Weekly News Brief – 13 June 2011
- NK and China held ground-breaking ceremonies at the joint economic zones on Hwanggumpyong and Wihwa Islands and in Rason. Note the location of Hwanggumpyong Island on the north side of the Yalu. Apparently at the time of the 1962 treaty that determined the sovereignty of the islands, the Yalu flowed between Dandong (China) and Hwanggumpyong (NK), but in the half century since then so much sediment has collected that the water narrowed to a few feet.
- NK authorities are reportedly cracking down on SK products being sold in the markets, as well as products from the Kaesong Industrial Complex. The Govt is also working to stir up anti-SK sentiment through people’s unit meetings.
- FP piece on the chances of a popular uprising in NK.
- Profile of KIS University.
FOOD AID & FOOD SECURITY
- An EU team arrived in NK to assess food shortages. Piece on EU’s role in NK.
- The USG has still made no decision on food aid. A key consideration is the ability to effectively monitor end-use to make sure it does not go to the military.
- The floor leader of SK’s ruling party called on China to recognise NK refugees as ROK citizens and stop forcibly repatriating them.
- UM: Around 1,100 NK refugees have entered SK this year up to the end of May, an increase of 14% on the same period last year, despite an increase in NK border security.
- NK refugee to be appointed head of the Education Center for Unification, a govt research institute.
- Detailed look at the Underground Railroad used by NK refugees to get to SK.
- Kimjongilia, a film telling the stories of NK refugees, is due to open in SK in late June.
- A benefit concert for NK refugees and children of multicultural families was held in Seoul.
- Unification Minister Hyun In-taek called on the SK National Assembly to pass the NKHR Law this month.
INTERNATIONAL POLITICS & SECURITY
- Seemingly determined to further embarrass the LMB administration, NK has threatened to release secret voice recordings of secret N-S meetings where they claimed SK officials offered cash bribes. The SK Govt admitted offering cash but claimed it was compensation for relocating the talks from SE Asia to Beijing. SK repeated calls for dialogue with NK.
- US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said that NK’s move to embarrass LMB concerned and surprised the Chinese leadership, who had called for improved N-S relations. The USG publicly backed SK’s approach. The US Congress will consider a bill reinforcing sanctions on NK and others.
- KJI reportedly met with the head of the CCP’s organization department Li Yuanchao in Pyongyang. China’s Defence Minister claimed that China is doing more to pressure NK than it gets credit for.
- SK’s Defence Minister said that NK had probably succeeded in miniaturising a nuclear device, meaning it could fit one on a warhead. Satellite imagery shows construction activity at Yongbyon over the last 2 years, which could represent development of NK’s uranium enrichment programme. Outgoing CIA chief Leon Panetta said NK’s military presents a ‘growing and direct threat’ to the US.
- SK plans to deploy Apache helicopters to defend the SK islands in the disputed West Sea maritime border area. SK also warned of a harsh retaliation to any NKorean assault.
- The US intercepted a NK ship that was suspected of carrying missile technology or small arms to Burma and, after a stand-off, forced it to return home.
- The SK Govt rejected a request by nearly 100 civic activists to visit NK to attend a ceremony to mark the 2000 N-S summit.
- SKorean business people that used to do business with NK are seeing Chinese competitors take over opportunities after the SK Govt implemented sanctions following the Cheonan ship attack. There used to be around 1000 SK businessmen in Dandong, but now most of them have left. Trade between NK and China nearly doubled in Q1 2011 compared to Q1 2010. A large increase in exports of NK mineral resources reduced China’s trade surplus.
- China is still blocking the release of a UN report that details NK-Iran cooperation on missile technology in breach of UN sanctions.
- NK’s PR to the UN reportedly privately backed Ban Ki-moon’s bid for a 2nd term as UN SG.
- Good map of NK from UN DPKO.
- A NKorean Taekwondo team is visiting the US.
- NK-Cuba comparison.
- The Economist’s early take on SK’s 2012 Presidential election candidates. WSJ on SK domestic politics and the left-wing’s stance on NK policy. Time on SK’s military service.
- FP slideshow: Behind the curtain. Photos of KJI visiting high tech companies on tour in China.
- NYT on efforts to provide secure communications for dissidents in authoritarian countries, including the ‘internet in a suitcase’. By end 2011, State Dept will have spent 70m USD on circumvention and related technologies. Includes mention of NK cross-border communication using Chinese mobile phones.