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Seoul: N. Korea may conduct underwater-launched missile test

 

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea may soon conduct its first underwater-launched ballistic missile test in about a year, a top South Korean military official said Wednesday, amid long-stalled nuclear talks between the North and the United States.

 

In written remarks to lawmakers ahead of a confirmation hearing, Won In-choul, the nominee for chairman of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said North Korea has been repairing recent typhoon damage at its northeastern Sinpo shipyard, a place where it builds submarines.

 

Shortly after the repairs are complete, there is a chance it will carry out a submarine-launched ballistic missile test, Won said. He said South Korea’s military is keeping a close watch on developments there, according to a copy of his remarks provided by a lawmaker, Kang Dae-sik.

 

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North Korean troops 'killed South Korean official and then BURNED his body after he tried to defect' in world's harshest COVID quarantine protocol

 

The South Korean fisheries official disappeared from a government ship that was checking on potential unauthorized fishing in an area south of the boundary on Monday, a day before he was found in North Korean waters. 

 

North Korea sent officials wearing gas masks aboard a boat near the man to learn why he was there on Tuesday afternoon. Later in the day, a North Korean navy boat came and opened fire at him, South Korea's Defense Ministry said. 

 

Sailors from the boat, putting on gas masks and protective suits, poured gasoline on his body and set it aflame, the Defense Ministry said, citing intelligence gathered by surveillance equipment and other assets. The ministry said that it wasn't clear what caused his death and whether he died after being shot. 

 

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North Korea’s nuke power plant could spark Fukushima-style disaster threatening lives of 100million people, experts warn

 

NORTH Korea's nuclear reactor could be another Fukushima-style disaster waiting to happen after the plant was damaged by storms, experts have warned.

 

Satellite pictures show Kim Jong-un's mysterious nuke site took a battering and it has previously been warned shoddy safety could cause a catastrophe impacting 100 million people.

 

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The Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Centre appears to have been damaged after a dam which regulates water for the reactor's cooling system was breached.

 

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North Korea watchdog group 38North revealed satellite pictures of the damage as they noted "serious concerns" over whether Kim's reactors are safe.

 

Kim's two reactors at the site were luckily switched off amid the flooding as part of ongoing talks with the US and the regime's great rivals South Korea.

 

One is a Soviet Union-style reactor, which has been operating intermittently since 1986.

 

And the other is an experimental reactor, which has not yet been fully switched on since construction started in 2009.

 

But damage caused by typhoons battering North Korea's west coast show the potentially devastating vulnerability of the site, experts say.

 

They compared the risk to the 2011 nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan.

 

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North Korean detainees are treated as 'less than animals,' report alleges

 

Systematic torture, sexual abuse and dangerous health conditions are rife within North Korea's pretrial detention system, according to a detailed new report released Monday.

 

The document shines a light on an often opaque criminal justice system, in which suspects are considered to be "worth less than an animal."


Based on interviews with dozens of detainees and former officials, the extensive 88-page report by US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) focuses on the country's allegedly inhuman conditions at pretrial detention facilities.

 

"North Korea's pretrial detention and investigation system is arbitrary, violent, cruel, and degrading," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, in a news release. "North Koreans say they live in constant fear of being caught in a system where official procedures are usually irrelevant, guilt is presumed, and the only way out is through bribes and connections."


The report highlights what it describes as North Korea's "weak legal and institutional framework," as well as the highly political nature of its courts and law enforcement agencies under the country's ruling Party.


Human rights abuses within the secretive state have been well documented over the years, including by a United Nations Commission of Inquiry in 2014, but little is known about the pretrial system.

 

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Kim Jong-un in bizarre plot to smuggle black market Danish bull semen into North Korea

 

Kim Jong-un is trying to boost North Korea's cattle stocks by procuring bull semen on the black market from Denmark.

 

The North Korean dictator wanted to find the exotic product and sneak it into the hermit state, according to Danish filmmaker Mads Brugger.

 

Mads has produced a documentary called The Mole in which he goes undercover to investigate who North Korea tries to flout trade sanctions.

 

He claims a North Korean diplomat in Sweden, named only as Mr Ri, asked spies to help him obtain a variety back of bovine sperm.

 

Mads said: "Mr Ri, the secretary of the embassy in Stockholm, wants the mole to acquire samples of Danish beef cattle semen from various breeds, the right containers for transportation and then get it to the embassy in Stockholm (so he could) take care of getting it to Pyongyang.

 

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Kim Jong-un demands 'loyalty tax' from workers to repair North Korea's finances

 

Reports are emerging from North Korea that leader Kim Jong-un is imposing a new tax on workers stationed in China in a bid to bolster the hermit kingdom’s ailing economy.

 

The border between North Korea and China was closed in January – leaving North Korea completely cut off from its main trading partner.

 

So Pyongyang has issued a demand that North Korean workers based in China pay so called “loyalty funds” to help make up the shortfall.

 

The North Korean government has ordered each trade worker stationed in China to contribute 12,000 yuan (about £1,400) if they’re single, and 24,000 yuan if they’re married.

 

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Kim Jong-un's 'love triangle' with pop star leaves wife and sister frozen out

 

Neither Kim Jong-un's wife, Ri Sol-ju, nor his trusted sister Kim Yo-jong have been seen in a while – instead Kim is increasingly seen with the glamorous leader of 'Pyongyang's Spice Girls'

 

The ongoing drama of North Korea’s ruling dynasty has taken another twist with reports of a mystery power shift in the supreme leader's Kim Jong-un inner circle.

 

It appears his wife and ambitious sister have been pushed out by a former lover - one of the country's leading pop stars.

 

The two other women in Kim’s life, his wife, Ri Sol-ju and his sister Kim Yo-jong, seem to have been sidelined as the glamorous Hyon Song-wol is increasingly seen at his side.

 

Ri Sol-ju, 31, has not been seen in public since the new year. Kim Yo-jong has disappeared from public view before, raising speculation that there might have been a falling-out between the pair, but she has bounced back without any acknowledgement of her absence.

 

“The positive theory is that the leader grew up and is becoming more independent than before,” South Korean journalist, Wang Son-taek, writes on the NK News website.

 

“This would mean that Kim Yo-jong is now on the right track towards her own leadership-building path and is strongly supported by her brother.

 

Hyon Song-wol is the leader of The Moranbong Band – also known as Moran Hill Orchestra.

 

The all-female group’ members were all personally selected by Kim Jong-un and they’ve been described as "North Korea's version of the Spice Girls”.

 

A year after the band burst on to the public stage, a South Korean newspaper reported that Hyon Song-wol had been machine-gunned to death for selling sex tapes featuring herself and her band members.

 

The fact that seven years later she’s sharing a stage with the supreme leader is an example of how confusion and misinformation have become a hallmark off the Pyongyang soap opera.

 

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Kim Jong-un’s rich nephew Kim Han-sol goes missing ‘after meeting with CIA’

 

North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-un’s rich nephew has reportedly been taken into protective custody by the CIA.

 

Kim Han-sol is the son of Kim’s half brother Kim Jong-nam — who was allegedly murdered on orders of the dictator using a nerve agent in 2017.

 

It has been claimed that the exiled 25-year-old — who is said to live a life of lavish luxury — is now in hiding after surrendering to American intelligence services.

 

North Korean dissident great Free Joseon have claimed to have assisted in helping Kim’s nephew escape following the death of his dad, reports the New Yorker.

 

And all this wealth, along with help from the CIA, is reported to have allowed Han-sol to disappear after his dad was murdered almost four years ago.

 

Mr Hong claims his dissident group extracted him from his home in Macau, a territory of China.

 

He is claimed to have been introduced to the Free Joseon movement in 2013, and expressed an interest in exposing human rights abuses in North Korea.

 

Han-sol is claimed to have called Mr Hong after he noticed the “police who typically guarded his house had disappeared”.

 

Fearing for his life, he contacted the group and told them he needed to “get out of Macau as soon as possible”.

 

He is said to have met members of the group in Tapei, Taiwan, two days after his dad was killed.

 

There he is claimed to have boarded a plane to seek asylum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

 

Han-sol is claimed to have never arrived at his destination.

 

It is alleged that two CIA agents attempted to intercept him at Tapei and he was later taken into protective custody and remains hidden.

 

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North Korean gymnast defects by vaulting fences

 

A North Korean gymnast has escaped to South Korea by swinging himself over the border barricades without triggering sensors, according to reports.

 

The man, reported to be in his 20s, surrendered after a manhunt by the South Korean military discovered a breach.

 

The troops had engaged in an operation near the heavily fortified border in Goseong, after detecting "unidentified personnel" there, the South's military said on November 4.

 

The unnamed man was detained without incident and asked for asylum, prompting an investigation into his claims and the breach.

 

Officials were so taken aback by his feat that they asked him to demonstrate twice how he was able to jump over the three-metre fence, according to the BBC's Seoul correspondent.

 

Authorities vowed to investigate why hi-tech security systems did not work.

 

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Biden team weighs North Korea policy as the era of Trump's 'love' letters with Kim ends

 

President-elect Joe Biden's foreign policy team will soon have access to the letters President Donald Trump exchanged with North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un, correspondence that belongs to the US government -- not Trump -- and could provide insight into one of the world's most enigmatic leaders.

 

"They may help paint a richer psychological portrait of Kim Jong Un and offer insight into his thinking, or at least his approach to his engagement with Donald Trump," said a source close to the transition, adding that the missives are known to be high on rhetoric -- Trump described them as "love" letters -- and much lower on substance.


As Biden has his team review the Trump-Kim letters, the latest intelligence and other information, he will face the same challenge Trump and all his predecessors have: A North Korea determined to continue advancing its nuclear program.


The difference: In the four years since Biden was in government, North Korea has more nuclear arms, better means of delivery and is that much more dangerous.

 

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North Korean fishing captain 'is publicly executed for listening to foreign radio while at sea'

 

A North Korean fishing boat captain was executed in public for listening to a banned foreign radio station, it is claimed. 

 

The US government-funded Radio Free Asia claims the mariner was put to death after admitting he had listened to its broadcasts for more than 15 years. 

 

Aged in his 40s, the man had reportedly been picking up the foreign airwaves while out at sea and listening to news broadcasts and radio programming. 

 

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North Korea unveils 'world's most powerful weapon'

 

North Korea held a military parade in Pyongyang and unveiled a new submarine-launched ballistic missile it called the "world's most powerful weapon," state media reported Friday, days ahead of the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden.

 

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The parade was held Thursday night in Kim Il Sung Square to commemorate the closing of the weeklong Eighth Congress of the ruling Workers' Party, state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.

 

During the congress, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called the United States the "principal enemy" and called on his reclusive state to bolster its military and nuclear capabilities.

 

Kim viewed the parade, which featured columns of marching infantrymen, tanks and "rockets possessed of powerful striking capability for thoroughly annihilating enemies in a pre-emptive way outside the territory," KCNA wrote. Fireworks and fighter-jet flyovers were also part of the spectacle.

 

New weapons unveiled included an SLBM, labeled the Pukguksong-5 in photos of the parade released by state media.

 

"The world's most powerful weapon, submarine-launch ballistic missile, entered the square one after another, powerfully demonstrating the might of the revolutionary armed forces," KCNA wrote.

 

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North Korean Hackers Hacked Famous Hackers With Fake Hacking Website, Google Says

 

North Korean hackers clandestinely recruited security researchers from around the world and lured them to visit an "exploit research blog" about hacking in order to hack them, Google said Monday. The scheme was at times successful—they used Windows and Chrome zero-days to hack them, Google said in its report.

 

The hackers primarily used fake Twitter and LinkedIn accounts to approach security researchers. The hackers also used the Twitter accounts to post links to a blog where they analyzed public vulnerabilities and also claimed to find zero-days, which turned out to be fake. The hacking campaign spanned the last several months.

 

"We hope this post will remind those in the security research community that they are targets to government-backed attackers and should remain vigilant when engaging with individuals they have not previously interacted with," Adam Weidemann, who works for Google's in house security research team known as Threat Analysis Group, wrote in the report. 

 

After Google's announcement, several security researchers admitted on Twitter that they were targeted.

 

 

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North Korean hackers stole more than $300 million to pay for nuclear weapons, says confidential UN report

 

North Korea's army of hackers stole hundreds of millions of dollars throughout much of 2020 to fund the country's nuclear and ballistic missile programs in violation of international law, according to a confidential United Nations report.

 

The document accused the regime of leader Kim Jong Un of conducting "operations against financial institutions and virtual currency exchange houses" to pay for weapons and keep North Korea's struggling economy afloat. One unnamed country that is a member of the UN claimed the hackers stole virtual assets worth $316.4 million dollars between 2019 and November 2020, according to the document.

 

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North Korean escapee swims for six hours and crawls through drains to defect to South

 

South Korea has admitted a second breach in border security in just four months after a man wearing a diving suit and flippers managed to slip across the heavily fortified crossing from the totalitarian North.

 

The escape of the man, reported to be in his twenties, follows an audacious defection in November when a North Korean gymnast vaulted over a three-metre-high security fence without triggering any key sensors.

 

The most recent defector was located on Tuesday after a three-hour manhunt in the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between North and South, near the coastal town of Goseong, South Korean officials said.

 

According to a report by newswire Yonhap, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said he had swum for about six hours and passed through an unprotected drainage tunnel to bypass border barricades in his quest for freedom.

 

His footprints were found about two miles south of the military demarcation line separating the two Koreas, and troops made first sighting of him through a surveillance camera at 4.20am.

He was finally captured in the so-called civilian-control zone south of the DMZ, where no civilians are allowed to travel without military permit. He claimed he was a civilian and reportedly expressed his desire to defect.

 

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How Trump offered Kim a ride on Air Force One

 

President Trump's meetings with Kim Jong-un were among the most eye-catching moments of his presidency.

 

In the third and final episode of a new BBC series Trump Takes On the World, directed by Tim Stirzaker, we discover new details about how these summits came about, and speak to those who were in the room when the two men met.

 

What they saw stunned even the most seasoned diplomats - not least when Trump offered the North Korean dictator a lift home on Air Force One.

 

Trump's second summit with Kim Jong-un, in Hanoi, Vietnam, did not go to plan. As negotiations over North Korea's nuclear programme broke down, Trump left abruptly, saying to the press: "Sometimes you just have to walk."

 

But before he departed, the then US president did make one astonishing offer to Kim.

 

Matthew Pottinger, the top Asia expert on Trump's National Security Council told us: "President Trump offered Kim a lift home on Air Force One. The president knew that Kim had arrived on a multi-day train ride through China into Hanoi and the president said: 'I can get you home in two hours if you want.' Kim declined."

 

The offer of a ride home was one of many surprises in an unlikely bromance between the two men that started in Singapore when, as former National Security Adviser John Bolton told us: "Trump thought he had a new best friend."

 

Here, Trump made another gesture that shocked his own team, when he agreed to Kim's request to cancel joint military exercises between the US and South Korea.

 

"Trump, out of nowhere, said, 'I'm going to cancel the war games [as he called them]. There's no need for them, they're expensive and it will make you happy.' I couldn't believe it.

 

"[Secretary of State] Pompeo, [Chief of Staff] Kelly and I were sitting there in the room with Trump and we weren't consulted. It came simply from Trump's own mind. It was an unforced error; it was a concession for which we got nothing in return."

 

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Nigerian Instagram star helped North Korean hackers in $1.3B scheme: Feds

 

A Nigerian Instagram star conspired with North Korean hackers to steal more than $1.3 billion from companies and banks in the U.S. and other countries, federal prosecutors said.

 

Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, 37, also known as “Ray Hushpuppi,” is being accused of helping three North Korean computer hackers steal the funds from companies and banks, including one in Malta, in February 2019, according to the Justice Department.

 

“North Korea’s operatives, using keyboards rather than guns, stealing digital wallets of cryptocurrency instead of sacks of cash, are the world’s leading bank robbers,” Assistant Attorney General John Demers of the Justice Department’s National Security Division said in a statement on Feb. 17.

 

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As if N. Korea will pay a single cent...not.

 

Federal court awards $2.3 billion to U.S. spy ship crew held hostage by North Korea in 1968

 

A U.S. federal court has ordered North Korea to pay $2.3 billion in damages to the crew and family of the spy ship USS Pueblo, who were tortured and mistreated for 11 months in 1968 after being captured by the North Korean navy. The Washington federal court said that the surviving members of the crew and families of those now dead are owed compensatory damages for confinement and suffering of $1.15 billion and doubled that for punitive damages against Pyongyang.

 

It said many of the 83-strong crew, one of whom was killed by the North Koreans when they seized the Pueblo on January 23, 1968, were mentally and physically abused during their captivity.

 

The lawsuit was only brought in 2018 after the U.S. Justice Department ruled that, despite a law giving foreign government's broad immunity from suits in U.S. courts, they could be sued if the government had been designated a state sponsor of international terrorism.

 

In late 2017 the Trump administration officially declared North Korea a sponsor of terror.

 

North Korea was not represented in the case, and it was not clear whether and how the victims expected to recover damages.

 

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