Archive for September, 2007

Control of North Korean Civilian Migration Begins for the Summit

Friday, September 28th, 2007

Daily NK
Kwon Jeong Hyun

With the 2nd Inter-Korea Summit Talks coming up in five days in Pyongyang, the North Korean authorities have officially begun regulations of civilian migrations.

An inside source in North Korea said in a phone conversation on the 27th, “Control of civilians have become significantly toughened due to events of national importance, so the top (government) has completely limited travel permit approval numbers of average civilians to Pyongyang and the border regions.”

People’s Units’ chairs are in the midst of temporarily working on a reporting system which analyzes the data of civilian migrations and daily reports them to the security office.

North Korea still requires travel permits for moves to other regions from the place of residence. The inspection of permits becomes even more difficult when public transportation such as rails are used.

In particular, entry into Pyongyang, Yongbyun (nuclear power plants), Hwadaegun (Musoodan rocket launching site), and the northern border unit requires special travel permissions that are different from normal permits. For these special regions, an approval number, which signifies “special business,” is needed.

After the March of Tribulation, incidents of the Safety Agents issuing travel permits after receiving bribes were rampant, but recently, the regulation of such permits and travel restrictions on special regions have become more stringent. Restrictions on the issue of travel permits have significantly increased since the Local People’s Assembly representative elections on July 29th.

The source said, “After Chuseok (fall holiday), the order restricting the issue of all border and Pyongyang-related permits was announced at the People’s Unit meeting. With the Summit talks several days ahead, meetings of key leaders have all been cancelled and all entry and exit prohibited.”

Further, he said, “The northern border region or other controlled areas are not exceptions. Money will not do anything when trying to attain travel permits. Due to the fact that the issue of permits, with the exception of deceased reports, has been completely disallowed in surrounding cities of Pyongyang, such as Pyongsung or Nampo, the discontents of merchants who are dependent on travelling are high.”

With restrictions on civilian migrations, the price of commodities at the Jangmadang (market) has also been raised. Chinese products have to be brought back from the North Korean-Chinese border region, but because travel permits have not been issued, the transport of goods is difficult.

For industrial products, if the border region lowers the price, then prices go up in inland regions such as Kangwong, South and North Hamkyung, etc., because Chinese products coming in from border cities Shinuiju and Hyesan, Yangkang are not able to move inland. The inland is the opposite. However, the amount of rice coming in from inland regions is high, so their prices end up hiking up.”

However, the source said, “This time, the management will probably end at one-time inspection because the South Korean President is visiting. The jangmadang price levels will not skyrocket.”

Regulations regarding private visits of Chinese through Chinese travel agencies have not occurred yet.

It appears that the North Korean authorities, in order to prevent accidents and events which could happen around the Summit talk period, have strengthened preventative means.

One source who is residing in Musan, North Hamkyung, said, “In order to ensure the success of national events, lectures for leaders, with the content of hindering behind-the-scenes maneuvering of enemies and accidents and events on a timely basis, are taking place. Strict disciplinary actions for those who divulge national secrets and illegal use of cell phone are being emphasized.”

The source relayed, “Border guards are telling smugglers, ‘Wait just a few more days. After the national event (the Summit Talks), regulations will be relaxed. The situation nowadays is that smuggling is self-restrained.”


Samsung, LG Likely to Expand TV Business in North Korea

Friday, September 28th, 2007

Korea Times
Kim Yoo-chul

Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics are considering expanding investment in the TV business in North Korea, according to company sources Friday.

Such expectations came after the government confirmed that Samsung Group Vice Chairman Yoon Jong-yong and LG Group Chairman Koo Bon-moo will join President Roh Moo-hyun’s entourage for the inter-Korean summit on Oct. 2-4.

Expectations have arisen among business groups that the second inter-Korean summit will produce substantial results in creating more business opportunities in North Korea, though big firms responded less enthusiastically than they did seven years ago.

“As our vice chairman will go to North Korea, we will start reviewing the North Korean business,’’ a Samsung spokesman told The Korea Times.

Asked about the possibility to expand production of cathode-ray TVs (CRT) in the North, the spokesman declined to elaborate.

But a source familiar with the situation raised the possibility of more production of CRTs.

Samsung began producing CRTs in the reclusive country on an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) basis since late 2000, the year then President Kim Dae-jung visited the North.

LG, which has produced between 15,000 and 20,000 CRTs in the communist state since 1996, is also considering expanding its TV business there in a long-term perspective.

“Nothing has been confirmed yet. But the issue is a possibility,’’ an LG spokesman said.

He said there will be more discussions after Chairman Koo returns from Pyongyang.


DPRK trade officials crack down on corruption

Friday, September 28th, 2007

Institute for Far Eastern Studies
NK Brief No. 07-9-28-1

Since early this year, North Korean authorities have been systematically implementing a double-entry accounting system to keep track of cross border trade with China, and as of late have been cracking down on private sales of goods imported under state requisitions.

It has become common practice for most traders to keep two sets of books, a private accounting record, and a set of records for government use. As these traders exported state goods to China, they would conspire with Chinese counterparts and make huge profits by recording lower prices than goods were actually being sold for. In many cases, bribes are taken to turn officially imported and exported goods (minerals, seafood, etc.) over to private sellers. These facts came to light through Chinese traders in business with North Korea.

Recently, however, investigations by the Kangsung Trade Company, operated under the supervision of the People’s Armed Forces Bureau, led to the conviction and execution of a foreign currency trader in Kangwon Province, Wonsan City and another from South Hamkyung Province, Hamheung City on charges of funneling company funds for private use. The crackdown appears to be because embezzlement and other forms of corruption are on the rise.

It was also disclosed that the foreign currency trader in Hamheung was accepting money from private business operators and using the company’s name to lend import and export quota chits. Inspectors raided the homes of the suspects and found large amounts of U.S. currency and gold, as well as no small amount of Japanese yen.

The human rights NGO ‘Good Friends’ reported in last month’s newsletter, “ After Oh Moon-hyuk, foreign currency director for the Chosun Fabric 88 Trade Company in Yunsa County, North Hamkyung Province, built a private villa on a plot with a good view, and purchased a Mercedes out of pocket, he drew the attention of General [Kim Jong Il] and was exposed. He was publicly executed in the middle of last July.” The NGO went on to report, “Every day young girls were called to the villa for his enjoyment, and security forces and police made it a point not to stop by the area near the villa often.”

Trade authorities in the area report that the crackdown on these violators has had no effect on DPRK-PRC trade. High ranking officials are aware of the abuse of authority to earn money, but had to some extent turned a blind eye to the issue. The crackdown is a result of the recent considerable growth in the problem.


Kim Jong-il agrees to U.S. troops: Kim DJ

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Korea Herald

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il would allow U.S. troops to be stationed on the Korean Peninsula even after the reunification of the two Koreas, former President Kim Dae-jung said.

During an address at the Korea Society forum in New York on Tuesday, Kim said the North Korean leader had agreed to the idea during their summit in 2000.

North Korea has repeatedly criticized the U.S. troop presence in South Korea and demanded its withdrawal. Some 29,000 U.S. troops are stationed on the peninsula as a deterrent against the North’s 1.17 million troops.


Do You Know the Shooting Game of North Korean Children?

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Daily NK
Moon Sung Hwui

What do North Korean children do during the Chuseok?

They are not sponsored with computers or theme parks so they enjoy things like a game of slap-match or hide-and-seek like South Korean children back in 70s or 80s. Through the starvation phase, the North Korean have invented a new form of play called “Ceremonial Game” and “Shooting Game.”

Kim Ha Yeon, a North Korean defector originally from Shinuiju, said that the play that is popular among the children even before the Chuseok is called “Ceremonial Game.” Even the North Korean civilians were surprised with the games of children mocking and playing out what the adults have done in such uncanny manner.

Kim said, “As the Chuseok approached, children went around the village, making a mound of sand like that of a tomb and imitated their parents’ bowing. They also imitate their adults sobbing next to their tombs.”

‘It got so bad that this problem was raised during the meetings of the People’s Unit and the parents were told to take better care and control of their children from playing amiss games.”

Ceremonial Play: Making Tombs and Sobbing

It is not uncertain when this play was initiated. However, the reason why this ceremonial play was invented cannot be linked to the action of directly linking this as the culture of visits to ancestral graves.

Kim said, “It is sad that the children are making a death-ceremony into a type of a game – after they watched citizens die of starvation in mid 1990s.”

The games that North Koreans play are not just the Ceremonial Play. They also made a game out of the public persecution called “Shooting Game” in 2000.

The story told by Cho Kyung Cheol (pseudonym), a North Korean defector from Hyesan, Yangkang is quite shocking.

“One day I was coming home from work and I saw a row of children lined up next to the garage of our apartment. I thought they were playing hide and seek or something. But in front of those kids, there were 3 kids holding sticks. I saw these children hold the sticks between their armpits and take a shot, and in the mouths of these children, they shouted, ‘bang bang bang’ and each and every one of the children would fall. I utter shock, I screamed, “You rascals!” and they ran like their tails were on fire.”

Massive Group Execution Popular Among the Children

“At the moment, the parents shouted and the passing by elders clicked their tongues. The adults were surprised- even though the situation was quite harsh it was to their disbelief that children would make a play out of execution. When he told his colleagues after he went to work the next day, his colleagues said that the execution game has been popular among children for a long time and laughed at him instead.”

According to the inside source residing in North Pyongan said through the text message with the reporter on 19th that, “Even the children play the shooting game. Because the gun shooting is so rampant, it just happens.”

The shooting game has begun to take its toll from 1998 to 2002 when the North Korean National Security Agency initiated nationwide group executions.

North Korea has always had public executions since its establishment but the executions have been a frequent occurrence since the March of Tribulation, the mid-1990s’ famine. Kim Jong Il initiated an official order of “Ring the Gunfire” on June 1995 and initiated the reign of terror through the usage of public execution.

However, the public execution that took place in 1998 to 2002 was different from that of just taking down 2-3 people at once by the Social Safety Agency. According ot the witnesses, the NSA lined up 10 or more people and shoot them.

Back then, the popular shooting game among the children was quite a shock to the elderly generation. This kind of play was notified internally to Pyongyang and was told, strictly, to stop this from reoccurring.

Through the meetings of People’s Unit, the indoctrination content included “a ban of unrealistic games among the children.” However, it is the general opinion and consensus of the North Koreans that this shooting game will not disappear in the condition where the public execution still continues and no other game culture develops for these children. 


North Korea: Illegal Exporting of Weapons to Sri Lanka Guerilla Groups

Thursday, September 27th, 2007

Daily NK
Namgung Min

The Sankei Shimbun reported on the 26th that a smuggling vessel containing North Korean weapons have been caught on their way to illegally entering Sri Lanka.

According to the Sankei, the Sri Lanka navy arrested the vessel containing the 68 automatic rifles manufactured by the Munitions Industry Department (No. 99 Department) of the Worker’s Party that was leaving from Chonjin to Sri Lanka.

The Sankei announced that when the Sri Lanka navy tried to capture the smuggling vessel on October in 2006 and February this year, the smuggling vessel opened fire so the Sri Lankan navy shot them down. On March in 2007, the Sri Lankan navy took the North Korean vessel near the shore and confiscated the North Korean weapons and arrested the captains.

Furthermore, the newspaper revealed that there was no sign implying the nationality but it was identified as North Korean due to the confiscated weapons which were identified by the former North Korean military men who defected to South Korea.

It was announced that the North Korean machine guns and antitank guns were planned to be passed over to the Anti-government guerrilla groups named the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka.

The U.S. appointed LTTE as a foreign terrorist group in 1997 and the EU also appointed the LTTE as a terrorist organization in April, 2007.

According to the newspaper, the Sri Lankan government conducted investigation and came to a conclusion that a Chinese weaponry company probably acted as an intermediary to smuggle the North Korean weapons to the anti-government guerrillas in Sri Lanka.

In regards to this incident, the Sri Lankan government raised complaints to the North Korean ambassador located in India and the Chinese government, but the both representatives are denying their relations to the illegal smuggling of the weaponry.


US Geological Survey 2006 Minerals Yearbook

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

Summary: For the next 4 to 5 years, the North Korean mining sector is likely to continue to be dominated by the production of coal, iron ore, limestone, magnesite, and zinc. Because of growing demand for minerals by China and the Republic of Korea, their investment in North Korea’s mining sector is expected to increase and to extend beyond their current investments in apatite, coal, copper, and iron ore into other minerals, such as gold, magnesite, molybdenum, nickel, and zinc. North Korea’s real GDP is expected to grow at between 1% and 2% during the next 2 years.

Other highlights:

  • North Korea ranked third in production of magnesiate in the world.  Its value-added product–magnesia clinker, which is used as a refractory metal–was marketed world wide. 
  • According to Corporate social Responsibility Asia (CSR Asia), North Kroea ranked virtually last in environmental sustainability in the world, despite the country’s enactment of major laws for environmental protection, such as the Land Law of 1977, the Environmental Protection Law of 1986, the Forrestry Law in 1982, and the Law on Protection of Useful Animals in 1998.
  • On the basis of North Korea’s industrial structure in 2004 (the last year in which data is available), the mining sector accounted for about 8.7% of North Korea’s gross domestic product.
  • Recoverable coal reserves in North Korea were estimated to total about 8 billion metric tons in 2006.  Coal production reportedly dropped to about 23 Mt/yr in 2006 from 37.5 Mt/yr in 1985 mainly because of outdated mining equipment and technology.

Download the full version here: USGS.pdf


US to Announce More Sanctions on NK Entities

Wednesday, September 26th, 2007

Korea Times
Jung Sung-ki

(UPDATE: On Oct. 23, [2008] the State Department blacklisted two North Korean companies, Korea Mining Development Corp. and Korea Taesong Trading Co., for violating U.S. bans on the sale of equipment used in building missiles or other weapons of mass destruction to Iran and Syria. Citation: “North Korean Plane Was Grounded at U.S. Request “, Wall Street Journal, Jay Solomon, 11/1/2008 ) 

The U.S. State Department is expected to announce additional sanctions on North Korean entities connected to missile proliferation, Yonhap News reported Wednesday.

Some of the entities are believed to be linked to the Korea Mining Development Corporation (KOMID), which was designated in June 2005 in an executive order for supporting weapons of mass destruction proliferation, it said.

The measure would come at an awkward moment as envoys from six nations _ South and North Korea, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan _ gather in Beijing from Wednesday for a fresh round of negotiations aimed at disabling and eventually dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and programs.

The U.S. Treasury had frozen some $25 million in North Korea-related money held in a Macau bank in late 2005, a punitive measure imposed as the six countries were signing an agreement toward denuclearization. That led to more than a year’s suspension in negotiations with the North.

The new round of six-party talks is already on shaky ground with suspicions that Pyongyang may have transferred nuclear-related material to Syria, prompting the unexplained Israeli air incursion into Syria earlier this month.

Tom Casey, a State Department spokesman, said Tuesday the new sanctions are related to missile technology transfers and downplayed possible negative repercussions on this week’s talks.

“The company that was sanctioned has been sanctioned previously for the same thing. So the net effect of this is really pretty minimal,” he said. “I don’t see…any reason why this should impact on the six-party talks.”

North Korea accused the United States of defending Israel’s recent airstrike against Syria, calling the strike a grave crime that undermines regional peace and stability.

The North’s main Rodong Sinmun newspaper said, “Israeli warplanes’ intrusion into the territorial airspace of Syria and bomb-dropping are an outright violation of Syria’s sovereignty and a grave crime that destroys regional peace and security,” according to Yonhap.

The North’s comments came days after high-level talks between North Korea and Syria. The two countries, which deny the allegation of a secret nuclear connection, did not provide details of Pyongyang talks.

Andrew Semmel, acting U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for nuclear nonproliferation policy, said earlier this month that North Koreans were in Syria, and that Syria might have had contacts with “secret suppliers” to obtain nuclear equipment.

Semmel did not identify the suppliers. However, he said he could not exclude the possibility that a nuclear black-market network, run by the disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan, might have been involved.

Semmel’s comments raised speculation that an alleged Sept. 6 Israeli incursion into Syrian airspace was a strike targeting a nuclear installation. U.S. officials have said Israeli warplanes struck a target. One U.S. military officer said the strike was aimed at weapons being shipped to Hezbollah militants in Lebanon.


Oppressive regime’s ID cards pave path to liberty

Monday, September 24th, 2007

Joong Ang Daily
Jeon Jin-bae

North Korean resident identification cards have become a hot item on the black market in China for ethnic Koreans who want to live in Europe.

Mr. Kim, an ethnic Korean man from China, moved to Paris last year and obtained a resident permit from the French government a few months ago allowing him to stay in the country for 10 years. He asked not to be identified by his full name, because he obtained his permit illegally.

His resident permit states that he is a North Korean refugee and identifies him as a North Korean citizen, not a Chinese national. Kim said he purchased a North Korean resident’s ID card and pretended to be a refugee from China when he sought asylum in France.

Kim said he is not alone. “At least 100 people have sought refugee status in the last year using the same means,” he said.

According to other ethnic Koreans in China, North Korean IDs were traded in cities near the China-North Korea border, such as Yanbian and Dandong. The prices range between 1,000 yuan and 1,500 yuan ($134 to $199), they said.

“As far as I know, there are many North Koreans who want to sell their IDs,” said an ethnic Korean who lives in China.

North Koreans who manage to escape to China are anxious to sell their IDs, because they are afraid of being captured, identified as North Korean and then send back to their homeland.

According to sources, ethnic Koreans who want to live in Europe prearrange their trips through middlemen who transport them through China’s Shenzhen Province to Hong Kong.

From there they fly to Thailand and meet with South Korean middlemen who provide fake South Korean passports.

Using these documents, the ethnic Koreans will often fly to Switzerland and then move to the country of their destination, often France or Italy, via overland routes.

Reaching Europe is seen as being more than half way to success, sources said, because the process of seeking refugee status is relatively simple.

In France, immigrants only have to submit an application along with a North Korean ID card to qualify. The French government then provides a temporary three-month residence permit, which is extended until a final decision is made.

Four months after applying for refugee status an interview will take place. A French official who speaks Korean will question the applicant, but most ethnic Koreans are well prepared to pass this simple screening, the sources said.

Europe is a popular destination because it only costs 10,000 euros for a Korean-Chinese to buy refugee status and various organizations often provide them with extra protection and assistance.


North Korea says Typhoon Wipha destroyed 107,910 hectares of crop field

Monday, September 24th, 2007


Heavy rains caused by last week’s typhoon have destroyed some 107,910 hectares of crop field in North Korea, the country’s state media reported Monday.

Many parts of southwestern North Korea, including its capital Pyongyang, were flooded, leaving at least 14,000 homes and 8,000 buildings submerged or damaged from rains spawned by Typhoon Wipha, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. However, it didn’t report on possible human casualties.

Last month, North Korea was hit by its heaviest rainfall in 40 years, leaving some 600 people dead or missing and about 100,000 people homeless.

“Many parts of road destroyed in August were repaired in a short time, but some 90 bridges and roads were buried or destroyed again by heavy rains last week,” KCNA said.

In the southwestern part of North Korea such as South Hwanghae, North Hwanghae, South Pyongan provinces and Pyongyang, the total rain from Sept. 18-21 averaged between 250 millimeters and 470 millimeters, KCNA reported.

The floods in August damaged some 200,000 hectares of farmland in North Korea, according to KCNA report on Aug. 26.