Archive for November, 2010

ROK sentenced DPRK spy

Friday, November 12th, 2010

According to Yonhap:

A former North Korean spy accused of collecting information on defectors from the communist state was sentenced Friday to five years in jail.

Prosecutors had charged the 63-year-old defendant, identified only by his surname Han, with handing over information about North Korean defectors to Pyongyang’s agents from 1996 until recently.

The Seoul Central District Court said harsh punishment was required in this case because if the court were to be lenient, “there may be other crimes and North Korea may try to take advantage.”

It said that there was consideration, however, for the fact that the defendant committed the crime out of longing for the family he left behind in North Korea.

The former spy from North Korea had switched sides in 1969 when he was arrested for infiltrating into the South on espionage missions. But the prosecution’s investigation discovered that he had been hired back by the North’s military in the process of trying to contact his family.

South Korea’s National Security Law prohibits its citizens from contacting North Koreans without government approval and engaging in activities benefiting the North.

Nearly 20,000 North Koreans, many of them women, have defected to South Korea as of the end of August this year since the 1950-53 Korean War, according to the Unification Ministry.

Read the full story here:
Former N. Korean spy sentenced to five years for espionage
Kim Eun-jung


Jo Myong-rok’s farewell ride

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

UPDATE: Using North Korean television footage, I mapped out Jo Myong-rok’s funeral procession route on Google Earth.

The procession began at the Central Worker’s Hall (home of the General Federation of Trade Unions of Korea) where the VMAR’s wake was held:

The procession then traveled west to the Potong Gate (near Sojang Hall where state funerals are normally held) and then north to the Patriotic Martyr’s Cemetary. 

Jo Myong-rok was bruied in the front row of the cemetary in one of the empty spots.

I wonder which two individuals will be buried next to him?  Judging from the satellite imagery, it appers this cemetary is being expanded for additional martyrs.  I wonder what the criteria are to be buried here.  

Here is the story in KCNA.

ORIGINAL POST: According to KCNA (11/6/2010):

Vice Marshal of the Korean People’s Army Jo Myong Rok, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, first vice-chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission and deputy to the Supreme People’s Assembly, died of an inveterate heart disease at 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 6, Juche 99 (2010) at the age of 82 to our sorrow.

Born into a poor peasant’s family in Yonsa County, North Hamgyong Province on July 12, Juche 17 (1928) Jo Myong Rok was a revolutionary comrade loyal to General Secretary Kim Jong Il and a prominent activist of the WPK, the state and the army of the DPRK who devoted his whole life to the sacred struggle for the freedom and independence of the country and the victory of the cause of socialism.

He grew up to be an able military and political official under the care of the party and the leader after the country’s liberation.

He worked for years at important posts of the party, the state and the army.

In the period of the hard-fought Fatherland Liberation War against the U.S. imperialists’ armed invasion he bravely fought as a pilot of the KPA for the victory in the war. He worked hard for the development of the air force, holding posts of squadron commander, group commander and divisional commander of an air unit and the chief of the staff and commander of the air force of the KPA in the post-war period.

Holding important posts as the director of the General Political Bureau of the KPA from October, Juche 84 (1995) and first vice- chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission from September, Juche 87 (1998), he energetically worked to thoroughly implement the Juche-oriented military line of the WPK and firmly guarantee the building of a thriving nation and the victory of the revolutionary cause of Juche with matchless military power.

He was elected alternate member of the C.C., the WPK in November, Juche 64 (1975), member of the C.C., the WPK and member of the Central Military Commission of the WPK in October, Juche 69 (1980) and member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the C.C., the WPK in September, Juche 99 (2010) and worked as a deputy to the Supreme People’s Assembly from the sixth Supreme People’s Assembly held in November, Juche 66 (1977).

He was awarded Order of Kim Il Sung, the highest order of the DPRK, the titles of Hero of the DPRK and Labour Hero and many other orders and medals including Order of National Flag First Class and Order of Freedom and Independence First Class for the distinguished feats he performed for the party and the revolution, the country and its people.

He received the title of vice marshal of the KPA in October, Juche 84 (1995).

An obituary of Jo Myong Rok was jointly issued by the C.C., the WPK, the Central Military Commission of the WPK, the DPRK National Defence Commission and the Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly on Saturday.

The obituary said that his death is a great loss to the party, the army and people of the DPRK waging a dynamic struggle to win the victory of the cause of building a thriving socialist nation and bring earlier the independent reunification of the country. Though he passed away, the exploits he performed for the party and the revolution, the country and its people will shine long along with the victorious advance of the revolutionary cause of Juche, it stressed.

On the same day, the C.C., the WPK, the Central Military Commission of the WPK, the DPRK National Defence Commission and the Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly announced that the late Jo Myong Rok would be accorded a state funeral and formed a state funeral committee with Kim Jong Il as its chairman and Kim Jong Un and 169 others as its members.

The state funeral committee informed the public that the bier of the deceased would be placed in the Central Hall of Workers, it would receive mourners from 10:00 on Nov. 8 to 18:00 on Nov. 9 and the hearse would leave the hall at 9 a.m. on Nov. 10.

KCNA also reports (11/8/2010):

Leading officials of the state and armed forces organs Monday visited the bier of Vice Marshal of the Korean People’s Army Jo Myong Rok, member of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, first vice-chairman of the National Defense Commission of the DPRK and deputy to the Supreme People’s Assembly, to express deep condolences over his death.

Seen standing before the bier of the late Jo Myong Rok was a wreath sent by Kim Jong Il, general secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army.

Also seen standing before the bier were wreaths sent by the C.C., the WPK, the Central Military Commission of the WPK, the NDC of the DPRK, the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK, the DPRK Cabinet and the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces.

Among the mourners were Choe Yong Rim, Jon Pyong Ho, Pyon Yong Rip, Kim Rak Hui, Kim Chang Sop, Ri Ha Il, anti-Japanese veteran fighters Ri Ul Sol and Kim Chol Man, and Kim Yong Dae, chairman of the C.C., the Korean Social Democratic Party, and Ryu Mi Yong, chairperson of the C.C., the Chondoist Chongu Party.

They observed a moment’s silence in memory of the late Jo Myong Rok and expressed deep condolences to the bereaved families of the deceased.

On the same day officials of armed forces organs including the NDC and the Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces, servicepersons of KPA and the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces, officials of the party and power organs, working people’s organizations, ministries and national institutions, working people from all walks of life, the diplomatic corps and the military attaches corps here and overseas Koreans visited the Central Hall of Workers where the bier of the deceased was placed and expressed condolences over his death.

Additional Information:
1. Michael Madden has additional information on the VMAR here and here.

2. The media is highlighting that Kim Jong-un has been named after his father as a member of the state funeral committee.  See here and here.

3. To see a satellite image of the Central Worker’s Hall click here.  This will be the first funeral to be held in this facility since at least 1996.  As far as I can tell this is the first funeral to be held there.

4. Most other state funerals are conducted in Sojang Hall in Potonggang District (Satellite image here).  See a previous post I wrote about the geography of DPRK state funerals here.


POSCO enlisted to assist DPRK defector transition

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

According to

Top South Korean steelmaker POSCO pledged Thursday to provide more jobs to North Korean defectors struggling to settle in their newfound capitalist homeland.

Under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed with the Unification Ministry, POSCO promised to hire more defectors at its “social enterprise” subsidiaries set up in part to help the underprivileged.

POSCO’s Songdo SE, one such firm, now employees 105 people from the needy classes of society, including 35 defectors from North Korea, and plans to increase the number of defector employees to 50 by next year.

The firm is in charge of building maintenance for POSCO Engineering & Construction’s new headquarters and POSCO Global R&D Center located in Songdo Free Economic Zone in the western port city of Incheon.

“What is most important for North Korean defectors is to help them to stand on their own economically,” Unification Minister Hyun In-taek said in a speech at the MOU signing ceremony attended by some 200 people, including the 35 defectors employed at Songdo SE and POSCO CEO Chung Joon-yang.

Chung said that Songdo SE will put priority on hiring North Korean defectors living in Incheon.

Since the 1950-53 Korean War, nearly 20,000 North Koreans have defected to the South to escape from hunger and political suppression in their communist homeland. But many of them have a hard time getting decent jobs due to their lack of South Korean-style education and social discrimination.

Read the full story here:
POSCO pledges to provide more jobs to North Korean defectors


Food and the winter of 2010-11

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Click image to see all the prices

According to the Daily NK:

Winter is a tough time for average North Koreans, with a number of demanding economic issues to deal with. This year, as the traditional season for making “kimchi”, the indispensible side dish on any Korean dining table, approaches, ingredient prices in the market are become a focus for concern.

This is only the second winter since the currency redenomination of November 30th, 2009. Since then, prices have fluctuated unpredictably throughout the year due to various economic and political uncertainties. As a result, the overall situation now is not radically different from the period of high prices before the redenomination.

According to one inside source from North Hamkyung Province who spoke with The Daily NK on November 9th, “Wealthy people will have already finished preparations for heating and kimchi by the end of October; however, those belonging to underprivileged groups have not even prepared the kimchi for winter yet.”

According to the source, Chinese cabbage, the core constituent of the most popular form of kimchi, was being sold for as much as 100 won/kg and white radish for 60 won/kg in the market in Hoiryeong in North Hamkyung Province in recent days. The core seasonings for many forms of kimchi, garlic and dried red chili pepper powder, were being sold for 3,800 and 4000 won/kg respectively.

On October 25th, 2009, shortly before the currency redenomination, Chinese cabbage was being sold for 200 won, white radish for 150 won, garlic for 3,000 won and dried red pepper powder for 7,000 won in the same market. Thus, many of the effects of the currency redenomination appear to have been disguised by price inflation.

For a family of four, 500kg of Chinese cabbage and 300kg of white radish is needed to see them through the winter. To meet that requirement in full would, at current prices, require 50,000 won for cabbage and 18,000 won for white radish. Add in the price of the seasonings, including salt and green onion in addition to garlic and red pepper powder, and the total price is close to 100,000 won.

Other aspects of winter life are no less problematic. Heating is one example. For a household burning coal, a couple of tons are burnt between November and March. Currently, the price of coal in Hoiryeong market is around 20,000 won per ton. Meanwhile, houses which are heated with wood need roughly enough to fill two ‘Seungli-58’ trucks, or approximately five tons. Such a quantity costs 50,000~60,000 won (7,000 won/cart in Hoiryeong) at the current market price.

Another key factor in a comfortable winter is vinyl for shielding houses against the winter wind. This is now selling for 400 won/m. Most North Korean houses have three windows, to which people living in North Hamkyung and Yangkang Province apply two layers of vinyl, meaning that each household needs ten meters on average, including that to cover the door.

Therefore, taking Hoiryeong market as the average, people need a minimum of 150,000 won to prepare for the winter. When the average North Korean worker’s salary is between 1,500~3,000 won, it is clearly very hard for most to endure the winter in comfort.

According to the source, “The conditions in a household are revealed by the amount of dried red pepper powder in their winter kimchi. An affluent family’s kimchi is red and appetizing, but an poor family’s kimchi is like white kimchi with a few pieces of dried red pepper powder on the top.”

Read the full story here:
The Chilly Economic Wind of Winter
Daily NK
Yoo Gwan Hee


DPRK eases China travel

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

According to the Daily NK:

A source has reported that the North Korean authorities are allowing ordinary people to visit China again, while claiming it as an example of “Kim Jong Eun’s consideration” for the people.

A lengthy ban on cross border visits was imposed in late August to cover the anniversary of the regime founding on September 9th, Party Delegates’ Conference on September 28th and anniversary of the Workers’ Party founding on October 10th. This has now been lifted.

The source said, “Visiting relatives in China has been allowed since the 5th.“ According to his explanation, the propaganda department of provincial committees of the Party held a lecture on the 5th targeting those requesting permits to visit China so as to educate them on things to keep in mind. During which, a cadre in one lecture reportedly claimed, “Thanks to the consideration of Comrade Youth Captain, private tours to China are to be allowed, and in future will progress in the form of state business.”

The National Security Agency is responsible for preparatory lectures for would-be North Korean tourists; the NSA makes them sign an oath not to reveal any national secrets, not to have any connection with South Koreans or Chinese religious organizations in China, and to submit items that they cannot bring back into North Korea.

However, the source sought to emphasize, “The propaganda department of the Party has carried this out this time in an attempt to let the North Korean tourists know that it is part of “Kim Jong Eun’s consideration.”

Additionally, the source said that the lecturing cadres were keen to encourage tourists to “receive actively and willingly help from Chinese relatives” and told them “there is no limit, so bring as many products and as much money as you want.” However, there was one limitation, “You should not meet South Chosun people or bring South Chosun products.”

The source added also, “The department demanded that would-be tourists offer donations,” saying, “Since the Comrade Youth Captain has done you a special favor, it is reasonable for you to prepare the necessary goods for local kindergartens, schools or other social facilities.”

Interestingly, the process of issuing passports, visas and permits has apparently been significantly quickened.

Normally, when a North Korean who has relatives in China submits an application form to a municipal or provincial office of the National Security Agency, the application goes to Pyongyang NSA via the foreign affairs section in each city or province. The NSA confirms that the applicant has relatives in China through the Chinese authorities, and then the authorities issue permits and visas.

Going through the whole process generally takes between three and six months. Of course, bribes are needed to keep an application moving along, and the process can be expedited depending on the value of the bribe.

However, this time the process, from submitting the application form to receiving the permit, is only 15 to 20 days.

Looking at the situation, the source added wryly, “Since the authorities are encouraging people to take trips to China and therefore tourist numbers will increase, cadres in foreign affairs sections of the local NSA will be in a favorable situation.”

Read the full article here:
North Korean Tourists Back in China
Daily NK
Im Jeong Jin


Panel report to UNSC under resolution 1874

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

Leaked version of the report here (PDF).  Thanks to a reader who apparently got it from Arms Control Wonk.

Information on the report below:

UPDATE 2 (11/10/2010): According ot the Washington Post:

The U.N. Security Council was preparing Tuesday to release a long-delayed report alleging that North Korea may have transferred ballistic-missile and nuclear technology to Syria, Iran and Burma, according to diplomats.

The 75-page report, whose release has been blocked for six months by China, an ally of Pyongyang, reinforces U.S. claims that North Korea has emerged as a key supplier of banned weapons materials to Washington’s greatest rivals.

A copy of the report was seen by The Washington Post.

The findings are based on interviews with several foreign governments, U.N. nuclear inspectors and news media reports.

Those accounts, according to the U.N. report, indicate North Korean “involvement in nuclear ballistic missile related activities in certain other countries, including Iran, Syria and Myanmar,” Burma’s official name.

Nonproliferation experts have been concerned about North Korea for years. In his new memoir, “Decision Points,” former president George W. Bush reveals that, in 2007, U.S. intelligence determined that Syria had built a nuclear reactor with North Korean help. (Israeli jets destroyed the reactor, after then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s request that the United States bomb the facility was rebuffed, Bush recounts, adding that Olmert “hadn’t asked for a green light.”)

In addition to voicing alarm over the reactor in Syria, the seven-member panel that produced the U.N. report said it was investigating “suspicious activity” by a sanctioned North Korean firm in Burma, as well as reports that Japan had arrested three individuals last year for “attempting to illegally export a magnetometer to Myanmar.”

A magnetometer – which has civilian and military uses – is one of numerous items that can be used in the production of a ring magnet, a component in a centrifuge. It can also be used in a missile guidance system.

An earlier version of the U.N. panel report’s findings was reported by the blog Arms Control Wonk. But David Albright, a nuclear weapons expert, said the report’s formal release will be important because it places a U.N. imprimatur on allegations by Western intelligence agencies and independent experts.

“It’s significant that they are saying it,” Albright said.

The earlier move by China to block the report underscores the country’s increasing efforts to prevent the Security Council from vigorously enforcing a broad range of global sanctions that have targeted key Chinese allies, and in some cases, turned up awkward evidence of Chinese arms in some of the world’s most deadly conflict zones. China recently sought to block the release of another U.N. panel report showing that Chinese ammunition has found its way into Darfur, in violation of U.N. sanctions.

Its decision to lift the hold on the report comes two days before President Obama is due to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao in Seoul, where the two leaders are attending a summit of the Group of 20 major economies. The United States has been the strongest proponent of imposing tough U.N. sanctions against North Korea in an effort to persuade the hermetic communist regime to curtail its nuclear ambitions.

China’s press spokesman, Yutong Liu, did not respond to a request for comment.

The Security Council expanded U.N. sanctions against North Korea last year and revived a moribund sanctions panel to ensure the enforcement of measures aimed at curbing North Korean trade in nuclear and ballistic-missile technology. China supported the resolution’s adoption, but it has voiced concern privately over the public disclosure of highly sensitive findings.

UPDATE  1 (11/9/2010): According to Reuters:

After months in limbo due to Chinese objections, a U.N. report suggesting North Korea may have supplied Syria, Iran and Myanmar with banned nuclear technology is heading to the Security Council.

The latest report by the so-called Panel of Experts on Pyongyang’s compliance with U.N. sanctions was delivered to the Security Council’s North Korea sanctions committee in May.

Normally such a report would be reviewed and passed to the council for consideration of possible action. But the report on North Korea did not move for nearly six months due to Chinese objections and its fate was unclear until Friday, council diplomats told Reuters on Monday.

The North Korea report should be published on the sanction committee’s website as early as Tuesday, they said.

The attempt to prevent the report’s transfer to the Security Council and release to the public, envoys said, was emblematic of China’s increasingly self-confident approach to international diplomacy as it seeks to protect states like North Korea and Sudan to which it has close ties.

Reuters reported in May that the report said there was reason to suspect North Korea — under U.N. sanctions for testing nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009 — has become a proliferator of banned technology.

The 75-page document, obtained by Reuters, said the panel was concerned about reports of “continuing DPRK (North Korea) involvement in nuclear and ballistic missile related activities in certain countries including Iran, Syria and Myanmar.”

Last week, China chose to keep silent when the sanctions committee asked its members — the 15 nations on the Security Council — if they had any objections to the report. That allowed it to formally move to the council.

“China has suddenly decided to allow this very damning report to go to the Security Council,” one diplomat said on condition of anonymity. “I think Syria and Myanmar were happy the Chinese were blocking it. Now China has other priorities.”

But China is unlikely to allow the report to be used for further sanctions against Pyongyang, envoys said.


China’s other priorities, diplomats said, include blocking a similar report by another U.N. panel of experts on compliance with an arms embargo for Sudan’s conflict-torn western Darfur region. That report, unlike the one on North Korea, directly implicates China by raising concerns that Chinese firms may have been violating the Darfur arms embargo.

The Sudan report has infuriated China, which for weeks has prevented the Sudan sanctions committee from passing it to the Security Council to consider the panel’s recommendations.

Sanctions committees work on the basis of consensus, which means each member has a virtual veto.

In its report, the Sudan expert panel said Chinese bullets were found at the site of attacks against U.N.-African Union peacekeepers in Darfur, although it did not suggest the government was in any way responsible.

It is unclear when and if the Sudan report will be published.

Diplomats said they had feared China was trying to put the brakes on activities of all Security Council sanctions committees overseeing compliance with U.N. measures imposed on states China is friendly with, like Sudan and Iran.

“Maybe China has decided not to block all sanctions reports and they’ve got to have some give and take,” a diplomat said.

While China has allowed the council to impose sanctions on Iran and North Korea, it has refused to expand the 2005 arms embargo in Sudan and joined Russia in vetoing a 2008 attempt by Britain and the United States to sanction Zimbabwe’s leaders.

It has also blocked all attempts to sanction Myanmar, a country the United States and Britain have suggested deserves to be sanctioned for human rights abuses.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Myanmar’s first election in 20 years on Sunday was “insufficiently inclusive, participatory and transparent.”

ORIGINAL POST (10/28/2010): (Thanks to a reader)  Here is the final report of the “Panel of Experts” to the UN Security Council pursuant to Resolution 1874.

I post the executive summary followed by a link to the PDF of the entire report.

Executive Summary:
1. On 12 June 2009, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1874 (2009) in which it requested the Secretary-General to establish a Panel of Experts mandated to: gather, examine and analyze information regarding the implementation of the measures imposed by the Council in resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009), in particular incidents of non-compliance; make recommendations on actions the Council, the Committee or Member States may consider to improve implementation of those measures; and, assist the 1718 Committee in carrying out its functions.

2. The measures imposed by resolution 1718 (2006) and strengthened by resolution 1874 (2009) include: (a) a ban on the provision to and the procurement from DPRK of nuclear-related, other weapons of mass destruction-related and ballistic missile-related items as well as all arms and related materiel, except for small arms and light weapons and their related materiel provided to the DPRK; (b) a ban on the transfer to or from the DPRK of services and assistance related to the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of the proscribed items; and (c) a ban on the provision of luxury goods to the DPRK.

3. Resolution 1874 (2009) also introduced a strong interdiction system, which calls upon all Member States to inspect all cargo to and from the DPRK in their territory and to inspect vessels with the consent of the flag State on the high seas, if the Member State concerned has information that provides reasonable grounds to believe the cargo contains proscribed items. A Member State discovering such items is required to seize and dispose of them. The inspecting Member State is also required to submit a detailed report on such cases to the 1718 Committee.

4. No official allegations have been presented to the Committee since the adoption of resolution 1718 (2006) concerning the provision of proscribed nuclear-related or ballistic missile-related items, technology or know-how to or from the DPRK. Nevertheless, the Panel of Experts has reviewed several government assessments, IAEA reports, research papers and media reports indicating continuing DPRK involvement in nuclear and ballistic missile related activities in certain countries including Iran, Syria and Myanmar. The Panel of Experts believes that special attention should be given by all Member States to inhibit such activities. Further study of these suspected activities by the DPRK should be conducted for a more thorough understanding of the facts.

5. The 1718 Committee has been notified, since the adoption of resolution 1874 (2009), of four non-compliance cases involving arms exports. An analysis of these cases indicates that the DPRK continues to engage in exporting such proscribed items. In these cases, the DPRK has used a number of masking techniques in order to circumvent the Security Council measures, including false description and mislabeling of the content of the containers, falsification of the manifest covering the shipment, alteration and falsification of the information concerning the original consignor and ultimate consignee, and use of multiple layers of intermediaries, shell companies, and financial institutions. The Panel of Experts recommends in this regard that extra vigilance be exercised in accordance with local norms at the first overseas maritime port handling such DPRK shipments or transshipments with regard to containers carrying cargo originating from the DPRK. The Panel also recommends that consideration be given to introducing procedures that, without overburdening international maritime commerce, would assure that onward transshipment ports are aware of the cargo’s DPRK origin so that they could also apply extra vigilance.

6. The Panel of Experts also notes that air cargo poses certain other issues and vulnerabilities. Difficulties involved in the inspection of cargo in an aircraft in transit and inability to subject direct flights to inspection leaves in place important vulnerabilities with respect to the implementation of the resolutions. The Panel recommends that consideration be given by Member States over whose territory such aircraft may fly, stop or transit, that efforts be undertaken in those cases to closely monitor air traffic to and from Sunan and other DPRK airports, and that cargoes to and from the DPRK be declared before over flight clearance is provided.

7. The Committee has also received two reports of seizure of luxury goods. There was a clear understanding in both of these cases that the goods involved were proscribed luxury items. However, such understanding is not always present. Most national implementation reports omit any mention of luxury goods. National definitions of luxury goods vary and associated national export controls are implemented in an uneven manner, which risks undercutting the effectiveness of this measure vis-à-vis the DPRK. To close these potential gaps, the Panel of Experts proposes in this report basic principles and important factors that should be considered in designating luxury goods.

8.The DPRK also employs a broad range of techniques to mask its financial transactions, including the use of overseas entities, shell companies, informal transfer mechanisms, cash couriers and barter arrangements. However, it must still, in most cases, rely on access to the international financial system to complete its financial operations. In structuring these transactions, attempts are made to mix illicit transactions with otherwise legitimate business activities in such a way as to hide the illicit activity. Therefore, the Panel of Experts underscores the importance of exercising extra vigilance to assure that financial transactions and services do not contribute to the DPRK’s proscribed activities. Special attention is drawn, in this regard, to non proliferation and anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) principles and guidelines published by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and to FATF’s Typologies Report on Proliferation Financing.

9. The Committee has designated eight entities and five individuals for financial (and travel in the case of individuals) sanctions. These few designations seriously understate the number of known entities and individuals engaged in proscribed activities, and are inadequate to the task of effectively inhibiting key DPRK parties from engaging in proscribed activities. No account has yet been made also to deal with those substituting for or acting for or on behalf of these entities and individuals. Thus, all Member States should be invited to provide to the Committee for its consideration the names of entities and individuals who are believed to be engaged in proscribed activities, and especially those that have been implicated in non-compliance cases reported to the Committee. Consideration should also be given to making sure that those entities and individuals that are already designated are not able to avoid the Security Council measures through the use of aliases.

10. Special attention is drawn also to the fact that a substantial number of Member States have not yet filed the national implementation reports called for in the resolutions. These reports are essential to an overall evaluation of the steps being taken to implement the Security Council measures and to ensure they are implemented effectively.

Here is a link to the full report (PDF).

The report is full of data and I have added it to my Economic Statistics Page (with many other great sources of data).  You can see them all here.


DPRK weapons scientist arrested

Wednesday, November 10th, 2010

According to the Choson Ilbo:

A senior researcher at North Korea’s National Academy of Sciences has been arrested on espionage charges, it emerged on Tuesday.

A high-level North Korean source quoted rumors that Kim So-in, who is believed to have been in charge of the North’s nuclear and missile development, and his family were arrested by the State Security Department and taken to the notorious Yodok concentration camp in May.

A math prodigy who received his doctorate in his early 20s, Kim was said by the state media to have been behind the supposed launch of the North’s first satellite — an event widely believed to have been a long-range ballistic missile test.

The source said Kim is accused of assisting his father Kim Song-il, a researcher at the Yongbyon Nuclear Complex, in delivering top secret documents on nuclear development to a foreign agency.

The security department is nervous because many senior officials in various areas are suspected of attempting to earn dollars by selling confidential information, with top secret documents about the regime’s nuclear and missile development being leaked abroad, the source added.

Pak Kyong-chol, an official in the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, has also recently been sent to a labor camp for spying, and Kim Won-bom, the chief of the Wonsan office of the North Korean military bureau in charge of earning hard currency, has been arrested after US$1.5 million was found at his home.

And a senior official at the Kumgang bureau of the Majon Mine has been taken into custody for stashing away $100,000 after selling confidential information in conspiracy with military officers.

Senior officials are trying to sell confidential information because of economic difficulties since the botched currency reform late last year and the Chinese government’s recent crackdown on drug and counterfeit dollar transactions.

The security services have been ordered by regime heir Kim Jong-un to look out for “unusually rich” senior officials, the source added.

Read the full story here:
N.Korea’s Chief Nuke Scientist ‘Held for Spying’
Choson Ilbo


KJU and the realignment of patronage

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

According ot the Daily NK:

The rapid ascent of Kim Jong Eun and the building of a new ruling cast in Pyongyang is causing ripples to be felt in North Korea’s foreign currency earning apparatus. In Beijing, it is clear that anyone considered a supporter of Kim Jong Nam or Oh Keuk Ryul faces a rough ride.

One of the most prominent cases is that of Kang, a pro-Kim Jong Nam foreign currency earner who has distinguished himself in various ways, including by installing air conditioning in the Mansudae Assembly Hall. He is noteworthy among North Korea trade workers in China, and was mentioned in articles released by The Daily NK in June on the subject of emergency inspections over North Korean trade departments.

According to the testimony of Kang’s acquaintances, Kang was supposedly summoned to Pyongyang in early July, whereupon he was violently beaten by agents of the National Security Agency. The alleged reason behind the summons was that Kang was guilty of embezzling national assets and corruption; however, trade workers in China generally assume that it was a part of systematically “taking care” of Kim Jong Nam‘s closest associates.

In North Korean diplomatic circles in Beijing, the general interpretation is that Kim Jong Nam‘s outspoken negativity towards North Korea‘s third generation succession has helped to bring trouble upon his supporters.

One Chinese building contractor, Jwa, who sells construction materials to North Korean traders, commented, “Kang pledged allegiance to Kim Jong Nam and received a lot of favors as his affiliate. But a battle between Kim Jong Eun and Kim Jong Nam is taking place, and trade workers are suffering.”

However, the more surprising fact was the return of Kang to Beijing in October. It is highly unusual for someone from a privileged office to be so severely “investigated” by the National Security Agency but then return to their former seat in a foreign trade office.

According to one of Kang’s acquaintances, this was down to the fact that he is actually the person in charge of the North Korean Liaison Office in Beijing.

One Chinese trader who has done business directly with Kang told The Daily NK, “Kang, who is well known as a famous trade worker, was really in charge of North Korean maneuvers for more than ten years while maintaining the identity of a trade worker. This fact has been confirmed through several sources.”

However, South Korean intelligence has neither confirmed nor denied Kang’s true role.

The North Korean Liaison Office is an organization said to be responsible for maneuvers against South Korea, and is thought to have pulled the strings in the South Korean Chosun Workers‘ Party incident of 1992, in which the largest spy ring since the liberation was uncovered, that of Kim Dong Sik, an armed espionage agent arrested in 1995, Choi Jung Nam and Kang Yeon Jung, an agent couple who committed suicide in 1997, the assassination of Lee Han Young, Kim Jong Il’s nephew, in 1997, and the 2006 Ilsimheo spy ring incident.

Mr. Kang also owns a well-appointed villa, recent sedan and VIP membership of the fitness center at a five-star hotel.

Generally, North Korean employees abroad have to leave one of their children in Pyongyang as what can only be described as hostages to loyalty. However, the testimony of Kang’s acquaintances states that he is permitted to live in Beijing with his wife, daughter and son, who has studied in England. This is due to Kim Jong Nam’s full support, an extraordinary level of operational funding and the superior status of a person in charge of a covert operation.

He has avoided being outright purged, despite the fact that he is an affiliate of Kim Jong Nam, thanks to the fact that he is the person in charge of operations against the South. However, other trade workers in China who are also affiliated with Kim Jong Nam are desperate to forge new connections in Pyongyang to secure their positions, and, as such, many seem to have been absorbed by the Jang Sung Taek camp.

Other overseas officials are also on the back foot. Not only are affiliates of Kim Jong Nam being called into Pyongyang, but affiliates of Oh Keuk Ryul, a Vice Chairman of the National Defense Commission who is also actively involved in bringing foreign capital into North Korea in de facto competition with Jang Sung Taek, are also being summoned. Oh Keuk Ryul was shut out of the recent process of realigning the Chosun Workers’ Party and has lost a lot of his former influence as a result.

North Korean foreign trade departments are a target of veneration within North Korea. However, trade workers must strive to preserve their status with bribes like supplies which are hard to find within North Korea or large amounts of money. Now the dynamic is changing, so it is proving difficult to preserve their desirable positions.

Read the full story here:
Traders Living in Fear of Pyongyang Summons
Daily NK
Shin Joo-hyun


Koryolink subscriptions increase

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Martyn Williams writes in PC World:

Koryolink, the operator of North Korea’s only 3G cellular network, saw a big jump in subscribers during the third quarter as its network was expanded to cover more of the country.

The company ended September with 301,199 subscribers, a jump of 63 percent in just three months, according to Orascom Telecom. The Egyptian company owns a three-quarter stake in Koryolink.

Quarterly revenue of US$18.4 million was a record while profit was $7.5 million, before accounting for interest payments, taxes, depreciation and amortization. Orascom did not disclose whether Koryolink made a net profit or a loss for the period.

A lot of the growth came from outside the capital city of Pyongyang.

Koryolink expanded its network to cover a twelfth provincial city during the quarter and added tariffs aimed at lower-income users outside of the capital. As a result approximately half of all new subscribers during the quarter came from outside of Pyongyang.

The push to broaden its subscriber base had an effect on the average revenue gained from each subscriber during the period. It was US$15.20 during the quarter, down from $21.50 in the second quarter.

In addition to the capital and provincial cities, the network now covers 42 small cities and 22 highways and railways putting a 3G signal within reach of 75 percent of the population, the company said.

Koryolink plans to expand the network further to 59 small cities by the end of the year. That would push coverage to 91 percent of North Korea’s roughly 24 million people.

Koryolink launched in the final days of 2008, so is approaching the second anniversary of providing 3G services in North Korea. It has one competitor, Sunnet, which runs a second-generation GSM network. Call quality is superior on Koryolink’s network and so it is attracting more users, according to sources in Pyongyang.

I have to admit I am surprised that Koryolink could generate $18.4 million in revenues in just one quarter–much less a $7.5m EBITDA profit!  There is no telling what the actual profit is, but no doubt it will be reinvested into the firm to expand service rather than being repatriated to Egypt.  Once the network is completed, we can expect costs to fall further and profits to make up a larger share of revenues, especially if the North Korean government keeps out pesky competitors as their agreement requires.

So now we know that Pyongyang, Sinuiju, Kanggye, Chongjin, Hamhung, Wonsan, Sariwon, Rajin, Phyongsong, Hyesan, and Haeju are covered by Koryolink.  I am also willing to bet that Nampho and Kaesong are covered. I will try to figure out which other smaller cities are connected.  It sounds like they are now moving out to the county capitals, but it would be interesting to know in which provinces they are focused.

UPDATE: Martyn Williams gave me a link to the Orascom financial reports from where all this data originates.  You can read them here.  He adds revenue, subscription, and pretax profit charts on his blog.

Read the full story here:
Koryolink Logs Big Jump in North Korean Cell Phone Users
PC World
Martyn Williams


DPRK cabinet discusses 4th quarter projects as Chinese participation grows in the Pyongyang International Trade Fair

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
NK Brief No. 10-11-8-1

North Korea held an extended meeting of the entire Cabinet in order to discuss the types of projects to be pursued in the last quarter of the year, and to strategize on how these projects should be implemented.

On October 28, the CHOSUN SHINBO reported on an article in the MINJU CHOSUN, which is under the control of the North Korean Cabinet. According to the article, efforts are being made to strongly construct the foundation upon which exemplars of the ‘military-first’ era will be erected. Production lines and facilities in all realms of the People’s Economy need to come into alignment with CNC, and efforts need to be made toward modernization, environmental protection, and reforestation. In particular, the Cabinet has pledged to decisively improve city management and restore socialism in cities and agricultural villages. Efforts will be focused on restoring socialist principles to economic management and ensuring that the centrally planned national economy is implemented.

The newspaper also reported that the North’s Cabinet held discussions on how to successfully fulfill all the goals set for the third quarter while creating a strategy to meet all of the targets set for the annual People’s Economy. It is unknown exactly when this meeting was held, but Premier Choi Yong-rim and other Cabinet members were all in attendance, as were city and town People’s Committee representatives, committee members from factories and farming communities, economic planners, and managers from critical factories and organizations.

As officials discuss economic reforms, the sixth annual autumn Pyongyang International Trade Fair was held from October 18-21, and it saw a greater Chinese presence than the thirteenth annual spring trade fair held last May. This could be the result of Kim Jong Il’s August visit to China. According to the newspaper, seventeen countries were represented by over 140 companies (48 from North Korea, 93 from abroad) — This was three countries and over twenty companies more than were at the spring fair. India participated for the first time this fall.

An official from the trade fair told the newspaper that the increased participation from Chinese companies was a direct result of Kim Jong Il’s recent visit to China’s northeastern region and the improved economic relations between Pyongyang and Beijing that came out of that visit. From machinery and equipment to steel products, electronic goods and light industrial products, food, pharmaceuticals, traditional herbal medicines and chemical products, over 57,000 products in over 2,300 different categories were on display. This is more than 600 categories of goods not seen last year.

Foreign companies participating in the fair signed contracts with North Korean offices for sales, technology exchanges, joint ventures, and investment opportunities, building on the ‘Introduction and Negotiations on the Investment Environment of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’ held on October 18.