Archive for April, 2011

DPRK seafood still available in ROK

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Accordign to the Choson Ilbo:

Clams and other seafood from North Korea are openly being sold in the South despite a ban on all trade with the North after the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan last year. Insiders say that is because customers prize North Korean fisheries products.

Some 30 vendors in the Garak Market and 20 in the Noryangjin Fisheries Wholesale Market sell shellfish from North Korea, including large clams and scallops. “We have openly labeled shellfish that come from North Korea because customers think they taste better,” a vendor said. “They’re between W1,000 to W3,000 cheaper than domestic ones but the quality is good” (US$1=W1,081).

North Korean shellfish have been brought into the South labeled as Chinese since the end of March. “Before the sinking of the Cheonan, North Korean shellfish was directly imported” labeled as North Korean, an official at the Seoul Agricultural and Marine Products Corporation said. “But since the ban on North Korean imports they’ve been imported through Chinese traders.”

According to the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute, demand for fish and shellfish from North Korea is rising in the South because customers shun Japanese seafood products due to concerns over radioactive contamination, while there are suspicions over the quality of Chinese products.

You can read the Choson Ilbo piece here:
N.Korean Shellfish Sold Openly Despite Ban
Choson Ilbo


Taedonggang Beer to go on sale in US this year?

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

UPDATE 2 (2015-9-9): The Justice Department has suspended Steve Park, importer of North Korean beer. According to UPI:

Steve Park, also known as Park Il-woo, is a veteran businessman and president of Korea Pyongyang Trading U.S.A. Radio Free Asia reported in 2011 Park received permission from the U.S. government to import North Korea’s Taedonggang Beer, but Park’s failure to file tax returns starting in 2008 was one of the reasons his agent status was recently terminated.

The Foreign Agents Registration Act, which was passed in 1938, requires agents like Park to disclose information about their relationship with a foreign government.

Park, who was registered under FARA in December 2011, has been involved in other North Korea promotion projects in the United States. Park has been connected to tourism projects in North Korea’s Mount Kumgang region and investment proposals in the reclusive country.

Park was found in violation of FARA for not regularly reporting his income. Under the law, all foreign agents must report revenue and expenditures to the Treasury every six months, according to RFA.

In 2012, Park’s Korea Pyongyang Trading U.S.A. was shut down in New York State after receiving an order of dissolution.

UPDATE 1 (2011-4-22): Apparently extended/new sanctions announced by the Obama administration this week will not affect the import of Taedonggang Beer by Mr. Park.  According to KBS:

Following the latest sanction passed by the Obama administration, the United States importation of the North Korean beer brand Taedonggang was in doubt.

But a U.S. State Department official said that individuals or companies who gained import permits for North Korean goods before the order passed can continue with importation.

The official added that the new directive does not affect any North Korean imports that have been approved by the United States government.

U.S.-based firm Korea Pyongyang Trading U.S. has been given the green light to import 400-thousand bottles of Taedonggang beer this June.

ORIGINAL POST (2011-3-6): According to the Korea Times:

The VOA also confirmed that the U.S. government last year authorized the import of a North Korean beer, called “Daedonggang”.

“I received the final authorization on Sept. 30,” said Steve Park, a U.S-based importer. The first 2,000-2,500 cases of beer will be on sale this summer.

Steve Park first gained notoriety trying to import North Korean soju to the US. He was also prosecuted for being an unregistered foreign agent. You can read about these stories here.

But I wish him all the best in this endeavor.  Taedonggang beer tastes pretty good. It is a British lager after all.

Read the original story here:
N. Korean delegation to visit NY
Korea Times
Kim Se-jeong


Interesting story of Israel and the DPRK

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Aidan Foster-Carter writes in the Asia Times:

I can only assume March 11 was a slow news day in Israel – though there was plenty going on in the neighborhood. Otherwise, why would that distinguished daily, the Jerusalem Post, deem it worthwhile to devote quite a long article, in its International Section, to the exciting, world-shattering news that Israel now boasts a North Korea friendship group?

The moving spirit is one Shmuel Yerushalmi: originally from Ukraine, now of Beersheba. Many former Soviet Jews who moved to Israel are conservative, but not Shmuel. An avowed Marxist-Leninist, he’s quoted as saying that the true dictators of the modern world aren’t the likes of Kim Jong-il of North Korea – he also cites Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and Belarus’ Alexander Lukashenko – but the leaders of the US and “Western empires”. Whatever you say, comrade.

Alejandro Cao de Benos, who runs the Korea Friendship Association, confirmed that KFA has an Israeli branch, with a mailing list of around 60, and a Hebrew section of its website. He added that they have “two major responsibilities”: translating information about North Korea into Hebrew, and creating an Israeli support base that can lead to cultural exchanges. Turning the turgid works of the Great Kims into Hebrew: that should keep Shmuel busy.

For any readers unfamiliar with the KFA, its site claims to be the “Official Webpage of The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.” Actually it is a fan site. Cao de Benos dresses like Kim Jong-il, and touchingly refers to North Korea as “We” (as in the Jerusalem Post article). He can be seen online declaring: “I Will Be A Soldier of Marshal Kim Jong-il” – but hurry! For some reason the video is to be pulled on April 29. I do hope Cao de Benos will post it elsewhere.

On KFA’s true status, the article quotes a leading British expert: Hazel Smith of Cranfield University, who lived and worked in Pyongyang for two years. Professor Smith briskly dismisses KFA as “extreme” and of “no influence … they are a bunch of individuals who are a mixture of the curious, the naive and those who just want a free trip somewhere”. Ouch. But true.

Intriguingly, Cao de Benos told the Jerusalem Post that he planned to travel to Pyongyang shortly, taking with him “American Jewish lobbyists linked to Israel, some of whom live in Tel Aviv”. But he refused to name these. A tall story? Not wholly implausible, as we shall shortly see.

As for Yerushalmi, he hasn’t actually made the pilgrimage to Pyongyang yet – but there is nothing to stop him. Apparently worried whether all this was politically kosher, the Jerusalem Post asked the foreign ministry. Spokesman Yigal Palmor called it “a particularly misplaced form of friendship expression, but it’s not illegal and not something we are going to interfere with”.

You can read the rest below the fold:



Remittances from North Korean defectors

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Andrei Lankov writes in the East Asia Forum:

Until some 10 years ago, defection from North Korea implied that the person’s connections with his or her homeland would be broken for a long time, or perhaps even forever. North Korea was a huge black hole from where almost nothing could get out. But this is not the case anymore.

The number of North Korean defectors in South Korea has increased tremendously. In 2000, there were merely 1,400 North Koreans residing in the ROK. Now, a decade later, their numbers exceed 21,000.

These people are usually described as ‘defectors,’ but this name is misleading since almost none of them were driven by purely political considerations when they decided to leave North Korea. In most cases, they initially move to China, looking for food and better paying jobs. Only later do they usually find ways to move to South Korea, where, as they assume, their lives would be easier and more stable than in China.

To some extent these expectations are proven correct. By South Korean standards, North Korean refugees are not doing too well, their income being roughly half the income of the average South Korean. Nonetheless, even the 1 million won per month, plus subsidised housing and healthcare, are usually seen by refugees as affluence.

However, being Koreans they do not forget about their family members left behind in North Korea. In some cases the refugees save money to pay a professional defection specialist (simply called a broker) to relocate their family members to South Korea. A typical defection costs about 2-3 million won, but in some complex cases (for example, when the family members are old and fragile, very young or live far away from the border), it might cost considerably more.

Not everybody is willing to bring their entire family here and not every North Korean family wants to move to Seoul. Instead, defectors send money to their families back in the North. In recent years these transfers have dramatically increased in scale.

Remittances to the North are, strictly speaking, illegal according to both South and North Korean law. Nonetheless there is no way to stop this activity and, frankly, neither government is really willing to do so.

Last December the Database Centre for North Korean Human Rights conducted a survey of the economic situation of North Korean refugees in South Korea. According to the survey, 49 per cent of refugees regularly send money to their families in the North. The average amount sent by one person is estimated to be about 1 million won per year.

On balance the researchers estimated that about $10 million is sent North by defectors annually. There have been other attempts to estimate the scale of the remittances but those estimates are not much different ― most authorities agree that the annual amount is within the range of $5-$15 million. The $10 million is not a reliable amount for such a poor country as North Korea. After all, the Gaeseong Industrial Complex, often described as a major cash cow for the regime, generates some $20-$35 million a year.

Of course, one cannot make a bank transfer at a Citibank branch somewhere in the North Korean wilderness, and Western Union has yet to open its offices in the North. Remittances are made in cash and handled by the same networks of brokers who also smuggle people, letters and mobile phones to and from North Korea. Usually, money is first paid to a broker or their representative in South Korea and then moved or wired to China. Then the cash is smuggled across the border from China to the North. If the recipient lives near the border, they usually get the money straight from the smuggler. For those who live further south (in Pyongyang for example) the money might be delivered by a courier.

The complexity and risk of such an arrangement implies that service fees are expensive. The transaction fee currently fluctuates at 20-30 per cent of the total, so from the $1,000 sent by a refugee from Seoul, only $700-$800 will reach her relatives. Nonetheless, the system is quite reliable and incidents when the money does not reach its intended destination are rare.

Judging by anecdotal evidence, such money seems to be used for investments by North Korean recipients, most of whom run small businesses or workshops.

Politically, these remittances are important. North Koreans nowadays suspect that South Korea is not the destitute American colony the official propaganda used to criticize. These regular remittances make a difference; they reinforce the understanding that South Korea is a very rich place indeed. In the long run the spread of this knowledge does not bode well for the people who are now in control in Pyongyang.

Read the full story here:
Remittances from North Korean defectors
East Asia Forum


DPRK Moscow embassy home to casino?

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Accoridng to KBS:

A Russian company is facing charges of operating a gambling room in the North Korean embassy in Moscow.

The company, which leased the second and third floor of the embassy’s administrative building, has allegedly been running the illegal operation since December.

The North Korean embassy denied the allegations when reports surfaced last week. But signs of a gambling operation were detected in a recent investigation by the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued letters of protest to ambassadors from North Korea and Belarus and demanded the casino immediately shutdown to prevent further violation of Russian law and bilateral agreements.

Read the full story here:
Russia Protests NK Embassy’s Casino Operation


NIC: Kim Jong-un in charge of intelligence

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

According to the Joong Ang Daily:

The son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is even more clearly on the fast track to becoming his father’s successor, with the South Korean intelligence agency revealing Tuesday during a session of the National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee that Kim Jong-un is currently head of North Korea’s State Security Department.

The State Security Department is an autonomous bureau directly under Kim Jong-il’s command and has often been referred to as the “secret police.” The department was separated from the regular police force in 1973. The department has been known to have great power over the lives of ordinary North Korean citizens and is thought to be behind severe violations of human rights.

Kim Jong-un’s involvement with the secret police is believed to date back to April 2009, when South Korean intelligence sources said he ordered a sting on a vacation house frequented by his older brother, Kim Jong-nam.

The house had been occupied by people supporting Kim Jong-il’s eldest son and the secret police’s abrupt crackdown was in order for Kim Jong-un to gain the upper hand in the power struggle between the brothers. Those who were at the house were dragged away by the State Security Department, according to sources. Kim Jong-nam was not at the scene.

The position of State Security Department chief has been empty since the death of the last security head, Rhee Jin-su, in 1987. The South Korean intelligence agency believes that Kim Jong-il took over the department himself after Rhee’s death.

Experts believe this powerful position was handed over to Kim Jong-un to hone him for his ascension.

“The position will suit the young successor well in order for him to take control of the Workers’ Party and the North Korean military’s elite,” said Cheong Seong-chang of the Sejong Institute, indicating that Kim Jong-il’s plans are for the son to receive his successor training in private, which would explain why Kim Jong-un has not received additional positions since last September.

The father and son were also reported by North Korea’s official news agency to have made a visit to the secret police headquarters on April 15, founder Kim Il Sung’s birthday.

The South Korean government is keeping a careful watch on the situation but was unable to confirm the report.

“As North Korean media have not said anything about appointing anyone to the position, it is difficult to confirm it,” Lee Jong-joo, spokeswoman of the South Korean Ministry of Unification said yesterday.

Read the full story here:
Kim Jong-un in charge of intelligence: Source
Joong Ang Daily
Christine Kim


Air Koryo launches Pyongyang – Kuala Lumpur route

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Accoridng to the Borneo Post:

Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) announced the arrival of another new airline as Air Koryo, the national carrier of the Democratic People’s Republic (DPR) of Korea recently made its maiden landing at KLIA.

The inclusion of Air Koryo took the total number of airlines operating at KLIA to 58. Air Koryo became the first airline to introduce direct schedule flights to Pyongyang from Kuala Lumpur.

Air Koryo will fly twice weekly to KL from the capital city of Pyongyang, on Mondays and Thursdays, utilising a TU-204 Next Generation Tupolev type of aircraft, with 142 seating capacity.

“Malaysia Airports welcomes Air Koryo’s schedule operations to KLIA and wishes them all the best for this service. Its presence will not only increase the connectivity at KLIA but also establish a new direct service between DPR Korea and Malaysia,” said Malaysia Airports managing director Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad in a press statement.

“Air Koryo has been operating charter flights to KLIA for the last few years. Now it has created sufficient market strength to start schedule operations and we are very happy with the new development,” he added.

General manager of Air Koryo in KL said, “This new destination will be a welcome addition to Air Koryo’s route expansion. Kuala Lumpur has been a much-anticipated destination and I am confident it will be a fruitful service for Air Koryo. Malaysians and Koreans alike can now enjoy the best of both countries through Air Koryo’s service.”

Air Koryo was founded on Sept 21, 1955 with the name Chosonminhang. It was renamed to Air Koryo in March 1992. Air Koryo’s networks cover Beijing and Shenyang in China, Vladivostok and Moscow (Russia), Bangkok (Thailand) and now Kuala Lumpur.

The Inter governmental Air Route Agreement was signed between DPR Korea and Malaysia 20 years ago. The airline became an affiliate member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) on October 21, 1996.

Read the full story here:
Air Koryo makes debuts at KLIA
Borneo Post


Two new DPRK publications

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

First: Joe Bermudez has published the latest version of KPA Journal (Vol. 2, No. 2, March 2011).

Articles in this issue include: KPN Deploys New Version of sang-o Class Coastal Submarine, The Korean People’s Air Force in 1953, The Hydrometeorological Service, Han-gang Bridges.

Download the latest issue here (PDF).


Second: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2009
Final Report December 2010

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPR Korea) Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) was carried out in 2009 by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) in collaboration with the Institute of Children’s Nutrition. Financial and technical support was provided by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

MICS is an international household survey programme developed by UNICEF. The DPR Korea MICS was conducted as part of the fourth global round of MICS (MICS4). MICS provides up-to-date information on the situation of children and women and measures key indicators that allow countries to monitor progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other internationally agreed-upon commitments. Additional information on the global MICS project may be obtained from

DPR Korea Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2009, Final Report, CBS, Pyongyang, DPR Korea, 2010.

Download the report here (PDF). It has been added to my “Economic Statistics Page“.


DPRK 2011 foot and mouth disease outbreak

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

UPDATE 6 (2011-4-20): The DPRK is experiencing a new wave of foot and mouth outbreaks.  According to Yonhap:

A new outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) occurred in four counties in North Korea last month and infected nearly 300 pigs and cows, a news report said Wednesday.

A total of 141 out of 298 animals died after being infected with the disease, the Voice of America said, citing a North Korean report submitted to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) on Monday. The news report said Pyongyang quarantined the infected areas in an apparent attempt to stem the spread of the disease.

The North confirmed its first case of the disease in December, and the virus has since spread to six other cities and provinces, Seoul’s Agriculture Minister Yoo Jeong-bok said in February.

Last month, the World Organization for Animal Health said North Korea urgently needed around US$1 million worth of equipment and vaccines to help stem outbreaks of the deadly disease.

The disease does not pose a direct health threat to humans, but affects cows, sheep, goats and other cloven-hoofed animals, causing blisters on the nose, mouth, hooves and teats.

North Korea has 577,000 heads of cattle, 2.2 million pigs and 3.5 million goats, according to the OIE.

The OIE data mentioned in the above Yonhap story can be found here.

The OIE provides the map below as well as details about the outbreaks:

Three of the four cases take place in North Hwanghae:

Sinphyong county, Myongri district (2011-3-21)

Sangwon county, Rodong-ri (2011-3-16)

Hwangju county, Ryongchon-ri (2011-4-4)

The final case is in Singyo-ri, Kumgang County, Kangwon Province. It reportedly took place on 2011-4-6.

The data is also available here.

UPDATE 5 (2011-3-24): UN FAO Press Release:

North Korea: FAO says urgent vaccine and equipment needed to contain Foot-and-Mouth Disease

Capacity of national veterinary services to manage animal disease must also be strengthened

24 March 2010, Rome/Paris – Around a million dollars of equipment and vaccines are urgently required to help stem outbreaks of deadly Foot-and-Mouth disease (FMD) in North Korea, followed by a more prolonged and concerted effort to modernize veterinary services in the country.

A joint FAO and World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) mission travelled to North Korea at the government’s request between 27 February and 8 March. The mission found that the country’s capacity and that of veterinary services to detect and contain FMD outbreaks need significant strengthening — in particular as regards implementing best-practices in biosecurity measures and improving laboratory infrastructure and capacity.

Outbreaks of Type-O FMD have been reported in diverse locations in eight of North Korea’s 13 provinces. To bring the situation under control, the team recommended the following steps:

  • Thorough surveillance to locate and map disease clusters
  • Protecting unaffected farms through movement controls and biosecurity measures
  • Adequate sampling in order to correctly identify the virus strain or strains involved
  • Improving biosecurity measures to prevent further spread of the disease
  • The strategic use of the appropriate vaccines to contain and isolate disease clusters

FAO estimates around $1 million is required immediately for training, supplies and infrastructure, vaccine acquisition and the setting up of monitoring, reporting and response systems.

The FAO-OIE mission visited several collective farms as well as the national veterinary laboratory and various animal health field stations.

Virus identification

FAO and OIE provided guidance to North Korean veterinary authorities on taking and handling of FMD samples — new samples will be collected by North Korea and sent to an international reference laboratory for testing.

Only by accurately typing the virus or viruses involved in the outbreaks will it be possible to identify the most effective vaccine to use against it.

Food security bulwark

FMD does not pose a direct health threat to humans, but affected animals become too weak to be used to plough the soil or reap harvests, suffer significant weight loss, and produce less milk. Many animals are dying from the disease.

Farm animals are crucial to food security in North Korea. Cows and oxen are primarily used for dairy production and are a key source of draft power in agricultural production. Goats and pigs, also susceptible to FMD, are important source of dairy products and meat.

Current North Korea’s livestock population consists of 577,000 head of cattle, 2.2 million pigs and 3.5 million goats.

FMD affects cattle, buffaloes, sheep, goats, swine and other cloven-hoofed animals. It is highly contagious and spreads through mucus, saliva or body fluids that can contaminate materials such as clothing, crates, truck beds, and hay and be transmitted to other animals.

UPDATE 4 (2011-3-22): Pork prices rising with FMD meat on sale.  According to the Daily NK:

With North Korea seemingly unable to bring an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease centered on the Pyongyang region under control, inside sources have revealed that the price of good pork in the markets is skyrocketing as a result of diminishing supplies, while infected meat is being sold on the quiet for lower prices.

Speaking with The Daily NK on the 22nd, a source from North Pyongan Province explained, “Pork is right now selling for 6,000 won per kilo in the market. The price, which was 2,600 won in the market last December, is climbing all the time, and now is at the point where the average person has no chance of being able to buy it.”

According to sources, the situation is similar in Nampo, where pork was selling for 3,500 won in December, but had reached 6,500 won by February. In Sariwon in North Hwanghae Province, the price had hit 5,000 won by the end of February.

The news of an emerging foot-and-mouth disease problem in North Korea first emerged through sources earlier this year, but the authorities only confirmed it officially and reported control measures via Chosun Central News Agency on February 10th.

According to an official report submitted by the North Korean authorities to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) at around the same time, the outbreak had by then spread to 48 places across much of south and central North Korea, with 15 of those places falling within the Pyongyang administrative region.

The report outlined how North Korea first attempted to combat the outbreak with an indigenously produced vaccine, but this was of limited use. It also noted that official North Korean policy is to bury those animals that die from the disease and quarantine those that are infected.

However, inside sources say that in reality people are digging up buried animals in order to sell the meat in the market at a lower price.

The North Pyongan Province source explained, “Meat infected with foot-and-mouth disease is being sold in the market tacitly; the price of it is somewhat lower. The work of burying pigs with foot-and-mouth disease is being done, he said, but it is said that animals continue to be dug up and are sometimes being sold in the market.”

The source gave the example of a pig farm in Pyongsung, where 6 people dug up previously buried pigs last December to sell in Pyongsung Market. They were selling the meat for 2,000 won/kg, he said, but were caught by the authorities.

The source also revealed that on December 30th, 2010, 500 pigs were buried near Pyongyang, but two days later had disappeared, while in Sinuiju it is said that “If it is buried in the daytime, people say that by that very evening it will appear in the market.”

Of course, the fact is that the North Korean authorities are unable to put in place an efficacious policy to combat the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease or the selling on of infected meat, not least because persons caught for selling infected meat can simply navigate their way out of trouble and go back to their activities.

UPDATE 3 (2011-3-2): A UN FAO team is in the DPRK to inspect the foot-and-mouth outbreak.  According to the Joongang Ilbo:

An official at the FAO was quoted by RFA as saying that the scale and variety of the aid would be determined after discussions with North Korean government officials. The exact itinerary of the group was not released.

The UN food agency also said that along with the team that arrived in North Korea last month, additional officials, including an expert on contagious diseases, would be sent to the area.

The South Korean government has said that it has been monitoring the development of the outbreak. However, the South Korean Ministry of Unification said after North Korea’s official report on the disease that Pyongyang has not made any requests for aid nor did Seoul have plans to offer any assistance.

North Korea announced on Feb. 10 that over 10,000 pigs and cattle had been infected with FMD, prompting North Korean officials to alert the UN of the outbreak.

The North struggled with FMD cases in 2007 and 2008, which led to the culling of thousands of pigs and cattle. During those episodes, the FAO and the South Korean government provided aid.

UPDATE 2 (2011-2-27): The Daily NK reports that the OIE report shows animals are not being culled:

Unlike in 2007, when North Korea reacted swiftly to an outbreak of the disease by culling animals, this time the authorities appear to have reacted poorly despite the fact that the disease has now been found at more than 48 locations in Pyongyang City and Pyongan, Hwanghae and Kangwon Provinces.

According to an OiE report derived from the letter, in which the North finally confirmed the rumored outbreak after a month of silence, Pyongyang has apparently tried to address the situation using a combination of disinfection measures and a domestically produced vaccine, but this has met with little success.

“Given the number of livestock which have died of foot-and-mouth disease, it is uncertain just how far the infection has spread,” Korea Rural Economic Institute Vice-President Kwon Tae Jin explained to The Daily NK. “The small number of infected heads of cattle reported by North Korea is also difficult to accept at face value.”

“If the North Korean authorities have not destroyed the infected cows and pigs in the hope that they will recover, then it is a serious problem. It means we have no idea how far the disease has spread,” Kwon added.

15 of the existing locations in which the disease has so far been detected are in Pyongyang and surrounding areas. In order to combat the spread of the disease to other regions, the authorities are said to have implemented across-the-board restrictions on movement into and out of the city.

However, news of the disease has still not been reported officially, and domestic sources have told The Daily NK that they have not heard anything about it to date.

UPDATE 1 (2011-2-18): DPRK report (below) shows extensive damage from foot-and-mouth disease.  According to Yonhap:

North Korea has reported to a global animal health agency that it had suffered a total of 48 outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) since Christmas last year.

The impoverished communist state made the report to the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) on Feb. 8, saying about half of 17,522 “susceptible” pigs had died from the disease.

Only 3 percent of 1,403 cows suspected of being infected had died from the disease, according to the report posted on the OIE Web site, while none of the 165 susceptible goats had died.

At the time the report was filed, no livestock were yet culled as a preventive measure, according to the report created by Ri Kyong-gun, a quarantine director for the Ministry of Agriculture. A map of outbreaks showed the disease had spread out over almost half of North Korea.

“Vaccination has been applied with a locally developed vaccine but was not effective to control the disease,” the report said, adding that the origin of the outbreak remains “unknown or inconclusive.”

North Korea has banned the inflow of pork and beef from South Korea since late last year for fear that the disease — rampant south of the heavily armed border — may spread there.

Despite the measure, the North, which suffers serious food shortages, reported the outbreak to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization earlier this year.

The country said in the OIE report that it has restricted movement and conducted “disinfection of infected premises and establishments” to fight the spread of the animal disease.

In 2007, North Korea suffered similar outbreaks, prompting South Korea to dispatch a team of animal health experts amid a mood of reconciliation.

FMD is highly contagious and affects cloven-hoofed animals like cattle, pigs, deer, goats and sheep. The disease causes blisters on the mouth and feet of livestock and leads to death. It is rarely transmitted to humans.

ORIGINAL POST (2011-2-18): Below is a map and list of reported foot and mouth disease outbreaks in the DPRK:

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has reported 48 outbreaks of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The outbreaks are located in:

–Kangwon (Anbyon, Kimhwa, Phangyo, Phyonggang)
–Pyongyang (Sadong, Ryokpo, Rakrang, Kangdong, Mangyongdae)
–Nampho (Nampho and Kangso)
–North Hwanghae (Kangnam, Sangwon, Hwangju, Yonsan, Sinphyong, Suan, Songrim)
–North Pyongan (Thaechon, Pakchon)
–South Hwanghae (Chongdan)
–South Pyongan (Anju, Phyongwon)

The OIE posted a report developed from an official letter sent by the DPRK dated 7 February 2011 and received on 8 February 2011.  You can see the OIE report here.


Gyeongui line to resume normal operations

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
NK Brief (11-04-20)

Railroad services to Kaesong Industrial Complex on the Gyeongui Line increased from 21 to 23 times a day from April. Mainly a seasonal change, the last departure service into Kaesong has been pushed back to 5:00 pm from 4:30 pm and the arrival time also changed accordingly from 5:00 pm to 5:40 pm.

With the half of the Mount Kumgang tours, the Donghae Line is running on a more flexible schedule based on demand. Currently both lines are operating. There are 417 South Korean citizens currently residing in North Korea, with the majority (404 people) at the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

According to the Export-Import Bank of Korea, the volume of loans by the businesses operating economic cooperation with North Korea increased over the years, from 10.8 billion KRW in 2008, to 15.4 billion KRW in 2009, and 41.6 billion KRW in 2010. The increase comes as a surprise considering the enforcement of sanctions against the North from the Cheonan incident caused all inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation to discontinue except for the KIC.

The Export-Import Bank (Exim Bank) in coordination with the Ministry of Unification has continued to provide loans to businesses engaged in inter-Korean cooperation through a special loan program called, “Special Economic Exchanges and Cooperation Loan.” Special consideration was given to these small businesses suffering since the imposition of government sanctions.

Last year, a total of 25 businesses (11 economic cooperation-related, 13 exchange-related) received special loans from the Exim Bank. The loans were used mainly for stabilizing the business management to cover various business expenses including tariffs, shipping, material, distribution, manufacturing and labor costs, as well as other additional taxes and interests.

On the other hand, North Korea’s Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee informed Hyundai that it would retract the company’s monopoly over the tour of Mt. Kumgang, which was supposed to expire in 2028. Hyundai Asan expressed regret over the North’s decision by saying, “The agreements that were reached on Mt. Kumgang tourism must be honored and cannot be declared void or lose their validity on unilateral notification. The North’s statement should be withdrawn.”

The spokesperson of Hyundai also stated, “The root of this problem is caused by the stalled tourism project. The only solution is to resume the tours to Mt. Kumgang at the earliest time possible.” It further added its intention of working closely with the South Korean government to restart the tours. Since the suspension of Mt. Kumgang tours after a female tourist was shot and killed in July 2008, Hyundai Asan has been hitting dead ends with the project.

Regarding its plan to retract Hyundai, North Korea is pointing the finger at the “South Korean government’s vicious North Korea policy.” According to North’s Uriminzokkiri website, terminating Hyundai’s monopoly rights was an “inevitable decision based on low prospect for resuming the tours of Mount Kumkang.” It further added, “Although the South Korean government is condemning our decision as against international norms, the situation is compelling the DPRK to exercise our rights which is in accordance with domestic and international laws.”