Archive for December, 2007

245 N. Korean defectors sought asylum in Britain this year: report

Monday, December 24th, 2007


As many as 245 self-claimed North Korean defectors sought asylum in Britain in the first 10 months of this year, a U.S. radio station reported Monday.

A spokesperson for the UNHCR, Jennifer Pagonis, however, noted the British government needs to confirm whether they actually came from North Korea, the Radio Free Asia said citing a spokesperson for the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).


Liberation, War and Exodus

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Korea Times
Andrei Lankov

One of the most recurrent thematic images of the Korean War was that of the refugees ― crowds of refugees following the retreating armies, housed in tents and makeshift huts, undernourished, exhausted, depressed. These people easily caught the eye of many a foreign journalist, and pictures of their plight are remarkably numerous.

Some of these refugees were heading North, but much larger numbers went South. No precise statistical data is available, and this is not surprising. The late 1940s were an era of chaos and civil disruption. The closest analogue to the Korea of 1948 or 1950 in the modern world would be places like Congo where the poverty, corruption, and civil war nearly paralyse the work of government bureaucracies.

Thus, estimates of the 1945-1950 migration movement vary greatly. But all scholars agree that this was an exodus of great proportions. According to various sources, between 400,000 and 800,000 North Koreans fled to the South between the liberation of 1945 and outbreak of the Korean War in 1950.



Porno Became Widespread in `90s, Thanks to the Dear Leader

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007

Daily NK
Moon Sung Hwee


Porno became prevalent in late 1990s, first among party officials and it leaked out to the public. Nude or bikini-worn women dance in North Korean porno with music.

Such indigenous videos disappear as foreign-made porno being imported. The first consumers, and the largest now, are high-ranking officials of the party and army.

It costs 2000 North Korea won (approx. USD 1 =3,200 North Korean Wown) to rent a porno CD for an hour in North Korea. Even middle school students collect money to rent one.


Fake Underground Churches Established by the National Security Agency for Money

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Daily NK
Yoon Il Geun, Lee Sung Jin

Yanji, China — According to a testimony from a source inside the North, some underground churches operating in the North are, in fact, fake churches which take orders from the National Security Agency and whose mission is to unmask underground Christians.

“It was found to be true that the conspiracy department of the National Security Agency operating in the border area had established a fake church consisted of its security agents,” said the source to a DailyNK reporter on Monday at a private place in Yanji. The source himself is involved in an underground church within the North.

The source revealed a shocking reality, saying, “Some security agents disguise themselves as defectors and deliberately approach those Korean churches operating in China. From the churches, the agents receive money and bibles. Then, the agents establish a fake church.” The source added, “While taking money from the Korean churches in the name of financial support for missionary work, the agents devote themselves to hunting down domestic underground churches connected to the churches in China.”

The source said that he heard about the above-mentioned activities from an individual working at the National Security Agency, and such activities were an open secret among security agents.

“The received bibles are used as wastepaper and taken to paper processing plants, and the received money goes to the National Security Agency,” said the source. “The agent who told me about the agency’s secret activities said sneeringly, ‘The paper from the bibles is good for cigarette rolling paper,’” said the source resenting the agent’s anti-religious behavior.

The source said that the security agency runs the fake church not only to crack down Christians but also to make money. Many Christian organizations in the South provide financial support for pastors engaged in missionary work for North Koreans in the China-North Korea border areas. The source said that those security agents operating the fake underground church make a decent living thanks to the money they receive from the South’s Christian organizations.

“Unless the churches of the South tightly manage their supporting activities for underground churches and Christians of the North, their activities might end up enriching the security agents and causing harm to underground Christians,” the source said.

In the North, the act of missionary work is considered a felony, and individuals convicted of the felony are either sent to a political concentration camp or executed in public.

Todd Nettelton, director of news services with the Voice of the Martyrs, a US-based Christian missionary organization, said, “North Korean Christians defend their faith in the midst of oppression, arrest and torture by the regime.” The director said, “When these Christians gather together for bible study or worship, they have to be careful for safety. For instance, they form a small group of three to four people and cloak the windows of their meeting place.”

“Hometown,” a South Korean monthly run by individuals who were born in the North but displaced into the South during the Korean War, reported in its November edition that the North Korean authorities recently arrested Mr. Cho who was secretly engaged in missionary work in Dongrim of North Pyongan Province along with his mother and two younger siblings. The monthly said, “The remaining three family members trembled in fear and eventually took their life by jumping from the Dongrim Waterfall on October 12th.

In October, the US State Department again designated the North as one of “Countries of Particular Concern (CPC)” for the country’s persecution of religion. In fact, the North has been designated as the CPC for seven years in a row.

Every year, the US State Department releases a report on religious freedom in the world. The 2007 report said, “Although the Construction of the DPRK guarantees freedom of religion, there is no such thing in reality. The country’s situation of freedom of religion remained as bad as it was before this year.”


S. Korea’s president-elect vows cooperation for N. Korea, closer ties with U.S.

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Byun Duk-kun

Lee Myung-bak, almost certain to be South Korea’s next president, will likely continue engaging North Korea through economic cooperation, but the extent should rely deeply on Pyongyang’s commitment to full denuclearization, unlike his predecessor who has often been under fire for granting unconditional aid to the North, analysts said Wednesday.

Closer ties with Washington will also be prioritized by the incoming administration of conservative Lee, who has criticized President Roh Moo-hyun for alienating the U.S. in dealing with the nuclear-armed communist North.

The entrepreneur-turned-politician says he can and will increase the communist nation’s per capita income to US$3,000 in 10 years, if Pyongyang completely abandons its nuclear ambitions.

“There will be no immediate changes to the country’s North Korea policy if the North continues to move down the path of denuclearization,” Kim Woo-sang, a political science professor at Seoul’s Yonsei University and a key advisor to the president-elect for security and foreign policy, said in an earlier interview with Yonhap News Agency.

Under a six-nation deal, North Korea has to disable its key nuclear facilities and disclose all its nuclear programs by the end of the year in return for economic and energy assistance and political benefits.

North Korea began disabling the Yongbyon complex early last month, but has yet to make a full declaration of its nuclear programs amid a five-year dispute between Pyongyang and Washington over the existence of a secret nuclear weapons program in the North.

The nuclear crisis erupted in late 2002 when the U.S. accused the North of running a uranium enrichment program. North Korea denies having any uranium program.

Seoul has regularly provided hundreds of thousands of tons of food and other humanitarian aid to the North since the historic inter-Korean summit between then President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in 2000.

The Lee administration will continue to provide such assistance strictly based on humanitarian views, but economic cooperation between the divided Koreas will suffer significant reduction should the communist nation choose not to give up its nuclear weapons, Kim noted.

Further development or continuation of “ongoing economic cooperation projects, such as the Kaesong industrial complex, will be left to the market,” Kim said.

“The government will no longer try to encourage South Korean businesses to move into the industrial complex by providing subsidies and other benefits as it currently does, but will try to foster a better environment so the businesses and foreign investors will invest voluntarily,” he added.

At an October summit in Pyongyang, President Roh Moo-hyun and the North Korean leader agreed to launch various other reconciliatory projects, but Lee has said some of those projects will be subject to reconsideration.

Another visible change in policy towards North Korea will come in the way Seoul deals with the nuclear issue, the Yonsei professor said.

“Mr. Lee puts more weight on the six-nation denuclearization process than anything else, so the new administration will never try to take its own initiative or try to pressure China to convince North Korea to denuclearize,” he said.

While seeking more international cooperation in denuclearizing the North, Lee is expected to move closer to the United States, an ally Lee says has served as a capstone for Seoul’s security and economic development since the end of 1950-53 Korean War.

“The governments of Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun neglected Korea’s relationship with the United States. China and Japan are important partners, but the next government will be moving in a different direction, focusing on Korea’s traditional relationship with Washington,” Lee had said in September.

The 65-year-old Lee has also noted his administration may try to push back the timing of taking back the wartime operational control of South Korean troops from the United States, which is currently scheduled to occur in 2012.

“As Mr. Lee has repeatedly said, there will be no renegotiation of the transfer of wartime operational control, but the scheduled timing of the transfer could become very sensitive depending on security conditions surrounding the Korean Peninsula in 2012,” said Kim.


North Korean laborers to leave Czech Republic by year’s end

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Korea Herald

Czech authorities have stopped extending visas of North Korean laborers in conformity with U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang and all will probably leave by year’s end, officials were quoted as saying by Associated Press.

Czech authorities stopped renewing residency permits for North Korean workers on Jan. 25 in line with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718 adopted in October 2006 and laborers have gradually left since then, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

The sanctions are aimed at punishing North Korea for carrying out its first nuclear test, on Oct. 9, 2006 _ a test that prompted international condemnation.

Among other things, the resolution allows cargo to and from North Korea to be stopped and inspected for prohibited goods, bans the import and export of certain military material, and freezes the assets of, and bans travel by, individuals and companies involved in the country’s programs to produce weapons of mass destruction.

On average, several hundred North Korean laborers have been working in various clothing and shoe factories in the Czech Republic since 2001, the ministry said.

The laborers have been leaving the country as their visas expired and all were expected to be gone by the end of the year, said Katerina Jirgesova, a spokeswoman for the Czech foreign police.

While 331 North Korean workers were still in the country in May, only 134 remained on Nov. 27, she said. Police have investigated allegations that the workers were used as a source of revenue for the North Korean government, she said, but she added adding that no wrongdoing could be determined. The allegations reportedly were made by a former North Korean diplomat and a major Czech labor organization.

None of the workers applied for asylum in the Czech Republic, she said.

There do not appear to be many North Korean laborers in other parts of Europe. The Italian labor ministry said it did not have a program of this nature. Officials in Portugal and the Netherlands said there were no North Koreans employed in their countries.


Russian Railways Plans $100 Million Terminal in North Korea

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

Lucian Kim

OAO Russian Railways plans to build a $100 million container terminal in North Korea as the world’s largest rail company tries to create a land transport corridor linking Asia to Europe.

State-run Russian Railways wants to turn the North Korean port of Rajin into a hub capable of handling 320,000 containers a year for shipment across Russia to Europe, the company said in a statement distributed to reporters today.

The investment is part of a plan that originated in 2001, when North Korean leader Kim Jong Il traveled by rail from Pyongyang to Moscow to visit President Vladimir Putin. As the first step in linking the Korean peninsula to the Trans-Siberian Railway, Russian Railways is upgrading 54 kilometers (34 miles) of track from the border south of Vladivostok to Rajin.

Russian Railways will spend 1.75 billion rubles ($70 million) on improving the track, the company said. Another $100 million will be needed to turn Rajin port into a terminal capable of loading containers shipped from South Korea on to freight trains bound for Europe. The proposed terminal will be operated by a Russian-North Korean joint venture.

Delays over financing and feasibility have plagued the plan for an “Iron Silk Road.” Russian Railways Chief Executive Officer Vladimir Yakunin previously said the rail link to Rajin would be completed by the end of 2006.

The two Koreas opened regular freight train service across the demilitarized zone on Dec. 11.


2008 Olympics visit Pyongyang

Monday, December 17th, 2007

Olympic torch ‘going to N Korea’

olympic_route_map.gifNorth Korea will host a leg of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games torch relay, state media has reported.

The flame, which is due to pass through 22 cities in the four months before the Games, is expected to reach North Korean capital Pyongyang on 28 April.

Chinese and North Korean officials made the agreement in Pyongyang, said the official Korean Central News Agency.

A day earlier the torch is scheduled to pass through the South Korean capital of Seoul on its way north, say reports.

The torch, which will be lit at Olympia in Greece on 25 March, is due to cover five continents before the event begins on 8 August.

The planned 137,000-km (85,000-mile) relay route will include a trip to the top of Mount Everest.

The two Koreas have agreed to send a joint team of officials to the Beijing Olympics by train, as part of reconciliation efforts after their 1950-1953 civil war.

Coca-cola And Samsung Billboards to Appear in Pyongyang
Daily NK

Park Hyun Min

Coca-cola and Samsung billboards, viewed by the North Korean regime as symbols of “American capitalism” and “Imperialistic culture,” will soon be visible in downtown Pyongyang just on April 28, 2008.

The China-based Huanqiu Times reported that the Beijing Organizing Committee of the 2008 Olympic Games (BOCOG), the Chosun (North Korea) Olympic Committee, and the Pyongyang People’s Committee signed an agreement to cooperate during the 2008 Olympic Torch Relay.

Samsung, Coca-cola, and Lenovo (a Chinese IT company), three of the main companies sponsoring the Beijing Olympics, will be allowed to advertise their products by cars when the Olympic Torch Relay passes through Pyongyang on April 28.

The three companies will be able to distribute pamphlets to North Korean citizens, but the extent of the content of these pamphlets will limited to the history of the respective companies’ sponsorship of the Olympic Games. Outdoor billboards will not be permitted along the relay path.

Additionally, with the exception of Shanghai-Volkswagen (the official car company of the 2008 Olympic Torch Relay), car companies will not be allowed to reveal their logos during the event.

The upcoming Torch Relay marks the first time in Olympic history that the Torch will pass through Pyongyang. Fifty-seven members of the Chosun Olympic Committee, six representatives from the three sponsorship companies, one member of the International Olympic Committee, and four Chinese diplomats will act as torchbearers in the event.

The relay will begin at the Tower of Juche Idea. Sights along the route will include the May Day Stadium, Kim Il Sung University, the Chosun-China Friendship Tower, the April 25 House of Culture, the National Liberation War Memorial Hall, Pot’ong Gate, the People’s Palace of Culture, the Pyongyang Gymnasium, Kim Il Sung Plaza, the Chollima Statue, the Arch of Triumph, and the Kim Il Sung Gymnasium. The total distance will be 20 kilometers.

The Pyongyang leg of the relay will begin after the South Korean leg is complete. The Torch will cross the DMZ by airplane and will be run through downtown Pyongyang from 2p.m. to 8 p.m. on the 28th of April.


Wireless Comms, Internet in Kaesong Industrial Complex and Kumgang Mountain Tourist Resort

Monday, December 17th, 2007

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
NK Brief No. 07-12-17-1


North and South Korea are poised to allow Internet, telephone, and cellular services to be available in the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) and at the Kumgang Mountain Tourist Resort beginning next year. The 7th Defense Ministerial Talks opened on December 12 at the ‘Peace House’ on the South Korean side of Panmunjum, and at the meeting, North and South Korea reached an agreement regarding communications, transportation, and customs.

According to the agreement, Pyongyang has given permission for the use of Internet landlines and cellular phones in the two largest inter-Korean cooperative projects. However, while the South Koreans pushed for the inclusion of “mobile phones” in the agreement, the North insisted on “wireless telephone communications”, suggesting that they hope to use dual-use wired telephones rather than mobile cellular phones.

In addition, under the agreement, North and South Korean rail and road traffic will be allowed to cross the border daily from 7:00am to 10pm, with the exception of Sundays and official holidays. Currently traffic in the area is limited to 7am~6pm in the summer, and 8am~5pm in the winter months.

The two sides also agreed to new procedures aimed at simplifying customs inspections and reducing delivery delays. From now on, the two sides will exchange lists of goods being moved, after which time any specific good that is flagged will be inspected. Currently, both sides are required to supply a list of goods to be pass through the area three days in advance, and every piece is individually inspected, complicating customs procedures.

The agreement was signed ROK Defense Minister Kim Jang-soo and Kim Il-chul, minister of the DPRK People’s Armed Forces, and went into effect on December 13. With this agreement, exchange and cooperation in the KIC and Kumgang Mountain resort are expected to even more actively grow.


N. Korean airline to be used to ferry S. Korean tourists to Mt. Paektu

Sunday, December 16th, 2007


North Korea’s state-run airline is likely to be used to ferry South Korean tourists to the North’s Mount Paektu, a government official said Sunday.

The official, who declined to be identified, said Air Koryo planes may be used to carry tourists, owing to concerns about safety related to Samjiyeon Airport, about 30 kilometers southeast of the mountain.

He did not elaborate on the nature of safety concerns, but said it may be inappropriate for South Korean flag carriers like Korean Air and Asiana to use the airport.

Tours to the 2,744-meter-high mountain, held sacred by many Koreans, are the result of the summit meeting between South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in early October.

He added that flights would probably use Seoul’s Gimpo International Airport, fly over Gangwon Province, head out into the East Sea before turning north toward Mount Paektu, on the North Korea-Chinese border.

The official said Gimpo has been selected as it can easily handle greater numbers of people than provincial air terminals, and the high level of airport security that can be maintained.

Hyundai Asan, which is responsible for organizing tours to North Korea, said direct flights linking Gimpo and Mount Paektu should begin in May, 2008.

The company currently organizes tours to Mount Geumgang on the east coast, and the historic city of Kaesong just north of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas on the west coast.