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All Things North Korea Thread


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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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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 weeks later...

N Korea's Kim looks much thinner, causing health speculation

 

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The health of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has long been a source of morbid fascination in rival South Korea, which sits in the shadow of Kim's 1.2-million-strong army and his growing arsenal of nuclear-armed missiles.

 

Has he gained even more weight? Is he struggling for breath after relatively short walks? What about that cane? Why did he miss that important state anniversary?

 

Now, the 37-year-old faces fresh speculation in the South about his health again. But this time, it's because he's noticeably slimmer.

 

Kim’s health matters in Seoul, Washington, Tokyo and other world capitals because he hasn’t publicly anointed a successor who would control an advancing nuclear program targeting the United States and its allies — if he is incapacitated. North Korea, never open about the internal workings of its leadership, has over the last year shut itself up even tighter to protect against the coronavirus pandemic.

 

In recent state media images, including those published on Wednesday, Kim appeared to have lost a large amount of weight. The strap on his fancy watch is tighter, and his face thinner. Some observers say Kim — who is about 170 centimeters (5 feet, 8 inches) tall and has previously weighed 140 kilograms (308 pounds) — may have lost about 10-20 kilograms (22-44 pounds).

 

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I get a visceral loathing looking into the faces of brutal despots and autocrats, wannabe or otherwise - Putin, Duterte, Trump, Kim, etc.  The fat ****ing faces, the soulless eyes, the cold smugness.

 

Both pics of Kim above qualify. 

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  • 1 month later...

North Korea warns young people against using slang from the South

 

North Korean state media has urged its young people against using slang from South Korea and told them to speak North Korea's standard language.

 

There were also fresh warnings in North Korea's official newspaper against adopting the fashions, hairstyles and music of South Korea.

 

It is part of a sweeping new law which seeks to stamp out any kind of foreign influence, with harsh penalties.

 

Those found in breach of the law can face jail or even execution.

 

Rodong Sinmun newspaper warned millennials of the dangers of following South Korean pop culture.

 

"The ideological and cultural penetration under the colourful coloured signboard of the bourgeoisie is even more dangerous than enemies who are taking guns," the article read.

 

It stressed that Korean based on the Pyongyang dialect is superior, and that young people should use it correctly.

 

The North has recently sought to stamp out South Korean slang, for example a woman calling her husband "oppa" - which means "older brother" but is often used to refer to a boyfriend.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Seoul: North Korea releases army rice reserves amid shortage

 

North Korea is releasing emergency military rice reserves as its food shortage worsens, South Korea’s spy agency said Tuesday, with a heat wave and drought reducing the country's supply.

 

The country's moribund economy is continuously being battered by the protracted COVID-19 pandemic, and while mass starvation and social chaos have not been reported, observers expect further deterioration of North Korea's food situation until the autumn harvest.

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

‘Deeply troubling’: North Korea nuclear activity stokes fears

 

North Korea appears to have restarted a nuclear reactor that is widely believed to have produced plutonium for atomic weapons, the UN nuclear watchdog said, a likely signal Pyongyang is expanding its banned nuclear programme.

 

Signs of operation at the 5-megawatt (MW) reactor, which is seen as capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium, were the first to be spotted since late 2018, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a report dated Friday.

 

“[North Korea’s] nuclear activities continue to be a cause for serious concern. Since early July 2021, there have been indications, including the discharge of cooling water, consistent with the operation,” the report (PDF) said of the reactor at Yongbyon nuclear complex.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

South Korea monitoring the North over military parade signs

 

South Korea’s military on Tuesday was closely watching North Korea amid signs the country was preparing to hold a new military parade to showcase its growing nuclear and missile capabilities.

 

The South Korean and U.S. militaries were “thoroughly following and monitoring North Korean preparations for large-scale events such as a military parade in connection with the North’s internal schedule," said Col. Kim Jun-rak, a spokesman for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. He didn't specify in the news conference what the allied militaries have seen or when they expect the parade to take place.

 

North Korea often celebrates major state anniversaries by rolling out thousands of goose-stepping troops and its most advanced military hardware at a square in the capital, Pyongyang.

 

There’s speculation its next military parade could come as early as Thursday when it celebrates the 73rd anniversary of the country’s founding. Another big date is Oct. 10, the 76th anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party.

 

During a military last parade in January, North Korea showcased new missiles being developed to be fired from submarines as it celebrated the closure of a rare Workers’ Party congress. There, leader Kim Jong Un vowed to expand his nuclear weapons program in the face of what he described as U.S. hostility.

 

Meanwhile, the Workers’ Party’s Politburo on Tuesday elected an army general, seen as an influential figure in shaping the country’s ballistic missile program, as the newest member of its powerful presidium, which consists of Kim and four other top officials, North Korean state media said.

 

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Japan court summons NKorea leader over repatriation program

 

A Japanese court has summoned North Korea's leader to face demands for compensation by several ethnic Korean residents of Japan who say they suffered human rights abuses in North Korea after joining a resettlement program there that promised a “paradise on Earth,” a lawyer and plaintiff said Tuesday.

 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un isn't expected to appear in court for the Oct. 14 hearing, but the judge's decision to summon him is a rare instance in which a foreign leader was not granted sovereign immunity, said Kenji Fukuda, a lawyer representing the five plaintiffs.

 

They are demanding 100 million yen ($900,000) each in compensation from North Korea for human rights violations they say they suffered under the resettlement program.

 

About 93,000 ethnic Korean residents of Japan and their family members went to North Korea decades ago because of promises of a better life. Many had faced discrimination in Japan.

 

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North Korea holds middle-of-the-night military parade

 

North Korea held a midnight military parade in Pyongyang early Thursday to mark the 73rd anniversary of its founding, the country's state media reported.

 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un appeared on a platform in Kim Il Sung square and waved at the crowd, but there was no mention of him giving a speech, according to Rodong Sinmun.


North Korea experts noted that images of Kim appeared to show the North Korean leader has lost weight, adding support to a state media report from June that he had slimmed down.


"It's striking how much healthier Kim Jong Un is looking in these photos from yesterday," tweeted Martyn Williams, a Fellow working on the 38 North Project at the Stimson Center. "However he is doing it -- and there are theories -- he looks a lot better than he did a few months ago."


State media reports made no mention of Kim Jong Un's sister and high official Kim Yo Jong.

 

During the parade, planes flew above Pyongyang firing flares, and paratroopers dropped from aircraft in the night sky, Rodong Sinmun said.


Down in the street, marching bands led a parade, which included laborers, research units and an "emergency disease prevention unit," it added. Images of the parade showed a large contingent of marchers dressed in orange hazmat-style suits and gas masks.


The notoriously reclusive country severed almost all of its ties with the outside world in 2020 to prevent an influx of coronavirus cases. And to date, it seems to have worked.

 

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North Korea says it tested new long-range cruise missiles

 

North Korea said Monday that it successfully tested newly developed long-range cruise missiles over the weekend, the first known testing activity in months, underscoring how the country continues to expand its military capabilities amid a stalemate in nuclear negotiations with the United States.

 

The state-run Korean Central News Agency reported that the missiles showed they can hit targets 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) away on Saturday and Sunday. State media published photos of a projectile being fired from a launcher truck and what looked like a missile traveling in the air.

 

The North hailed its new missiles as a “strategic weapon of great significance” — wording that implies they were developed with the intent to arm them with nuclear warheads.

 

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North Korea Is Now Launching Ballistic Missiles From Trains And That's A Big Deal (Updated)

 

North Korea has revealed that a pair of ballistic missiles it test-fired earlier today were launched using a previously unknown railway-based system. A railcar-based missile launcher would offer a relatively cheap way for the North Koreans to field additional missiles in a way that would make them significantly less vulnerable to preemptive or counter-attacks.

 

The launches were carried out by the North Korean military's Railway Mobile Missile Regiment and this was the unit's first time demonstrating what was described only as a "railway mobile missile system," according to an official release from the country's state media. The statement also says the missiles flew approximately 800 kilometers, or nearly 500 miles, from their launch point before failing into the sea off the country's eastern coastline. 

 

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Satellite images reveal North Korea expanding facility used to produce weapons-grade uranium

 

New satellite images obtained by CNN reveal North Korea is expanding a key facility capable of enriching uranium for nuclear weapons, renovations that likely indicate the country plans to significantly ramp-up production at this once-dormant site in the near future, according to experts who analyzed the photos.

 

Images captured by commercial imaging company Maxar earlier this week show construction is underway at a uranium enrichment plant located within the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Facility complex -- changes that could allow North Korea to increase production of weapons-grade nuclear material by as much as 25 percent, Jeffrey Lewis, a weapons expert and professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, told CNN.

 

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