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Former Top Official Says Kim Jong-un Is No Longer in Control of North Korea


An elite group of exiles from North Korea gathered in September in the Netherlands to discuss the state of the regime they used to serve. The conference included top diplomats, an ex-senior official of the Ministry of Security, and a high-ranking military officer, but the keynote address was given by Jang Jin-sung, formerly a key member of Kim Jong-il's propaganda machine. Included in Jang's speech was a surprising assertion: North Korea is in the midst of a civil war.


According to Jang — a former counterintelligence official and poet laureate under Kim Jong-il — members of the government's Organization and Guidance Department (OGD), a powerful group of officials that once reported only to Kim Jong-il, have stopped taking orders from his son, Kim Jong-un. The OGD, Jang says, has effectively taken control of the country, and a conflict is simmering between factions that want to maintain absolute control over the economy and others seeking to gain wealth through foreign trade and a slightly more open market.


"On one hand, it's people who want to maintain a regime monopoly," Jang told VICE News through a translator in an interview Thursday. "On the other hand, it's not like people are fighting against the regime, but in a policy sense they want to take advantage to get influence. It's not actually consciously civil war, but there are these two incompatible forces at play."

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INCHEON, South Korea: North and South Korea agreed Saturday (Oct 4) to work on resuming a formal high-level dialogue that has effectively been suspended for seven months, the South's Unification Ministry said.

The agreement came during a surprise visit to South Korea by three top-ranking North Korean officials, two of them close aides to paramount leader Kim Jong-un. "The two sides agreed to discuss details for the resumption of the high-level contact," the Unification Ministry said in a statement.

Seoul has been urging the North to resume the talks for several months, but until now Pyongyang had spurned the request, partly in irritation over recent South Korea-US joint military drills. The ministry statement said the North Korean officials had expressed a "willingness" to restart the dialogue between late October and early November.

The last high-level talks were held in Seoul in February and resulted in the North hosting a rare reunion for families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War. The talks had fuelled hopes of further constructive engagement, but those were dashed as the two rivals entered one of their regular periods of elevated military tension.

The Unification Ministry statement also noted that President Park Geun-hye had wanted to meet the visiting North delegates on Saturday, but the tight schedule of their sudden visit did not allow for a trip to the presidential Blue House.

- AFP/ac

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So, KJU hasn't been seen in public for close to a month. The North just met with the South to resume talks. Could this be the beginning of the end for the Kim family?




No sign of Kim Jong-un as North Korea welcomes home Asian Games athletes
Sports-mad leader, who is thought to be ill, did not attend celebrations for returning athletes after impressive medal haul.

North Koreans lined the streets of Pyongyang to welcome home athletes from the Asian Games – but sports-fanatic Kim Jong-un, who is believed to be ill, was not among them.

Senior officials from the Workers’ party and the military welcomed the athletes at the airport on Sunday, state media said, but there was no mention of Kim attending.

North Korea’s leader has not been seen in public for more than a month, prompting speculation about his health. However, officials on a surprise visit to South Korea denied on Sunday that there was anything wrong with him.

Hundreds of thousands of North Koreans came out on to the streets to greet the athletes who took part in the games in South Korea, state media reports said.

North Korea’s 150 athletes won 11 gold medals and 25 silver and bronze in the country’s best Asian Games performance since 1990.

The North Koreans were widely cheered by South Korean crowds at the event in Incheon even though the two countries remain technically at war.

Each athlete left the plane at Pyongyang airport wrapped in a North Korean flag.

North Korea’s women footballers, who beat Japan 1-0 in the Asian Games final, led the cavalcade, according to the reports.

“The players received fervent welcome from hundreds of thousands of citizens in Pyongyang who lined the streets,” the Korean Central News Agency said.

The mass welcome lasted for more than six miles, according to KCNA, adding that the “streets turned into a sea of flowers”.

Nearly everyone in the crowd was seen carrying a bouquet. Some families keep plastic or paper flowers that they use when ordered to appear for such events.

When the parade reached the Keasonmun, Pyongyang’s version of the Arc de Triomphe, “the crowd raised stormy cheers”, KCNA said.

All the cars were emblazoned with portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, respectively the current leader’s grandfather and father.

The athletes laid wreaths and paid tribute at the huge statues of the two Kims in the centre of the city, the reports said.

The ruling party’s official newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, gave extensive coverage to the athletes with stories and pictures filling the first three pages.

“We warmly welcome our proud sons and daughters who made the dignity and strength of North Korean Juche well known,” read the front-page headline. Juche is the North’s hardline ideology of self-reliance.

The Rodong Sinmun attributed the country’s Asian Games medals to Kim Jong-un and his policy of emphasising sport.

Despite their success at the Asian Games, North Korea’s women footballers are banned from taking part in next year’s World Cup in Canada after five players failed drug tests at the last World Cup in 2011.

North Korea is also in trouble with the International Gymnastics Federation.

Two days before the Asian Games started, the federation banned a North Korean gymnast who had lied about her age. It said the Pyongyang government submitted a fake passport for Cha Yong-Hwa.

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North Korea acknowledges labor camps for 1st time

North Korea publicly acknowledged the existence of its labor camps for the first time Tuesday, an admission that appeared to come in response to a highly critical U.N. human rights report earlier this year.
Diplomats for the reclusive, impoverished country also told reporters that a top North Korea official has visited the headquarters of the European Union and expressed interest in dialogue, with discussions on human rights expected next year.
North Korea's deputy U.N. ambassador Ri Tong Il said the secretary of his country's ruling Workers' Party had visited the EU, and that "we are expecting end of this year to open political dialogue between the two sides." The human rights dialogue would follow.
In Brussels, an EU official confirmed a recent North Korea meeting with the EU's top human rights official, Stavros Lambrinidis, but said any dialogue currently planned is limited to rights issues.
Choe Myong Nam, a North Korean foreign ministry official in charge of U.N. affairs and human rights issues, said at a briefing with reporters that his country has no prison camps and, in practice, "no prison, things like that."
But he briefly discussed the "reform through labor" camps. "Both in law and practice, we do have reform through labor detention camps — no, detention centers — where people are improved through their mentality and look on their wrongdoings," he said.
Such "re-education" labor camps are for common offenders and some political prisoners, but most political prisoners are held in a harsher system of political prison camps.


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I was reading an AMA on Reddit from a NK defector. They said that people are taught that Dear Leader can read minds, so many try to not even think negative thoughts about the regime or country. Can you imagine?


People were also speculating on what the biggest surprise and culture shock would be for a defector. Seems like the overwhelming answer was food: the quantity, the availability, and the fact that there's even an expiration date (I guess in NK, since food isn't abundant, there's no need for expiration dates).

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BREAKING: North Korea has fired artillery at South Korea, South Korea returning fire, reports Yonhap

5:41 AM



Developing story: North and South Korea have exchanged fire across their land border, according to the South's army. More soon.

5:49 AM



"A few shells" fired following launch of balloons on inter-Korean border. No confirmation of injuries, etc.

5:41 AM

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It also looks like Kim Jong Un was absent from a political anniversary ceremony today, honoring his late father & grandfather. That gout must really have a hold on him...or he's dead and NK is scrambling.


Either way, this is super interesting...

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North Korea says leader has reappeared


North Korean state media has attempted to end the international speculation about the whereabouts of leader Kim Jong Un by publishing the first photos of him in more than a month.


The North Korean leader gave "field guidance" to a newly built residential district and visited the Natural Energy Institute of the State Academy of Sciences, state news agency KCNA reported Tuesday.


Kim hadn't been seen in public since he reportedly attended a concert with his wife on September 3. It's his longest absence from official events since he made his first public appearance in 2010, according to NK News, a website devoted to analyzing North Korea.


In the undated photos, Kim was surrounded by officials and could be seen walking with a cane. He was smiling and didn't appear, in the photos at least, to be in pain.

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S. Korea: 2 Koreas exchange gunfire along border


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Troops from the rival Koreas exchanged gunfire Sunday along their heavily fortified border in the second such shooting in less than 10 days, South Korean officials said. There were no reports of injuries or property damage, but the 10 minutes of shooting highlighted rising tensions between the divided countries.


The Koreas' first exchange of gunfire came after North Korea opened fire at balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets that were floating across the border from the South. Sunday's shootout began after North Korea sent soldiers close to the border line. The move was an attempt by the North to increase worries in the South about what might happen if leafleting continues, analysts say.


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N. Korea says Kim Jong-Un freed US detainee at Obama's request


North Korea said Wednesday that "criminal" US detainee Jeffrey Fowle was freed on the orders of leader Kim Jong-Un following "repeated requests" from President Barack Obama.


In a brief report the official KCNA news agency said Fowle, 56, had been handed over to the US authorities in accordance with relevant legal procedures.


"Kim Jong-Un, first chairman of the National Defence Commission ... took such a special measure as setting free Jeffrey Edward Fowle, US criminal, taking into consideration the repeated requests of US President Obama," it said.


Fowle, one of three Americans detained in North Korea, was released on Tuesday and allowed to go home in a US government plane that flew to Pyongyang.


Fowle had entered the North in April and was detained after apparently leaving a Bible in the bathroom of a nightclub in the northern port of Chongjin.


North Korea regards unsanctioned proselytising or missionary work as a criminal act.


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N. Korea says it has invited EU rights official


 North Korea on Thursday said it has invited European Union's top human rights official to visit the country, but it threatened to drop recent offers of visits by United Nations rights officials unless a U.N. resolution on the country removes any reference to the International Criminal Court before Saturday.


North Korean diplomat Kim Un Chol told The Associated Press that the visit by the EU official, Stavros Lambrinidis, is expected next March.


"We have already sent the invitation letter," Kim said.


He also handed out a press statement that said, "We have also agreed to the visit of our country by the Special Representative for Human Right of European External Action Service," the name for the EU's diplomatic service.


The European Union's mission to the U.N. was not immediately available for comment Thursday evening. But an EU official in Brussels earlier this month confirmed that Lambrinidis recently had met with a North Korean representative.


North Korea has been on the defensive since a U.N. commission of inquiry early this year detailed what it said were vast human rights abuses in the impoverished but nuclear-armed country and warned that leader Kim Jong Un could be held accountable.


The new EU-Japan resolution at the U.N. echoes the report's recommendations, saying the Security Council should refer North Korea's human rights situation to the International Criminal Court. Although ally China, a permanent council member, has signaled it would veto such a move, Pyongyang has been unnerved that international attention to its dismal human rights record hasn't seemed to fade.


For North Korea to offer any dialogue on human rights, a topic which its government until recently would not discuss, is seen as significant by the international community. But such an offer is also greeted with skepticism. One U.N. diplomat this week, asked what assurance countries have that Pyongyang will follow up on its word, said simply, "None."

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  • 2 weeks later...


Two Americans freed by North Korea flying to U.S. base


After months in detention, two Americans who had been held prisoner in North Korea soon will be back in the United States following a rare visit by a top U.S. official to the reclusive nation and a letter from President Barack Obama.


Kenneth Bae and Matthew Todd Miller, the last two Americans detained in North Korea, were due to arrive at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state about midnight ET (9 p.m. PT).


The pair were released after Director of National Intelligence James Clapper went to Pyongyang as an envoy of President Barack Obama, a senior State Department official told CNN.


Clapper delivered a letter from Obama, addressed to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, describing Clapper as "his personal envoy" to bring the Americans home, a senior administration official told CNN on Saturday.


The letter was "short and to the point," the official said. Clapper did not meet with Kim.


Clapper had no guarantee he would bring the Americans home, a senior State Department official told CNN.


The North Korean government issued a statement about the release, saying it received an "earnest apology" from Obama for the men's actions. It also said the two were "sincerely repentant of their crimes and (were) behaving themselves while serving their terms."


According to the statement, the first chairman of North Korea's National Defense Commission ordered the release. The title is one of several top positions that Kim holds in the North Koran hierarchy.


China assisted in the monthslong process of arranging the release, the official said.


Clapper's visit came after North Korea contacted the U.S. government unexpectedly and urged the administration to send a Cabinet-level official to North Korea's capital to discuss the detained Americans, according to two sources close to the matter.

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  • 2 weeks later...


UN votes against North Korea on human rights


A United Nations General Assembly committee Tuesday voted in favor of a draft resolution referring North Korea to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity as well as "targeted sanctions" for rampant human rights abuses.


The 111-19, with 55 abstentions, is merely a recommendation. The General Assembly does not have the power to refer the regime or its leader Kim Jong Un to the ICC.


The non-binding measure will come up for a vote by the General Assembly in December.


The authority to refer a country to the ICC lies only with the U.N. Security Council, a 15-member body charged with maintaining global security.


The five permanent members at the core of the Security Council, including China and Russia, wield veto powers.


A North Korea representative told the U.N. gathering Tuesday that the resolution "provoked confrontation" and "failed to reflect the reality on the ground."


China is likely to use its veto as its officials have repeatedly said efforts to send North Korea's leadership to the ICC "won't help improve a country's human rights condition." North Korea's longtime ally has never wavered in its support for Pyongyang.


North Korea's leaders have been accused of employing murder, torture, slavery, sexual violence and mass starvation to prop up the isolated regime and exercise total control over its citizens.



Brazil was only BRICS member to vote for UNGA resolution urging North Korea referral to ICC. Russia, China against; India, SA abstain
3:50 PM
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So does the whole populace have Stockholm Syndrome?


N. Korea holds rally against UN rights resolution


PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Korea held a mass rally Tuesday in its capital to protest a United Nations resolution condemning its human rights record.


Thousands of protesters in Kim Il Sung Square carried banners praising their leaders and condemning the United States. Such mass rallies are organized by the government and are used to express its official line.


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North Korea orders everyone sharing leader's name to change it: report


North Korea has ordered people who share the name of leader Kim Jong Un to change their names, South Korea's state-run KBS television reported on Wednesday.


North Korea imposed similar bans on the use of the names of its two former leaders, Kim's father, Kim Jong Il, and grandfather, Kim Il Sung, as part of propaganda drives to build cults of personality around them.


Kim Jong Un's name is not allowed for newborns and people who share the name must not just stop using it but must change it on their birth certificates and residence registrations, KBS reported, citing an official North Korean directive.


Kim Jong Il, the father of the current leader, issued the order in 2011, when his son was heir apparent, KBS said. The elder Kim died in December that year and his son took power.


South Korea's Unification Ministry, which handles ties with the North, could not immediately confirm the report but said it was plausible.


"The ban is highly possible since North Korea had the same policy in the era of Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung," a ministry official said.


It is not known how many people there are in North Korea called Kim Jong Un, but Kim is a very common family name and Jong Un are common given names.

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  • 4 months later...

Kim Jong-un was child prodigy who could drive at age of three, claims North Korean school curriculum


Portrayal of dictator as a child prodigy to boost his standing with his citizens reminiscent of outlandish claims about father Kim Jong-il's prowess


Teachers in North Korea have been issued with a manual that requires them to instruct their charges that Kim Jong-un was a prodigy who could drive at the age of 3 and was winning yachting races at just 9.


South Korea's YTN television network reported that the manual has been provided to teachers at middle and high schools across the country to go with a new subject, Kim Jong-un's Revolutionary Activities, that is being included in the school curriculum from this year.


North Korean children are being taught that Mr Kim is a skilled artist and composer of musical scores, while he was able to drive when he was 3.


Mr Kim is also, apparently, a natural sailor.


"At the age of 9, Kim Jong-un raced the chief executive of a foreign yacht company who was visiting North Korea at the time", the books claim, adding that he overcame the odds to claim victory.


That the regime is going to such lengths to lionise Mr Kim suggests the young dictator still lacks the complete support of his people, Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Tokyo's Waseda University and an authority on North Korean affairs, told The Telegraph.

"This tells us that his rule is not yet stable", Prof Shigemura said. "A North Korean leader needs to have success and results, and so far he hasn't been very successful."


"Not many people in the North have respect for Mr Kim, so children are being taught how great and powerful he is", he added. "The children believe it, of course, but the teachers have no choice but to believe it".


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