Archive for January, 2007

Rice Price Stable around 1,000 Won

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

Daily NK
Kim Young Jin

The Daily NK had conducted commodity price research in northern and southern North Korea from the end of last year to this January. According to the research result, rice price, despite some regional difference, averaged around 1000 NK won per kilogram. The price of North Korea’s most fundamental grain differed based on local rice production and whether it was inland or border area.

In Sinuiju, a city bordered with Chinese Manchuria, residents enjoyed relatively low price of rice due to the city’s proximity to China and breadbasket of the country, Pyongan Province. Sinuiju’s rice price was as follows: North Korean rice 850 won per kg, South Korean one 870 per kg, and Chinese imports 800/kg. Other than rice, every item showed little increase in price except for pork meat (2500 won per kg).

Basic Prices – January 4, 2007
Rice (1kg): 
Sinuiju – 830 (produced in NK), 800(produced in China)
Kangdong – 750(produced in NK), 850 (produced in South Korea)
Kangdong hosts a military hosptial and military camp. Consequently, it maintains an excess supply of rice, making rice cheaper in Kangdong than in Sinuiju. 

Corn (1kg): Sinuiju – 340 (NK), 300 (China)
Pork (1kg): 2400~2500
An egg: 250
A chicken (2kg): 7000
Soy bean oil (1kg): 3300
Salt (1kg): 230
Wheat flour (1kg) 900
Diesel oil (1kg)/Gasoline (1kg) 2200 / 2700
Exchange rate (a dollar) 3,270 / 1Yuan = 425won 

In northernmost North Korea, Chongjin had had relatively high rice price. The port city close to Russia had been quarantined since outbreak of scarlet fever. In Chongjin, both North and South Korean rice cost around 1000 won/kg, and Chinese 900 won/kg.

The reason for stability of rice price around 1000 won/kg in North Korea is, in spite of what is happening outside the country, steady supply of the grain to meet next year’s demand. And moreover, stocking up or price regulations, which usually occur when shortage in rice production is expected, had not happened yet.

Given current rice circulation in private market, this spring would not be as bad as outsiders worry. Informers say that they could smuggle rice out of China whenever necessary.

Meanwhile, North Korea’s won had been weakened consistently. In second half of last year, market exchange rate was 2950 won per dollar; it is now 3270 won/ US dollar. Won per Chinese yuan has risen from 375 won/ 1yuan to 425 won/ yuan during the same time period.

In general raise in exchange rate forces commodities price to increase; however in North Korea, prices heavily depend on change in supply rate since the country is suffering ongoing shortage of it. For example, last year when the army started selling its gasoline stockpile, oil price fell from 3000 won/ kg to 2500-2600 won/kg in one month.

northern provinces prices for December 2006 
NK rice-1000
SK rice-1000
Chinese rice-900
Wheat flour-800
Pork (1kg)-2500
An egg-300
Soy bean oil-3200
Pepper paste-1500
There are much cheaper kind of socks, around 200won.
Sports shoes (produced in China)-4000
There are lots of different goods according to the qualities.
Headache specific- 10
The NK products cost 10 or 20 won
A note book-1000
There are price differences depending on the sizes of notebooks.
Land tax (per 4 sq. yds)-46
Exchange rate (a dollar)-3200
1 Yuan-148


Can Economic Theory Demystify North Korea?

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

Japan Focus (Hat Tip Gregor)
Ruediger Frank

The starting point of this paper is the assumption that North Korea is de facto a well-defined nation-state, home to a national economy and inhabited by individuals that bear the same basic economic and social characteristics as individuals elsewhere. Despite the obvious specifics of the economic system and institutional structure of the country, standard economic theory should be applicable to the question of North Korean economic development. The article seeks to prove this as broadly as possible, showing that economic theory as diverse as classical and neoclassical, Marxist, Keynesian, institutional, developmentalist, neo-liberal or structuralist, dependency analysis-based and many others, including regionally centered approaches, can be utilized to explain the North Korean case with useful results, although the latter will inevitably vary depending on the chosen framework. Without arguing against or in favor of any of the available theoretical methods, this article advocates further research on North Korea as another case of development in East Asia, rather than as a mystical exception to the rule. This is particularly important in light of the tendency to describe North Korea as unpredictable, bizarre, and incomprehensible. This is clearly not the case.

Full paper below the fold



Ideological Center of North

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

Korea Times
Andrei Lankov

The North Korean press insists that the “great and immortal” juche idea was designed by the “Great Leader,” Kim Il-sung, in the mid-1920s and has remained the guiding principle of the Korean revolution ever since. But do not expect to find references to juche in Korean publications of the 1950s or even early 1960s.

Even if Kim Il-sung first used the term in his speech in December 1955, it took at least five years before the term became widely known in the country _ and five more years for it to become the name of North Korea’s official ideology.

Only in April 1965, while delivering a lengthy lecture in Indonesia, did Kim Il-sung make it clear that from that point on juche would be considered the basic principle of North Korean ideological policy.

The North Korean leadership badly needed a new ideology in 1965. Why? This was the year when the dispute between the Soviet Union and China reached new heights. The two communist powers had been quarrelling for some time, but from 1965 to 1970 the two countries, which had recently vowed “eternal friendship,” were on the brink of war.

North Korea wisely decided to maintain neutrality, allowing it to milk both sponsors. But in the heavily ideological world of oldstyle communism one needed a theoretical justification for one’s position, even if this position was taken exclusively on account of pragmatic considerations (sounds like academia, doesn’t it?).

Nothing could be as handy as a new ideology, especially since the North had been drifting away from Soviet-style Leninism for some time. A locally designed juche was a good solution to the ideological conundrum.

It was easy to say that North Korea had discovered a new truth that was, needless to say, superior to the truth of Sovietstyle Leninism or Chinese-style Leninism-plus-Maoism. Hence, being bearers of the supreme truth, Koreans could not be ordered around.

But what exactly were the relations between juche and Marxism? For our readers this might appear a rather scholastic question, but the world of communism was based on ideology, and ideological disputes mattered. Of course, communist leaders had long learned how to bend their ideology and how to adjust its postulates to any given current political purpose.

In this regard, they were no different from leaders of supposedly religious states, whose actual policy was not too constrained by their loudly professed faith.

Nonetheless, some explanations had to be invented.

Until the late 1960s, juche was presented as a specific form of Marxism-Leninism, which suited the Korean realities and demands of the Korean communist revolution. It was not separated from Marxism. This explanation found its way into the North Korean constitution of 1972. Article 4 described juche as “a creative application of Marxism-Leninism to the conditions of our country.”

The next step in juche’s development took place around 1974 and was perhaps related to the gradual rise of Kim Jong-il. It has been often stated that Kim Jongil introduced new interpretations of juche because he wanted to flatter his father, the founder of juche, and thus demonstrate his loyalty to Kim Il-sung’s cause.

Whatever the reasons, in 1974 some documents signed by Kim Jong-il but actually written by the administration’s chief theoretician, Hwang Jang-yop (currently in Seoul), began to use the term “kimilsungism” as a synonym for juche. In February 1974, Kim Jong-il explained that the works of Marx and Lenin had become outdated.

They described the world as it was 100 or 50 years ago, while juche was suited for the modern world, they argued. Thus, in 1980 the Korean Workers’ Party proclaimed juche the party’s guiding ideology, without mentioning its relationship to Marxism.

That statement doubtless resonated well with the nationalism of Korean cadres because it essentially placed North Korea at the ideological center of the world. Since then, the nationalist element of juche has been increasingly emphasized.

That position was also an open challenge to orthodoxy as understood in Moscow and Beijing. It was as if a local Catholic bishop proclaimed that he had a better grasp of the Holy Scriptures than the pope (or, to take the analogy a bit further, two quarrelling popes) and was able to devise something like a Newest Testament.

These statements made juche-worshipping North Koreans into open heretics within the communist camp, but other “fraternal countries” had to swallow this: Whatever they said, strategic considerations took precedence over ideology. Nobody wanted to alienate Pyongyang, which had been long seen as a strangebehaving sibling of the communist “family.”

However, this family unity did not last. In 1992, the newly amended North Korean constitution completely omitted references to Marxism-Leninism and replaced it with juche as the sole official ideology. Nobody was outraged.

By that time Leninism was patently dead, and even the few countries that still maintained a commitment to that ideology hardly took their own declarations seriously.

However, after the death of Kim Il-sung there were some signs that the significance of the juche idea began to wane.


1 Out of 5 N. Korean Defectors Swindled

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

Korea Times
Kim Rahn

One-fifth of North Koreans who defected to South Korea have gotten swindled here, according to the Korean Institute of Criminal Justice Policy. The majority of the swindlers were other North Korean defectors.

The report released Tuesday was based on a survey of 214 defectors over 20 years old conducted between July and September.

According to the report, 50 of the 214 polled had been the victims of fraud, theft or burglary. The victims constituted 23.4 percent of the total. Only 4.3 percent of South Koreans report having been the victim of similar crimes.

Most of the defectors who reported the crimes were affected once, but one defector was the victim of eight crimes. The 50 who reported crimes were involved in 91 crimes. Of the 91, 46 involved fraud and 11 involved violence.

The percentage of the victims who fell prey to fraud was 21.5 percent. About 0.5 percent of the South Korean population has reported fraud.

Among the 46 fraud victims, 28.6 percent lost money through a business or investment, 26.6 percent lent money to others and were not paid back and 19 percent gave money to someone who said they would bring the defectors’ family in the North to South Korea and didn’t do so.

Most of the victims of business-related fraud lost money after investing in multi-level marketing companies. Those who invited the victims to the join the businesses were mainly other North Korean defectors, according to the report.

Six of the eight cases related to bringing relatives here from the North were committed by North Korean defectors.

Those with more education were more subject to fraud. Some 42 percent of defectors with college degrees and 14.1 percent of high school graduates were swindled, but none of those who had elementary school education was a victim of fraud.

Most of the surveyed defectors did not trust people, with 63.9 percent saying they should be wary of others in South Korean society.

“The government has to prepare counseling centers and give more detailed law education to North Korean defectors when they leave Hanawon, a state-run settlement facility for defectors,” a researcher said.

N. Korean defectors shift attitude to adapt to capitalism

For a growing number of North Korean defectors to South Korea, the stark reality of capitalism might offset their long-held dream of living in a free, affluent country.

In a capitalistic society like South Korea, a measure of freedom and independence can come only with ability to compete for decent jobs and willingness to adapt to new circumstances.

“They have a sheer illusion that if they arrive in South Korea, the people will treat them well. But they get disillusioned soon, and their lives get devastated if they don’t try hard to adapt themselves,” said Kim Seung-chul, a researcher at the Institute of North Korea Studies.

The total number of North Korean defectors will likely top 10,000 sometime this year, according to government officials.

So far, 9,265 North Koreans have settled down in the South after finishing all the procedures and obtaining social security numbers, while some 400 are receiving adaptive education at a state-run institute. More than 500 defectors are currently under the custody of South Korean embassies or consulates in Thailand, Mongolia and other countries.

“This year, a lot more North Koreans will likely escape and attempt to come to the South because the food situation is expected to worsen following the missile and nuclear device tests,” said a senior official at a Seoul-based aid group for the defectors on condition of anonymity.

Since heavy floods hit the North in the mid-1990s, the annual number of North Korean defectors reached double digits and in 1999 it swelled to a triple-digit level. In 2002, as many as 1,139 defectors arrived in the South, a sharp rise from 583 the previous year, government data showed.

“In the past, we provided direct help, or unilaterally protective aid, but the policy is shifting to an indirect one aimed at helping them stand on their own. The government will provide more job training and employment opportunities,” a Unification Ministry official said, asking to remain anonymous.

Since 2005, South Korea has introduced an incentive system for North Korean defectors on the basis of their performance in job training and the level of adaptation, aside from the money provided to help them settle in the South.

But the prevailing sentiment among the defectors is that they cannot survive in the South only with government subsidies or state-offered jobs.

“What matters is attitude. They should make efforts to understand the South Korean society and prepare themselves for competition,” said Kim Young-hee, 43, president of an aid group for North Korean defectors.

Park Cheol-yong, 32, who fled the North and arrived here in 2002, had difficulties adapting to the different work culture, but he decided to soldier on, believing that he would have a chance to get recognition after years of experience.

“The cultural differences are far greater than expected, but I tried hard to overcome the problem by adjusting to new circumstances,” said Park, who works at a stationery company.

Park, who is married with a three-year-old son, graded himself “mediocre” in the level of adaptation and expressed hope that life will get much better here as time goes by.

“Life will be much more difficult if I quit the job so easily because of the stress I get from work now. I will do my best to succeed,” said Park, who works for the sales of stationery in the morning and delivers stationery in the afternoon.


U.S., N.K. open talks on BDA

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

Korea Herald
Lee Joo-Hee

Officials from Washington and Pyongyang are in Beijing today for their second round of talks on U.S. financial sanctions against North Korea.

The discussions are likely to set the tone for the upcoming round of six-party talks scheduled to resume early next month.

The agenda is thought to include North Korea’s acknowledgement of illicit financial activity, a pledge to prevent any reoccurrence, and the lifting of a U.S. embargo on North Korean accounts at a Macau bank.

Washington imposed financial restrictions against Banco Delta Asia after charging the bank with helping North Korea launder counterfeit dollars and funds raised from smuggling restricted goods. The move prompted Pyongyang to boycott the six-party talks process in 2005.

Upon returning to the six-party process in December last year, North Korea demanded it must first solve the financial issue before discussing the nuclear question.

The United States remains adamant that the financial measures were separate from the nuclear issue but has offered to discuss it on the sidelines of the nuclear talks.

The U.S. side is led by Daniel Glaser, the Treasury Department’s deputy assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes.

The North Korean team is led by Oh Gwang-chul, president of the Foreign Trade Bank of Korea, the reclusive regime’s window for foreign banking.

The two delegations are likely to discuss the technical aspects of the issue, which North Korea claims was a political gesture by the United States as part of its hostile policy.

On Sept. 15, 2005 the U.S. Treasury Department banned all American banks from dealing with Banco Delta Asia for allegedly helping North Korean companies launder money from smuggled cigarettes and counterfeit $100 bills.

Washington and Pyongyang have been exchanging questions and information regarding the measures since their first discussion in Beijing on the sidelines of the six-party talks last month.

N. Korean financial officials arrive in Beijing for talks on U.S. sanctions

A group of North Korean financial experts arrived in Beijing Tuesday for talks with their U.S. counterparts on removing U.S. financial sanctions on the North, a major hurdle to six-way negotiations on the communist nation’s nuclear weapons program.

The U.S.-North Korea financial talks come ahead of a new round of six-nation negotiations next week aimed at persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Tuesday the new round of the nuclear disarmament talks will start Feb. 8.

The North Koreans, headed by O Kwang-chol, president of the North’s Foreign Trade Bank, arrived in the Chinese capital at 9:30 a.m. The North Koreans were expected to hold talks with a U.S. financial team led by Daniel Glaser, a deputy assistant secretary at the U.S. Treasury Department.

Upon arriving from Pyongyang, the head North Korean delegate said the sides would hold talks at their countries’ embassies here.

The two last met here on the sidelines of a December round of the nuclear talks, also held in Beijing. The working-group financial meeting seeks to remove U.S. sanctions imposed in September 2005 on a Macau bank suspected of laundering money for the North, which Pyongyang used as an excuse to stay away from the nuclear talks for 13 months.

Expectations of progress from the financial discussions, as well as the nuclear talks, have been significantly raised following a three-day meeting of top U.S. and North Korean nuclear negotiators in Berlin earlier in the month, at which the two agreed “on a number of issues,” according to Christopher Hill, the top U.S. nuclear envoy.

Hill said Monday (Washington time) that the next round of the nuclear talks could produce an agreement similar to a 1994 pact in which North Korea agreed to freeze its nuclear activities in return for economic and energy assistance. The 1994 Agreed Framework became defunct when the ongoing dispute over the North’s nuclear ambitions erupted in late 2002.

However, Hill made it clear that the goal of the six-party negotiations is to carry out a 2005 agreement in which Pyongyang agreed in principle to completely and verifiably dismantle its nuclear program in return for economic and diplomatic benefits.

“Whatever emerges in the next round, our job will not be finished until the full joint statement is finally realized and implemented,” Hill told Reuters in Washington.

“I am not too worried whether something might look like the Agreed Framework because we’re only looking at part of what we’re aiming at,” Hill added.

The top U.S. envoy to the financial talks Tuesday also expressed hope for progress.

“We are prepared to go through these talks as long as it takes for us to get through our agenda,” Glaser was quoted as telling reporters in Beijing. “I am hopeful we’ll make progress.”

Treasury officials have so far refused to confirm it, but recent reports said the United States may unfreeze part of North Korea’s assets at the Macau bank to help move the nuclear negotiations forward.

Pyongyang has about US$24 million in 50 accounts at the Macau bank, Banco Delta Asia, and as much as $13 million is believed to belong to legitimate accounts.


Last US defector in North Korea

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

dresnok.jpgThe folks who brought us “The Game of their Lives” and “A State of Mind”  have delivered their third DPRK-based documentary, “Crossing the Line” about four American soldiers that defected to the DPRK.  It was shown at the Sundance Film Festival this week, and sorry to Simon, Nick and Dan that you did not win.

A section of the interview with the last remaining defector, James Dresnok, was aired on CBS this week.  It was very interesting, not only because we get a glimpse into the life of Dresnok, but also his children.  Click here to see the video clip.

The story below was also published in the BBC.


dresnokjenkins.jpgIn the 1960s four US soldiers separately defected to North Korea, and were little heard from again.

Now one – the last known former American GI left in the country – has spoken for the first time to British documentary-makers.

James Dresnok is something of a celebrity around the North Korean capital Pyongyang, his home for the last 44 years.

Unmissable thanks to his 6ft 5in height and bulky frame, the 64-year-old has appeared in North Korean films, taught English at university and been a propaganda hero for the Communist nation.

“I have never regretted coming to [North Korea]. I feel at home,” he says, in the documentary Crossing the Line, which premiered at the US Sundance Film Festival on Monday.

James Dresnok was a 21-year-old army private when he decided to leave his post in South Korea one August afternoon in 1962 to cross into the North.

Three months earlier, Private Larry Abshier had become the first known US soldier to defect to the North, while patrolling the demilitarised zone between the two Koreas.

In the three years that followed, Specialist Jerry Parrish and Sergeant Charles Jenkins would follow Abshier and Dresnok across the border.

The four, who initially lived in the same house, found their new life tough in the early years. Mr Dresnok admits he did not want to stay. “I didn’t think I could adapt”.

A joint bid for asylum at the Soviet embassy in 1966 was rejected and the four were forced to undergo intense re-education, which included learning North Korea’s official Juche ideology.

It was at that point, Mr Dresnok says, that he decided he would try to fit in. “Man is the master of his life, and little by little I came to understand the Korean people,” he said.

All four married, were granted North Korean citizenship and – apart from starring as evil capitalists in a propaganda film called Nameless Heroes in 1978 – appeared to drop off the face of the earth.

In fact, so little was known about them that Larry Abshier had been dead for 13 years when the US defence department said, in 1996, it believed all four men were still alive. Jerry Parrish had in fact died in 1996.


UK documentary-maker Daniel Gordon and his Beijing-based co-producer Nick Bonner were already familiar to North Korea’s film-making authorities when they asked them about the rumours of the four defectors.

Their 2002 film, The Game of Their Lives – about the North Korean football team that beat Italy in the 1966 World Cup and qualified for the quarter finals – had been a huge hit in the country.

They were working on their second film, A State of Mind – following two North Korean schoolgirls preparing for the mass games – when they asked for permission to make a film about Mr Dresnok and the others.

“We were initially told it was absolutely impossible,” Mr Gordon explained, “but we took that to mean it was possible.”

In June 2004, at a meeting they thought would be with the North Korean authorities, the filmmakers were brought face-to-face with James Dresnok and Charles Jenkins for the first time.

“The two men weren’t wholeheartedly keen on making the film. It had the potential to blow up in their faces. But at the end of the two-and-a-half hour meeting, they had come round,” Mr Gordon said.

Within five weeks of the meeting, however, Charles Jenkins’ story became known to the whole world when he left North Korea to be reunited with his wife in Japan.


While the documentary is about all four defectors, the focus is undoubtedly on James Dresnok who is filmed fishing, going to a restaurant, the opera and having a medical check-up.

“I found him a fascinating guy,” Daniel Gordon says. “He has had such a unique experience of life.

“It is hard to understand from our perspective why an American soldier would choose to make his life in arguably the biggest US-hating nation on earth.”

James Dresnok describes how an unstable childhood and his first wife’s infidelity left him with a sense of hopelessness before he crossed the line into the North.

Since his defection, he has been married twice and has three children.

He taught languages and carried out translating work even though he, like the other three, had dropped out of school by the age of 15.

And he also appeared in several other films, apart from Nameless Heroes, and is still referred to as Arthur after a character he once played.

Mr Dresnok admits he lives a privileged life by North Korean standards, confessing that he got rice rations during the deadly famines of the late 1990s while others were starving.

“The government is going to take care of me until my dying day,” he tells the documentary team.


US regulations codify UN sanctions

Monday, January 29th, 2007

U.S. Federal Register (Hat Tip OneFree Korea)

Here are the highlights:

Bureau of Industry and Security
15 CFR Parts 732, 738, 740, 742, 746, 772 and 774

[Docket No. 070111012-7017-01]
RIN 0694-AD97

North Korea: Imposition of New Foreign Policy Controls
AGENCY: Bureau of Industry and Security, Commerce.
ACTION: Final rule.

SUMMARY: In accordance with recent United Nations (UN) Security Council resolutions and the foreign policy interests of the United States, the United States Government is imposing restrictions on exports and reexports of luxury goods to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), and is continuing to restrict exports and reexports of nuclear or missile-related items and other items included on the Commerce Control List (CCL). To this end, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) is amending the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to impose license requirements for the export and reexport of virtually all items subject to the EAR to North Korea, except food and medicines not listed on the CCL.
    BIS will generally deny applications to export and reexport luxury goods, e.g., luxury automobiles; yachts; gems; jewelry; other fashion accessories; cosmetics; perfumes; furs; designer clothing; luxury watches; rugs and tapestries; electronic entertainment software and equipment; recreational sports equipment; tobacco; wine and other
alcoholic beverages; musical instruments; art; and antiques and collectible items including but not limited to rare coins and stamps.
    BIS will continue to generally deny applications to export and reexport arms and related materiel controlled on the CCL and items controlled under the multilateral export control regimes (the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Australia Group, and the Wassenaar Arrangement). This includes items specified in UN documents S/2006/814, S/2006/815 and S/2006/853. BIS will also generally deny applications to export and reexport other items that the UN determines could contribute to North Korea’s nuclear-related, ballistic missile-related, or other weapons of mass destruction-related programs.
    BIS will also generally approve applications to export or reexport: non-food, non-medical humanitarian items (e.g., blankets, basic footwear, heating oil, and other items meeting subsistence needs) intended for the benefit of the North Korean people; items in support of United Nations humanitarian efforts; and agricultural commodities and medical devices that are determined not to be luxury goods.
    BIS will review on a case-by-case basis applications to export and reexport all other items subject to the EAR.

DATES: This rule is effective January 26, 2007.

The following further amplifies the illustrative of list luxury goods set forth in Sec.  746.4(c):
    (a) Tobacco and tobacco products
    (b) Luxury watches: Wrist, pocket, and others with a case of precious metal or of metal clad with precious metal
    (c) Apparel and fashion items, as follows:
    (1) Leather articles
    (2) Silk articles
    (3) Fur skins and artificial furs
    (4) Fashion accessories: Leather travel goods, vanity cases, binocular and camera cases, handbags, wallets, designer fountain pens, silk scarves
    (5) Cosmetics, including beauty and make-up
    (6) Perfumes and toilet waters
    (7) Designer clothing: Leather apparel and clothing accessories
    (d) Decorative items, as follows:
    (1) Rugs and tapestries
    (2) Tableware of porcelain or bone china
    (3) Items of lead crystal
    (4) Works of art (including paintings, original sculptures and statuary), antiques (more than 100 years old), and collectible items, including rare coins and stamps
    (e) Jewelry: Jewelry with pearls, gems, precious and semi-precious stones (including diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds), jewelry of precious metal or of metal clad with precious metal
    (f) Electronic items, as follows:
    (1) Flat-screen, plasma, or LCD panel televisions or other video monitors or receivers (including high-definition televisions), and any television larger than 29 inches; DVD players
    (2) Personal digital assistants (PDAs)
    (3) Personal digital music players
    (4) Computer laptops
    (g) Transportation items, as follows:
    (1) Yachts and other aquatic recreational vehicles (such as personal watercraft)
    (2) Luxury automobiles (and motor vehicles): Automobiles and other motor vehicles to transport people (other than public transport), including station wagons
    (3) Racing cars, snowmobiles, and motorcycles
    (4) Personal transportation devices (stand-up motorized scooters)
    (h) Recreational items, as follows:
    (1) Musical instruments
    (2) Recreational sports equipment
    (i) Alcoholic beverages: wine, beer, ales, and liquor


Suspect in killing of N.Korean in Russia’s Far East arrested

Monday, January 29th, 2007

RIA Novosti (Hat Tip DPRK Studies)

A suspect in the case of a North Korean national beaten to death in a Russian Far Eastern city has been arrested, an aide to the regional prosecutor said Monday.

The man’s body was found in a hostel housing North Korean construction workers in the Pacific port of Vladivostok, near the North Korean border, Friday. Forensic experts said the man died of a brain injury.

“A forensic psychiatric expert examination has been ordered for the suspect in the case, to determine whether he is sane,” Irina Nomokonova said, adding that the suspect was a Russian citizen.

Witnesses said Friday the victim had returned to the hostel with bruises on his face, saying he had fallen accidentally. But several hours later, his North Korean colleagues found him dead.

Two other people from the Communist nation were battered to death in Vladivostok in December in an attack investigators said was carried out by a group of teenagers.

Local police say attacks on foreigners have become more frequent in the Primorye Territory, which borders on China and North Korea and is home to thousands of migrant workers from those countries.

In 2006, 247 attacks were made on people of foreign appearance in the region, compared to 181 the previous year. The statistics reflect a rise in xenophobic sentiment in the country as a whole.

Bloody interethnic clashes in northwest Russia last fall prompted authorities to impose restrictions on the number of foreign workers, effective as of this year.


North Korea urgently needs food aid

Sunday, January 28th, 2007


Despite better harvests this year, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) will have another substantial food deficit in 2004, requiring a large amount of external assistance, two United Nations agencies said today.

A combination of insufficient domestic production, the narrow and inadequate diet of much of the population and growing disparities in access to food as the purchasing power of many households declines, means that some 6.5 million vulnerable North Koreans will require assistance next year, according to a joint report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP).

The situation remains “especially precarious” for young children, pregnant and nursing women and many elderly people, the Rome-based agencies warned.

The report projected domestic cereal availability in the 2003/04 marketing season (November-October) at 4.16 million tonnes, 4.7 per cent up from the revised 2002/03 estimate of 3.97 million tonnes.

The 2003 rice and maize harvests each rose by an estimated 4.5 per cent over 2002, to 1.48 million tonnes (milled basis) and 1.73 million tonnes respectively. The improvements were attributed to favourable weather, a relatively low incidence of crop pests and diseases, increased application of donated fertilizer andbetter irrigation.

Forecasting total cereal needs – food, animal feed and seeds – for 2003/04 at 5.1 million tonnes, the FAO/WFP report projected an import requirement of 944,000 tonnes. Given anticipated commercial imports of 100,000 tonnes, concessional imports of 300,000 tonnes, and food aid expected to be in stock or to arrive after 1 November, 2003 of 140,000 tonnes, the uncovered gap will be 404,000 tonnes.

Despite evidence of improved nutritional levels in recent years, malnutrition rates remain “alarmingly high”, the report said. Four out of ten young children suffer from chronic malnutrition, or stunting, according to a large-scale, random sample survey conducted in October 2002 by UNICEF and WFP. Continued, targeted food aid interventions are essential to prevent a slippage back towards previous, higher levels of malnutrition, the UN agencies said.

The economic policy adjustment process initiated in July 2002 has led to many factories being unable to pay full wages. Combined with food price increases that were higher than increases in wages, this has caused a further deterioration in the already inadequate purchasing power of many households, especially in urban areas.

Rations from the Public Distribution System (PDS) – a primary source of food for the 70 per cent of North Korea’s 23 million people living in urban areas- are set to decline to no more than 300 grams per person per day in 2004, from 319 grams this year, according to government authorities. The present allocation ensures only half of an individual’s caloric requirements.

Low as the PDS rations may be, industrial workers and elderly people now spend up to 60 per cent of their income on these rations alone. After paying for non-food necessities, they can ill-afford staples such as rice and maize in private markets, where prices are as much as 3.5 times higher, let alone more nutritious foods.

As the situation may worsen in the immediate future, the report recommended that attention also be given to the low-income PDS dependents in urban areas rendered increasingly under-employed by economic adjustment process.

The FAO/WFP report urged that 484,000 tonnes of commodities, including 400,000 tonnes of cereals, be sought as food aid for 2004 for the most vulnerable North Koreans. Three-quarters of the total is earmarked for children in nurseries, kindergartens, primary schools, orphanages and hospitals, pregnant and nursing women and elderly people.

Despite improvements in the operating environment for aid agencies, the report noted that there are still restrictions on access to the needy and to marketsand shops, reducing the scope for monitoring and the timely detection of newly emerging food-insecure groups. But it also says that the North Korean government has been more forthcoming with information needed to assess household food security.

The report recommended that “in addition to providing urgently needed food aid, the international community enter with the government into a policy dialogue to set an enabling framework to mobilise the economic, financial and other assistance needed to promote sustainable food production and overall food security.”


Disappearance of North’s Propaganda Chief

Saturday, January 27th, 2007


Recently, rumors have been spreading in North Korea that Jeong Ha Cheol (74-year-old), the propaganda secretary of the Workers’ Party, has defected from North Korea, stirring public sentiment.

Party officials have been going door-to-door to remove traces of Jeong from publications without giving any reason. Officials are painting over Jeong’s face with black ink on any pictures that show Jeong accompanying North Korean leader Kim Jong Il or its former leader Kim Il Sung. They are also censuring his name with black ink if there are any passages that include his name and sealing the book. Moreover, writings by Jeong have been torn to pieces. All households which have a few dozens of those books now are required to get rid of them since most North Korea publications are propaganda books.

Jeong Ha Cheol, who studied philosophy at the Kim Il Sung University, was one of the most successful propaganda officials. He served as the editorial chief of the state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun and the chairman of the Central Broadcasting Station before becoming the propaganda secretary of the Workers’ Party. It is a key post that oversees all the propaganda activities in North Korea, and Kim Jong Il also served in this post before being named as Kim Il Sung’s successor in the mid 1970s.

Jeong, who was considered as one of the closest aides of Kim Il Sung, accompanied Kim every time he paid a state visit to China and even received the Kim Il Sung Decoration, the most highly recognized medal in North Korea at that time.

In fact, rumors about Jeong erupted in December 2005. Some media outlets reported that Jeong has stopped appearing in public since October 2005. There were no news reports on his exile.

Some sources said that he was imprisoned at a concentration camp in North Pyongan Province because his faults were revealed during an intensive investigation into the staff of Central Broadcasting who was caught drinking during the daytime.

According to the sources, Jeong was sentenced as “a traitor against the party and revolution,” and was ordered to be erased from all the records, including publications. In short, he is unlikely to regain his power since he has been completely shunned by North Korean society.

All these people were involved in the so-called, “August Clan Incident.” The names of the children of Kim Sung Ae, Kim Il Sung’s third wife, who fell from political power and Seo Gwan-hee, former agricultural secretary of the Workers’ Party, who was shot to death on charges of espionage, were also removed from publications. You can see black marks quite often on North Korean political books. In North Korea, it is a principle that if one is accused of a serious crime, his or her family members and relatives (father’s side: up to second cousins, mother’s side: up to first cousins) are also sent to concentration camps or deep in the mountains, as it happened in the feudal age.

The most common cause that North Korean committee officials consider as a serious crime is a drinking bout. Criticizing Kim Jong Il or the communist regime after having some drinks can not be tolerated in the North, and that is likely the case with Jeong. It is a felony to shake the regime. Recently, Joo Dong Il, a high ranking official in charge of electricity, was dismissed for suggesting to Kim Jong Il on a private occasion, “How about we use the electricity used for unattended guest houses all across the country for the economic sector?”

However, some analysts speculate possibilities of Jeong’s involvement in serious corruption considering that North Korea lavishly spend money to purchase equipment from overseas for propaganda purposes every year.

Choi Yong Hae, the chairman of the League of Socialist Working Youth and who prepared the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students, was also found guilty of grave corruption. Although Choi was dismissed, his name was not censured with black ink. Chang Sung Taek, a senior official of the Workers’ Party, was also blamed of serious corruption, but he was recently pardoned. Corruption charges are far more lenient compared to criticizing the regime or Kim Jong Il.

Jeong’s case is a good example that illustrates how insecure the power that top North Korean officials have once they lose the trust of Kim Jong Il. If North Korean officials are not cautious all the time, like walking on thin ice each day, they can be out of Kim Jong Il’s favor.

NK Secretary Jung Ha Chol Politically Banished
Daily NK

Han Young Jin

A rumor has spread alleging that a former secretary for the Propaganda Department of the Chosun Worker’s Party Jung Ha Chol (74) has escaped North Korea, reported the Donga Ilbo on the 27th.

A source told Donga Ilbo “Though the reason has not yet been revealed, North Korean elite officials have recently been erasing remnants of Secretary Jung in published materials” and informed “Secretary Jung’s face has been deleted from all photos taken with Kim Il Sung or Kim Jong Il.” In addition, Secretary Jung’s name is being erased from all written materials and sealed with tape, and materials directly written by Secretary Jung are being deleted altogether.

With Kim Il Sung’s May 25th teaching in 1967, “North Korea’s revolutionary culture” arose and excluding statements and instructions of Kim Il Sung, any foreign editions and all publications displaying anti-authority or conflict with Kim Il Sung were either burned or erased.

Hence, we can surmise that secretary Jung has already been purged from North Korea’s political arena based on the evidence that his photo and name is being obliterated from published materials.

Secretary Jung graduated from the Kim IL Sung University majoring in Philosophy and worked as an editor for the Rodong Newspaper and Head of the Central Broadcast Agency. In 2001, he became the director and secretary for the propaganda department which following the secretary for the Chosun Workers Party is the next best position. Secretary Jung was even selected as Kim Jong Il’s entourage on his visit to China and was even awarded the Kim Il Sung honorary medal.

However, in December 2005 inspectors discovered one of Secretary Jung’s private parties held at a rural village during an agricultural supporting activity. In addition, there had been rumors that the First Minister for the Chosun Workers Party Lee Jae Kang and Secretary Jung had been in conflict. Whatever the unknown reason, whether it was Secretary Jung conducting parties, occurrences or comments made at the party or personal feuds, Secretary Jung was ultimately imprisoned at a concentration camp in South Pyongan, Buk Chang province.

The Donga Ilbo informed “Secretary Jung has been condemned as an anti-revolutionist and is being banished from North Korean society. His existence being deleted from all records indicates that his power will not be reinstated to him.”

“One the main reasons elite officials are ostracized in North Korea is for reproaching Kim Jong Il or the system at parties” and “It is likely Secretary Jung fell into this category” prospected the newspaper.

Another speculation suggested that Secretary Jung had been corrupted. As North Korea carelessly spends vast amounts of foreign currency on propaganda every year, it is possible Secretary Jung made a foolish decision.

However, even Choi Young Hae, former director for Socialist Youth League who swindled vast amounts of foreign currency while preparing for the 13th International Youth and Students Festival in 1989 did not get “deleted” from all publication but just simply demoted. This was the same for Jang Sung Taek who was once overthrown but his position eventually reinstituted. To criticize or compare Kim Jong Il or the regime is an enormous criminal offense. Hence, for Secretary Jung’s existence to be deleted from all published materials denotes that he could never return to the political areana.

Though there is no real evidence to prove that Secretary Jung Ha Chol has defected overseas, he has undeniably been obliterated from politics.

At present, Jung Ha Chol’s position as secretary of the Chosun Worker’s Party has been reassigned to Kim Ki Nam.