Archive for November, 2011

More malicious emails out there

Sunday, November 27th, 2011

The attempt to break into computers of North Korea-watchers across the globe continues.  I have been documenting such cases for over a year now. See a history of these efforts here. Below I have posted the most recent efforts (three of them) that have been forwarded to me:

Here is the first malicious email:

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: KoreaSociety  <[email protected]>
Date: Fri, 25 Nov 2011 07:24:44 +0000
Subject: Dinner Party

When you click on the “View Invite”, however, you are linking to “”.  This is not a friendly link!

Here is the email header for this email:

Received: from ( [])
by (Internet Inbound) with ESMTP id 028C83800009C
for [DELETED]; Fri, 25 Nov 2011 02:24:45 -0500 (EST)
Received: from COL110-W1 ([]) by with Microsoft SMTPSVC(6.0.3790.4675);
Thu, 24 Nov 2011 23:24:44 -0800
Message-ID: Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
X-Originating-IP: []
From: KoreaSociety
Subject: Dinner Party
Date: Fri, 25 Nov 2011 07:24:44 +0000
Importance: Normal
MIME-Version: 1.0
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 25 Nov 2011 07:24:44.0745 (UTC) FILETIME=[4E0BB390:01CCAB43]
x-aol-global-disposition: G
x-aol-sid: 3039ac1d40ca4ecf42bd7ab9
X-AOL-SPF: domain : SPF : pass

Here is the second malicious email:

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Allen Gross <[email protected]>
Date: Thu, Nov 17, 2011 at 3:26 PM
Subject: FW:Great Leader,Kim Il Sung:commemorating the “Day of the Sun”

I am forwarding the feature column : “Great Leader – Kim Il Sung”
This is written to commemorate the “Day of the Sun”.
I put a high valuation on contents of this column.
I was deeply moved at this writing.
You can read the column on the link below.

The Great Leader – Kim Il Sung, commemorating the “Day of the Sun”

I wonder what you think about this writing.


Here is the third malicious email (which came through as a bunch of Russian gibberish):

From: Minaji Tracker <[email protected]>
To: <[email protected]>
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2011 07:06:29 +0000
Subject: KORUS FTA
жп╧ЦмЬ╠╠Ў╘11тб30хуоШо╒ Ўщжп╧ЗжўиЫ║Іх╚гР╩╙сО╧Ц╡╔мЬ║Ї


The phrase “ЄСяїиЗЁЕхКс” links to “”

Here is the email header data:

Received: from ( [])
by (Internet Inbound) with ESMTP id 0F6C63800008A
for ; Wed, 30 Nov 2011 02:06:30 -0500 (EST)
Received: from COL106-W22 ([]) by with Microsoft SMTPSVC(6.0.3790.4675);
Tue, 29 Nov 2011 23:06:29 -0800
Message-ID: Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
X-Originating-IP: []
From: Minaji Tracker
Subject: KORUS FTA
Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2011 07:06:29 +0000
Importance: Normal
In-Reply-To: References:
,,,, MIME-Version: 1.0
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 30 Nov 2011 07:06:29.0460 (UTC) FILETIME=[95453940:01CCAF2E]
x-aol-global-disposition: G
x-aol-sid: 3039ac1d40c94ed5d5f647c6
X-AOL-SPF: domain : SPF : pass

If you see either of these emails, or variations of them, please do not click on the link.  Send them (and the email headers) to me to post so others can be on the lookout.


Aidan Foster-Carter on what’s wrong with the DPRK economy

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Aidan Foster-Carter writes a compendium of problems facing the DPRK economy in 38 North.

Paraphrasing the ailments he cites: Socialism, militarism, royal economy, cult costs, potempkinism, leadership whims, rigidities, coordination problems, unwise leadership priorities.

Read the full story (which is full of fantastic anecdotes) below:
Whim Jong Il: North Korea’s Economic Irrationalities
38 North
Aidan Foster-Carter


North Korea ranked 3rd in the Deforestation Index

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Pictured above (via Maplecroft): Visualized data map of the 2012 Deforestation Index. Read more from Maplecroft here.

According to Arirang News:

Forests in North Korea are disappearing at an alarmingly rapid pace, according to a new report.

Maplecroft, a UK-based risk analysis firm, said Thursday that among 180 countries surveyed, North Korea had the third highest deforestation rate trailing only Nigeria and Indonesia, respectively.

The United Nations estimates that, as of the end of 2008, North Korea had lost almost one-third of its entire forest mass.

Environmental specialists blame the country’s rampant deforestation on terraced farming and indiscriminate chopping for firewood.

Maplecroft has strongly urged North Korea, Nigeria, and Indonesia to better protect their forests and start planting trees.

Deforestation is estimated to contribute up to 20 percent of world greenhouse gas emissions.

The Donga Ilbo also reported on the findings:

Maplecroft, a U.K.-based risk consulting company, announced that deforestation in North Korea was the third worst in the world after Nigeria and Indonesia. By contrast, the U.N. rated South Korea’s forestation as the only successful case after World War II. Park Jong-hwa, a professor of environmental studies at Seoul National University, said that judging from NASA`s satellite images, 13,878 square kilometers or 11.3 percent of North Korean territory comprised deforested mountains. In seasons when all of South Korea is green with foliage, the North`s land in satellite images are spotted with brown dirt land. The Korea Forest Service of South Korea estimates that reforesting North Korea will require 4.9 billion trees.

Many North Korean defectors who fled the North on boats say they felt relieved to know that they had arrived in the South upon seeing coastal mountains with dense forests. Looking northward from an observatory on Mount Odu near the Demilitarized Zone, one will see North Korean mountains all bare. The North’s deforestation is caused by wanton reclamation of land and logging due to poverty. Hungry North Korean residents dig up mountain foothills to make cultivation fields for food and even cut young trees for use as firewood in winter. Deforestation causes frequent flooding and droughts as shown by severe flood damage in North Korea.

Here are links to previous posts on this topic: Ministry of Forestry, forestry, lumber.

Here is also a great paper that was published last year on deforestation in the DPRK: Forest degradation deepens around and within protected areas in East Asia



KPA Journal Vol. 2, No. 6

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Joseph Bermudez, now a Senior Analyst with DigitalGlobe’s Analysis Center and author of The Armed Forces of North Korea, has posted the latest issue of KPA Journal. You can download the PDF here.

Topics include: M-1979/1989 170mm SPGs (Part 1) and and article on the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly by Michael Madden.



Koryo Tours media wrap-up

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Koryo Tours has been busy. Below are three recent media hits the organization has received:

1. Yonhap recently published a long article on Koryo Tours founder, Nick Bonner.  You can read the full article here. In the article he discusses starting Koryo as well as the numerous other projects he has launched in the DPRK.

2. Bonner’s colleague, Simon Cockerell, recently did a podcast interview with the Korea Economic Institute.  The whole interview is worth listening to here.

3. Koryo Tours just sent out an email newsletter.  You can read it here.


DPRK makes discreet investor plea to French students

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

Pictured above (Google Earth): The University of Toulouse, France. See in Google Maps here.

According to AlertNet (Reuters):

Secretive and isolated North Korea is searching for economic allies in the unlikeliest of ways: showing videos of happy North Korean tourists to young French university students in a 13th century convent.

The reclusive communist state has no official diplomatic relations with France, one of only two European Union countries to cut ties with North Korea until it abandons its nuclear weapons programme and improves its human rights record.

But just weeks after Paris decided to open a cooperation office in the North Korean capital, its ambassador to Paris-based UNESCO accepted an invitation to address students from the University of Toulouse within the gothic surroundings of the Franciscan convent’s capitular chamber.

The meeting marked Ambassador Yun Yong Il’s first public appearance in France.

“They are the future,” said Yun, when asked by Reuters why he picked Toulouse to talk. “I’m here for the students who have been waiting to hear from a North Korean official for a year.”

Tensions have gradually eased on the Korean peninsula since the sinking of a South Korean warship 20 months ago and the North’s revelation of a uranium enrichment facility that opens a second route to make an atomic programme.

North Korea and the United States have also held a series of bilateral meetings geared at restarting broader regional de-nuclearisation talks, giving the North a window of opportunity to raise its diplomatic efforts around the world.

Yun, a former political director at the Foreign Ministry, faced about 100 students.

At times, the future political science graduates looked on bemused and surprised as the four-hour presentation cut from a hazy tourism video of the 1980s showing rolling mountains, happy North Koreans on holiday and copious seafood platters to a well structured monologue about the country’s woes and potential.

“Our country is open to everybody who wants to come. You just have to ask for a visa in Paris!” said Yun, who speaks fluent French, but opted to talk in his native language and let his deputy translate into English.

Pyongyang has slowly opened its doors under strict conditions to foreign tour groups, mostly Chinese as a way of earning hard currency.

Yun, who wears a lapel pin of President Kim Jong-il on his suit, said the country’s lack of hard currency as a result of tighter sanctions has made it turn to foreign investors on the “basis of mutual respect and interests”.

“We are looking forward to multilateral and multifaceted economic co-operation with other countries,” he said.

“We are definitely opposed to monopolistic investment of a single country,” said Yun, adding that the country’s natural resources provided opportunities for investors to tap.


Michel-Louis Martin, director of Toulouse University’s security and globalisation research group said the event was not just propaganda.

“They are trying to go beyond what they usually have to say about North Korea. Don’t forget in France, North Korea is not very well known,” said Martin.

The country’s desire to diversify its economy has echoes of China when it began to allow foreign investment and gave permission for entrepreneurs to start up businesses in the 1970s.

Yun’s presentation attempted to steer clear of its frictions with the United States, South Korea and even its relationship with China, focusing instead on his country’s economic problems.

But by the end he stepped up the rhetoric, firmly laying the blame for Pyongyang’s “misfortune” on the United States.

Michel Dusclaud, a researcher at the University of Toulouse who convinced Yun to speak, said it was normal for ancestral hatreds to come out. Despite this, he said, it was clear the North was beginning to accept that if it did not diversify, it would be engulfed either by its souther neighbour or China, which still has territorial claims to it.

“They have to open up for international cooperation otherwise they will be eaten up by South Korea or China,” Dusclaud said. “It’s imperative, but it’s not because they like us.”

With his speech finished, Yun was quick to shuffle out of the Gothic chapel, declining to speak to Reuters, but also telling a student who attempted to pose a question on whether North Korea’s political system could last:

“I’ll see you in Paris and then we’ll talk.”

Read the full story here:
N.Korea makes discreet investor plea to French students
AlertNet (Reuters)
John Irish


ROK to create official reunification fund

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

According to Yonhap:

South Korea will create an exclusive unification account as part of its efforts to prepare for a future merger with North Korea, Seoul’s point man on Pyongyang said Wednesday.

The government plans to set up the unification account in an inter-Korean cooperation fund that is currently worth about 1 trillion won (US$869 million).

The fund already has a separate account earmarked for inter-Korean projects, according to the Unification Ministry in Seoul, which handles North Korean affairs.

Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik made the announcement during a meeting with South Korean reporters on the last day of his three-day trip to Beijing.

The development underscored Seoul’s longstanding commitment to unifying with North Korea. The envisioned account, which needs parliamentary endorsement, is part of South Korea’s efforts to help cushion the cost of re-unification with one of the poorest countries in the world.

A state-run think tank has estimated that the initial costs for the integration of the two Koreas could range from 55 trillion won (US$47 billion) to 249 trillion won ($216 billion).

The estimate, which is projected to cover the first year of integration, was based on the assumption that the two neighbors could be unified two decades from now, according to the Korea Institute for National Unification.

Yu said the government does not have an immediate plan to levy a tax on citizens to help finance the potential unification, though he left open the possibility of collecting a tax.

South Korea has been working on details of a so-called unification tax since last year when President Lee Myung-bak floated the idea of using taxpayer money to help finance unification.

Seven out of 10 South Koreans believed that the costs of unification would outweigh its benefits, according to a recent telephone survey, in the latest sign of public concern over re-unification’s economic burden.

The National Unification Advisory Council, a presidential advisory body on unification, released the results of last week’s poll of about 1,000 people.

The Korea Herald also reported on this story.

Here are some previous posts on reunification costs:

1. KINU study looks to mineral wealth to cover unification costs

2. DPRK risk ‘biggest drag on Seoul’s credit rating’

3. OECD on Korean unification costs

4. Reunification costs

5. Working through Korean unification blues

6. 3 Million NK Refugees Expected in Crisis: BOK

Read the Yonhap story here:
S. Korea pushes to create independent unification account


DPRK-South Sudan diplomatic ties established

Friday, November 18th, 2011

Pyongyang, November 18 (KCNA) — The governments of the DPRK and South Sudan established diplomatic ties at an ambassadorial level.

A joint communique on the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations was made public in Ethiopia on Nov. 16.

The communique was signed by Kim Hyok Chol and Arop Kuol Deng, ambassadors of the DPRK and South Sudan to Ethiopia, upon authorization of the governments of their countries.

The two countries agreed to open their diplomatic ties from the very day of their signature to the joint communique, on the basis of the principle of respect for sovereignty, equality, reciprocity and non-interference and in line with the April 18, 1961, Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

Since all North Korean embassies must self-finance their operations, it is not likely that they will open an embassy in South Sudan until there are sufficient business contracts to maintain the office overhead. In the meantime, many of their diplomatic and consular functions will probably be held out of the Ethiopian embassy.

What kind of business opportunities await the DPRK in South Sudan? South Sudan is the world’s newest oil-producing nation, so it is likely that the DPRK will try to pursue oil contracts there. As a new nation, South Sudan also has an interest in building up its military capabilities. The DPRK has long supplied military equipment to the African continent, so they will probably look for opportunities in this new nation as well.

To date, the DPRK maintains embassies in the following African countries: Benin, Burundi, Cape Verde, DR Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.


Orascom releases Q3 2011 sharholder report

Friday, November 18th, 2011

You can read the full report here (PDF).

Since I am behind on numerous commitments at the moment, I am not going to write much about this.  However, the report’s contents have been widely covered:

1. North Korea Tech (Martyn Williams) and here.

2. Reuters



Greece seizes DPRK-made chemical weapons suits

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

According tot he AFP (2011-11-16):

Greek authorities seized almost 14,000 anti-chemical weapons suits from a North Korean ship possibly headed for Syria but did not disclose the find for nearly two years, diplomats said Wednesday.

The seizure was reported to the UN Security Council, which discussed the monitoring of nuclear sanctions against the isolated North, diplomats said.

The Greek operation was carried out in November 2009 but only reported to the United Nations in September, a diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity in confirming the number of suits to protect against chemical weapons involved.

“It seems the shipment was headed for Latakia in Syria,” a second diplomat said, noting that the Greek report to the council did not mention Syria.

“There is increasing concern because more and more of the violations before several sanctions committees seem to involve Syria.”

Syria has already been linked to breaches of an arms embargo against Iran.

Both diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity as the report by the chairman of the North Korea sanctions committee, Portugal’s UN Ambassador Jose Filipe Moraes Cabral, was given behind closed doors.

The UN Security Council ordered tough sanctions against North Korea after it staged nuclear weapons tests in 2006 and 2009.

The North pulled out of nuclear talks with China, the United States, Japan, Russia and South Korea in 2009 and efforts to kick start negotiations are struggling, with the United States and its allies saying that North Korea is not serious about disarmament.

In a comment sent on an official Twitter account, a British diplomat said it was “clear that North Korea (is) still violating” Security Council resolutions.

“Strong concerns in council about the ongoing proliferation efforts,” added a German diplomat. Neither mentioned the seizure of the anti-chemical weapons suits.

Additional Information:

1. Here and here are the two UN panel of Experts reports on the DPRK which detail other UN embargo violations.

2. The Security Council this morning extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts helping monitor sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for an additional year, until 12 June 2012.

3. Here are links to embargo violations which I previously posted.