on July 29 and announced the result through the report by the Central Election Guidance Committee.
  • According to the reports by the Central Broadcasting Station from August 1 to 4, Chairman Kim Jongil inspected a sub-unit of KPA Unit 4318, the Unit 136, and the Unit 273.
  • The Central Broadcasting Station reported on August 2 that cooperative farms in Dahungdan-gun, Yanggang-do, are focusing on potato farming.

Inter-Korean Affairs

  • According to the reports by the Central Broadcasting Station and Pyongyang Broadcasting Services on August 3, the spokesperson of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland announced a statement on August 2 to criticize the U.S.-ROK joint military exercise Ulchi Focus Lens from August 20 to 31.
  • The Rodong Daily reported on August 4 that on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s work “Let Us Carry out the Great Leader Comrade Kim IL Sung’s Instructions for National Reunification,” North Korea held a Pyongyang city report session on August 3 and published a commemorative editorial on August 4 on the Rodong Daily.

Foreign Affairs

  • The standing committee chairman of the Supreme People’s Assembly Kim Young-nam made a formal visit to Algeria, Egypt, and Ethiopia from July 24 to 31.
  • North Korean delegates led by Minister of Foreign Affairs Pak Ui-chun visited the Philippines to attend the ASEAN Regional Forum from July 28 to August 2.
  • With the U.S. House’s adoption of the resolution on comfort women, North Korea is continuously criticizing Japan, maintaining Japan’s raising the abduction issue is causing trouble in the six party talks.
  • North Korean Minister of Foreign Affairs Pak Ui-chun met South Korean counterpart Song Min-soon during the ASEAN Regional Forum and reaffirmed that the abolition of the U.S. hostile policy against North Korea should be the precondition of the implementation of the second step of February 13 Agreement. 

N.Korea’s Kang Sok-ju Appointed to NDC

Monday, June 18th, 2007

Choson Ilbo (Hat Tip DPRK Studies)

North Korea’s First Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok-ju, who is in responsible for Pyongyang’s diplomatic affairs including the nuclear issue, was in May made a member of the ruling National Defense Commission (NDC) led by dictator Kim Jong-il, Russian sources said Sunday.

The sources said Kim appointed Kang to the leadership body to strengthen his power base, with the move seen as ensuring the NDC holds sway over the military as well as domestic and foreign affairs.

Kang has served as the First Vice Foreign Minister since 1986 and is known as the only foreign ministry official who can directly advise Kim. He was a signer of the 1994 Geneva Accords between the U.S. and North Korea and the leader of Pyongyang’s representatives in the six-nation talks. Kang recently visited Moscow for treatment of a cataract.

The sources also said that General Lee Myung-soo, who was the North Korean military’s director of operations, has been made an organizer in the NDC.

The NDC currently consists of the country’s nine most powerful leaders, including Kim who serves as the body’s head, Vice Marshal Cho Myong Rok, who is Kim’s special envoy, Vice Marshal Kim Young-choon, General Rhee Yong-mu, General Kim Il-cheol and Secretary Chun Byung-ho.


To be or not to be the N.K. foreign minister

Sunday, June 10th, 2007

Korea Herald
Lee Joo-Hee

Following the death of former foreign minister of North Korea Paek Nam-sun this January, eyes and ears are open to who would succeed him.

While in most countries, being named the next foreign minister would be a coveted honor, it was the opposite in North Korea.

Kang Sok-ju, the first vice foreign minister, indeed, has tried with all his means not to be named the new foreign minister, according to sources familiar with the North Korean system.

“North Korea designated Kang as the successor of late Paek, but he somehow dodged the actual appointment citing his illness, possibly arthritis,” a source was quoted as saying by Yonhap News.

Instead, former ambassador to Russia Pak Ui-chun was named to the seat on May 18 after it was vacant for four months.

Whether it was possible for Kang to “dodge” the appointment remains unconfirmed, the situation is quite understandable considering how North Korea bestows actual authority on the No. 2 man while the more public figure takes on the official top seat. Kang, seeking to remain in a position of real power, may have wanted to stay where he is.

The clearest example of this power ranking system is Kim Yong-nam, who, as head of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, is the formal president of North Korea. North Korea is, however, ruled by Kim Jong-il, whose official title is the chairman of the National Defense Commission.

“We deem that Kang believed becoming a foreign minister could mean going on all the official and open duties but being distanced from being one of the close confidantes of Kim Jong-il,” the source was quoted as saying.

Kim Jong-il, with intense interest in relations with the United States, reportedly has talked directly with Kang instead of the foreign minister to discuss pending issues since the 1990s.

A possible threat to Kang’s status could now be North Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator Kim Kye-gwan, according to sources quoted by Yonhap. Kim Kye-gwan was reportedly a candidate to succeed Kang if Kang was to be named the foreign minister.

Kim Kye-gwan earned the trust of the communist leader by successfully negotiating the lift of the freeze of North Korean funds at Banco Delta Asia in Macau, the sources said.

He was recently allowed to move into “the club,” a luxurious villa compound located in Pyongyang for some 30 households in which Kim Jong-il’s close confidantes reside.


UNDP’s Wrong Action Accused

Tuesday, March 13th, 2007


The United Nations Development Program recently announced that it would suspend its country program for the DPRK and, accordingly, withdraw the staff members of its office from Pyongyang.

A spokesman for the DPRK Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tuesday answered the question raised by KCNA in this regard.

The responsibility for this abnormal thing that happened in the cooperative relations between the DPRK and the UNDP, which have favorably developed for the past several decades, rests with the U.S. and Japan and some circles inside the organization, who took this discriminative action against the DPRK only, yielding to the pressure of the above-said two countries, the spokesman said, and continued:

The U.S. has spread sheer lies about the DPRK’s “diversion of UNDP’s program fund” since the outset of the year in a bid to tarnish the international image of the DPRK. Taking advantage of this, Japan has pressurized the UNDP to suspend its country program for the DPRK. It wooed some member states of its executive board to reopen the discussion on the already passed country program for the DPRK.

Some officials of the UNDP tried to cancel the country program of developmental nature for the DPRK contrary to its mission under the pressure from outside and adjust it into a country program of humanitarian nature and has unilaterally closed or cancelled the ongoing project.

As regards this discriminative step taken against the country program for the DPRK only, it demanded the UNDP explicitly explain and clarify the step. The UNDP, however, has kept mum about the demand, deliberately avoiding its answer.

The DPRK does not care about whether it receives small assistance from the UNDP or not but it will not tolerate even a bit any foolish attempt to hurt its dignity.

It is the firm stand of the DPRK not to receive any politically motivated assistance seeking a sinister aim in the future, too.


N. Korea’s Kang becomes acting minister after Paek’s death

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

Yahoo News

North Korea’s state media said Wednesday that First Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok Ju congratulated the appointment of Nicaragua’s new foreign minister, a sign that Kang has become North Korea’s acting foreign minister after Paek Nam Sun’s death earlier in the month.

Kang “sent a congratulatory message to Samuel Santos Lopez upon his appointment as foreign minister of Nicaragua,” the Korean Central News Agency said.

Paek died Jan. 2. No announcement has been made regarding his successor.