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  • 3 weeks later...

Fears mount over North Korean ‘great leap backwards’


Leader Kim Jong Un’s ideology of self-reliance risks causing food shortages and economic collapse



On the western bank of the Yalu in the Chinese city of Dandong, containers packed with medical supplies and protein biscuits stand untouched, prohibited from being trucked across the river and into North Korea.


On the opposite bank at Sinuiju, construction of a new bridge, roads and buildings has slowed to a crawl — Kim Jong Un’s master plan for modernising the border gathering dust.

The bleak scenes reflect a nation still cut off from the outside world more than a year after Kim severed almost all of North Korea’s land, sea and air links in response to the explosion of coronavirus cases in China.


Aidan Foster-Carter, a North Korea expert at Leeds University, warned of a “great leap backwards” if Kim both rejected outside help and refused meaningful economic reform.

“Thanks to China and Vietnam, we know what a state socialist regime must do in order to re-dynamise its economy: in effect creating state capitalism while retaining communist party rule,” Foster-Carter said.


Foreign government officials, international aid workers, human rights activists and diplomats are urging the North Korean leader to partially reopen his country to foreign assistance. There are mounting fears over food security and economic collapse, while there is no clear plan to vaccinate a population of 25m people.




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Biden defense secretary warns US forces ready to 'fight tonight' after North Korea warning


Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday warned North Korea that U.S. forces are ready to "fight tonight" after the dictatorship condemned military drills taking place in South Korea.


The U.S. and South Korean militaries have resumed springtime drills in South Korea after pausing exercises last February due to coronavirus concerns.


Austin discussed the U.S. military's commitment to "denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" and "the importance of maintaining military readiness" during a press conference Wednesday.


"Our force remains ready to 'fight tonight,' and we continue to make progress toward the eventual transition of wartime Operational Control to a [Republic of Korea]-commanded, future Combined Forces Command," the defense secretary said.


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Sinpho South Naval Shipyard: Drydock Movement Detected


Commercial satellite imagery of the Sinpho South Shipyard from March 24, 2021 indicates that the floating drydock, normally moored at a nearby pier, has recently been repositioned alongside the construction hall’s submarine-launch quay. Since this drydock has seldom been observed positioned next to the quay, its presence may indicate one of two developments. First, the new ballistic missile submarine, which has been under construction for several years, may be nearing completion or is ready to be rolled out and launched in the near future. Alternatively, the drydock may be there for rail alignment adjustment with those on the quay, as no submarine is known to have been launched from this location as of yet.

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  • 4 weeks later...

South Korean president: Trump ‘beat around the bush’ on North Korea diplomacy


South Korean President Moon Jae-in criticized former President Donald Trump’s diplomacy toward North Korea and failure to achieve denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula during his time in office.


“He beat around the bush and failed to pull it through,” Moon, who is scheduled to meet with President Joe Biden in Washington next month, told The New York Times in an interview published Wednesday.


Moon, elected South Korea’s leader in 2017 and now in his final year in office, helped broker two summit meetings between Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un — in 2018 in Singapore and in 2019 in Hanoi, Vietnam. Trump ultimately walked away from the second summit in Hanoi and failed to secure any long-term concessions from Pyongyang.


Trump and Kim also met briefly later in 2019 along the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. At that meeting, Trump actually stepped across the concrete barrier marking the border between the two nations, making him the first president to set foot in North Korea.


Even after the Hanoi meeting fell apart, Trump was publicly optimistic about the odds of a third meeting and personally complimentary of Kim, despite the dictator’s oppressive regime, dismal record on human rights and threat to global security.


As recently as Monday, Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity in an interview that “I have a great relationship with a certain man that’s got great power over North Korea,” touting the “relationship that I developed” with Kim.


But even former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, an ardent defender of Trump, acknowledged in an interview earlier this month on the conservative “Ruthless” podcast that he regretted “that we didn't make more progress” with North Korea.


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