Archive for July, 2007

Lease of North Korean Embassy in Germany

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

Daily NK
Yang Jung A

The North Korean Embassy in Berlin has leased its premises of the building in order to pay for its expenses, the Sankei Shimbun reported on the 24th.

According to the newspaper, an 5 stories building, 8160㎡ in area was leased out by the North Korean Embassy to a total of 15 companies including a design company and psychology association.

The North Korean Embassy did not publicize any external advertisements. However, a Germany affiliate is apparently conducting all the paperwork at an office located at the entrance of the building, the newspaper informed.

During the Cold War, North Korea constructed a large scale embassy in Berlin for propaganda and ostentation like other socialist blocs at the time.

However, with the fall of East Germany and the amalgamation with West Germany, the majority of socialist forces receded including the North Korean embassy. Now there are only a dozen or so employees working at the embassy and 70% of the building vacant.

The area is on lease for 8 Euros per ㎡ which is considerably cheaper than other locations in the busy area of Brandenburg Gate which costs at least $10~15 Euros.


North Korea Concentrates Energy on Regulating Citizens during Provincial Elections

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007

Daily NK
Kim Young Jin

The North Korean government, with the approaching Provincial People’s Assembly delegate elections on the 29th of this month, stepped-up one level the management of citizens and regulation of cell phones.

Kang Ki Ok (pseudonym), a civilian of Hyesan in Yangkang Provicne, said in a phone conversation with the reporter on the 20th, “Nowadays, I am afraid to turn on my cell phone. The People Safety agents and the National Security agents inspect us with fury in their eyes. People who use cell phones during the election season are punished, so there are people who bury their phones by putting them into jars.”

The North Korean government, when the People’s Assembly election season comes around every four or five years, concentrates on regulating the society by observing the movement of citizens and examining the registration cards.

The members of the elections preparations committee, composed of National Security agents, chairmen of People’s Units, and head officials of each provincial unit, are ordered to strictly investigate illegal acts occurring in their regions and to control them. Illegal acts are punished at the end of the elections.

According to Mr. Kang, the outflow of information has been secured at the border region with the upcoming delegate elections, so concentrated cell phone regulation were carried out. Further, the control of the border has been toughened recently, so the escape fee has skyrocked to the North Korean currency of 1 million won (approx. US$1,075).

Another source relayed, “Safeguarding Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il statues and research offices have been toughened by inspection units composed of each organ and enterprise farming laborers. Further, they are making sure that historic places and vestiges of battle are not destroyed.”

This source said, “Youth Leagues have also organized inspection units and are regulating unemployed persons and are strictly making sure that juveniles do not watch South Korean dramas and listen to illegal CDs and South Korean songs.”

On one hand, related to election preparation, each city, district, and county candidates were posted at the election site and citizens over 17 have gone into preparations such as conducting voter registrations through the election committee.

The source also relayed that the People’s Safety Agency have actively stepped up inspections by summoning civilians who have gone out to foreign sites to catch clam and mine gold for survival.

When the movement of the North Korean authorities to strengthen the solidarity of the regime was presented through this election, the citizens, in fear of being punished as trial cases, have produced a cautious atmosphere.”

At the time of the Supreme People’s Assembly elections in 2003, when thefts or acts of violence occurred, perpetrators were stringently punished regardless of whether or not they were members of the Workers’ Party. Further, in the case that teenagers got into fist fights, the parents were disciplined and jointly held responsible.

Mr. Kim, who defected in 2006, said, “At the time of the 1991 provincial elections, in the province where we were living, teenagers got into a fist fight. One of the gangs who started the fight accused the opponent of “stirring a political event destroying elections” and went to the parents and got compensation for damages by threatening them.”


DPRK Emphasizes Training International Financial Experts

Monday, July 23rd, 2007

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
NK Brief No. 07-7-23-1

North Korea is calling for training for financial specialists in order to protect against the pitfalls of credit transactions and currency exchanges. In a recently acquired copy of the latest issue of the North’s economic journal, “Economy Research”(2007, no.2), ‘bank risk’, the term applied to the hazard of potential losses, was explained in detail, stating, “In order to strengthen the improvements made in foreign currency trading, an important issue is that banks, such as the Trade Bank, dealing with overseas debts identify and thoroughly resolve potential threats.”

It is especially exceptional that the North Korean journal fully introduced the bank risk involved in financial transactions within a market-based economic system. This issue also reported on the events of May 20, when movement toward a resolution to the issue of frozen DPRK accounts in the Delta Banco Asia took place.

The journal divided ‘bank risk’ into three categories, ‘finance risk’, ‘credit risk’, and ‘management risk’. Finance risk was defined as, “the risk that a variety of changes within capitalist financial markets could carry with them adverse effects”. Further on, finance risk was divided into ‘foreign exchange risk’ caused by fluctuations in exchange rates, and ‘interest risk’ driven by changing interest rates.

In addition, “Economy Research” also carried pieces on rational management of the banking management system, subjective evaluation of bank risk, and establishing a strategy for preventing bank risk. “The outcome of [strategy for] prevention of bank risk rests entirely on the quality, skill, and roles of workers responsible for bank administration.”

The journal also stressed that even though quality information resources and materials on financial data are available, “if the quality and skill of workers in the banking sector cannot be raised,” then bank risk cannot be understood, analyzed, or evaluated, and an appropriate strategy cannot be implemented. “When workers constantly improve their quality and turn their attention to preventing bank risk…then an appropriate strategy can be set up.”

In one article, training in international financial transactions was called for, with the journal printing, “Even though today’s workers know how to use modern information resources and include financial experts with foreign language skills, they need to be well versed in the changing modern banking sector and international financial transactions.” From the 2002 “Foreign Investor Banking Law’ to last year’s ‘Commercial Banking Law’, established to stimulate private-sector financial transactions, North Korea continues to tweak its financial system. 


‘Daean’ System and Economic Reforms

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

Korea Times
Andrei Lankov

When the North Korean leaders began their rather limited and controversial economic reforms in 2002, one aspect of the reform package did not attract particular attention overseas. It was declared that the CEO of a state-run factory would henceforth manage its activity directly. To Western ears, this sounded rather unremarkable, but North Koreans instantly understood that this meant the abolition of the Daean system. For decades this system was lauded as a unique invention of Kim Il-sung’s managerial genius _ and now it was over.

The system was introduced in the early 1960s, after some earlier experiments. The Daean Heavy Equipment Factory, not far from Pyongyang, served as the major testing ground, and it was the place where, in December 1961, Kim Il-sung gave his August approval to the system.

The Daean system was unusual indeed. The management of a factory was to be conducted in a collegial manner by the “factory management committee”. This committee was presided over, however, not by the company CEO, but by its party secretary. Taking into consideration that most North Korean committees are hardly anything but advisory bodies for their chairpersons, this meant that the daily management of a factory was to be done by its party secretary.

This was a break with the then established communist tradition. In fellow communist countries, the situation was different: while at the national level the party’s primacy was undisputed, it seldom bothered itself with micro-management of daily production. Typically for a communist country, a party secretary at factory level was a sort of priest-like figure, dealing with political education and moral guidance of the personnel rather than with the management of production.

Why did the North Koreans make such a break with tradition? First of all, we must not exaggerate the significance of this break: after all, it did not really matter whether a particular CEO was officially considered a “director” or a “party secretary”. Their background would be roughly the same nonetheless.

However, the introduction of the Daean system had some symbolic meaning. Since the ruling Party was meant to symbolize the “politics,” such that the promotion of its local representative was supposed to drive home the primacy of “politics” over everything else.

Indeed, the North Korean drive to industrialize in the 1950s and 1960s was achieved with a remarkable disregard for the economic incentives, and even rudimentary use of the market economy. In this regard, North Korea once again “out-Stalined” Stalin himself. In the USSR, large premiums and other material benefits were reserved for the most efficient workers. In Kim’s North Korea _ like Mao’s China _ the workers were supposed to work hard largely because of their ideological devotion. A popular slogan insisted: “We must sacrifice ourselves for the sake of the country!” People were required to work long hours, give up their days off, and ignore safety requirements for the sake of an increase in output. The party was responsible for encouraging this _ and thus its representative became the top supervisor under the Daean system.

It is easy to blame Pyongyang for its disregard of human lives and sufferings. However, did it have a choice? Perhaps, but not likely. In the impoverished North Korea of the 1950s, precious few resources were available, and these had to be saved for the most important use. Human lives were cheap and plentiful, while machinery was scarce and expensive. Thus, the choice was made, and then carefully wrapped up in fine-sounding rhetoric.

To an extent, the North Koreans themselves were ready to risk their lives in this mad rush for industrialization. They believed that a few years of frantic effort would create an affluent, successful, and powerful Korea. And many people were indeed willing to give their lives for such a goal _ a minority, perhaps, but a significant one. This enthusiasm soon worn out, but around 1960 it was quite real.

For a while it appeared as if the strategy worked. The North Korean economy in 1955-1970 was growing at the breathtaking speed of 19% a year. Then it was the North, not the South that broke the world’s records pertaining to economic growth.

However, the success proved to be short-lived. By the late 1960s the first signs of stagnation appeared, and by 1980 the Northern economy was lagging hopelessly behind that of the South. Why did it happen? That is another story altogether.


U.N. relief agency considers stepping up food aid to N. Korea: report

Saturday, July 21st, 2007


A U.N. relief official said North Korea currently receives only a small portion of the food aid it needs and his agency is considering stepping up aid to feed almost 2 million more people, a U.S. government-funded radio station reported Saturday.

In an interview reaching here Saturday through the Korean version of the VOA’s Web site, Robin Lodge, a spokesperson for the World Food Program (WFP), said international relief agencies, including the Office of Food for Peace, recently gathered in Rome, Italy and discussed the possibility of sending the communist state additional food that could feed 1.9 million people there.

Lodge was also quoted by the U.S.-funded broadcaster as saying North Korea currently receives from his agency only about 10 percent of what it needs to feed the 7 million believed to be suffering from starvation.

North Korea does not release any official data on its food situation but many outsiders believe that more than 2 million people died when famine swept through the country in the late 1990s.

Good Friends, a Seoul-based relief group dedicated to North Korea, said in its latest weekly newsletter on Wednesday that a growing number of North Koreans died of starvation or hunger-caused diseases recently, especially in remote areas.

“Famine-driven deaths began to occur across North Korea in late June,” the report said. “In some cities and counties in the provinces of North Pyongan, Ryanggang, Jagang and South and North Hamkyong, the number of deaths is on the increase daily.”

The reports contradict widespread reports that the North’s food situation has improved significantly in recent years.

On Friday, Seoul started sending 50,000 tons of rice aid to North Korea overland as part of its promised loan of 400,000 tons of rice aid.

Over the next five weeks, the South is to deliver 30,000 tons of rice to the North via a road passing through the border town of Kaesong, while another 20,000 tons will be transported across a paved road on the east coast. South Korea is delivering 350,000 tons of rice to the communist country by sea.

South Korea resumed shipping rice aid to North Korea in late June after more than a one-year hiatus, as the North shut down its nuclear facilities in the first step toward eventual nuclear dismantlement.


FBI Holds Korean American for Spying on N.Korea

Friday, July 20th, 2007

Choson Ilbo (hat tip One Free Korea)
A Korean American businessman has been arrested by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation on charges of hiding his activities as a spy for the South Korean government, AP reported Thursday. According to court documents obtained by the wire agency, Park Il-woo, also known as Steve Park, was a legal resident in the U.S. for the past 20 years and conducted business with North Korea. Park provided information he obtained from his frequent trips to North Korea to the South Korean government in return for payments.

U.S. law requires anyone acting as an agent of a foreign government to register with the U.S. government and disclose the nature of the activity. The FBI met with Park three times to ask about his activities between 2005 and 2007. But each time, Park denied his contacts with or knowledge of certain South Korean officials. Park was expected to appear in court Thursday afternoon.

PR Newswire


Contact: Yusill Scribner of the Office of United States Attorney Michael J. Garcia, Southern District of New York, +1-212-637-2600

NEW YORK, July 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Park Il Woo, a/k/a “Steve Park,” was arrested today on charges that he repeatedly lied to FBI agents about his activities in the United States on behalf of the Republic of Korea (commonly known as South Korea), from 2005 to the present, announced Michael J. Garcia, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Mark J. Mershon, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Agents also executed a search warrant at Park’s Manhattan residence simultaneous to the arrest. According to the complaint and search warrant affidavit, incorporated by reference in the complaint:

Park, 58, a lawful permanent resident of the United States, engaged in conduct in the United States on behalf of the South Korea by, among other things, obtaining information from officials of another foreign government and providing that information to South Korean officials in exchange for payment.

For example, during a recorded telephone call, Park relayed to a South Korean official working in Manhattan that officials of the other foreign government had asked Park to help them obtain certain items, including insecticides and anesthetics. However, the complaint alleges, on three occasions in 2005 and 2007, Park gave false information to FBI agents regarding his contacts with or knowledge of certain South Korean officials.

For example, on March 20, 2007, FBI agents showed Park photographs of certain South Korean officials working in Manhattan, and Park stated that he did not know two of the officials. Park then drove directly from that FBI interview to a restaurant in New Jersey, where he met with one of the South Korean officials he claimed not to know.

Park is scheduled to appear this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis in Manhattan federal court. Mr. Garcia praised the efforts of the FBI for their efforts in this continuing investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer G. Rodgers and Stephen A. Miller are handling the prosecution.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaint and documents incorporated by reference are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice


No Changes to the Cost of Rice And Corn at Jangmadang

Friday, July 20th, 2007

Daily NK
Kim Min Se

A newsletter published on the 18th by “Good Friends” a North Korean aid organization claimed that “On average 10 people die of starvation throughout North Korea.”

However well informed North Korea defectors and North Korean tradesmen who travel to China refute the organization’s claim and argue, “It would be difficult for that to happen.”

The organization published in its newsletter, “Since the end of June, starvation has been occurring in each province throughout North Korea” and informed, “The number of people dying in North Pyongan, Yangkang, Jagang, South and North Hamkyung continues to rise everyday.” 

In particular, Good Friends stated, “In South and North Hamkyung, about 10 people are dying of starvation in each city and province” and “On the whole, the people dying are aged 40~65 years.”

“Though the cause behind the deaths is different for each person, most of the complications are related to malnutrition” informed Good Friends. They added, “A mass famine has not yet begun, however authorities and people feel the threat of the situation” stressing the urgency of North Korea’s food crisis. 

An affiliate of Good Friends said, “Presently, only 20,000 tons of South Korea’s food aid is offered (to North Korea)” and commented, “This rate of aid is too slow in saving the lives of the dying people.” 

However, there are criticisms against this claim. Some argue that Good Friends had excessively inflated North Korea’s food crisis. 

Choi Young Il (pseudonym) questioned this claim by Good Friends after a telephone conversation with his family in North Korea on the 16th. He said, “Even up to two days ago, I spoke to my family on the phone but they didn’t mention anything about a food crisis.” 

Moreover, Choi said, “Alleging that about 10 people on average are dying in the cities and province of South and North Hamkyung is no different to saying that nearly 400 people are dying throughout the whole region of South and North Hamkyung every day” and added, “In that case, this is similar to the early period of mass starvation in the early 90s.” 

“Only looking at North Hamkyung, most of the people living in the border regions live off illegal trade through China and though they may not be living well, I was aware that they got by without having to eat porridge” Choi said and remarked, “I don’t believe the claim that 10 people are dying of starvation every day.” 

On the same day, Hwang Myung Kil (pseudonym) a North Korean citizen who came to Yanji to visit his relatives in China said in a telephone conversation with a reporter, “I cannot believe the rumor that people are starving to death around the border areas of the Tumen River” and commented, “I haven’t even heard stories of more people starving to death in the mines and they live in masses around Musan.”

Hwang said, “Even amongst the people in Musan, there are only a small number of people who live off corn for three meals a day… Nowadays, people look for quality rather than quantity.” Further, he said “Though life is tough, people have found their own way of survival. It’s not to the point of starvation.”

If according to Good Friends, 10 people are dying on average due to starvation, this situation would indicate signs similar to the mass starvation in the early 90s. However, the cost of rice claimed by Good Friends clashes with their claim. 

When North Korea faced their mass crisis in the mid-90s, the cost of corn rose dramatically. In October 1995, 1kg of corn cost 16won, but this doubled to 30won. However, there has not been much change to the cost of food in North Korea.

According to a recent survey by the DailyNK on the cost of goods in North Korea’s Jangmadang (markets), 1kg of corn rice at Hoiryeong markets sells for 450won and 1kg of rice produced in North Korea costs 900won. 

More importantly is the cost of cigarettes. A packet of Sunbong, a North Korean brand of cigarettes sells for 1,000won and “Cat” cigarettes for 1,300won. The cost of a kilo of rice is still cheaper than a packet of cigarettes. 

If North Korea’s starvation was on the brink of a massive food shortage, then it is expected that the cost of rice and corn would escalate dramatically as an onset to the crisis. 

On the other hand, Kim Il Joo (pseudonym) a Chinese tradesman and expert on North Korean markets said, “I can’t say that North Korea’s food situation is smooth, but I don’t think it will get any worse than this.” Kim said “Now you can eat new potatoes and soon new corn will be available on the markets” and added, “Then, I think we will be able to get through another year.”  

Deaths from hunger rise across N. Korea: civic group


A growing number of people have died of starvation across North Korea since late last month, a South Korean civic group working to defend rights of North Koreans said Wednesday.

“Famine-driven deaths began to occur across North Korea in late June,” Good Friends said in a commentary carried in its weekly newsletter. “In some cities and counties in the provinces of North Pyongan, Ranggang, Jagang and South and North Hamkyong, the number of deaths is on the increase daily.”

In North Hamkyong Province, a daily average of ten people, mostly those aged between 40 and 65, died of starvation, the group added.

“The leading cause of death varied for each case, but most people are dying of famine-driven malnutrition and its complications,” the commentary said.

The price of rice rose steadily this month, with North Korea facing a crisis of massive deaths from hunger, it said.

The group then called on the Seoul government and the international community to send more emergency food aid to help North Koreans, especially through the just-reconnected cross-border railways.

In mid-May, the two Koreas conducted the historic test of the railways, reconnected for the first time since the 1950-53 Korean War. But it remains unclear when regular train service might start.


North Korea Tech Transfer

Friday, July 20th, 2007

Wall Street Journal
Melanie Kirkpatrick

Of all the evidence turned up by the U.S. concerning irregularities in the United Nations Development Program’s operations in North Korea, some of the most disturbing concerns the transfer of dual-use technology.

As reported last month, the U.S. has uncovered documents showing the UNDP procured and delivered to North Korea in May 2006 technology that could be used for military purposes: global positioning system (GPS) equipment, a portable high-end spectrometer and a large quantity of high-specification computer hardware. According to packing lists and confirmation receipts, the items were intended for a “GIS” — geographic information system — project.

The equipment “is the type of technology subject to (U.S.) export controls,” says a spokesman for the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, which is responsible for issuing export licenses. So how did it end up in Pyongyang? It would seem more than passing strange that Commerce would have issued the requisite export licenses. The answer is: It didn’t.

U.S. officials, led by Ambassador Mark Wallace at the U.S. mission to the U.N., have spent a year looking into the UNDP’s operations in North Korea. Now, at the request of the State Department, Commerce searched its archives and found no record of any application for export licenses for the GPS, spectrometer or other equipment for the GIS project in North Korea.

Over the past 10 years, Commerce has received more than 200 license applications to export U.S. technology for U.N. projects in North Korea. Of those applications, the UNDP was named in a grand total of two, including one for software for the same GIS project that was equipped last year. That application was rejected.

Previously undisclosed documents show that the UNDP had been trying to equip the GIS project since at least 1999, when the application for an export license for mapping software was denied. Commerce cited concerns over the lack of safeguards in the project that could result in the software being diverted to the North Korean government and used for military purposes.

Yet seven years later, the UNDP procured and transferred sensitive technology to the same, unsafeguarded project — this time without bothering to apply for a license. And while there’s no evidence the UNDP went ahead and purchased the software for which it had been denied a license, that possibility must be considered, since GPS equipment is useless in such a project without mapping software.

The denial notice for “Case Number: Z177037” is dated Sept. 18, 1999. The “consignee in country of ultimate destination” is listed as the UNDP in Pyongyang. The one-page notice is written in prose that is clear and unambiguous: “The Department of Commerce has concluded that this export would be detrimental to U.S. foreign policy interests.”

The 14 items on the UNDP’s wish list were all classified “EAR99,” which means they are subject to Commerce jurisdiction but didn’t specifically appear on the Commerce Control List of items restricted for export. In discussions over the past several weeks with State Department officials, Commerce officials who examined the archives explained their agency’s decision to deny the export license. During the interagency review of the UNDP request, they say, questions were raised about whether the software would stay in North Korea after the UNDP international staff left and whether North Koreans would have access to the software.

Supporting documents show that the answer to both questions was yes. A letter dated April 5, 1999, from the software manufacturer that was seeking the export license on behalf of the UNDP, explains: “The project is supposed to be completed in three (3) years and the software will be left with the state agencies.”

Emails from the UNDP to Commerce offer further information about the UNDP’s security controls — or lack thereof. An Aug. 3, 1999 email from the UNDP’s Shankar Manandhar, in response to a Commerce query, says, “We would like to inform you that the North Korean nationals will have access to the computer in the project office in [the] presence of UNDP staff.” In another email, Mr. Manandhar notes that the software will be “utilized in the project office.”

The Defense Department recommended to Commerce that the application be denied. In a memo dated July 20, 1999, Defense explains that “These items could pose both national security and proliferation issues for the US and allies if diverted to the North Korean military.” Among the list of potential military applications cited are “planning a nuclear weapons infrastructure or missile launch sites.” And, “it could also be used for targeting.” In the end, as one Commerce official explained, since this type of mapping software can be used for military purposes, it was deemed to be “too great a risk of diversion.”

The Commerce official also says the case notes for the denial specify that several earlier licenses granted to the UNDP in North Korea had been conditioned in such a way that no North Korean nationals were to have access to the licensed items. Oh, really? Based on the UNDP’s replies to Commerce’s questions regarding the 1999 application, the official says that the licensing officer at the time believed it was “highly likely” that the UNDP was violating the terms of its previous licenses by allowing North Koreans access to licensed items. We now know — as confirmed by the U.N.’s preliminary audit of the UNDP’s North Korea operations — that the agency’s local staff were Ministry of Foreign Affairs employees assigned to the UNDP by the government.

It’s also worth noting the year these events took place: 1999. That is, the denial notice originated in Bill Clinton’s Commerce Department, part of an administration that was “conducting a one-sided love affair with North Korea,” in the felicitous phrase of Christopher Cox, then a Republican congressman closely monitoring Asian issues. On Sept. 17, 1999, the day before the issuance of the denial notice, the administration announced it would ease economic sanctions on North Korea. But approving the sale of sophisticated mapping software was a bridge too far even for the Clinton administration.

Since the U.S. went public in January with evidence of the UNDP’s lack of oversight of its programs in North Korea, the agency hasn’t exactly been forthcoming. At first, the UNDP denied that it had purchased dual-use equipment for North Korea, referring instead to “rice husk removers” and “plotters to help the [Korean] authorities more accurately produce maps for environmental monitoring.”

Next it look the line that the GPS equipment, portable spectrometer and computers delivered in May 2006 “do not represent state-of-the-art technology,” as Ad Melkert, the No. 2 UNDP official, put it in a June 28 letter to Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. An annex to Mr. Melkert’s letter describes the technology as “not high-end or sophisticated” — an assessment at odds with the representations of the manufacturers. Trimble, for example, maker of the GPS GeoXT Handheld sent to North Korea, describes its product as having “a powerful 416 MHz processor running the most-advanced operating system available.” Mr. Melkert says in the annex that the UNDP is investigating “whether the vendors [in the Netherlands and Singapore] were required to obtain export permits for these items” — which sure sounds like an effort to shift responsibility.

Since January, when the U.S. concerns were made public, the UNDP has pulled out of North Korea and the U.N. audit has confirmed extensive violations of U.N. rules regarding hiring practices, the use of foreign currency and site inspections. The latest U.S. revelations raise far more serious questions about the UNDP’s oversight. Under the most generous interpretation, the agency was negligent of its legal responsibilities to keep dual-use technology out of a country that is on the U.S. list of terror-sponsoring states. At worst, it deliberately transferred the technology, knowing it was breaking U.S. law and helping to strengthen Kim Jong Il’s military dictatorship.

These questions — and many more concerning the UNDP’s record in North Korea — highlight the need for an independent, external inquiry of the UNDP’s programs world-wide. The U.S. first went public with its concerns in January, after months of pressing the UNDP for more transparency. If anything, as the latest U.S. evidence shows, things are worse than anyone thought.

Ms. Kirkpatrick is a deputy editor of the Journal’s editorial page.


Int’l Red Cross to continue N.K. aid on containing measles

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Korea Herald

The international Red Cross will continue to help North Korea in treating measles-related illnesses, including medicine aid, the organization said Wednesday in its program update, Yonhan News Agency reported.

In the first phase of a joint immunization plan, the International Federation of Red Cross and North Korea campaigned to vaccinate 6 million children between 6 months and 15 years old.

“The DPRK Red Cross and the federation are contributing 10.2 million doses of vitamin A. The federation is also contributing 262,000 doses of ampicillin to health facilities in four provinces for the treatment of measels-related complications,” the update said.

DPRK stands for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, an official name of North Korea.


EU Rejects Inter-Korean Industrial Zone

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Korea Times

The European Union shunned South Korea’s request to include goods made in an inter-Korean industrial park in North Korea in a potential free trade agreement between the two sides, Seoul’s chief negotiator said.

South Korea launched free trade talks with the 27-country economic bloc in Seoul in May, only a month after it successfully concluded similar trade talks with the United States. A second round of South Korea-EU free trade talks began in Brussels on Monday.

“The EU side told us that it’s difficult for trade negotiators to deal with the Gaeseong issue because it’s complex legally and politically,” Deputy Trade Minister Kim Han-soo told reporters on the third day of the five-day negotiations this week, referring to the South Korean-built industrial complex in the North Korean border city of Gaeseong.

But the EU left open the possibility of a compromise, depending on the progress both sides will make in upcoming meetings, Kim said.

Before the second round began, Kim had expressed optimism over the Gaeseong issue.

“The Gaeseong issue is one of our top priorities. So we will keep pushing the EU to accept our request,” he said.

South Korea considers the industrial park, located just north of the world’s most heavily fortified border, to be a model for inter-Korean economic cooperation. About 15,000 North Korean workers are employed by 23 South Korean companies, producing garments, kitchenware and a number of other goods.

The industrial park is one of the prominent symbols of inter-Korean reconciliation efforts following a landmark summit in 2000 between then South Korean president Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

The Gaeseong matter was one of thorniest issues during the 10 months of tough negotiations between South Korea and the U.S., but the two sides made an artful compromise, allowing them to discuss the issue later, depending on progress in international efforts to dismantle the North’s nuclear weapons program.

Kim and his European counterpart, Ignacio Garcia Bercero, director of bilateral trade relations at the European Commission, are leading the negotiations to move a deal forward between South Korea and the EU.

This week’s talks were centered on the pace of tariff reductions on automobiles. The EU asked South Korea to phase out its 8 percent tariff on auto imports within three years, instead of the seven years suggested by Seoul. according to a South Korean delegate who asked not to be named.

Other potential sticking points in the negotiations are South Korea’s protective pharmaceuticals and cosmetics markets. In addition, the EU wants better access to South Korea’s services market, particularly for law firms and hospitals, Kim said earlier.

Some progress has been reported, as the EU agreed to soften its anti-dumping rules for South Korean goods.

“So far, talks have been underway at a pace that we expected,” Kim told reporters. However, he admitted this week’s negotiations were aimed at clarifying each side’s positions, rather than bargaining.

No discussion was held on the agriculture sector. South Korea initially offered to exclude some 250 agricultural products such as rice, pork and chicken.

Officials at the EU delegation were unavailable for comment.

The EU is the second-largest trading partner of South Korea, with US$79 billion in bilateral trade in 2006. Unofficial studies suggest a deal would boost the figure by as much as 40 percent.

A third round of talks was scheduled for September in Brussels.