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KMHPF
Nov 21, 2022
In NEWS IN BRIEF
North Korea has unveiled the little-known daughter of its leader Kim Jong Un at a missile launch site, attracting keen attention on a fourth-generation member of the dynastic family that has ruled North Korea for more than seven decades. The North's state media said Saturday that Kim had observed the launch of its new type of intercontinental ballistic missile with his wife Ri Sol Ju, their "beloved daughter" and other officials the previous day. Kim said the launch of the Hwasong-17 missile — the North's longest-range, nuclear-capable missile — proved he has a reliable weapon to contain U.S.-led military threats. The main Rodong Sinmun newspaper also released a slew of photos of Kim watching a soaring missile from a distance with his daughter. Other photos showed her with her hair pulled back, wearing a white coat and a pair of red shoes as she walked in hand-in-hand with her father by a huge missile atop a launch truck. It's the first time for North Korea's state media to mention the daughter or publicize her photos. KCNA didn't provide further details about her like her name and age. Much of Kim's private life is still unknown. But South Korean media reported Kim married Ri, a former singer, in 2009, and that the couple have three children who were born in 2010, 2013 and 2017. It wasn't known which child Kim took to the launch site. But in 2013, after a trip to Pyongyang, retired NBA star Dennis Rodman told the British newspaper the Guardian that he and Kim had a "relaxing time by the sea" with the leader's family and that he held Kim's baby daughter, named Ju Ae. The identities of Kim's children are a source of strong outside interest as the 38-year-old ruler hasn't publicly anointed an heir apparent. When he disappeared from public eye for an extended period in 2020 amid unconfirmed rumors about health conditions, global media frenzy flared over who was next in line to run an impoverished yet nuclear-armed country. Many observers said at the time that Kim's younger sister, Kim Yo Jong, would step in and run the country if her brother was incapacitated. The Kim family has governed North Korea with a strong personality following built around key family members since Kim's grandfather, Kim Il Sung, founded the country in 1948. The family's so-called Paektu bloodline, named after the North's most sacred mountain, allows only direct family members to rule the country. "It's much too soon to infer anything about succession within the Kim regime," said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul. "However, publicly including his wife and daughter in what Kim claims as a historically successful missile test associates the family business of ruling North Korea with the nation's missile programs." "This may be an attempt to compensate for how few economic accomplishments Kim has to support his domestic legitimacy," Easley said. Analyst Cheong Seong-Chang at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea said if Kim continues to take this daughter to key public events, that could signal that she would become Kim's successor. "Under North Korea's system, the children of Kim Jong Un would have the status of a prince or princess, like in a dynasty. As the Rodong Sinmnum newspaper publicized the photo of the daughter, who took after Kim Jong Un and Ri Sol Ju so much ... she has no choice but to live special lives," Cheong said. Other observers say Kim taking his family to a missile test site indicated he was confident in the weapon's successful launch, or that he might have tried to burnish an image as a normal leader including his family in his affairs. The disclosure of the Kim family child has taken many North Korea watchers by surprise. It was only in 2010 when Kim, then 26, was first publicly mentioned in state media as he took a spate of top posts before he inherited power upon his father Kim Jong Il's death the next year. Kim Jong Il was also 31 when he won a key post in the ruling Workers' Party in 1973 — an appointment seen as a key step in the path to succeeding his father Kim Il Sung. Kim Jong Il's position as successor was made public at the party congress in 1980. But Cheong said Kim Jong Il privately told associates in 1992 that Kim Jong Un, his third and youngest son, would succeed him. Cheong said Kim's aunt and her husband, who had defected to the United States, told him that a song praising Kim Jong Un was played and that Kim Jong Il said Kim Jong Un was his successor on his son's 8th birthday. "Kim Jong Un may have his daughter, who resembles him the most in his mind, as his successor," Cheong said. (AP)
North Korea unveiled Kim Jong Un's daughter at a missile launch site content media
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KMHPF
Nov 12, 2022
In NEWS IN BRIEF
North Korea added to its recent barrage of weapons demonstrations by launching four ballistic missiles into the sea on Saturday, as the United States sent two supersonic bombers streaking over South Korea in a dueling display of military might that underscored rising tensions in the region. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the four short-range missiles fired from a western coastal area around noon flew about 130 kilometers (80 miles) toward the country's western sea. The North has test-fired more than 30 missiles this week, including an intercontinental ballistic missile on Thursday that triggered evacuation alerts in northern Japan, and flew large numbers of warplanes inside its territory in an angry reaction to a massive combined aerial exercise between the United States and South Korea. The South Korean military said two B-1B bombers trained with four U.S. F-16 fighter jets and four South Korean F-35s jets during the last day of the "Vigilant Storm" joint air force drills that wraps up Saturday. It marked the first time since December 2017 that the bombers were deployed to the Korean Peninsula. The exercise involved around 240 warplanes, including advanced F-35 fighter jets from both countries. North Korea's Foreign Ministry late Friday described the country's military actions this week as an appropriate response to the exercise, which it called a display of U.S. "military confrontation hysteria." It said North Korea will respond with the "toughest counteraction" to any attempts by "hostile forces" to infringe on its sovereignty or security interests. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the participation of the B-1Bs in the joint drills demonstrated the allies' readiness to "sternly respond" to North Korean provocations and the U.S. commitment to defend its ally with the full range of its military capabilities, including nuclear. B-1B flyovers had been a familiar show of force during past periods of tensions with North Korea. The planes last appeared in the region in 2017, during another provocative run in North Korean weapons demonstrations. But the flyovers had been halted in recent years as the United States and South Korea stopped their large-scale exercises to support the former Trump administration's diplomatic efforts with North Korea and because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The allies resumed their large-scale training this year after North Korea dialed up its weapons testing to a record pace, exploiting a divide in the U.N. Security Council over Russia's war on Ukraine as a window to accelerate arms development. North Korea hates such displays of American military might at close range. The North has continued to describe the B-1B as a "nuclear strategic bomber" although the plane was switched to conventional weaponry in the mid-1990s. Vigilant Storm had been initially scheduled to end Friday, but the allies decided to extend the training to Saturday in response to a series of North Korean ballistic launches on Thursday, including an ICBM that triggered evacuation alerts and halted trains in northern Japan. Thursday's launches came after the North fired more than 20 missiles on Wednesday, the most in a single day. Those launches came after North Korean senior military official Pak Jong Chon issued a veiled threat of a nuclear conflict with the United States and South Korea over their joint drills, which the North says are rehearsals for a potential invasion. South Korea also on Friday scrambled about 80 military aircraft after tracking about 180 flights by North Korean warplanes inside North Korean territory. The South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the North Korean warplanes were detected in various areas inland and along the country's eastern and western coasts, but did not come particularly close to the Koreas' border. The South Korean military spotted about 180 flight trails from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., but it wasn't immediately clear how many North Korean planes were involved and whether some may have flown more than once. In Friday's statement attributed to an unidentified spokesperson, North Korea's Foreign Ministry said the United States and South Korea had created a seriously "unstable atmosphere" in the region with their military exercises. It accused the United States of mobilizing its allies in a campaign using sanctions and military threats to pressure North Korea to unilaterally disarm. "The sustained provocation is bound to be followed by sustained counteraction," the statement said. North Korea has launched dozens of ballistic missiles this year, including multiple ICBMs and an intermediate-range missile flown over Japan. South Korean officials say there are indications North Korea in coming weeks could detonate its first nuclear test device since 2017. Experts say North Korea is attempting to force the United States to accept it as a nuclear power and seeks to negotiate economic and security concessions from a position of strength. (November 7, 2022)
North Korea launches four more missiles as U.S. flies bombers over South content media
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KMHPF
Nov 10, 2022
In NEWS IN BRIEF
The Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which is filled with the pain of the division of the Korean people, it’s the only site of division in the world and a treasure trove of natural ecosystems. It is the most acute confrontation area on the Korean Peninsula and a heavily armed area, where the risk of military conflict has existed. All previous governments have been trying to make the Demilitarized Zone a peaceful zone. In particular, in 2018, the conditions for the DMZ peace zone were prepared through agreements and annexed agreements between the leaders of the two Koreas, and the leaders of the two Koreas agreed in the Panmunjom Declaration (2018.4.27). The South Korean government promotes the DMZ Peace Road to firmly establish peace in the DMZ and promote the prosperity and development of the border area. DMZ PEACE TRAIL is divided into main/theme lines. The main line is currently under construction. The theme line is Durunubi (https://www.durunubi).kr) on the site You can apply for a visit. (11 out of 12 courses open) 1. Ganghwa Course From the refuge of the national crisis to the beginning of peace tourism on the Korean Peninsula. Ganghwa is a place that has served as a shelter for every moment of national crisis and has protected peace in the Republic of Korea. On the northern coast of Ganghwa facing North Korea, the old military facility, Dondae, still plays a role in defense and peace. Walk along the coastal railroad starting from Dondae, and enjoy a retro-sentimental time trip at Daeryong Market, the home of displaced people's lives. 2. Gimpo Course North Korean Village and Jogang from the Observatory of Aegibong Peace Ecological Park. The mouth of the Han River was originally called "Grandpa River" and "Jogang River," which contained all the waterways in the central part of the Korean Peninsula. At the Aegibong Peace Ecological Park Observatory, you can also see the scenery of the Jo River, where the Imjin River and Yeseong River merge, and the life of the North Korean village. Listen to the story told by the Grandpa River, which has been silent for thousands of years. 3. Goyang Course An outing that follows the story of Janghang Wetland and Haengjusanseong Fortress. The largest in the metropolitan area, Goyang has served as the last bastion to protect the capital city in times of national crisis. After a long time, the wetlands designated as civilian-controlled areas have become homes for rare animals and plants, military iron fences have become a family park, and military barracks are preparing to welcome tourists. 4. Paju Course From the symbol of division to the attraction of peace, the DMZ's path of peace toward unification. Paju, a divided land containing the pain of war, such as the former Jangdan-myeon office and Jangdan Station death bridge, is also the closest point of inter-Korean military confrontation but serves as a path for peace and inter-Korean exchanges such as Panmunjom. 5. Yeoncheon Course A journey to share the beautiful scenery, the pain of division, and the hope of peace. Yeoncheon is the northernmost part of Gyeonggi-do, bordering Jangdan-gun, Hwanghae-do, Geumcheon-gun, and Cheorwon-gun, Gangwon-do, which led to fierce battles during the Korean War and continued confrontation between the two Koreas. However, Yeoncheon is an area where the Hantangang River and the Imjin River meet at the same time and boast excellent scenery, and it is also an area with fertile land as an extension of the Cheorwon Plain. With its well-preserved natural environment, numerous migratory birds spend the winter here, with cranes visiting every winter. Yeoncheon is now looking forward to the era of unification, as National Route 1 and Route 3 pass through the Korean Peninsula and as a central area that can easily move in any direction on the Korean Peninsula. 6. Cheorwon Course A place where you can meet our painful history and beautiful nature. Cheorwon is a beautiful place where the lava plateau Cheorwon Plain, formed by volcanic rocks, and the Hantan River, which dug deep in between, flow, but it is still a military operation area where the heavily armed North and South are still confronting each other. Experience both our painful history and beautiful nature in Cheorwon's Soviet-style architecture, including the history of the Workers' Party, the monument to the Baekma Hill, and the remains of the excavation area. 7. Hwacheon Course A journey of peace along a stream of water. Hwacheon is a place where many lakes and streams, including the Bukhangang River, meet with peaks to create beautiful scenery. Hwacheon is located at the front line of the Middle East front, and it is a place where sharp tensions between the two Koreas have continued, and at the same time, a desire for peace has continued. The fact that the Peace Dam, built as a national fundraising campaign, was named "Peace" in the North's threat of hand-to-hand (Seoul Water Sea), and the establishment of a "World Peace Bell" near the dam all contain a desperate desire for peace. 8. Yanggu Course The first step toward Geumgangsan Mountain along Dutayeon from the center of the country. Yanggu was an essential course for tourists to Geumgangsan Mountain, including Taejo Lee Seong-gye and Gyeomjae Jeong-seon. After the outbreak of the Korean War, there was a desperate battle to protect Yanggu. Numerous battles continued, including the Blood Ridge Hill, and tens of thousands of bombs damaged mountains and trees. As time went by, nature restored its original form. And Dutayeon's primeval forest, which has passed away, is now ready to welcome tourists warmly. 9. Inje Course We hope that the region of sharp conflict will become a place of harmony again. Seohwa-ri, where the visitor center where the DMZ Peace Road begins, is located, consists of "Hwa" that will match Sangseo Seoul's "Seo." As it means, the name of the village contains a desire for good luck and good luck to happen between the two Koreas. Inje is a military operation area where heavily armed forces are still confronting the north and south, but the beautiful DMZ view from the 1,052 highland and the DMZ's natural life system, which can be enjoyed through walking tours, are enough to impress visitors with peaceful beauty. We hope that the DMZ Peace Road Tour will be the starting point for spreading and settling peace on the Korean Peninsula. 10. Goseong A Course Geumgangsan Mountain and Haegeumgang River from the observatory. Goseong-gun, which connects Geumgangsan Mountain and Seoraksan Mountain, is the site of the history of Geumgangsan Mountain overland tourism. The view of Haegeumgang River and Geumgangsan Mountain from Geumgangsan Observatory through Geumgangtongmun Gate will give an indescribable impression to those on a walking trip. 11. Goseong B Course The closest place to see Geumgangsan Mountain and Haegeumgang River. Goseong-gun, which connects Geumgangsan Mountain and Seoraksan Mountain, is the site of the history of Geumgangsan Mountain overland tourism. The Haegeumgang River and Geumgangsan Mountain scenery from the Geumgangsan Observatory give visitors an indescribable impression. Let's walk along the DMZ Peace Road and pray for the reunification of the two Koreas.
DMZ PEACE TRAIL   content media
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KMHPF
Sep 28, 2022
In NEWS IN BRIEF
A written congratulatory speech at the Korean Peninsula Peace Forum First 'present issue' remarks since leaving office Former President Moon Jae In (photo) told the Yoon Seok-yeol administration, "There is no peace without dialogue," adding, "Trust will begin by keeping the promises agreed between the two Koreas." It indirectly criticized the Yoon Seok-yeol government, which is passive in improving inter-Korean relations, and urged both Koreas to implement past agreements. In a written congratulatory speech released on the 18th, a day before the National Assembly's Fourth Anniversary of the September 19 Military Agreement, former President Moon said, "The current reality is that the wall of distrust is high and the diplomatic and security situation is not easy, but we can go on the path of peace only when we overcome the situation without pessimism." It is the first time that former President Moon has expressed his position on pending issues since his retirement. Former President Moon said, "The July 4th Joint Statement, the North-South Basic Agreement, the June 15th Declaration, the October 4th Declaration, the Panmunjom Declaration, and the Pyongyang Joint Declaration are all historical agreements that the government should respect and implement even if it changes." In particular, former President Moon said, "I look forward to reviving and inheriting the meaning of the Pyongyang Joint Declaration with one mind." The Pyongyang Joint Declaration is an agreement in which former President Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met in Pyongyang in September 2018 and declared an end to military hostility on the Korean Peninsula. Former President Moon said to the Yoon Seok-yeol government, "Peace does not come on its own and does not make anyone else's behalf," adding, "We can only take a step forward if we continue to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula without wavering." Former President Moon went on to say, "North Korea should not abandon repeated agreements," adding, "When the two Koreas work together to comply with the agreement, trust can be built and a way to dialogue can be sought." (2022.09.19) Regarding the Pyongyang Joint Declaration, former President Moon said, "We informed all sides of the beginning of the Korean Peninsula without war, and agreed on practical measures to drastically reduce military risks anywhere in the sky, land, and sea," adding, "It is very important to declare externally that the Korean Peninsula will be a 'base of peace without nuclear weapons and nuclear threat'." He then said, "Peace and denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula are a long-cherished desire that cannot be given up for a moment."
Former President Moon Jae In said,
"The September 19 inter-Korean agreement should be implemented even if the government changes." content media
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KMHPF
Sep 11, 2022
In NEWS IN BRIEF
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stressed his country will never abandon the nuclear weapons it needs to counter the United States, which he accused of pushing to weaken the North's defenses and eventually collapse his government, state media said Friday. Kim made the comments during a speech Thursday at North Korea's rubber-stamp parliament, where members passed legislation governing the use of nuclear weapons, which Kim described as a step to cement the country's nuclear status and make clear such weapons will not be bargained. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's office said he was "deeply concerned" about the new law, and noted that the North's pursuit of a nuclear weapons program "continues to disregard the resolutions of the Security Council to cease such activities." "The Secretary-General reiterates his call to the DPRK to resume dialogue with the key parties concerned with a view to achieving sustainable peace and the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Guterres's office said in a statement, using an acronym for the North's formal name. The new law spells out conditions where North would be inclined to use its nuclear weapons, including when it determines that its leadership is facing an imminent "nuclear or non-nuclear attack by hostile forces." The law requires North Korea's military to "automatically" execute nuclear strikes against enemy forces, including their "starting point of provocation and the command," if Pyongyang's leadership comes under attack. The law also says North Korea could use nukes to prevent an unspecified "catastrophic crisis" to its government and people, a loose definition that experts say reflect an escalatory nuclear doctrine that could create greater concerns for neighbors. Kim also criticized South Korea over its plans to expand its conventional strike capabilities and revive large-scale military exercises with the United States to counter the North's growing threats, describing them as a "dangerous" military action that raises tensions. Kim has made increasingly provocative threats of nuclear conflict toward the United States and its allies in Asia, also warning that the North would proactively use its nuclear weapons when threatened. His latest comments underscored the growing animosity in the region as he accelerates the expansion of his nuclear weapons and missiles program. "The purpose of the United States is not only to remove our nuclear might itself, but eventually forcing us to surrender or weaken our rights to self-defense through giving up our nukes, so that they could collapse our government at any time," Kim said in the speech published by the North's official Korean Central News Agency. "Let them sanction us for 100 days, 1,000 days, 10 years or 100 years," Kim said. "We will never give up our rights to self-defense that preserves our country's existence and the safety of our people just to temporarily ease the difficulties we are experiencing now." Kim also addressed domestic issues, saying North Korea would begin its long-delayed rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in November. He didn't specify how many doses it would have, where they would come from, or how they would be administered across his population of 26 million people. GAVI, the nonprofit that runs the U.N.-backed COVAX distribution program, said in June it understood North Korea had accepted an offer of vaccines from China. GAVI said at the time the specifics of the offer were unclear. North Korea rejected previous offers by COVAX, likely because of international monitoring requirements, and has also ignored U.S. and South Korean offers of vaccines and other COVID-19 aid. Kim last month declared victory over COVID-19 and ordered preventive measures eased just three months after his government for the first time acknowledged an outbreak. Experts believe the North's disclosures on its outbreak are manipulated to help Kim maintain absolute control. The North Korean report about Kim's speech came a day after South Korea extended its latest olive branch, proposing a meeting with North Korea to resume temporary reunions of aging relatives separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, which were last held in 2018. Experts say it's highly unlikely North Korea would accept the South's offer considering the stark deterioration in inter-Korean ties amid the stalemate in larger nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang. The U.S.-North Korean diplomacy derailed in 2019 over disagreements in exchanging the release of crippling sanctions against the North and the North's denuclearization steps. Kim was combative toward South Korea in Thursday's speech and urged his country to expand the operational roles of its tactical nuclear weapons and accelerate their deployment to strengthen the country's war deterrent. Those comments appeared to align with a ruling party decision in June to approve unspecified new operational duties for front-line troops, which analysts say likely include plans to deploy battlefield nuclear weapons targeting rival South Korea along their tense border. Cheong Seong Chang, a senior analyst at South Korea's Sejong Institute, said Kim's comments and the new North Korean law amount to a warning that it would launch immediate nuclear strikes on the United States and South Korea if they ever attempt to decapacitate Pyongyang's leadership. The North is also communicating a threat that it could use its nuclear weapons during conflicts with South Korea's conventional forces, which would raise the risk of accidental clashes escalating into a nuclear crisis, Cheong said. North Korea has been speeding its development of nuclear-capable, short-range missiles that can target South Korea since 2019. Experts say its rhetoric around those missiles communicates a threat to proactively use them in warfare to blunt the stronger conventional forces of South Korea and the United States. About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in the South to deter aggression from the North. The U.S.-led diplomatic push to defuse the nuclear standoff has been further complicated by an intensifying U.S.-China rivalry and Russia's war on Ukraine, which deepened the divide in the U.N. Security Council, where Beijing and Moscow have blocked U.S. efforts to tighten sanctions on Pyongyang over its revived long-range missile tests this year. Kim has dialed up weapons tests to a record pace in 2020, launching more than 30 ballistic weapons, including the first demonstrations of his intercontinental ballistic missiles since 2017. U.S. and South Korean officials say Kim may up the ante soon by ordering the North's first nuclear test in five years as he pushes a brinkmanship aimed at forcing Washington to accept the idea of the North as a nuclear power and negotiating concessions from a position of strength. Experts say Kim is also trying to strengthen his leverage by strengthening his cooperation with China and Russia in an emerging partnership aimed at undercutting U.S. influence. North Korea has repeatedly blamed the United States for the crisis in Ukraine, saying the West's "hegemonic policy" justified Russian military actions in Ukraine to protect itself. U.S. officials said this week the Russians are in the process of purchasing North Korean ammunition, including artillery shells and rockets, to ease their supply shortages in the war against Ukraine. North Korea also has joined Russia and Syria as the only nations to recognize the independence of two pro-Russia breakaway territories in eastern Ukraine and has discussed send its construction workers to those regions to work on rebuilding. (AP, 2022.09.10)
North Korea declares itself a nuclear weapons state content media
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KMHPF
Sep 11, 2022
In KMH PF NEWS
The United States and South Korea began their biggest combined military training in years Monday as they heighten their defense posture against the growing North Korean nuclear threat. The drills could draw an angry response from North Korea, which has dialed up its weapons testing activity to a record pace this year while repeatedly threatening conflicts with Seoul and Washington amid a prolonged stalemate in diplomacy. The Ulchi Freedom Shield exercises will continue through Sept. 1 in South Korea and include field exercises involving aircraft, warships, tanks and potentially tens of thousands of troops. While Washington and Seoul describe their exercises as defensive, North Korea portrays them as invasion rehearsals and has used them to justify its nuclear weapons and missiles development. Ulchi Freedom Shield, which started along with a four-day South Korean civil defense training program led by government employees, will reportedly include exercises simulating joint attacks, front-line reinforcements of arms and fuel, and removals of weapons of mass destruction. The allies will also train for drone attacks and other new developments in warfare shown during Russia's war on Ukraine and practice joint military-civilian responses to attacks on seaports, airports and major industrial facilities such as semiconductor factories. The United States and South Korea in past years had canceled some of their regular drills and downsized others to computer simulations to create space for the Trump administration's diplomacy with North Korea and because of COVID-19 concerns. Tensions have grown since the collapse of the second meeting between former President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in early 2019. The Americans then rejected North Korean demands for a major release of crippling U.S.-led sanctions in exchange for dismantling an aging nuclear complex, which would have amounted to a partial surrender of the North's nuclear capabilities. Kim has since vowed to bolster his nuclear deterrent in face of "gangster-like" U.S. pressure. South Korea's military has not revealed the number of South Korean and U.S. troops participating in Ulchi Freedom Shield, but has portrayed the training as a message of strength. Seoul's Defense Ministry said last week that Ulchi Freedom Shield "normalizes" large-scale training and field exercises between the allies to help bolster their alliance and strengthen their defense posture against the evolving North Korean threat. Before being shelved or downsized, the United States and South Korea held major joint exercises every spring and summer in South Korea. The spring drills had included live-fire drills involving a broad range of land, air and sea assets and usually involved around 10,000 Americans and 200,000 Korean troops. Tens of thousands of allied troops participated in the summertime drills, which mainly consisted of computer simulations to hone joint decision-making and planning, although South Korea's military has emphasized the revival of field training this year. The drills follow North Korea's dismissal last week of South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol's "audacious" proposal of economic benefits in exchange for denuclearization steps, accusing Seoul of recycling proposals Pyongyang has long rejected. Kim Yo Jong, the increasingly powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, described Yoon's proposal as foolish and stressed that the North has no intentions to give away an arsenal her brother clearly sees as his strongest guarantee of survival. She harshly criticized Yoon for continuing military exercises with the United States and also for letting South Korean civilian activists fly anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets and other "dirty waste" across the border by balloon. She also ridiculed U.S.-South Korean military capabilities for monitoring the North's missile activity, insisting that the South misread the launch site of the North's latest missile tests on Wednesday last week, hours before Yoon used a news conference to urge Pyongyang to return to diplomacy. Kim Yo Jong's statement came a week after she warned of "deadly" retaliation against South Korea over a recent North Korean COVID-19 outbreak, which Pyongyang dubiously claims was caused by leaflets and other objects floated by southern activists. There are concerns that the threat portends a provocation which might include a nuclear or missile test or even border skirmishes, and that the North might try to raise tensions sometime around the allied drills. In an interview with Associated Press Television last month, Choe Jin, deputy director of a think tank run by North Korea's Foreign Ministry, said the United States and South Korea would face "unprecedented" security challenges if they don't drop their hostile military pressure campaign against North Korea, including joint military drills. Last week's launches of two suspected cruise missiles extended a record pace in North Korean missile testing in 2022, which has involved more than 30 ballistic launches, including the country's first demonstrations of intercontinental ballistic missiles in nearly five years. North Korea's heighted testing activity underscores its dual intent to advance its arsenal and force the United States to accept the idea of the North as a nuclear power so it can negotiate economic and security concessions from a position of strength, experts say. Kim Jong Un could up the ante soon as there are indications that the North is preparing to conduct its first nuclear test since September 2017, when it claimed to have developed a thermonuclear weapon to fit on its ICBMs. (2022.8.22, AP)
The U.S. and South Korea are staging their biggest military drills in years content media
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KMHPF
Sep 11, 2022
In NEWS IN BRIEF
North Korea on Sunday slammed the United States, South Korea and Japan for pushing to boost their trilateral military cooperation targeting the North, warning that the move is prompting urgent calls for the country to reinforce its military capability. North Korea has long cited what it calls hostility by the United States and its allies as a reason to pursue a nuclear program. Sunday's statement comes as North Korea's neighbors say the country is ready for its first nuclear test in five years as part of its provocative run of weapons tests this year. "The prevailing situation more urgently calls for building up the country's defense to actively cope with the rapid aggravation of the security environment of the Korean Peninsula and the rest of the world," the North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement, without elaborating how it would boost its military capacity. The statement took issue with a trilateral meeting among the U.S., South Korean and Japanese leaders on the sidelines of a NATO summit last week, during which they underscored the need to strengthen their cooperation to deal with North Korean nuclear threats. "The chief executives of the U.S., Japan and South Korea put their heads together for confrontation with (North Korea) and discussed the dangerous joint military countermeasures against it including the launch of tripartite joint military exercises," the statement said. North Korea views U.S.-led military exercises in the region, particularly ones with rival South Korea, as an invasion rehearsal, though Washington and Seoul have repeatedly said they have no intentions of attacking the North. During the recent trilateral meeting, U.S. President Joe Biden said he was "deeply concerned" about North Korea's continued ballistic missile tests and apparent plans to conduct a nuclear test. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said the importance of trilateral cooperation has grown in the face of North Korea's advanced nuclear program, while Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said joint anti-missile drills would be important to deter North Korean threats. Earlier in June, the defense chiefs of the U.S., South Korea and Japan agreed to resume their combined missile warning and tracking exercises as part of their efforts to deal with North Korea's escalating weapons tests. The North Korean statement accused the United States of exaggerating rumors about North Korean threats "to provide an excuse for attaining military supremacy over the Asia-Pacific region including the Korean Peninsula." U.S. officials have said Washington has no hostile intent toward Pyongyang and urged it to return to disarmament talks without any preconditions. North Korea has rejected the U.S. overture, saying it would focus on buttressing its nuclear deterrent unless the United States drops its hostile policies toward the North, an apparent reference to U.S.-led economic sanctions and its regular military training with South Korea. North Korea claimed the recent NATO summit proves an alleged U.S. plan to contain Russia and China by achieving the "militarization of Europe" and forming a NATO-like alliance in Asia. It said "the reckless military moves of the U.S. and its vassal forces" could lead to dangerous consequences like a nuclear war simultaneously taking place in both Europe and Asia-Pacific. Pyongyang has often released similar warlike rhetoric and warned of the danger of nuclear war in times of heightened animosities with Washington and Seoul. (AP)
North Korea slams US-South Korea-Japan military cooperation content media
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KMHPF
Feb 12, 2022
In KMH PF NEWS
Amid a series of civilian damage caused by landmines, it was argued that the Ministry of Defense-led mine removal work has limitations and that the government should establish a mine removal organization at the pan-government level and speed up mine removal in accordance with the UN International Mine Behavior Standard. The Peace Sharing Association argued at a "discussion of the actuality and countermeasures of landmine accidents" held at the National Assembly building and said management, recognition, monitoring (land release, environmental impact assessment, economic evaluation), investigation, removal, industrial safety and risk education are needed. The United Nations International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) is a guideline introduced by the World Mine Pollution Bureau to solve the problem of mines and explosives, and recommends solving the problem through pan-ministerial cooperation, international cooperation, and private cooperation. Accordingly, Rep. Seol proposed the "Basic Act on National Mine Response (Draft)" in July last year based on the international landmine behavior standard. Korea's mine areas are a total of 112.5Km2, including the DMZ, the civilian control line area, the southern part of the civilian control line, and the unidentified mine area, of which 80%, or 90.78Km2, are unidentified areas. There are 1,171 civilian mine victims, and 6,428 civilian victims, including explosives (non-ballistics, etc.) similar to mines. The number of mines buried is about 1.5 million in the front and 75,000 in the rear, and the Ministry of National Defense estimated that it would take about 489 years to remove the unidentified minefield.
Leave more than 1 Million Landmines in the Country content media
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KMHPF
Dec 11, 2021
In KMH PF NEWS
Mt. Geumgang and Haegeum River from the coastal path and observation deck along the sound of the waves Goseong County, which connects Mt. Geumgang with Mt. Seorak, is the site of the history of mt. Geumgang land sightseeing. The view of the Haegeum River and Mt. Kumgang from the Mt. Geumgang Observatory through the Geumgang Gate is an unspeakable impression for those who go on a trip to Dobo. [Total length 7.9Km (walk 2.7Km)] Linked destinations: DMZ Museum, Hwajinpo Maritime Museum, Lee Seung-man, Ha Hee LaBender Farm, HwajinPo Castle (Kim Il Sung Star), Cheongganjeong, Wanggok Village, Tsungpadae, Song ji-ho, Tianhakjeong/Moonampogu, Ayajin Beach, Gunbongsa  Goseong Unification Observatory: The Northernmost Unified Observatory in Korea opened in 1983 and has long been a popular security tourism destination. The last peak of Mt. Geumgang, The Old Sun Peak, is close together, and on a clear day you can see the highest peaks, Birobong and Jade Women's Peak. Goseong Unification Observatory Towards the sea, you can see the Haegeum River, also known as Mt. Geumgang of the Sea, beyond the iron wall. It is only 5 km away. Starting in 2019, the "Goseong Unification Observatory" has been new right next door. The Goseong Unification Observatory is 34 meters high and is 20 meters higher than the existing observatory. It opened on December 28, 2018, in an atmosphere of North-South reconciliation. With a cooler view of the northern lands, it is expected to serve as a base for reunification tourism on the Korean peninsula as the eastern starting point of the DMZ tourism belt. Underneath the observation deck are the East Sea and East Sea railways (East Sea north line), which are extensions of Route 7. The East Sea Road began construction in September 2002, temporarily opened in February 2003, and was completed 14.2 kilometers from Songhyun-ri in the south to Goseong in the north in October 2004. Since 2003, the road has been touring Mt. Geumgang overland. Unfortunately, in July 2008, the death of tourist Park Wang-ja led to a complete suspension of mt. Kumgang tourism, making it a path that no one on the East Sea Road can use. East Sea When the railway East Sea runs alongside the railway, it began construction in September 2002 and was completed in December 2005, just like the road. East Sea Railway runs for a total of 26 kilometers from Jejin Station to North Korea's Onjeong-ri Youth Station, home to the Mt. Geumgang Tourist Complex. In fact, however, the train East Sea Sun the railroad ran only once on May 17, 2007.  Coastal Observatory : The first step on the DMZ Peace Road Castle section is from passing through the railroad tracks towards the coast. There is a steep staircase directly towards the sea when you enter the railroad, and a small observation deck is installed under the stairs. It is the first of three observation decks and photo zones installed in the section. The observation deck overlooks the southern sea. Down this Observation deck, you’ll begin the 2.7Km WALK. On the right side of the walk, you can see the blue sea crossing between two layers of iron bars. Our long rails along the coast are managed by the scientific boundary system. It's hard to see soldiers working on the perimeter along the iron line. Thanks to the state-of-the-art 'light net'. In the past, barbed wire was punctured with sticks, and barbed wire was shaken to find signs of intrusion, but now there is an immediate alarm even if some of it is cut or slightly loaded or pressured. A surveillance camera near the railroad tracks identifies the location and immediately informs the situation room and command and control room. But it's the wildlife that's been unexpectedly threatening this smart ironclad. It's often a raccoon or a smaller animal when you see a loud beep East Sea So hang a bag or PET bottle at the bottom of the iron fence with the ingredients of the smell that the animal doesn't like. Sometimes, when an animal approaches, it automatically makes a sound of beasts. This is also to prevent such problems from prohibiting visitors from carrying food and sugary beverages.  Tongjeon Tunnel: From the observation deck, you will immediately find a railroad track and tunnel on the right. This tunnel is East Sea Seon railway passes by, called the whole tunnel. This railroad line is East Sea the Northern Line, which is set from Anyang, South Hamgyong Province to Yangyang, Gangwon Province, for the purpose of displacing resources during the Japanese period of strength. The original plan was to connect Yangyang directly to Busan, but after opening in 1937, the rest of the section was not completed, and the liberation, war, and division were established. Next to the Jinjin checkpoint where we met shortly before coming to the Unification Observatory is Jejin Station, the only south station on the East Sea railway (East SeaNorth Line), which was once tested from Jejin Station there to The Gamho Station in North Korea, but has since been blocked again. The train was moved to Mukho Port in June 2008 after staying at Jejin Station. However, in April 2018, president Moon Jae-in and Chairman Kim Jong Un agreed on the recovery of the East Sea line at the first Inter-Korean summit, and then they are working on measures to connect the North-South railway. Once this railroad will be re-operated, it will start in Busan and connect with the Trans-Siberian Railway (TSR) through North Korea's Wonsan, Najin and Russia's Hassan. <I dream of the train I want to be on, Jinjin Station> Jinjin Station succeeded the super-zone, which was abolished in 1950. Under the Armistice Agreement of 1953, the military demarcation line was drawn, and the Cho area- Hyunhyam-Yangyang Station became the effective ruling area of the Republic of Korea, but it was already super-completed, so we abolished all of these sections. In 2000, in accordance with the 6.15 North-South Joint Declaration, a north-south entry office was established in 2006. On the other hand, the North demolished the line immediately after the war, and in 1996, it restored the Geumgangsan Youth Station (formerly Foreign River Station) section of Anbhan Station and renamed the route the Mt. Kumgang Youth Line, which is about 17 miles (27 kilometers) south of Jinjin Station, but there is no track south of Jinjin Station. Jejin Station is truly an isolated station because even if there is a track to the north, it cannot be moved because it is blocked by the military demarcation line.  Southern Limit Line: Walk through the Mt. Geumgang story, 6.25 War Story, and you'll see a dark band of concrete jaws and blue bands. It's the southern limit line. This means entering the DMZ, which is governed by the UN Military Armistice Commission. THIS IS THE SOUTHERN LIMIT LINE, WHICH WAS ESTABLISHED 2 KILOMETERS SOUTH OF THE SOUTH, WITH THE MILITARY DEMARCATION LINE CREATED DURING THE ARMISTICE AGREEMENT AS THE BASELINE. 4KM UP FROM HERE. IN OTHER WORDS, UP TO 2 KM NORTH IS THE DEMILITARIZED ZONE. However, I know that each north and south have blocked the limit line with iron, but I am surprised that there are no iron or woodblocks here. For a smoother boundary, the iron line is raised up. There are some places where the southern limit line shown on the map differs from the actual iron book. It is the result of the North and the South approaching a little to make it easier to observe through the Cold War. A little further up the coast from the cover line, you'll encounter a railroad.  Excavator: Just above the southern limit line, at least 10 years have been left unattended. Next to it, there are all the poles. In 2003, while working on a coastal pole, I stepped on a landmine. At the time, there was an "unidentified mine zone" sign, but the accident happened in an instant due to the carelessness of the civilian driver. Luckily, the driver was unharmed, but it's a singular example of how terrifying the unidentified mine is. Since then, all construction has been suspended and the accident site at the time has been preserved. How many landmines are currently buried throughout the Korean Peninsula? According to data provided by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2016, it is estimated that a total of about 2 million shots were buried between North and South Korea. In the last decade, our military has removed about 62,000 landmines. In fact, it eliminates about 600 shots per year. The LandMine Removal Act (2013.1.2.) was proposed by Representative Song Young-geun in the 19th National Assembly. According to the National Defense Commission review report, removing landmines at the current rate would take about 469 years to remove all landmines on the Korean peninsula, and the budget would reach 1 trillion. In particular, the DMZ area, where most landmines are currently buried, has many basalt canyons, making landmine detection difficult.  Songdo Observatory: This is the second observatory and photo zone in the section. The small island in front of you is Songdo. It is a legend that the peaks over the island were the old peaks of North Korea, where nine fresh came down and put go. Songdo is not only pine, but there are small bamboo turrets, elms, soothes, and other plants. It's untouched, and the castle people say it's a place where abalone gets old and dies. In May and June, the flowers and flowers bloom, and the acacia, which is a colony on the mountain side, blooms and becomes spectacular. Songdo, a small island, is home to peaceful flora and fauna, but in the past 60s, north Korean troops conducted underwater penetration drills. Of course, we have a special device in our archipelago island to carry out inspection operations, and an ambush is installed in the middle of the island.  Geumgang Tongmun(Gate): The end point of the walkout. It's actually in front of the southern limit line. Here is a formal, unique passage into the DMZ. In particular, tongmun is the northernmost gate in Korea and is called the Kumgang Gate. When entering the DMZ, you must be with an armed guard, whether you have one or ten. It applies to all visitors other than demilitarized zone search and GP work purposes, and there are no exceptions for military personnel. And everyone who enters has strict procedures, such as wearing bulletproof hats and bulletproof vests, as well as identity checks. Mt. Geumgang overland tourism, separated family reunions, and north-south passages are all symbolic places to pass through. Here is a well-wisher of the origins of peace. The soaring 'Road to Peace' signs walked with the people in person, commemorating the "DMZ Path of Peace" initiated by President Moon Jae-in at the castle. We look forward to seeing this path from the castle to the strengthening of the DMZ, which is no longer a symbol of division, but a symbol of peace and win-win. On the left, you can see that the East Sea roads and railways that we saw on the Unification Observatory when we departed lead north to the north of tongmun.  Mt. Geumgang Observatory: Mt. Geumgang Observatory is 2 km north of the Goseong Unification Observatory, so you can see the Mt. Geumgang Jubong Ridge clearly with your naked eye. From 1953 to 1983, it was the front-line boundary post (GP) inside the DMZ. It is about 800 meters from the southern limit line and 1.2 km from the military demarcation line (M). It was renovated in May 1992 and remodeled as of December 2009. In 1993, the reunification observatory expanded the driveway, but civilians were banned from entering the country because they feared it would provoke the North after Kim il-sung's death in 1994. Beyond the highlands just in front of the left, you can clearly see the Mt. Geumgang Jubong ridge and the Three-Day Gun, the best of the Kanto Palgyong, and at the front, the railroad that connects north to the East Sea-line road, where the separated family reunion group moved to The Ongjeong-ri, seems close to hand. On the right side of the East Sea, you'll see a panoramic view of the Haegeum River called Mt. Geumgang of the Sea, the lake known as the <Sun and the Woodman> as the backdrop, Buddha rocks, sagong rocks, and the outer spine. If you look back and look south, you can enjoy the cool scenery by looking out to the Unification Observatory and Hwajinpo, where the path of peace departed.
Mt. Geumgang and Haegeum River from the coastal path and observation deck along the sound of the waves content media
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Nov 15, 2021
In KMH PF NEWS
‘"DMZ Peace Road" Gimpo Route Gyeonggi-do announced on the 14th that three themed routes, including Gimpo, Goyang, and Paju, will be opened from the 20th, "DMZ Peace Road," where visitors can experience the ecological and historical values of the DMZ. "DMG Peace Road" is Incheon to promote peace between the two Koreas and revitalize the border economy. It is a project to create courses using local ecological, historical, and security resources in 10 local governments along the border between Gyeonggi and Gangwon Demilitarized Zone. Gyeonggi-do Province will open a total of 87.2km of three routes, Gimpo, Goyang and Paju, excluding the Yeoncheon route, which is currently under maintenance. In line with the government's step-by-step daily recovery policy, the opening will be promoted to comfort residents tired of COVID-19 and help restore shrinking local tourism. The Gimpo section is a total of 47km, consisting of courses such as Siam-ri Iron Trail and Aegibong Peace Ecological Park. The Aegibong Peace Ecological Park Observatory, which opened on the 7th of last month, offers a view of Shenzhen Village and Songaksan Mountain in Gaepung-gun, North Korea. The Goyang section is a total of 29.5km course, passing through Haengjusanseong Historical Park, Haengju Ferry, Janghang Wetland Observatory, and Tongilchon Gunmaksa Temple. Various animals and plants can be observed in the Janghang Wetland search zone. The Paju section is a total of 10.7km and consists of courses such as Tongil Bridge, Dora Observatory, Tongmun, and demolition Zippy (GP, Surveillance Post). From the Dora Observatory, you can see Bukgaeseong Industrial Complex, Gijeong-dong Village, Songaksan Mountain, and downtown Kaesong. In this opening, Imjingak, The 1.4km walking section of the Unification Bridge was excluded to protect migratory birds. All theme routes to be opened this time are free. Those who wish to visit can make a reservation online through the official website of the Korea Tourism Organization's DMZ Peace Road (www.dmzwalk.com) or the walking tour information provision application Durunubi. For the safety of tourists, it is divided into walking sections and vehicle movement sections, and is only available to those who have completed vaccination and those who have tested negative for gene amplification (PCR) within three days of their visit. In addition, thorough quarantine will be carried out at all sites, including the provision of quarantine supplies, guidance on mandatory wearing of masks, and regular disinfection of driving vehicles. The DMG Peace Road consists of a total of 10 routes in the 526km section from Ganghwa-gun, Incheon to Goseong-gun, Gangwon-do. The government previously piloted Paju, Cheorwon, and Goseong theme routes in April 2019, but stopped operating in the aftermath of the African swine fever (ASF) in September of that year and the spread of COVID-19. Along with Gimpo, Goyang, and Paju routes, Ganghwa, Hwacheon, Yanggu, and Goseong routes will also open at the same time from the 20th of this month.
‘DMZ Peace Road’ 
It opens on November 20th at the same time content media
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Nov 03, 2021
In KMH PF NEWS
By Ben Wolfgang - The Washington Times A deep sense of shared identity between citizens of North and South Korea remains alive and well, and the potential for at least some reconciliation should be at the center of America’s diplomatic efforts, former top U.S. officials and regional experts said Tuesday. Speaking at The Washington Brief, a monthly forum hosted by The Washington Times Foundation, analysts said that the Biden administration must consider issues beyond just Pyongyang’s nuclear-weapons program when crafting its broader North Korea policy. The U.S. and its allies, they said, must weigh how the reestablishment of economic and other ties between Seoul and Pyongyang could create a far less hostile environment on the Korean Peninsula. “There is a Korean identity that is not totally dependent on what passport you carry. There’s a Korean pride, in a way, that transcends a more traditional nationalism,” said Kathleen Stephens, former U.S. ambassador to South Korea and now the president and CEO of the Korean Economic Institute of America. “Koreans have remained Korean … and I think that’s true in both North and South.” “There has to be some kind of … reconciliation. And I think the United States, the international community, have a certain obligation as we think about the challenges of North Korea to also pay attention to that issue of reconciliation,” she said. Indeed, while former President Donald Trump’s in-person meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in 2018 garnered the greatest share of media attention, that same year also saw multiple meetings between Mr. Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Those conversations sparked hope that a new era could be on the horizon, potentially including a formal treaty to end the Korean War or other steps. “At least for a moment … there was a reminder that, ‘We speak the same language and we do share something that Koreans don’t share with anybody else.’ And I think that’s very powerful,” Ms. Stephens said. At the same time, there are apparent signs that the concept of reunification between North and South Korea is losing steam, at least among South Koreans. A recent poll conducted by the Seoul-based Institute for Peace and Unification Studies (IPUS) found that just 44% of South Koreans believe “reunification is necessary,” the lowest figure since the annual poll began in 2007. Some South Korean specialists attributed the drop to disappointment following the 2018 diplomatic outreach by Mr. Trump and Mr. Moon. When Mr. Trump’s efforts failed to produce a denuclearization deal with Pyongyang, and relations between North and South Korea returned to a stalemate, a segment of the South Korean population may have given up hope for reunification. “People’s expectations … were so high in 2018 that the disappointment that followed was huge — the negative aspects would have been strengthened from those disappointments,” Kim Bumsoo, head of the Center for Unification Studies at IPUS, told the website NKnews.com last month. Inside North Korea, analysts said, there’s also deep skepticism of reunification, with the chief fear being that North Korean leadership would essentially lose all authority and power in a newly unified country with the more prosperous South. Instead of pursuing that path, Mr. Kim instead seems to be seeking the benefits of closer ties with South Korea without any of the responsibilities or risks, according to Alexandre Mansourov, professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies. Mr. Kim “does want to have a better relationship so that on the one hand, whatever government they have in the South will recognize the legitimacy of the North Korean rule,” he said at Tuesday’s event. Mr. Kim, he added, wants to see the two nations’ “economies get increasingly harmonized” so he can take advantage of South Korea‘s successful economy for his own benefit. Even if support for reunification has dropped, regional experts say the South Korean people still want to see action taken to help citizens across the heavily armed border. “I do feel there’s a growing anxiety in [South Korea] about some of the economic problems in North Korea that could lead to mass starvation … and that’s where there is a certain Korean-ism,” said Christopher Hill, a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea who moderated Tuesday’s panel. “I don’t think Koreans in [South Korea] want to stand by and watch North Koreans starve.” (2021.11.02.)
‘Korean identity’: Growing North-South ties crucial in U.S.-led diplomacy, analysts say content media
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Nov 03, 2021
In KMH PF NEWS
“Squid Game” is now so big that even North Korea’s propaganda machine can’t resist weighing in with an opinion on the nine-part show that Netflix just announced has become the most-watched series launch in its history. While the dystopian series has gripped viewers around the world with its gruesome tale of economic despair and deadly childhood-inspired games, a North Korean state-run website says the production serves to highlight the “beastly” nature of “South Korean capitalist society where mankind is annihilated by extreme competition.” In a post published Tuesday, the website said “Squid Game” reflects an “unequal society where the strong exploit the weak.” In the series, hundreds of debt-ridden contestants, including a North Korean defector, enter the games in a bid to win a climbing, multimillion-dollar cash prize they hope will turn their lives around. The catch: If they lose a game, they die. The series has resonated deeply in South Korea and beyond, especially among those frustrated with income inequality, unemployment, and financial challenges. The director has said the production’s relatability has been a key to its success. The streaming giant confirmed Tuesday that the series, which director Hwang Dong-hyuk began writing a decade ago, has become the most-watched launch in Netflix’s history since it premiered in September. “Squid Game has officially reached 111 million fans — making it our biggest series launch ever!” Netflix tweeted. The show’s skyrocket to the top knocks period drama “Bridgerton,” which drew just over 80 million viewers, from the No. 1 spot. North and South Korea have remained technically at war after the Korean War ended in 1953 in an armistice but without a peace treaty. There have been other flash points over culture. In June, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un branded South Korea’s entertainment scene—including K-pop—“a vicious cancer.” He accused it of corrupting the “hairstyles, speeches and behaviors” of North Koreans, the New York Times reported. North Korea has also long been critical of its neighbor’s capitalist system, which it maintains compares poorly with what it touts as its own egalitarian socialist paradise. Life in the North, however, is marked by widespread poverty and food shortages, with isolated pockets of wealth for those connected to the ruling party. Life inside the totalitarian state has driven many to flee across the border for a better life. North Korean escapees relate how the secretive country has changed under the ‘Great Successor’ While the widespread popularity of “Squid Game” has triggered a wave of entertaining memes on social media and inspired an array of costumes for Halloween, its global success has not come without complications. In recent weeks, several countries have grappled with issues stemming from the show — including one woman in South Korea who was bombarded with calls and messages from strangers after her number was shown on a games invitation card handed to the series’ protagonist, Seong Gi-hun. “I’ve been unceasingly getting calls and texts 24/7 to the point where my daily life has become difficult,” she said. This week, British police were forced to reassure drivers that a sign on an English motorway that featured the same shapes shown in “Squid Game” was, in fact, harmless and not related to the series. “It’s just directions for diversion routes during the roadworks,” Thames Valley Police tweeted Monday. British schools have also issued warnings to parents regarding the show, reminding them that its themes of a violent, sexual, and adult nature are not appropriate for young students. (2021.10.25.)
Netflix hit ‘Squid Game’ is so big North Korea is using it to slam South Korean society
'Squid Game' is Netflix's biggest series launch content media
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Nov 03, 2021
In KMH PF NEWS
The staff of the Pyongyang Department Store No. 1 disinfect the store to help curb the spread of the coronavirus before it opens in Pyongyang, North Korea. The World Health Organization has started shipping COVID-19 medical supplies into North Korea, a possible sign that the North is easing one of the world's strictest pandemic border closures to receive outside help. WHO said in a weekly monitoring report that it has started the shipment of essential COVID-19 medical supplies through the Chinese port of Dalian for "strategic stockpiling and further dispatch" to North Korea. Edwin Salvador, WHO's representative to North Korea, said in an email to the Associated Press Thursday that some items, including emergency health kits and medicine, have reached the North Korean port of Nampo after North Korean authorities allowed the WHO and other U.N. agencies to send supplies that had been stuck in Dalian. "Consequently, we have been able to transport some of our items by ship to Nampo ... (including) emergency health kits, medicines and medical supplies that would support essential health services at primary health care centers," Salvador said. "We are informed that WHO items along with supplies sent by other U.N. agencies are currently still under quarantine at the seaport." Describing its anti-virus campaign was a matter of "national existence," North Korea had severely restricted cross-border traffic and trade for the past two years despite the strain on its already crippled economy. U.N. human rights investigators in August asked the North's government to clarify allegations that it ordered troops to shoot on sight any trespassers who cross its borders in violation of its pandemic closing. While North Korea has yet to report a single case of COVID-19, outside experts widely doubt it escaped the illness that had touched nearly every other place in the world. The North has told WHO it has tested 40,700 people for the coronavirus through Sept. 23 and that all the tests were negative. Those tested in the last week reported included 94 people with influenza-like illnesses or other symptoms and 573 health care workers, according to the WHO report. Experts say an epidemic in North Korea could be devastating, considering its poor health care system and chronic lack of medical supplies. But despite implementing severe border controls, North Korea hasn't shown the same kind of urgency for vaccines even as its mass immunization campaign continues to be delayed amid global shortages. Analysts say North Korea could be uneasy about international monitoring requirements that would be attached to the vaccines it receives from the outside world. There are also views that leader Kim Jong Un has domestic political motivations to tighten the country's self-imposed lockdown as he calls for unity and tries to solidify his grip on power while navigating perhaps his toughest moment after nearly a decade of rule. Salvador said the WHO is continuing to work with North Korean officials so that they complete the technical requirements for receiving vaccines through the U.N.-backed COVAX distribution program. He said the North has developed a national deployment plan to use as reference when it begins its vaccine rollout. The latest WHO report came weeks after Kim during a ruling party meeting ordered officials to wage a tougher anti-virus campaign in "our style" after he turned down some foreign COVID-19 vaccines offered via COVAX. UNICEF, which procures and delivers vaccines on behalf of the COVAX distribution program, said last month that North Korea proposed its allotment of about 3 million Sinovac shots be sent to severely affected countries instead. Some analysts say the North is angling to receive more effective jabs amid questions about the Sinovac vaccine's effectiveness. UNICEF said the North Korean health ministry said it will continue to communicate with COVAX over future vaccines. (AP)
The WHO has started shipping COVID-19 medical supplies to North Korea content media
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Feb 01, 2021
In NEWS IN BRIEF
January 23, 20218:01 AM ET Eight days before the Trump administration departed, it declassified a key document that it said "provided overarching strategic guidance" to its approach toward Asia, a region it dubbed the Indo-Pacific. The 10-page, lightly redacted report, in use across the government since 2018, seeks to explain the challenges the U.S. faces from a rising and more assertive China, spells out vital U.S. interests in the region, and lays out a plan for both mobilizing and helping key allies in achieving U.S. aims. The document states that the U.S. should maintain "diplomatic, military and economic preeminence" in the region while "preventing China from establishing new, illiberal spheres of influence." It also envisions a Korean Peninsula "free of nuclear, chemical, cyber and biological weapons" and expresses commitment to "accelerate India's rise" so that the two countries can "cooperate" to "preserve maritime security and counter Chinese influence." The paper elucidates the motivations behind some of the Trump administration's actions toward China in particular, but analysts say it is self-contradictory and ideological in its aims and assertions. Critics say that by publicly releasing the document, the Trump administration was trying to bind the incoming Biden administration to its policies, while confirming China's worst fears about U.S. intentions. President Biden is likely to keep some aspects of President Donald Trump's China policy; incoming administration officials have indicated they intend to continue to pressure China for its crackdown on Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement and support the Trump administration's declaration of genocide of Uighurs in the Xinjiang region. But the new administration is expected to lower the temperature and restart dialogue, especially on areas of common concern like climate change, while coordinating more closely with allies and partners. Quest for "primacy" The declassified document is "a blueprint for a Cold War 2.0," says Lyle Goldstein, research professor at the U.S. Naval War College. He calls the document's frank reaffirmation of the U.S. desire to maintain strategic primacy "an extreme position" because it simply doesn't square with reality. "That's not just true on the military side. I think the trend is probably even more manifest on the economic side," says Goldstein. China is the largest trade partner to most Asian countries (and to many others around the world, including the U.S.). It is expected to surpass the U.S. in sheer economic size by 2028, according to a recent study in the U.K. The U.S. desire to maintain primacy as the world's undisputed military and economic power is not just unrealistic, but it is also likely to lead to "zero-sum" thinking in which countering China's rise becomes the U.S.' biggest priority, says Michael D. Swaine, director of the East Asia program at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a Washington, D.C., think tank. "I would say [the document is] probably solely about containing China," he says. He warns such an approach is likely to alienate allies and partners in Asia and beyond. While many may welcome a U.S. presence in the region as a counterbalance to China — and help in pushing back against China, say, in the South China Sea — they do not wish for a polarized, Cold War-like environment where every Chinese action and policy is treated by the U.S. as malign or threatening. "Our friends and allies are not supportive of this kind of approach," says Swaine. The Trump administration rolled out dozens of measures aimed at punishing China in the past year — for its policies in Hong Kong, its actions in the South China Sea and treatment of its Uighur minority — and Washington also imposed sanctions and prohibited and prevented U.S. companies and investors from doing business with or investing in many of China's high technology companies. "They are coercively trying to impede China's own development," says Susan Shirk, chair of the 21st Century China Center at the University of California, San Diego. "Now, I know this is the Chinese view of it, but it's hard to characterize these actions in any other way." A trap for Biden? China predictably slammed the document. A foreign ministry spokesperson said that "its content only serves to expose the malign intention of the United States to use its Indo-Pacific strategy to suppress and contain China and undermine regional peace and stability." Swaine worries the policy's declassification will empower hawkish elements in China's foreign policy establishment and provide them ammunition when advocating a tougher response to dealing with the United States. The timing of the declassification points to an effort to box in the Biden team and prevent it from taking U.S. policy too far off the confrontational path that the Trump administration set it on, analysts say. The Trump White House "recognize[d] that the Biden administration would like to adopt a different strategy toward China, one that would be more practical, and effective, and more in cooperation with allies," says Shirk. Any effort on the Biden team's part to improve relations (and China has indicated a strong desire to do so) would likely have the administration fending off charges of being soft on China. Besides, any such endeavor would involve an enormous amount of work, given the rancor and mutual distrust that currently prevails between the two countries. "I'm very pessimistic," says the Naval War College's Goldstein. "Getting back to normal would be very difficult, even if President Biden really wanted to do that." 2020.01.23 (NPR News)
What Trump's Declassified Asia Strategy May Mean For U.S.-China Relations Under Biden content media
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Jan 22, 2021
In NEWS IN BRIEF
‘The Unification of Hands’ series, co-produced by the Unification Education Institute and Open Books publishers, has been published in Series 2, Vol.6-10. - See North Korean News at a Glance - Daddy and Daughter Walks DMZ - What do you think of unification? - Ask about unification in history 100 years ago - Travel to Geumgangsan Mountain by painting So far, the view of North Korea has been changing since social dialogue, contrary to the stereotypes of North Korea, the view of North Korea, humanitarian aid, and the perception of reunification.
<Friendly Unification in Travel, Art, and History> 2021.1 content media
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Jan 22, 2021
In NEWS IN BRIEF
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is calling for beefing up his country's nuclear and military capabilities, but appears to be leaving open the possibility for negotiation with the U.S., just days before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. "We must do everything we can to increase nuclear war deterrence even further as we build the strongest military capability," Kim told delegates at the conclusion of an eight-day long congress of the ruling Workers Party in Pyongyang, state media reported on Wednesday. In a report to the congress last week, Kim referred to the U.S. as North Korea's principal enemy, and vowed to develop a raft of new nuclear and conventional weapons to counter the threat from Washington. But he also affirmed previous agreements with the Trump administration, which suggests that they could serve as the basis for future negotiations. In his report, Kim praised the 2018 Singapore summit with President Trump, which yielded "the joint declaration that assured the establishment of new [North Korea]-U.S. relations." That declaration called for denuclearization and a peace regime on the Korean peninsula, and a new, presumably less hostile, relationship between Pyongyang and Washington. Negotiations later broke down after an abortive second summit in Vietnam in 2019. Kim's remarks are "not exactly an olive branch, but it's not slamming the door, by any stretch of the imagination, either. So it's something in between," says John Delury, a historian at Yonsei University in Seoul. Kim's list of military technologies he plans to develop is a warning to Washington, but "also the starting point for diplomacy and negotiation," Delury contends. The congress also came up with some plans to strengthen the country's economy, with a developmental blueprint for the next five years. Kim kicked off the congress by bluntly admitting that his plans for the past five years had fallen flat. Besides prescribing building up heavy industries, including steel and chemicals, Kim called for sourcing more materials for light industrial goods domestically that North Korea used to have to import, a policy economists call "import substitution." "Most consumer goods are now produced within the country, whereas in the past, they depended a lot on Chinese-made goods," says Choi Eun-ju, a North Korea expert at the Sejong Institute, a think tank outside Seoul. "Now, the domestically produced goods are available in the markets, and North Korean consumers actually prefer them," she adds. While North Korea can't produce enough of the goods, Choi adds, they have helped the country to scrape by, while the border with China — the North's main trading partner — has been shut during the pandemic. Kim conceded that, in addition to external factors, such as the pandemic, international sanctions and natural disasters, the party had committed "serious mistakes" that contributed to the country's dire economic situation. This represents a break with the past, when the party attributed setbacks to factors beyond its control, says the Sejong Institute's Choi Eun-ju. "Kim admits that there are external factors, but he also addresses the internal reasons," she says. "Instead of accusing the North Korean people or laborers, he blames bureaucrats, including himself." (NPR 2021.01.13)
North Korea's Kim Talks Of New Weapons, But Leaves Door Open For Biden content media
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Jan 22, 2021
In NEWS IN BRIEF
Hundreds of destitute families moved to a town bordering North Korea after the war. Six decades later, their dream of owning the land they helped cultivate may finally come true. Along the border with North Korea is a town where the sad legacy of war is perhaps best understood by looking at the crops in the field. Standing on a wind-swept plot on a hillside, Han Gi-taek, 69, peered over the land and recalled the hard labor, cold nights and stray land mines that made it difficult for his family to cultivate the ground beneath his feet. First they did it with their bare hands and shovels, he said. In more recent years, it has been done using tractors, with the piles of rocks that ring the field bearing witness to the family’s decades of labor. Mr. Han arrived in this mountain basin on the eastern border with North Korea in 1956, when military trucks unloaded 160 families as new settlers of the war-torn territory. The families, mostly from Korean War refugee camps, were told by the government in the South that they would be allowed to keep the land if they cultivated it for 10 years. “We were landless peasants who lost everything during the war,” Mr. Han said. “We came here with a dream of owning our own land.” When the first families arrived, they saw nothing but wilderness. The nearest bus stop was seven miles away. The winding dirt road to this former battleground was studded with checkpoints where armed sentries stopped anyone traveling without a military-issued pass. A dusk-to-sunrise curfew was enforced, and the families had to live in tents for months before the army built them wood-and-mud huts. “The military ruled everything here,” Mr. Han said. Now this five-mile-wide basin, ​better known by its wartime nickname, “Punch Bowl​,” grows ginseng, apples and radish greens that are shipped to cities across South Korea. The military passes and checkpoints are long gone. This year, the South Korean government will finally deliver on its promise to the settlers, more than six decades after it began to repopulate Haean’s ravaged landscape after the war. The holdup was caused by a thorny legal issue. After Korea was liberated from Japanese colonial rule at the end of World War II, ​the United States and the Soviet Union divided it into two halves. Haean fell to North Korea. During the Korean War​, American-led United Nations forces waged some of their fiercest battles in hills surrounding Haean. Thousands of United States, South and North Korean troops died in the area. When ​guns fell silent in a truce in 1953, Haean was in South Korea’s hands. (NYT, 2021.01.12)
The Korean War Emptied the Town. Those Who Rebuilt It May Now Be Rewarded content media
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KMHPF
Jan 22, 2021
In NEWS IN BRIEF
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un staked out a hardline position just days ahead of President-elect Joe Biden taking office, calling the United States his country's "biggest enemy," and vowing to advance his country's nuclear arsenal. "Our external political activities must focus on controlling and subjugating the United States, our archenemy and the biggest stumbling block to the development of our revolution," Kim said, according to the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). "No matter who takes power in the United States, its true nature and its policy toward our country will never change," he added. Kim made the remarks Friday at the ruling Workers Party 8th congress in Pyongyang. Analysts have been parsing reports of the congress for signs of new policies, and this is the first indication of Kim's position towards a new U.S. administration. President-elect Joe Biden has promised "principled diplomacy" with North Korea, implying a break with President Donald Trump's high-stakes summits with Kim Jong Un. He has also indicated he will work more closely with U.S. allies South Korea and Japan. At the congress, Kim called for the improvement of the country's nuclear arsenal to include solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles that can be launched from land and sea, and accurately hit targets at a range of up to 9,320 miles, putting the U.S. mainland in reach. He also ordered the development of miniaturized nuclear weapons, tactical nukes, military surveillance satellites and hypersonic aircraft. Kim reaffirmed that North Korea would not use its nuclear arsenal in a preemptive strike. Following the collapse of his second summit with Trump in Vietnam in February 2019, Kim appeared to give up hope of reaching a denuclearization deal with the U.S., and resolved to continue building up nuclear and conventional weapons while diplomacy remained stalemated. Last year, Kim pledged to unveil a new strategic weapon, and in October, North Korea revealed what appeared to be a new and upgraded intercontinental ballistic missile, bigger than one already thought to be capable of hitting the continental U.S. While Kim has said he no longer feels bound by his self-imposed moratorium on testing strategic weapons, including nuclear devices and intercontinental ballistic missiles, Pyongyang has not tested either since the last intercontinental ballistic missile launch in 2017. The tests triggered stringent U.N. sanctions. North Korea did continue last year, though, to test shorter range ballistic missiles capable of hitting targets in South Korea, including bases where the U.S. has some 28,500 troops. President Trump appeared unperturbed by the tests, as they were not capable of hitting the U.S. mainland. Kim began the party conference this week, the last since 2016, by bluntly admitting that his last five-year economic plan had ended in failure, due to both external factors — such as international sanctions and the coronavirus — but also due to internal reasons, such as government mismanagement of the economy. The KCNA report said the congress blamed officials for botching implementation of the party's economic plans and "failing to actively introduce reality-friendly and people-friendly methods" in the ruling party's work. The report also touted Kim's summitry with Trump as a diplomatic achievement. Over the past five years, it claimed, the ruling party's work effected "a dramatic change in the balance of power" between Pyongyang and Washington, "demonstrating the dignity and prestige of our state." (NPR 2021.01.09)
Kim Jong Un Calls U.S. North Korea's 'Biggest Enemy,' Vows To Advance Nuclear Arsenal content media
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KMHPF
Jun 24, 2020
In NEWS IN BRIEF
The North’s leadership says it will now treat the South as an “enemy,” the latest sign of chilling relations between the two Koreas. <The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, during a Politburo meeting on Sunday. Credit, AP> North Korea said on Tuesday that it would cut off all communication lines with South Korea, including military hotlines, as it vowed to reverse a recent détente on the Korean Peninsula and start treating the South as an “enemy.” North Korea made the decision when its top officials in charge of relations with the South, including Kim Yo-jong, the sister of the supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, met on Monday, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said. The officials “stressed that the work toward the South should thoroughly turn into one against the enemy,” the North Korean news agency reported on Tuesday. “We have reached a conclusion that there is no need to sit face to face with the South Korean authorities, and there is no issue to discuss with them, as they have only aroused our dismay.” Shortly after its announcement, North Korea refused to pick up the phone on Tuesday morning when the South made its routine daily call on the military hotlines between the two countries, officials in Seoul said. The North’s tone on Tuesday was a sharp reversal from two years ago, when a rare inter-Korean rapprochement culminated in South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, visiting Pyongyang, becoming the first South Korean leader to address a large North Korean crowd. Inter-Korean relations have rapidly deteriorated since Kim Jong-un’s second summit meeting with President Trump, held in Vietnam in February of last year, ended without agreement on dismantling North Korea’s nuclear weapons program or easing United Nations sanctions on the country. North Korea’s economic isolation has subsequently deepened with the global coronavirus outbreak. Since Mr. Kim’s diplomacy with Mr. Trump collapsed, North Korea has stepped up pressure on the South to ignore Washington’s pressure and improve inter-Korean economic ties even before the North denuclearized. It demanded the reopening of the joint tourism venture at its Diamond Mountain resort complex and of a joint industrial park in Kaesong, both of which had served as key sources of cash until they were shut down in disputes between the two Koreas. When the South refused to restart the ventures, calling on the North to first move toward denuclearization, North Korea turned increasingly harsh toward Mr. Moon’s government. <Kim Jong-un and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea meeting in the Demilitarized Zone in 2018. Credit, Korea Summit Press Pool> Last Thursday, Ms. Kim, a senior adviser to her brother, warned that North Korea would begin scrapping inter-Korean agreements​ to ease tensions​ unless South Korea stopped the release of anti-Kim leaflets by defectors from the North. When Mr. Kim and ​Mr. Moon met in April of 2018 and again in September that year, they ​signed agreements to improve relations and cease all hostile acts along the border​, including cross-border propaganda, ​like leaflets and loudspeaker broadcasts​. As part of such efforts, the two Koreas​ also ​installed​ a hotline linking the offices of Mr. Kim and Mr. Moon and​ ​set up a liaison office ​in ​Kaesong​, just north of the border in North Korea. But anti-North activists in the South, mainly defectors from the North, have continued to send leaflets by balloon. North Korea has long bristled at these leaflets, which typically depict Mr. Kim as a cretinous dictator toying with nuclear weapons. On Tuesday, North Korea said that it had decided to “cut off all the communication and liaison lines” between the two Koreas, including the hotlines between their leaders’ offices and their militaries. The​ North said its​ move was only the start of what ​it called “phased plans for the work against the enemy.” South Korea has long emphasized the importance of those hotlines to avert unintended armed clashes between the ​two militaries ​at ​times of rising tensions on the peninsula. The two Koreas have run a telephone hotline at the so-called truce village of Panmunjom and later at the inter-Korean liaison office. Duty officers from both sides man their telephones. But when bilateral relations soured in the past, one of the first things North Korea often did was to cut off the line​ — only to reopen it later​​. South Korea has criticized the North Korean defectors for raising tensions by releasing the leaflets​​. Last week, it said it was discussing a new law to ban such leaflets. In recent days,​ ​when defectors​ approached the border zone to release plastic bottles filled with rice afloat on a river, hoping that they will reach North Koreans, angry ​South Korean ​villagers blocked the roads​. They accused the defectors of raising tensions and polluting the river.
North Korea Cuts Off All Communications Lines to      South Korea content media
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May 06, 2020
In NEWS IN BRIEF
In its candid examination of domestic conflict and female ambition, “Friend” unsettles expectations of North Korean life. Credit...Toby de Silva/Redux It may be surprising, though it shouldn’t be, to learn that North Korea has novelists and literary critics, fiction prizes and best sellers. Some books have been republished in South Korea, but English translations remain scarce and geared largely toward dissident memoirs. “The Accusation,” an absorbing story collection by a man writing under the name Bandi (or “Firefly”), was published in English in 2017, but it never had a life inside North Korea: The stories were critical of the regime and had to be smuggled out of the country to be read. What is North Korean literature, as read by North Koreans? One of the few English translations of a novel from Pyongyang — “Friend,” by Paek Nam-nyong, originally published in 1988 — offers a beguiling introduction to the everyday, with none of the rockets and military parades that the words “North Korea” often bring to mind. As recent coverage of the health and whereabouts of the nation’s leader, Kim Jong-un, reminds us, fiction may offer more durable truths than speculative news. The “friend” of the title is Jeong Jin-wu, a small-town judge unlike any magistrate in the West. As a trusted organ of the state, he isn’t limited to courtroom protocol; he assumes the intimate duties of social worker, counselor, wingman and private eye, reaching ever further into his litigants’ affairs. One day, a young woman named Chae Sun-hee, a well-known singer in a provincial performing arts troupe, enters Jeong’s courtroom to file for a divorce. “I’ve been living a loveless life,” she says, when questioned by the judge. She explains that her husband, Lee Seok-chun, is a longtime factory worker who’s neither cruel nor unfaithful but “insensitive and speechless” and lacking drive. She worries that his indolence will drag down her musical career and impair the advancement of their 7-year-old son, Ho-nam. The judge is skeptical. Divorce would be a tragedy for the boy, he thinks. And the separation of a family, onto which so much of North Korean life is inscribed, “was more than a legal matter; it was a societal problem.” Over 16 short chapters, Jeong takes a microscope to Chae’s and Lee’s lives to gauge the prudence and necessity of a divorce. The judge’s interventions feel creepy at times, even by the standards of the world of the book. He questions the couple at length, learning every detail of their courtship, from meet-cute through collapse. Jeong finds Ho-nam outside the family’s home one rainy day after school, when Chae and Lee are running late, and brings the boy to his own apartment for a bath and dinner. He visits the couple’s places of work and interviews their supervisors, who apologize for not having done more to prevent their comrades’ marital discord. “This was someone else’s family problem,” Paek writes, but the judge and bosses “handled it as if it were their own.” Meanwhile, Jeong tries to make sense of his own unsteady marriage to Eun-ok, an agricultural scientist who’s constantly on the road. In her absence, “he considered his life no different from that of a widower.” In its candid examination of domestic conflict and female ambition, the book unsettles expectations of North Korean life. The women, Chae and Eun-ok, are so committed to their careers that they violate traditional wifely norms. Their husbands feel resentful but know they shouldn’t. As Jeong learns more about Chae and Lee’s marriage, he becomes more intent on saving it, and, in the tradition of socialist self-criticism, doing better by his own wife. “Friend” is, at times, didactic and propagandistic, but for every unctuous sentence, there’s another that points to blemishes behind North Korea’s facade. Paek’s characters acknowledge the scarcity of electricity, corruption among government officials and a societal need for “becoming intellectualized in scientific technology and the arts.” The translation, by the scholar Immanuel Kim, can feel stilted, but usefully so, connoting the formality of the North Korean vernacular. Many aspects of “Friend” are autobiographical. Paek, who was born in 1949, just a year after the founding of North and South Korea, lived the contrasts of poverty and comfort, of cultural center and periphery, that are at play throughout the novel. When he was a toddler, during the Korean War, an American bomb killed his father; his mother, a laborer at a wood factory who introduced him to Korean fairy tales and Aesop’s fables, died of a terminal illness when he was 11. Like his character Lee, Paek operated a lathe in a rural steel factory for a decade after high school. It was there that he met and married a fellow laborer, raised three children and read Charlotte Brontë, Dostoyevsky, Hugo and Melville. He joined a provincial writers’ union (in North Korea, most working artists belong to state-run guilds) whose office was two floors above a divorce court. Paek befriended the judge and began to sit in on proceedings. “I witnessed arguments that can cut through steel,” he told Kim, the translator, in a 2015 interview. Paek eventually attended Kim Il Sung University, the nation’s most prestigious college, and became a member of the elite April 15 Literary Production Unit, which creates fiction based on the heroics of North Korea’s ruling family. Though Paek has expressed thanks that “Dear General Kim Jong Il identified my potential,” he writes more than hagiography. His books “Servicemen,” “After 60 Years” and “Life” have earned critical and popular favor for their mingling of socialist themes and tender psychological portraits. It’s “Friend,” though, that made Paek a star — a dramatic series based on the novel aired on North Korean television — and carried his work abroad. In 1992, the book was published in South Korea, where it sold well and introduced many readers to the possibility of ordinary life in the North. It was published in French in 2011 and adapted for the theater in Seoul, late last year, by an organization devoted to North-South exchange. The interest in Paek’s work across the Demilitarized Zone suggests the possibility of a pan-Korean literature — the reality of an earlier generation of writers, before national division. The director of the theater production in Seoul, Lee Hae-seong, told a reporter: “I thought the language used in North Korea would be totally different, but as I read this novel, I found only a few unfamiliar words. The Korean was very much alive.” (NYT, 2020.05.05)
A Novel From North Korea Offers Glimpses of the Everyday content media
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