Archive for December, 2006

South powers up support for Kaesong

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

Joong Ang Daily
Ser Myo-ja

Amid the ongoing six-party talks and criticism that inter-Korean economic projects have helped North Korea finance its nuclear arms program, South Korea celebrated a cross-border power cable connection yesterday for the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

A ceremony to mark the connection took place yesterday inside the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas. Also yesterday, the nation’s top North Korea policymaker said the economic cooperation programs are crucial to maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula.



Seoul to soon restore ties with Pyongyang

Thursday, December 21st, 2006


The South Korean government may resume its humanitarian assistance to North Korea in the near future as part of efforts to mend soured ties with the communist nation, the country’s point man on North Korea said Thursday.

“The government has a principle to resume the North-South dialogue at the earliest date possible,” Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung told reporters.



Seems some DPRK traders support Kim Regime

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Daily NK
Kim Min Se

Pride and confidence spread among armed forces, government officials and the rich in North Korea since nuclear test.

A 41-year old North Korean businessman, K, had a telephone interview with the Daily NK from Dandong, China, on Tuesday. During the interview, K described confidence in the regime. He said “Whether Americans do it (sanctions) or not, we Koreans don’t care. We now have nuclear weapons and we are pretty sure that we will win. Soldiers think so.”

When asked if ordinary people believe North Korea possessing nuclear weapons, K boasted “Everybody in (North) Korea knows that except for infants. We are not afraid of Yankees.”

K is a typical member of the North Korean wealthy class. North Korea’s upper class’s confidence after the nuclear test contradicts worldwide expectation of escalation of domestic disorder due to international sanctions.

K said that armed forces and ordinary people are convinced to defeat the U.S. Such attitude is opposite from the actual popular reaction of ignorance to the nuclear test.

While most of the population struggles to live, a small portion of North Koreans have earned fortune from trade with China or Japan. This newly created wealthy class is now a key supporter of Kim Jong Il and his regime.

Also, another interpretation might be that since the Chinese government does not restrict trade with North Korea despite the UN Security Council’s resolution, participants of the Sino-N. Korean trade are not damaged yet.

On people’s lives after the nuke test, K optimistically said “Everything is going well.” “Cost of rice is stable and there are plenty of goods at the market.”

And “Whether the international society punishes Korea, we would not worry if we keep normal trade relationship with China,” K assured.

K’s confident remarks prove that Kim Jong Il’s nuclear strategy works well, at least among the army, government and upper class in North Korea.


Difficult to Recover British-American Tobacco Funds

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Daily NK
Yang Jung A

Difficult to Recover British Funds Caught in BDA North Korea Accounts

In amongst the North Korean accounts that were frozen from Macao’s Banco Delta Bank (BDA) was joint funds from a British tobacco company which has been deemed difficult to recover.

The U.K. Financial Times reported on the 18th that the $7mn of the $24mn in North Korea funds frozen in BDA accounts is from Korean trusts and banks of which half the funds is estimated to from a joint account by British American Tobacco (BAT) and a tobacco company trading by North Korea.

BAT’s spokesperson Catherine Armstrong revealed in an interview with Radio Free Asia (RFA) on the 18th “The money has been certified as legal so we’re very keen to get the money out of the frozen account.”

Regarding the amount of frozen funds, Armstrong said “As there are no substantial data, an actual figure cannot be revealed but I am aware it is nearing tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Raphael Perl, a specialist at the U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS) said “We don’t necessarily know on its face that the North Korean tobacco company is not also involved in criminal activity” and revealed “As North Korea sells fake cigarettes on a large scale, every tobacco company in North Korea is being suspected of conspiring illegal acts.”

Perl said “Even in the case a company is internationally based, a company is not completely owned internationally but if a joint ownership, it is even more difficult to discern whether or not the transaction was legitimate.”

In another sense, as reports suggest that “The U.S. Administration told North Korea $12mn of the $24mn frozen funds appears to be unrelated to North Korea’s illegal actions,” others are cautiously anticipating progress from the six party talks as North Korea’s legitimate funds are released.


DPRK Railway map: now on Google Earth

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

Using various maps, legends and available photos, I have mapped out the entire North Korean railway system. Interesting highlights include special railway lines to large palaces in Sinuiju and on the east coast, the collection of railway lines around coal mines in the center of the country, and the railway line in Kaesong that crosses the DMZ to South Korea.

Download it to your own Google Earth here


Kumgang tourism numbers not meeting expectations

Monday, December 18th, 2006

Mount Kumgang tour goal to fall well short of 400,000
Joong Ang Daily

The number of South Korean tourists to a scenic North Korean mountain resort is expected to fall far short of the initial target of 400,000 for this year due to inter-Korean tensions, South Korean tour organizers said yesterday.

About 1.3 million South Koreans have visited Mount Kumgang since the communist North opened the area to outsiders in 1998 to earn badly needed hard currency.

The South Korean tour operator, Hyundai Asan Corp., had planned to attract 400,000 tourists to the area this year, but the number is expected to reach slightly more than half of the the target, company officials said.

The sharp drop in the number of tourists to the resort can be attributed to recurring tensions caused by the North’s multiple missile tests on July 5 and its first-ever nuclear weapons test on Oct. 9, they said.

“We had aimed for 400,000 visitors for the year, but the North Korean nuclear crisis caused a significant problem,” a Hyundai Asan official said, citing the North’s missile and nuclear tests.

According to Hyundai Asan, a total of 230,224 people, mostly South Koreans, visited the resort in the first 11 months of the year, and the number of visitors in December is not expected to be more than 10,000.

The North’s mountain resort is reachable from South Korea by bus within an hour.


ROK scenario planning for DPRK power shift

Monday, December 18th, 2006


North Korean Military: New Regime?  

If that happens, the report forecasts that the military is highly likely to control the government and independent units, such as the escort command, and the security command and the operation command will attempt to take control of the government by joining forces or individually.

Yesterday, Dong-A Ilbo obtained a report titled “North Korea’s Crisis Management System and Our Countermeasures” released by the information committee of the National Assembly. The report predicts that “we cannot rule out an abrupt collapse of the Kim Jong Il regime. But, given the neighboring countries do not have firm grounds for intervention, the fall of North Korea will happen gradually.” It was submitted to the committee on December 13 by three researchers of Peace Foundation, Cho Seong-ryeol, Kim Hak-rin and Kang dong-ho.

Kim Jong Il in Trouble in North Korean Emergency-

The report argues that a national crisis is likely to be caused when Kim Jong Il, the chief of the North’s Workers’ Party, the government and the military, is in trouble.

If that happens, the report forecasts that the military is highly likely to control the government and independent units, such as the escort command, and the security command and the operation command, will attempt to take control of the government by joining forces or individually.

In particular, it also expects Oh Geuk Ryeol, the 75-year-old operational director of the Workers’ Party who is considered to be the most powerful among Kim Jong Il’s cross associates, to act before others by utilizing his independent commanding authority and his elite unit equipped with advanced weapons.

The report says the first thing the North Korean military should do, after taking control, is to declare a national emergency in the name of the central military committee of the Workers’ Party, which is entitled to command and control all military power in the country according to Article 27 of the party rules. But the report also predicts that the national defense committee will be at the center of administration of power and that the new regime will maintain a group leader system temporarily.

Who Will Be the Acting Commander in Chief?-

According to the report, if the North engages in war with the outside world, the country is likely to shift an emergency control system with the commander in chief in its center, as it did during the Korean War.

Cho Myeong Rok, the 78-year-old director of the General Political Department of the Korean People’s Army, is highly likely to be appointed as a commander in chief by hierarchy. But, considering age and health, Kim Yeong Chun, the 70-year-old Chief of the General Staff of the Army responsible for military operation of the one million-strong forces, is the shoo-in, according to the report.

Establishment of the Succession System-

It has been analyzed that the establishment of a succession system is more urgent for Kim Jong Il than the overcoming of the economic crisis through reform and market opening or the formation of diplomatic ties with the U.S., since Kim is well aware that an emergency in the absence of the succession system will lead to a civil war.

For this reason, it says, chances are that Pyongyang will formalize the succession system internally in the first half of 2007, when internal cohesion following its nuclear test and the supportive atmosphere for the third-time succession of military authority to protect the vested interest of the “Military First politics” still remain.

The report also connects the gradual stabilization of the succession system and the resolution of the North’s nuclear problem. It estimates that Kim will demand approval of the succession system and massive economic assistance in return for denouncement of nuclear weapons, and that the Pyongyang-Washington ties will be normalized if Washington accepts the demand.

Korea Herald

N.K. general to lead if Kim loses power

A top military commander is expected to take the reins in North Korea in the event its leader Kim Jong-il loses power during an emergency, a South Korean parliamentary report said yesterday.

The report on a possible North Korean crisis pinpointed General Oh Geuk-ryul, chief of central combat operations of the Workers’ Party, as the strongest candidate to take contingency leadership of the communist country.

The report was written by the Peace Foundation, a private think tank on security affairs commissioned by the National Assembly Intelligence Committee.

The report said if Kim loses control, it will trigger fierce power struggles among leaders of different military groups such as Kim’s security guard, the Army headquarters, the intelligence command and the combat operations department.

None of them are in position to take control of the entire military. Kim is known to have controlled all military forces through a system of checks and balances among the several independent military groups. Each separate group is directed by Kim, with no influence on one another.

Among the powerful candidates, Oh, 74, is expected to take the lead in mobilizing his well-trained soldiers equipped with the North’s most modern weapons systems, the report said.

In the event the North Korean crisis triggers intervention from outside forces, the new leadership could fall under Kim Young-chun, deputy marshal of the Korean Peoples’ Army, the report expected.

Kim, 69, is likely to lead the North’s military in fighting against any foreign interventionist forces although Cho Myoung-rok, another deputy marshal of the KPA, is higher in rank, it said. Cho, 77, was cited as weaker than Kim due to his age and suspect health.

The report also said Pyongyang’s crisis may lead to the development of a crisis management system instead of the collapse of the North Korean regime.

The new authority is expected to exercise a military-led collective leadership after invoking martial law throughout the country, it said.

With regard to the possibility of North Korean military aggression, a full-scale invasion of South Korea is unlikely to occur at the time of such a crisis although the North could trigger local conflicts in frontline areas, the report said.

The report advised that South Korea needs to prepare to deal with the North’s new leadership and to enhance military preparedness for any possible clashes.


Luxuries for North’s elite keep on flowing

Monday, December 18th, 2006

Joong Ang Daily

Despite United Nations sanctions aimed at preventing the North Korean government from buying luxury goods for its ruling class, government sources here said a North Korean trading company is still busy providing Kim Jong-il loyalists with their perquisites.

Tian Ming Trading Company, in the center of this former Portuguese enclave now with the same China-affiliated status as Hong Kong, says its main business line is carpets, and little more. Three office workers said there were no North Koreans at the company and that it has never traded with North Korea. The company’s president was out of town on business, they said.

But a source with close ties to the trading economy here said that Park Su-dok, a 53-year-old North Korean, is in Macao and obtained a visa as an employee of the company.

Another source said, “Tian Ming is a joint venture by North Korean and Hong Kong investors, and its main business is buying luxury goods from Hong Kong for shipment to North Korea.” He added that Tian Ming’s president, a Hong Kong resident, is buying luxury watches, gold products and expensive liquor at North Korea’s request, using a Hong Kong branch office for the purpose.

Other Macao government officials said 18 North Korean firms were registered in Macao as of late November, and 115 North Koreans carry Macao visas as employees. Twenty have become Macao citizens, they added.

Since Washington threatened to impose sanctions on Banco Delta Asia here, allegedly for helping North Korea launder cash from its alleged dubious business lines, some of those companies have shut down. Ten are still in limited operation, however, these government sources said.

Separately, a South Korean banker in Hong Kong told the Joong-Ang Ilbo that a North Korean businessman had visited him in an attempt to sell gold bars through one of the South Korean bank branches in Hong Kong.

The banker reportedly spurned the overture, although the transaction would not have violated any South Korean laws or regulations on North-South dealings. He said he simply did not want to get involved in such a deal given the international attention being paid to commercial dealings with North Korea. The banker suggested that the offer may have been a sign of the foreign currency problems North Korea is facing because of the UN sanctions and U.S. pressure on financial dealings with North Korea.

Banco Delta Asia has said that between 2003 and 2005, it had sold 9.2 tons of gold bars that it had purchased from the North, where gold production is estimated to be about 25 tons per year, mostly for export.

Wall Street Journal
Gordon Fairlcough, p.A1

Close-Out Sale: North Korea’s Elite Shop While They Can

A North Korean businesswoman with heavy makeup and a bouffant hairdo studied herself in a mirror as she modeled fur-lined leather coats at a small store in [Dandong, China] this frigid northeast border city.

During a three-day excursion late last month, the woman also tried on shoes and looked at large-screen television sets before buying furniture and fresh fruit and heading home to Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital city.

The United Nations has called for a crackdown on luxury-goods shipments to North Korea as a way of pressuring the country to drop its atomic-weapons programs, which came under new fire after an October nuclear test.

If anything, the uncertainty about the flow of fancy goods appears to have whetted the appetites of some privileged North Koreans — whose impoverished country cultivates a Spartan socialist image.

In Dandong, North Koreans, many wearing lapel pins with a picture of North Korea’s founding dictator, Kim Il Sung, stroll through hotels and department stores. Signs are often written in Korean, with storekeepers advertising computers, karaoke machines and the erectile-dysfunction drugs Viagra and Cialis.

A few North Koreans have bought new cars at a Toyota dealership near the Dandong customs checkpoint, according to a salesman. One man paid about $50,000 in cash for a luxury sedan.

Gold is also gaining a following. Wang Xiaoju, a saleswoman at the jewelry counter at Xin Yi Bai Department Store, says North Korean women come in nearly every day, mostly to buy gold chains and other gold jewelry.

Women from the North also are frequent visitors to a riverfront spa, favoring milk baths and massages, according to staff there. A saleswoman at the Xin Yi Bai L’Oreal counter says North Koreans are regular customers. Among the big sellers: body sculpting cream for women who want to look thinner.

In the first 10 months of this year, Chinese exports of fur coats and fake furs to North Korea soared more than sevenfold from the year-earlier period, according to Chinese Customs figures. Exports of televisions and other consumer electronics were up 77%, while perfumes and cosmetics were up 10%.

Some North Koreans are even buying real estate in Dandong. One high-rise building, where three bedroom apartments go for nearly $100,000 each, has sweeping views of a decrepit North Korean village with crumbling cinder-block houses across the border. A North Korean buyer recently purchased one of the units with cash, according to the building’s sales agent.

“Life is quite comfortable” for senior party members, military officers and traders, who have prospered despite widespread shortages of food, fuel and medicine in North Korea, says Pak Yong Ho, a former high-ranking North Korean official who defected to South Korea two years ago.

North Korea’s Communist Party has long had overseas agents in Macau, Switzerland and elsewhere dedicated to maintaining supplies of luxuries for top military and government personnel, according to former North Korean officials. Their jobs, in the wake of the U.N. sanctions, could get much harder.

The U.N. so far has let individual countries decide which high-end products to block. Washington has barred U.S. companies from selling everything from iPods to Harley-Davidson motorcycles. But that move was largely symbolic, as there is very little direct trade between the U.S. and North Korea.

Japan, which has for decades been a source of luxuries for the North Korean ruling class, has banned exports of 24 fancy products from caviar and gems to watches and art.

But the key to whether the sanctions will work is in the hands of China, North Korea’s largest trading partner.

A steel-girder bridge here spans the Yalu River, connecting Dandong to the city of Sinuiju in North Korea. That has helped Dandong, whose name means “Red East,” become a popular shopping destination for North Koreans with money. It is unclear how much that will change because of the sanctions.

So far, China hasn’t disclosed what specific kinds of high-end exports — TVs or luxury automobiles, for instance — it will block. A Chinese foreign-ministry spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, has said the list “should not be allowed to impact normal trade transactions” between the socialist neighbors.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, whose own taste for expensive French cognac and other imported luxuries is well known, uses money and goods liberally in an effort to buy the loyalty of the elite, according to U.S. and South Korean officials. Some of these officials say that depriving the ruling class of its creature comforts could alienate them from Mr. Kim, long known as “Dear Leader.”

But many North Korea watchers and North Korean defectors doubt that the elite would revolt against Mr. Kim’s government, because their fates are so closely tied to his now. “Under this regime, the privileged have had a very good life,” says Kim Dok Hong, the second-highest North Korean official to defect. “If the regime collapses, the people they’ve mistreated will be looking for revenge.”

At the peak of the famine that killed more than a million North Koreans in the mid-1990s, Mr. Pak, the former government official, says his parents weren’t short of food. Their home had three refrigerators regularly replenished with imported provisions by the Communist Party. Mr. Pak uses a pseudonym to protect family members still in the North from government retribution.

“The elites have had more freedom to do their own business” since economic overhauls in 2002, says Yang Chang Seok, a senior official at South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which oversees relations with the North. “People have earned a lot of money from trading.”

These days in Pyongyang, members of the ruling class are ferried around in imported cars and live in well-appointed — and well-guarded — apartment complexes. Their children race around city parks on in-line skates and play American computer games.

Says Mr. Pak: “If you can afford to pay, there’s nothing you can’t get.”


Ticket out of DPRK $1,500

Monday, December 18th, 2006

Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal
Melanie Kirkpatrick

This being The Wall Street Journal, we went straight to the bottom line. How much, we asked our visitor at a recent editorial board meeting, does it cost to free one North Korean refugee hiding in China?

The Rev. Phillip Buck pauses a moment before replying, apparently making the yuan-to-dollar conversions on the abacus in his mind. “If I do it myself,” he says, “the cost is $800 per person. If I hire a broker to do it, it’s $1,500.”

Pastor Buck is a rescuer. It’s a job title that applies to a courageous few–mostly Americans and South Koreans and predominantly Christians–who operate the underground railroad that ferries North Korean refugees out of China to South Korea, and now, thanks to 2004 legislation, to the U.S. Mr. Buck, an American from Seattle, says he has rescued more than 100 refugees and helped support another 1,000 who are still on the run. For this “crime”–China’s policy is to hunt down and repatriate North Koreans–he spent 15 months in a Chinese prison. He was released in August.

The plight of the tens of thousands of North Korean refugees in China is a humanitarian crisis that has received scant world attention. It won’t be on the agenda of the six-party talks, which are scheduled to restart today in Beijing. But the experience of Pastor Buck and other rescuers is worth noting as negotiators sit down with Kim Jong Il’s emissaries. North Korea won’t change, they believe, so long as Kim remains in power. Follow that logic, and regime change is the proper goal.

The refugees, Pastor Buck argues, are the key to regime change in North Korea and, by inference, the key to halting the North’s nuclear and missile programs. Help one man or woman escape, he says, and that person will get word to his family back home about the freedom that awaits them on the outside. Others will follow, and the regime will implode. This is what happened in 1989, when Hungary refused to turn back East Germans fleeing to the West, thereby hastening the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

Pastor Buck was born in North Korea in 1941 and fled with his brothers to the South during the Korean War. He emigrated to the U.S. in the ’80s, becoming a citizen in 1992. When famine hit North Korea in the late ’90s, and millions died, he raised relief funds in Korean churches in the U.S. “I helped send 150 tons of flour and rice to the North,” he says, “and 70 tons of fertilizer . . . This was a time when government rations had stopped and people were living off grass.”

But on visits to the North, he soon realized that the government was stealing the food intended for starving citizens. “I changed my mind” about the efficacy of aid, he says, and in 1998 he joined the effort to help people escape. “If you see someone who is drowning in the river, wouldn’t you reach out and help that person?” he asks. “That’s what was in my heart.”

Pastor Buck is nothing if not determined. In 2002, while in a Southeast Asian country with a group of refugees he had guided there, his apartment in Yanji city, in northeast China, was raided. Nineteen refugees were captured and a copy of his passport was confiscated. With his identity now compromised, Mr. Buck returned to the U.S. and underwent legal proceedings to change his name. John Yoon, the name he was born with, was dead; Phillip Buck was born.

The new Pastor Buck returned to China, where, on May 25, 2005, he was arrested and eventually convicted of the crime of helping illegal immigrants. Thanks to the intervention of the U.S. government, he was deported before he could be sentenced.

Another American, Steve Kim, was not so lucky. Mr. Kim, a furniture importer from Huntington, N.Y., has been in prison in China since September 2003, sentenced to five years for smuggling aliens. Mr. Kim, who, like Mr. Buck, is of Korean ancestry and is a Christian, became aware of the plight of the refugees during business trips to China. He funded two safe houses and paid for refugees’ passage on the underground railroad. Beijing refuses to grant him parole, saying foreigners are not eligible. His wife and three children will pass their fourth Christmas without him.

Mr. Buck, meanwhile, will celebrate Christmas at home in Seattle, along with four refugees, now settled in South Korea, whom he has invited to spend the holiday with him and his family. These refugees–two men and two women–have harrowing personal tales of starvation, death and repression in the North and desperate lives on the run in China.

One young man, who asks that his name not be used for fear of retribution on family members still at home, spent time in the North Korean gulag, after being captured in China and repatriated. He was tortured, he says–rolling up his trousers at a recent press conference in Washington, D.C. to display the scars on his legs.

One morning at roll call, he recounts, one of his cellmates, a man who had been badly beaten during the night, was too sick to get out of bed. The guards ordered the prisoners to carry the injured man into the woods and bury him. “I keep thinking, maybe he would still be alive if we hadn’t buried him,” the escapee says. The name of the dead man was Kim Young Jin. The name of the prison is Chong Jin. Says the man who escaped: “I am very glad to be here, and tell the people in America how life in North Korea really is.”

Pastor Buck spent last Christmas in jail. “My cellmates were criminals,” he says, “12 in all, murderers and rapists.” His diary entry for Dec. 24, 2005, notes that he distributed the chocolates his children had sent him as Christmas gifts to his cellmates. And this year? “I am so excited that I can celebrate this Christmas with lots of joy,” his diary entry for last Thursday reads.

His final words are for the refugees. “I pray, let the Christmas spirit be with those North Korean refugees still in China. Let them be safe too.”


Is scarlet fever on the rise?

Friday, December 15th, 2006

Daily NK

“Spread of Scarlet Fever?… Yangkang in Isolation”

An inside North Korean source informed on the 13th that North Korea that has been suffering from “scarlet fever” has completely disconnected all trains to rural districts as well as closing schools in a great attempt to stop the spread of this infectious disease.

A defector Kim revealed a telephone conversation with his family in Musan “Since an infectious disease began to plague the country, all trains ceased have not yet been remobilized and lately due to the movements of the people’s units, regulations have become even stricter.”

Scarlet fever is a contagious disease that often spreads throughout late autumn and early spring. Symptoms include painful tonsils, high temperature and body rash. In South Korea, scarlet fever is merely a group 3 infectious disease and can easily be cured when treated, however in North Korea the disease is known to be spreading as a lack of resource and antibiotics.

The virus began to spread mid-October in the Northern border districts such as Hyesan, Bochoenbo, Baikam of Yangkang province and has began to spread towards rural inland areas of North Korea. Presently, the virus has spread to southern districts such as North Pyongan, Jagang province.

A defector Lee relayed his telephone conversation with his family “All trains that come from northern districts reach Kilju and then turn back. All trains scheduled from Pyongyang-Manpo-Hyesan only reach Manpo, Jagang province and then turn back.” On analyzing the two sources, it can be assumed that trains scheduled for the districts of North Hamkyung and Yangkang have been ceased and the regions in isolation.

Baikam, Hyesan, Bochoenbo elementary and middle school “winter vacation”

Actions taken by authorities to stop the spread of scarlet fever by ceasing train movements is decisively different to that of infectious viruses spreading in the past.

In the 80’s~90’s North Korea experienced an outbreak of a disease similar to “salmonella” and though there was a time when all adults (children and students were excluded) had to obtain a “health report card” for travel, never had trains been immobilized like this time.

Also, it has been confirmed that in the northern districts of Yangkang and Baikam, elementary and middle schools have been temporarily closed due to scarlet fever and the recommencement of study continues to be postponed.

A defector born of this district Kang relayed information “As ‘scarlet fever’ began to spread last November, schools began to close down” and “They ordered not to return to school until early-December but then this was postponed to mid-December.”

Winter vacation in North Korean elementary schools and middle schools roughly last a month beginning in January until early February. Whether or not this long break will replace the winter vacation in January has not yet been revealed by the Education authorities, Kang said.

Kang informed “Until students are told by schools to return, they must remain in isolation” and “It is unknown when this will end as there is no sign as to when the infectious virus will die out.”

He said “As there are no alternate immunization treatments for ‘scarlet fever’, North Korean authorities continue to exhort ‘drink boiled water.’ Even hospitals are short of drugs and medical facilities that they are insensitive to the growing number of patients.”