Archive for October, 2011

Some recent DPRK publications (UPDATED)

Monday, October 31st, 2011

“North Korea on the Cusp of Digital Transformation”
Nautilus Institute
Alexandre Mansurov

“North Korea: An Up-and-Coming IT-Outsourcing Destination”
38 North
Paul Tija, GPI Consulting

“NK People Speak, 2011” (Interviews with North Koreans in China)
Daily NK (PDF)

“The Rise and Fall of Détente on the Korean Peninsula, 1970-1974”
Wilson Center NKIDP
Christian F. Ostermann and James Person
(Coverage of the report in the Donga Ilbo can be found here)

Don’t Expect a Pyongyang Spring Sometime Soon
Center for Strategic and International Studies (via CanKor)
Hazel Smith


China – DPRK tourism and trade stats

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

Visits: According to the Daily NK, 116,400 North Koreans have visited China this year:

116,400 North Koreans visited China officially between January and September, 2011, according to new statistics released by the National Tourism Administration of China.

The statistics reveal that 55,000 of them visited to find work; 27,000 for a business trip; 3,000 were tourists; and 100 were visiting relatives. 24,000 did not record the purpose of their visit.

45,000 of them traveled by boat; 24,900 by airplane; 14,300 by train and 3,700 entered on foot.

The largest proportion was between the ages of 45 and 64 (52,000); 47,000 were between 24 and 44. 95,000 were men, and 14,900 were women.

According to the same statistics, the highest number of visitors to China in the same period came from South Korea (3.2 million trips), followed by Japan (2.6 million trips). Overall, North Korea ranks 11th out of the 15 countries in Asia.

Trade: According to the Associated Press:

China’s trade with its close ally North Korea nearly doubled in the first seven months of the year compared with the same period in 2010, state media reported Sunday.

The 87 percent increase to $3.1 billion was announced at the start of a visit to the North by Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang that reaffirms strong ties between the communist neighbors.

North Korea relies heavily on China for food and fuel aid and many consumer products. Chinese companies are the main investors in North Korean mining, and the sides recently signed agreements on road building and jointly developing an industrial park on an island near the Chinese city of Dandong.

“The economic and trade cooperation between the two countries has shown great potential, with bilateral trade and investment volume reaching new highs,” Xinhua said, citing the Chinese ambassador to Pyongyang, Liu Hongcai.

Bilateral trade between China and North Korea still is dwarfed by economic ties between China and South Korea. China is South Korea’s largest trade partner.

Trade between Beijing and Seoul rose more than 20 percent in the first eight months of the year to $159 billion and is expected to hit about $250 billion for all of 2011.

It should go without saying that officially reported merchandise trade between the PRC and DPRK understates the economic relationship between the two nations.   What goes unreported is illicit border trade, aid, military assistance and other forms of financial support.

Read the full stories here:
China says trade with NKorea has nearly doubled
Associated Press


Kim Jong-il visits economic sites across the country

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

The North Korean media has reported Kim Jong Il has made nine official appearances from October 1 to 16, making roughly about one appearance every two days.

According to the KCNA, Kim has made six on-the-spot guidance visits in South Hamgyong Province, visiting Daehung Youth Hero and Ryongyang Mines in Danchon City and 2.8 [Vinalon] Complex, Hungnam Fertilizer Complex, Ryongsong Machinery Complex, and Hungnam Smeltery in Hamhung City.

Compared to last month’s official activities, this is a noticeable increase.

Kim has made 18 official appearances in July and spent a week in Russia and China in August but remained fairly quiet during the month of September with only six reported activities.

Last month, Japan’s Jiji Press reported that Kim was not able to meet with the Indonesian delegation (who was visiting Pyongyang at the time) due to poor health. Many experts also believe that Kim’s health has deteriorated since his return from abroad and thus has made fewer public appearances.

Kim is believed to have stayed in Pyongyang in September and his recent visits to South Hamgyong Province are evidence that his health is improving.

Another interesting fact is that most of Kim Jong Il’s recent activities are economic centered. He has made no visits to military base this month, and except for attendance at the sixty-sixth anniversary party of the Korean Workers’ Party and Unhasu Orchestra performance, Kim has focused mainly on economic on-site inspections.

Taking a closer look at the sites Kim has visited, they consist mainly of construction or completed sites such as Danchon Port, a solar energy installation center, Daedong River pig and duck farms, and Pyongsong synthetic leather factory in Northern Pyongan Province.

Accompanying Kim at these economic sites were also high ranking officials. The KCNA reported on October 18 that President of the Supreme People’s Assembly Kim Yong Nam, Premier Choe Yong Rim, and other party members inspected the modernized facilities of the Tudan Duck Farm.

As North Korea prepares for the year 2012, with the self-proclaimed goal of becoming a “strong and prosperous nation,” it appears to be placing added emphasis on producing tangible outcomes to encourage economic development and improve the quality of life for the North Korean people.

North Korea recently discussed ways to fulfill this year’s economic targets. In an extended plenary session presided over by Premier Choe Yong Rim, the cabinet addressed measures to increase the state’s production of coal, electricity, metal, and railways freight traffic. In addition, it also reported on the economic performance for the third-quarter of this year.

This story was published on October 27, but it was probably written on October 17th.  Following completion of the article, but before it was posted to the internet, Kim Jong-il did make two visits to KPA units (4304 and 985).

As of October 29, Kim Jong-il made 32 public appearances in the month:

Huichon Precision Machine Plant
Huichon Ryonha General Machinery Plant
February 8 General Machinery Plant
Jangjagang Machine Tool Factory
Kanggye General Tractor Plant
KJI received Li Keqiang, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the C.C., the Communist Party of China and vice-premier of the State Council of China
Banquet for South Hamgyong officials
Kwangdok Pig Farm
KPA Unit 985
Kim Jong Il received Oleg Kozhemyako, governor of Amur Region of the Russian Federation
KPA Unit 4304
Art Performance of KPA Company Soldiers
Tongbong Cooperative Farm
February 8 Vinalon Complex
Hungnam Fertilizer Complex
Ryongsong Machine Coplex
Hungnam Smeltery
Ryongyang Mine
Taehung Youth Hero Mine
Taedonggang Net-weaving Factory
Taedonggang Pig Farm
Taedonggang Terrapin Farm
Banquet Given by Central Committee and Central Military Commission of WPK
Unhasu Orchestra
Tudan Duck Farm
Solar Equipment Center
Central Tree Nursery
Phyongsong Synthetic Leather Factory
Raknang Disabled Soldiers’ Essential Plastic Goods Factory
Ryongjon Fruit Farm
Tanchon Magnesia Factory
Tanchon Port Construction

And what has Kim Jong-un been up to?  According to Yonhap:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s heir apparent has been seen expanding the realm of his public activities in recent months, according to reports from the North’s news media monitored in Seoul.

Kim named his youngest son, Jong-un, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers’ Party and a four-star general last September in the clearest sign yet that he will take over the regime.

The son has frequently attended economic and diplomatic events in the second half of this year while he focused on military-related activities in the first half, according to North Korean media reports.

The junior Kim has already accompanied his father for his public activities as many as 36 times in the four months or so from July, compared to 35 times in the first six months.

Of the 36 cases, 11 were economy-related, compared to nine in the first half.

Jong-un is also believed to be faithfully absorbing leadership lessons from his father in the diplomatic sector.

He sat beside his father when he met with visiting Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang on Monday in Pyongyang.

Jong-un, in particular, sat to Li’s right during a photo opportunity for the meeting, indicating his firm position as the No. 2 man in the North.

On Sept. 23, Jong-un attended a meeting between his father and visiting Laotian President Choummaly Sayasone.

Experts say the heir apparent’s expansion of activities to the economy and diplomacy shows that the country’s second father-to-son power succession is going smoothly.

“Jong-un has yet to assume titles other than vice chairman of the Central Military Commission but seems to be strengthening his position, building experience in various fields,” a North Korea expert said, requesting not to be named.


Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis health risk in DPRK

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

According to Yonhap:

Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis has emerged as a major public health problem for North Korea, a private foundation said Thursday, calling for public donation to help combat the highly contagious disease.

Stephen W. Linton, chairman of the Eugene Bell Foundation, said his foundation currently treats some 600 multidrug-resistant patients in six medical centers in the North, but hundreds of people are still on the waiting list.

You can read more about the Eugene Bell Foundation’s work in the DPRK here.

Previous posts on the Eugene Bell Foundation here. Their web page is here.

Read the Yonhap story here:
Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis poses public health risk in N. Korea


7th Pyongyang Autumn International Trade Fair

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Pictured above (Google Earth): The location of the Trade Fair in the Three Revolutions Exhibition House, Pyongyang

According to the Pyongyang Times (October 2011):

The 7th Pyongyang Autumn International Trade Fair ran between October 17 and 20 in the Three-Revolution Exhibition House.

The annual event serves as an occasion in bolstering up economic relations and bilateral and multilateral cooperation among the countries on the principle of equality and mutual benefits.

The fair drew more than 260 companies from many countries and regions including the DPRK, China, the Netherlands, Germany, Bulgaria, Malaysia, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, Austria, Australia, India, the UK, the Czech Republic, Poland and Taiwan.

On display in the trade fair were several thousand kinds of products such as electronic goods, machines, building materials, chemicals, medicines, food and consumer goods.

Over ten additional trading companies of the DPRK participated in the expo. The Korean firms exhibited more goods and ads in their booths.

The Kumgang Motor Joint Venture Company put a variety of vehicles on show, the Kwangmyong Contractual Joint Venture Company displayed stainless steel pipes and couplings and the Kyongnim Trading Company put on different kinds of far infrared rays-anionic treatment apparatuses, which drew the attention of viewers.

Draws also included paper samples of the Gratenau & Hesselbacher Gmbh & Co KG of Germany and textiles of the Anhui Xinhe Textile Co Ltd of China.

The deputy general manager of the Shenyang Huanggu Seeds Co Ltd of China who attended the exhibition for the first time said:

“The exhibition served as an occasion in promoting economic exchange and collaboration among the countries. We will boost economic exchange with the DPRK counterparts.”

During the fair there were a briefing on the investment environment in the DPRK and business talks.

Read more about the trade fair at the Choson Exchange web page.

Here, here, and here are articles in KCNA on the trade fair.


On the DPRK and Libya in 2011

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Pictured above: (L) Kim Il-Sung and Muammar Gaddafi attend a Mass Games performance in Kim Il-Sung Stadium, (R) Muammar Gaddafi gives an award to Kim Il-Sung

Pictured above (Google Earth): DPRK-Libya Friendship Farm at Jangchon-dong (장천동: 38.987331°, 125.842014°).  More background here.

UPDATE 6 (2011-10-26): Yonhap offers more details on the North Koreans who remain in Libya:

North Korea has banned its citizens in Libya from returning home in an apparent attempt to prevent the popular uprisings in the Arab world from reaching the isolated regime, a source said Wednesday.

About 200 North Koreans have been left in limbo in the war-torn country as Pyongyang ordered them not to return home, the source familiar with the issue said.

The North Korean doctors, nurses and construction workers were sent to the African nation to earn hard currency for their impoverished communist country.

North Korea has also taken similar steps for its officials in Libya, Egypt and other countries, said the source.

UPDATE 5 (2011-8-30): According to the Korea Times:

North Korea has not yet officially recognized the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) in Libya as the North African nation’s legitimate governing authority, said an official at the North Korean Embassy in Tripoli, Monday.

Asked whether Pyongyang has granted recognition to Libya’s NTC, the official was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency, “Not yet … (we’ll have to) wait and see.” The official, who wished to remain unidentified, was speaking to reporters at the North Korean Embassy in Tripoli.

The official also confirmed reports that some 200 North Koreans are currently working in Libya as doctors, nurses and construction workers. With regard to their safety, the official said some have returned home, although others have not been able to leave due to difficulties in transit.

“We will deal with them depending on the circumstances,” the official was quoted as saying.

The North Korean Embassy building has not been looted or damaged in the six-month-long conflict, the official added. In the past week, the South Korean Embassy building and ambassador’s residence in Tripoli were attacked by armed robbers, although no one was hurt in either incident.

Pyongyang has yet to send a new ambassador to Tripoli, after the previous envoy returned to North Korea upon completing his term, the official said.

Between the two Koreas, Pyongyang was the first to establish diplomatic relations with Tripoli in 1974.

“We hope for peace and stability (in Libya),” the official said, adding that future relations between the nations will depend on the North African nation’s stability.

Some 50 to 60 countries, including South Korea, have recognized the NTC since its formation by rebel forces against the regime of Moammar Gadhafi in February.

Read the full story here:
North Korea yet to recognize Libya’s rebel NTC
Korea Times
Philip Iglauer

UPDATE 4 (2011-5-16): According to the Daily NK, NATO denies hitting the embassy:

“It has been alleged that NATO attacked the embassy; this is simply not true,” NATO said in a statement released on Friday, “While we are aware of media reports that there was damage to the North Korean embassy, we have no knowledge of possible collateral damage.”

The statement came following one released Thursday by the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stating North Korean claims that it had incurred damage as a result of a “barbaric, indiscriminate air raid” by NATO.

It described how a bomb exploded in the vicinity of the embassy during the night of May 9th, releasing shrapnel that penetrated the ceiling of the building and broke car windows.

While NATO conceded that it was targeting a bunker in central Tripoli that night, it said that “the embassy was located some 500 meters from the target we struck.”

“Our strikes are precise and while the possibility of collateral damage will always exist, we go to great lengths to reduce such possibilities,” it went on.

Earlier, Libya national television also reported that the North Korean embassy in Tripoli had been damaged during an air raid.

UPDATE 3 (2011-5-12): Libya and China’s Xinhua are reporting that NATO damaged the DPRK embassy in Tripoli. KCNA has not said anything as of now.  According to Xinhua:

Libya’s state television said on Thursday a NATO air strike damaged the DPRK embassy in the capital Tripoli without giving more details.

Earlier reports indicated that the staff of the embassy has been unable to return home during the uprising.

Here is video footage of the embassy.

UPDATE 2 (2011-5-8): North Korea exported nuclear materials to Libya (Korea Herald and VOA):

The nuclear materials found in Libya in 2004 were highly likely to have been produced by North Korea, U.S.-funded broadcaster Voice of America said Saturday, citing an interview with a former senior official of the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

In the interview, Olli Heinonen, the former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said uranium hexafluoride, or UF6 ― used in uranium enrichment in Libya ― was very likely to have been made by the communist state.

Heinonen made the allegations based on North Korea’s purchase of parts to develop nuclear capabilities, information provided by Pakistan and other pieces of evidence.

To the question of whether there is any connection between the North and Syria with regard to nuclear technology developments, he said that that should be further investigated. He added that a nuclear reactor in Syria, which Israel destroyed, was very similar to North Korean reactors, indicating the possible connection between the two states.

The former deputy director general also said there was a good chance that North Korea has uranium enrichment facilities in areas other than the Yongbyon nuclear complex, stressing that IAEA inspectors should visit those facilities, provided they are allowed to do so.

Touching on the possibility of the North abandoning its nuclear programs, Heinonen said that the North could renounce them if the abandonment would lead to its economic development and security assurance.

The six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing the North have been suspended since 2008. China, the host of the multilateral talks, has been seeking to establish a mood for the dialogue while the South is apparently reluctant to see the resumption of the talks immediately as inter-Korean issues, including two deadly attacks last year, have yet to be addressed.

UPDATE 1 (2011-4-10): The DPRK has apparently ordered many of its citizens to remain in Libya and other Arab nations.  According to Yonhap:

North Korea has ordered its people in Libya not to return home, apparently out of fear that they will spread news of the anti-government uprisings in the African nation, a source said Sunday.

In a letter sent to the North Korean embassy in Libya, Pyongyang ordered its people to “follow the measures of the Libyan government” and not return home, said the source familiar with North Korea affairs.

The move sharply contrasts with other countries’ efforts to evacuate their people from strife-torn Libya and demonstrates the Pyongyang regime’s fear of possible revolts triggered by the African nation’s pro-democracy protests of the past few months, according to the source.

More than 200 North Koreans are believed to be living in Libya to earn foreign cash while working as doctors, nurses and construction workers.

Between the two Koreas, Pyongyang was first to establish diplomatic relations with Tripoli in 1974, followed by a cooperation pact signed by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi during his visit to the North in 1982.

North Koreans in Middle Eastern nations such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates also appear unlikely to be able to return home while anti-government protests continue in the region.

Sources say the North Korean government in recent months has tightened control over the flow of information by strictly monitoring the use of computers, mobile phones, USB memory sticks and other IT equipment.

ORIGINAL POST (2011-3-29): Andrei Lankov writes in the Korea Times about the effects NATO military intervention in Libya might have on the DPRK’s medium-term international relations strategies. According to his article:

Kim Jong-il right now may feel very happy about his wisdom which he demonstrated by stubbornly rejecting denuclearization proposals. Colonel Gadhafi in 2003 did exactly what Kim said he would never do ― Gadhafi agreed to swap his nuclear weapons program for better relations with the West and economic rewards. As we see, it did not help the eccentric strongman. Once his subjects rose in rebellion, the West intervened and chose its military might to assist the rebels.

In private conversations, North Korean officials often say: “Had Sadam had nukes he would still be in his palace right now.” From now on, they probably will add: “And had Gadhafi not surrendered his nukes, nobody would have intervened when he was exterminating the rebels.”

But what is the likely overall impact of such thinking on the North Korean actions? If anything, it increases the already high probability of another nuclear test and/or missile launch. The preparations for such undertakings have been underway for some time. Now, North Korean leaders might believe that this is a good time to show off their steadily growing nuclear and missile capabilities. This is a way to send a message to the Obama administration, and the message will read like this: “Mr. President, we are dangerous and its better not to get involved with us even if we do something which is not to your or anybody’s liking”.

At the same time, it’s now less likely that North Korea will attempt a major provocation aimed at South Korea. Until recently, one could be almost certain that in the near future (in April or May, perhaps), the North would repeat what they did with frigate Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island. Now they will probably think twice before making another attack.

While the attacks on Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island are usually described as “provocations” this is essentially a misnomer. “Provocation” describes an act whose goal is to elicit an irrational and/or excessive reaction from the target of the incident. It was clearly not the case with the Cheonan or Yeonpyeong attack. The North attacked under the assumption that the South would not react in a meaningful way and would be incapable of inflicting any serious damage on assets valuable to the North Korean leadership (the lives of rank-and-file soldiers do not belong to this category).

North Koreans are aware that currently the South Korean public and government are in an unusually bellicose mood. They therefore expect a massive retaliation to follow in the event of another attack. Until recently the North Korean leadership probably anticipated that the South Korean retaliation would be limited, since neither the South nor its major ally, the United States, would do anything which might lead to an escalation of an exchange of fire on the border to a full scale war.

Therefore from Pyongyang’s point of view, another military operation made perfect sense. It would be a good way to demonstrate that North Korea is not going to be quiet when ignored. They wanted to show that for Seoul and Washington, it’s essentially cheaper to pay some protection money to Pyongyang (in the shape of aid and concessions) than to deal with the ever-present possibility of a North Korean attack and related sense of tensions and instability.

However, the recent developments in Libya might have changed the equation ― for a while, at least. Libya shows that under certain circumstances the U.S. and its major allies may indeed choose to launch a large-scale military operation. The assumption that Seoul and Washington will avoid escalation seems still to be true, but Pyongyang may have started to have grave doubts about this.

So it is quite possible that the coming spring will be quieter than the present author (and many of his colleagues) have until recently expected. This does not mean that North Korea has turned into a pacifist state, but from the vantage point of Pyongyang it makes sense to postpone their operations against the South and wait for the dust to settle. And of course, by being quiet for a while they can save resources which will be needed to better prepare the next missile launch and next nuclear test.

Though Lankov refers to North Korean officials in “private conversations,” the North Korean foreign ministry made essentially the same claim in a public statement on March 22 (KCNA):

The present Libyan crisis teaches the international community a serious lesson.

It was fully exposed before the world that “Libya’s nuclear dismantlement” much touted by the U.S. in the past turned out to be a mode of aggression whereby the latter coaxed the former with such sweet words as “guarantee of security” and “improvement of relations” to disarm itself and then swallowed it up by force.

It proved once again the truth of history that peace can be preserved only when one builds up one’s own strength as long as high-handed and arbitrary practices go on in the world.

The DPRK was quite just when it took the path of Songun and the military capacity for self-defence built up in this course serves as a very valuable deterrent for averting a war and defending peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

Since then, they have published 16 stories about Libya: Demonstration Staged in Russia against US Military Operation against Libya, US Involvement in Libya Protested, AU Chairperson Rejects Military Intervention in Libya, Indiscriminate Use of Arms against Libya Assailed, Algeria Opposes Military Intervention in Libya, Military Operation in Libya Condemned in Russia , Venezuelan President Censures West’s Attack on Libya, Iranian Foreign Ministry Assails West’s Military Operation against Libya, Ugandan President Blasts West for Double Standards,  India Regrets Air Strikes on Libya, AU Demands Stop to Attack on Libya , Russian PM Brands Military Operation against Libya as Invasion, Russia Assails Military Attack on Libya , China Concerned about Libyan Crisis, Russia Opposes Military Attack on Libya , Foreign Forces’ Armed Intervention in Libya Assailed in Cuba.

In fact, there are hundreds of KCNA stories about Libya.  Check them out here (STALIN Search Engine).

The Daily NK, however, reminds us of one the the most important aspects of the DPRK-Libya relationship:

Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Qadhafi has been using weapons purchased from North Korea in his faltering attempt to suppress anti-government protests.

As revealed by South Korean television broadcaster SBS on the 28th, boxes containing rockets and clearly bearing the name North Korea were found in Ras Lanuf following the retreat of pro-Qadhafi forces under NATO air strikes.

The boxes were disguised as parts for bulldozers.

Elsewhere, “64 Machine gun” was found written in Korean on an anti-aircraft heavy machine gun. A similar model of machine gun has been seen many times in images released by the North Korean authorities.

Check out the article for pictures.

UPDATE: Writing at the Wall Street Journal Blog, Evan Ramstad gets a quote from Bruce Bechtol:

“It just goes to show how deeply involved in the arms market (in the Middle East and Africa) North Korea is,” said Bruce Bechtol, a former intelligence officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency in the U.S. who is now a professor at San Angelo State University.

“Their WMD [weapons of mass destruction] proliferation gets lots of attention, but folks often forget that they also engage in a plethora of conventional arms sales,” he said.

Would it be a stretch to assume that The DPRK and Libya have been trading oil for weapons?

Previous posts about the DPRK and Libya here.

This was picked up by RFA.


DPRK-US engagement in 2011

Monday, October 24th, 2011

(2011-10-24): U.S. and North Korea Begin Groundwork for Talks. According to the New York Times:

The United States and North Korea began two days of talks here on Monday that American officials have said will test the ground for a possible resumption of wider discussions on North Korea’s nuclear program.

A convoy of vehicles brought Kim Kye-gwan, North Korea’s first vice foreign minister, to the United States mission in Geneva exactly on schedule at 10 a.m. for the first round of talks with a team of American negotiators led by President Obama’s special envoy for North Korea policy, Stephen W. Bosworth.

In a statement at the end of the first day of talks, Mr. Bosworth said: “I think we are moving in a positive direction. We have narrowed some differences, but we still have differences that we have to resolve.”

His comments came after a working dinner with the North Korean delegation that he described as “very positive.” He added: “I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic, but as I said, we have made some progress. But we have issues still to resolve, and we will work hard to do that.”

American officials said last week that the discussions were intended to determine whether North Korea was “serious about engaging in talks and fulfilling its commitments under the 2005 joint statement of the six-party talks and its nuclear, international obligations, as well as take concrete steps toward denuclearization.”

Comments on the talks by Lankov, Panetta and Snyder.

(2011-10-19) New York Times: The United States will resume nuclear talks with North Korea next week in Geneva. According to the New York Times:

The current American envoy, Stephen Bosworth, will be replaced by Glyn Davies, the United States ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman.

“It’s important to stress this is a change in personnel, not a change in policy,” he said during a regular State Department briefing.

Mr. Bosworth, 71, has divided his time between his Korea duties and his position as dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University, near Boston. He held the preliminary negotiations in New York in July with a North Korean counterpart, Kim Kye-gwan. Both will take part in the Geneva meetings, set for Monday and Tuesday, along with Mr. Davies. The rarity of Mr. Kim’s comments had to do with their overall topic of his government’s nuclear program, but they were a restatement of Pyongyang’s well-known stance on his conditions to allow the resumption of the six-party talks, which have been stalled for years.

“Our principle position remains unchanged that the six-way talks should be quickly resumed without preconditions,” Mr. Kim said in a written interview with Itar-Tass, according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency. It was the reclusive North Korean leader’s third known interview with outside news media.

In his comments to Itar-Tass, Mr. Kim said that his government remained committed to a 2005 six-party agreement in which Pyongyang vowed to relinquish its nuclear assets in return for economic aid and a peace treaty and diplomatic ties with Washington.

That seemed almost to anticipate a remark by Mr. Toner, the State Department spokesman, who said that the Geneva talks were “a continuation of the exploratory meetings to determine if North Korea is prepared to fulfill its commitments under the 2005 joint statement of the six-party talks and its nuclear, international, obligations, as well as take concrete steps toward denuclearization.”

(2011-7-24) New York Times: Announcement of visit to US by Kim Kye-gwan

(2011-11-3): According to the Korea Herald, the US is planning to offer the DPRK  $5.7 million for excavation work for remains of soldiers:

The U.S. Defense Department plans to offer some $5.7 million to North Korea for a project to search for and excavate the remains of the U.S. war dead in the communist country, Washington-based Radio Free Asia reported on Thursday.

Citing an email message from Pentagon’s publicity officer Carie Parker, it said that the money will be used to establish base camps for the work in North Pyongan Province and South Hamgyeong Province and also cover overhead expenses.

Parker also said that the amount of money is the same as what the U.S. offered for excavation works in Vietnam and Laos.

The U.S. reportedly plans to carry out the work to recover the remains of its troops, who were killed in the North during the 1950-53 Korean War, four times between spring and fall next year.

Since 1996, the U.S. has recovered the remains of some 220 soldiers through its excavation works.

Since 2005, it has suspended the work because of concerns over the security of its personnel there. But the U.S. and the North agreed to resume the work after their talks in Thailand last month.

(2011-10-22) Reuters: Following up on (2011-10-18) AFP, the US and DPRK have reached a deal on recovering the remains of US soldiers who died in the Korean War:

The recovery operations, the first since 2005, are expected to resume next year, the Pentagon said.

“Accounting for Americans missing in action is a stand-alone humanitarian matter, not tied to any other issue between the two countries,” the statement said.

Yet there has been growing speculation U.S. President Barack Obama, approaching the final year of his four-year term, may initiate talks with North Korea on curbing its nuclear ambitions and the remains recovery talks were seen as a hint at U.S. willingness to engage.

More than 7,900 U.S. soldiers are listed as missing from the Korean War, with some 5,500 estimated to be buried in the reclusive North. Joint recovery efforts were halted in May 2005 over concerns about the uncertain environment created by North Korea’s nuclear programs.

The North has long sought to sign a peace treaty with Washington to formally end decades of enmity since the war, which ended in a ceasefire, not a peace treaty.

(2011-10-18) AFP: United States and North Korea began talks in Bangkok, Thailand, on resuming efforts to recover the remains of Americans killed during the 1950-53 Korean War. According to the article:

The US Department of Defense says more than 7,900 Americans are missing from the conflict, with 5,500 of those believed missing in North Korea.

Joint US-North Korean search teams, in 33 missions in the North from 1996 to 2005, recovered the probable remains of 229 of them.

But cooperation broke down in 2005 when the United States voiced concerns for the safety of its personnel as relations soured over North Korea’s nuclear programme.

The US delegation, which will include representatives from US Pacific Command and United Nations Command in Korea, will be led by Robert Newberry, deputy assistant secretary of defense for prisoner of war and missing personnel affairs, the Pentagon said. It was unclear who was representing North Korea.

Here is the official statement by the US Department of Defense:

No. 884-11
October 17, 2011
POW/MIA Talks Begin with North Korean Officials

A delegation from the United States will meet in Bangkok on Oct. 18 to begin negotiations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on resuming recovery of the remains of American servicemen missing in action from the Korean War.

Robert J. Newberry, deputy assistant secretary of defense for POW/missing personnel affairs, will lead negotiations with a team including representatives from the Department of State, the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, the U.S. Pacific Command and the United Nations Command-Korea.

The talks will only address the issue of resuming remains recovery of missing U.S. servicemen from the Korean War. Accounting for Americans missing in action is a stand-alone humanitarian matter, not tied to any other issue between the two countries.

Of the approximately 83,000 Americans missing from all conflicts, more than 7,900 are from the Korean War with 5,500 of those believed to be missing in the DPRK.

(2011-8-9) Yonhap and New York Times: The United States said Monday that it has requested talks with North Korea on ways to search for the remains of American troops killed during the 1950-53 Korean War. On Friday, August 9, the DPRK announced an agreement to discuss how the U.S. could recover remains of American troops killed in the Korean War. According to the Washington Post:

The North’s state media, Korean Central News Agency, quoted an unnamed foreign ministry official Friday saying that Pyongyang had accepted the U.S. proposal to talk and that preparations for discussion had begun.
Relatives of the missing soldiers reacted to the news with hope.

In 1996, after negotiations, the U.S. military began excavations in North Korea to search for missing U.S. service members. Over nearly a decade, such operations yielded 229 sets of remains, according to the Pentagon’s Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office.

But of that number, only 87 have been identified and returned to families. Part of the problem was that many remains uncovered by North Korean workers were jumbled together, and the U.S. office struggled to sort them out.

Then in 2005, the United States stopped its recovery operations amid rising tension with the North over its unwillingness to disarm its nuclear capabilities. The six years of diplomatic gridlock since then have frustrated many family members.

And Thursday, just hours before North Korea’s agreement to talk about recovering remains, the United States pledged $900,000 in flood aid to the North.

(2011-12-10) Yonhap offers data on the DPRK’s aid and trade coming from the USA:

Trade between the United States and North Korea reached US$2.45 million in October, a U.S. report showed Saturday.

The bilateral trade volume was comprised completely of aid goods offered by the U.S. to the communist state, the Voice of America (VOA) reported citing data compiled by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

(2011-8-18) Washington Post: US to provide $900,000 in emergency relief supplies to North Korea after devastating floods. See more here.

(2011-12-4) Mainichi (Japan): US Security experts return from visit to the DPRK:

A group of U.S. nuclear and Korean affairs experts completed a five-day visit to North Korea on Saturday, but one member said the group did not visit the country’s main nuclear complex in Yongbyon.

“We did not visit. That’s all I can say,” Charles Ferguson, president of the Federation of American Scientists, told reporters at Beijing airport when asked whether the group had visited Yongbyon where North Korea is building a light-water nuclear reactor to be fueled by low-enriched uranium.

Ferguson and another member, Joel Wit, a former U.S. State Department official in charge of North Korean affairs who currently is a visiting scholar at the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, declined to comment on the trip, including who they met in Pyongyang and what kind of talks they had.

During their trip, North Korea reported brisk progress in building a light-water reactor and producing enriched uranium.

(2011-8-6) Yonhap: N. Korean visitors to U.S. up over 50 pct in first half of 2011. Radio Free Asia (RFA), citing data from the Department of Homeland Security, said 139 North Korean nationals entered the country during a six month period this year, up from 89 tallied in the same period last year.

Radio Free Asia (RFA), citing data from the Department of Homeland Security, said 139 North Korean nationals entered the country during a six month period this year, up from 89 tallied in the same period last year.

It said that despite the drop in official contacts between Washington and Pyongyang, and a general cooling off in bilateral relations, there was a rise in the inflow of North Korean nationals into the country.

The radio station said the U.S. State Department mainly issued short term, non-immigration, commercial B1 or B2 tourism visas to the North Korean visitors.

(2011-6-24) Delegation visit: KCNA delegation visits US.

(2011-6-14) Delegation visit: North Korean Taekwondo team tours US for second time.

(2011-3-26) Delegation visit: North Korean economic delegation visits US.

(2011-2) Delegation visit: Last February, a North Korean delegation comprised mostly of scientists traveled to the U.S. to attend academic seminars and to discuss the exchange of science and technology between the two countries. The North’s scientists delegation was headed by Hong So-hon, president of Kimchaek University of Technology.


Official Data Shed New Light on Pyongyang Population

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

According to the Choson Ilbo:

The Weekly Chosun has obtained detailed official records of some 2 million adult residents of the North Korean capital Pyongyang from a source in the North Korea-China border area. The data, which contains the names, date of birth and home addresses of 2,108,032 Pyongyang residents, was compiled by the North’s State Security Department in 2005.

The data does not include children up to age of 17 or an estimated 10,000 members of the elite including relatives of leader Kim Jong-il, or of soldiers stationed in Pyongyang from provincial areas, according to the source.

But it does include people in four districts that were excluded from the Pyongyang administrative area last year. According to official data published by South Korea’s Unification ministry based on the North’s Central Yearbook in February, Pyongyang’s population shrank by about 500,000 as a result of administrative restructuring. But the list shows only about 197,000 adults living in those four districts in 2005.

The difference of 300,000 is too big to make sense, even if the omitted child population is taken into consideration.

The most remarkable aspect of the data is the shortage of men. There are a mere 870,000 men on the list compared to 1.22 million women.

What caused the imbalance is not known but it is possible that many men are soldiers and therefore not counted. Another guess is that there are more women in the capital because they are shipped there for mass rallies.

A former senior North Korean official who defected to the South in 2007, said, “More than six out of every 10 Pyongyang residents are female. It’s mostly the elite who are allowed to live in Pyongyang. A lot of men have been moved out to the suburbs, but the women are mobilized for mass events, which explains the gender imbalance.”

Based on analysis of the records, the average marriage age is 27 years old. More than 80 percent of adults in Pyongyang were registered as married, compared to South Korea, where single households are on the rise. Some 410,000 or 20 percent of the total population in Pyongyang were unmarried and under 27 years old. Divorcees accounted for about 1 percent of the total population with 21,000, although North Korean defectors say divorce and remarriage rates there are gradually increasing.

About 830,000 or more than one-third are party members — a very high ratio considering that the total number of party members across North Korea is about 2 million.

The remaining 1.28 million seem to be either prospective members or family of members. They are said to be working mainly in party-affiliated organizations.

A defector from Pyongyang told the Weekly Chosun, “It’s hard for non-party members to live in Pyongyang. Many people are in the process of becoming party members, even if they haven’t been admitted yet. They consider it an honor. So really most people in Pyongyang are in the party.”

According to the data, there are 124 registered foreign nationals in Pyongyang from 15 countries including the U.S., Japan, China, the former Soviet Union or Russia, the Czech Republic, Canada, France, and Lebanon. Japanese citizens top the list with 86, but they are likely to be ethnic Koreans. About one person from every European country lives in Pyongyang.

Read the full story here:
Official Data Shed New Light on Pyongyang Population
Choson Ilbo


DPRK 1950 Economy Bond

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Source here. Hat tip to a reader.

According to the source, the reverse side of the document reads:

The Government of the DPRK issues an Economic Development Bond for democratic people in the amount of 50, 100, and 500 won for a total amount of 1,500,000,000 won with the period of ten years, from October 1, 1950-October 1, 1960.

Reading further, however, it becomes obvious that this is not a bond at all (in the traditional sense)–it is more like a very complicated lottery ticket.  This method of issuing “bonds” was probably copied from the Soviets, and as of 2008, the DPRK still practiced this method of domestic “bond” financing.

By the way, if you have any North Korean bonds you would like to sell, I know someone who is interested!


ROK government planning to resume construction and relax sanctions in Kaesong zone

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Pictured above (Google Earth): The towns mentioned in the article below from which the Kaesong Industrial Zone could draw more labor: Pongchon (봉천), Kumchon (금천), and Phyongsan (평산).

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)

According to South Korea’s Ministry of Unification (MOU), the “May 24 Sanctions” that went into effect after the sinking of the naval boat Cheonan was relaxed and began to permit the resumption of construction of businesses in the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC). In addition, plans to build fire stations and emergency medical facilities in the area are also currently underway.

After South Korean Grand National Party chairman Hong Jun-pyo visited KIC on September 30, 2011, the ROK government has reached the following decisions: 1) to allow the resumption of halted factory constructions; 2) to build a fire station and emergency medical facility; 3) to resume repair work for commuting roads for KIC employees; and 4) to extend the operations of commuter buses.

This means seven companies that received permits in the past to begin construction but stopped after the sanctions went into effect would be able to resume the halted construction projects.

According to the Ministry of Unification, the seven companies include three metal and machinery, three textile, and one electronic factories, taking up a total area of 103,527 square meters. The total site of production facilities of stage 1 businesses in the KIC reaches 2,171,900 square meters, in which the currently operating 123 companies take up 783,471 square meters. With the sanctions lifted, the total area of businesses in operation will reach 885,950 square meters.

In addition, five companies awaiting construction for expansion will have to wait a little longer. The authorities announced to discuss this issue at a later date, looking positively on their construction to resume shortly as well.

Also the MOU announced to push forward with the establishment of fire stations and emergency medical facilities, “to protect the properties and health of businesses and employees of the KIC. The plans to break ground for fire station will begin in mid-November and is expected to be completed by late next year.”

The layout for the KIC fire station was completed in December 2009 and 3.3 billion USD has been budgeted to fund the construction. The station will be constructed on a steel frame on a 3,305 square-meter lot with the total floor space to be around 2,182 square meters.

The Kaesong Management Committee has been operating a “fire/police station” from April 2005. But with occurrences of accidental fires since last winter, it has reinforced the number of fire engines and manpower – currently at a total of eight fire trucks and 36 fire fighters.

Medical facilities in the KIC will also be completed by the end of 2012 once the construction begins early next year. About 3 billion USD is set for this project.

Currently at the KIC, Green Doctor’s Cooperation Hospital is in charge of providing medical and health services in the KIC, with South Korea Green Doctor’s Kaesong Hospital treating the South Korean employees and North Korean Comprehensive Clinic treating the North Korean employees exclusively. The South Korea Green Doctor’s Kaesong Hospital is currently operated by volunteers at a clinic level. The hospital was in the process of improving the facilities to more than ten beds. However, this project was halted after the May 24 sanctions went in effect.

On another note, the MOU also announced that maintenance work for the road connecting Kaesong City to the KIC would begin. The road is normally used by North Korean employees of the KIC. It was also announced that the number and operation of commuter buses would increase to help with the commute. The buses operate in the 20 km radius; the plan is to increase that to 40 km. Since September 2010, the number of buses increased to 400.

There are plans to extend the service to cover the areas of Kumchon, Bongchon, and Pyongsang. However, the roads to these areas are unpaved and extension of transportation services to these areas will require negotiations with the North Korean authorities.

Although these measures will alleviate some of the problems faced by the businesses in the KIC, the MOU still stands firm on its position that North Korea must take responsibility and make formal apology for the Cheonan incident in order for a fundamental resolution of the situation to occur.