Weekly News Brief – 8 August 2011
- KCNA: “Flood damage gets serious”. Reports 30 dead, over 6,750 homes destroyed leaving 15,800 homeless. 48,000 hectares were submerged, “seriously affecting this year’s grain output”. NK’s PM was dispatched to inspect the damage. KCNA reported South Hwanghae Province was hardest hit. The IFRC estimated 28,000 homeless. To make matters worse, super typhoon Muifa also struck Sinuiju on 8 August. IFRC map of floods. KCNA photos here.
- NK state trading companies are using NKorean computer experts based in China to create illegal software that makes money from online games. 6m USD was made over the last 18 months selling game items such as digital weapons (old habits die hard).
- CIA estimates the life-expectancy of the average NKorean to be 68.9 years, placing it at 149th among 222 countries.
- Lankov: NK collapse is just a matter of time, but in the face of popular uprising the NK elite will fight hard to maintain the system because they don’t believe they have a place in a post-transformation Korea. They might also opt to accept the intervention of China to create a China-controlled satellite regime. Lankov therefore advocates for a general amnesty to be promised to the NK elite when a crisis starts.
- NK’s youth organisation has reportedly stepped up its idolisation of KJU to consolidate support for the succession among young people.
- RFA reports that its website was accessed by someone inside NK, but it might have been a foreigner. The NK Govt has reportedly recently allowed university students to use the internet for educational purposes.
- The Arirang Mass Games opened in NK. It is reportedly criticised by NKoreans as wasteful.
FOOD AID & FOOD SECURITY
- SK said it would provide 5m USD worth of flood relief to NK, but rejected a request to provide food and cement.
- The IFRC said they will provide 590,000 USD worth of flood-relief aid to NK. Operation details here.
- The SK Govt approved a shipment of anti-malaria supplies from the Korean Sharing Movement to NK.
- WFP video of food aid in NK.
- Harry W. S. Lee on China’s NK refugee dilemma.
- Daily NK: Despite crackdowns, defections into China are increasing. KJU has therefore sent troops from the Escort Bureau – ordinarily assigned to protect the Kim family – to patrol the border area. Border guards are said to be unhappy with KJU’s decree to shoot any suspected escapees.
- Piece on NK refugees in Cambodia based on wikileaked cables. Documents the Cambodian Govt’s quiet cooperation in allowing NKoreans to travel on to SK circa 2006-2008.
- Current state of play with SK’s NKHR bill, with the differences between the DP and GNP’s versions.
- Human Rights activists protested NK’s chairmanship of the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.
- Citizens’ Alliance chairman Yoon Hyun interview. NKHR have helped, directly or indirectly, 350 refugees get to SK. They are also organising a benefit concert for NK refugee students in SK on 27 August.
INTERNATIONAL POLITICS & SECURITY
- A series of bilateral discussions are expected to take place among SPT nations before any possible resumption of the SPT. NK suggested that there will be continuing US-DPRK bilaterals, but there was no signal from the USG on this. China and NK also held bilateral discussions on restarting the SPT.
- NK called for the cancellation of US-ROK Ulji Freedom Guardian joint military exercises. The drills include exercises that practise the removal of WMD.
- Chosun Ilbo: A NKorean document reportedly shows that NK attacked the Cheonan vessel and Yeonpyeong Island last year in order to build domestic support for KJU.
- A Chinese frigate and training ship made a rare goodwill visit to Wonsan in NK. China reportedly ducked a NKorean suggestion to hold joint naval exercises.
- 2011 H1 Kaesong Industrial Complex trade showed an increase of 19.5% on 2010 H1, totalling 825m USD. The minimum wage at the KIC rose by 5%.
- An SK Govt official said NK would have to remove Kim Yong-chol – the head of operations against SK – to show it is ‘sincere’ about improving N-S relations.
- NK and the US are likely to resume talks on recovering remains of US soldiers killed in the Korean War.
- Amb-designate Sung Kim on the importance of US-ROK relations. Sung Kim’s confirmation as ambo is reportedly being stalled by at least one hold in the Senate, possibly by a GOP senator unhappy at the USG’s re-engagement of NK.
- Haggard’s review of Pollack’s book on NK’s nuclear programme.
- The SK Govt has blocked the website of UK-based Koryo Tours under the archaic National Security Law.
- Mike Chinoy on journalism from inside NK.
- Geoffrey See: Why NKoreans deserve opportunities to study abroad.
- Daily NK: NK is decreasing its logging operations in Russia due to decreasing profitability, but is increasing its involvement in construction projects. NK is said to have sent tens of thousands of workers to Russia.
- NK agreed to allow some Korean-Americans to exchange mail with relatives inside NK as part of a trial.
- NK’s propaganda unit has reportedly been brought in to build a monument or museum near the Angkor Wat temples in Cambodia. NK earned 160m USD through such projects over the last decade.
- Piece on Air Koryo.
- The ‘Korea Unification Project’ creates a vision of a unified Korea through ‘augmented reality’ on smartphones.