Two brothers from one people, fighting against each other

30 06 2010

Tania Branigan, China correspondent (The Guardian, Friday 25 June 2010).

In the West it is the forgotten war, but to Xiang Chaoshan the 60-year-old conflict lives long in the memory – and its causes are clear. Just a few arches of the bridge that once straddled the Yalu river, linking north-eastern China’s Dandong to neighbouring North Korea, remain as a stark and deliberate reminder of the US raids that enraged him as a young man. “That’s still the evidence to show it was an evil war – it was imperialism … if it was not a war of invasion, why did they bomb our bridge?” asked the 78-year-old Chinese veteran…

…By 1952 Chinese soldiers outnumbered their allies by three to one; hundreds of thousands are thought to have died in the conflict. The repercussions are still playing out in the region. The war cemented an alliance that sustains Pyongyang in the face of widespread vilification, and created a powerful emotional bond. “Most Chinese have been immersed in an almost morbidly sentimental connection with the North,” said Zhu Feng, professor of international relations at Peking University.

For veterans, those links are particularly potent. “I didn’t cry when my parents died but when I think of those who died in the war my tears roll down,” said Xiang, recalling his comrades. When a Southern warship sank this spring, killing 46 sailors, international experts concluded the North torpedoed it. But Xiang backs Pyongyang’s denials. “People shouldn’t bully North Korea any more,” he said.

Inside the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, such perceptions are far sharper. To the outside world, the fact that technically the North and South are still at war – because no peace treaty followed the armistice – is a historical curiosity. To the North, it is the principle around which life is organised.

“They have structured their huge military and much of the society as a fighting machine determined, someday, to win this war (or at least hold off the South and the Americans),” says Professor Bruce Cumings, whose new book The Korean War: A History is published this month.

Go to the Shanghai Expo and the North’s pavilion shows footage of the war. Open a maths book and calculations feature heroic patriots battling American invaders.

“The regime pays a great deal of attention to the topic of the Korean war because it justifies its own legitimacy, helps mobilise the masses around the top leader, and provides the pattern for people’s self-sacrificing behaviour in economic life,” said Dr Leonid Petrov, a Korea expert at the University of Sydney…

See the full text of the article here…

KCNA on Tremendous Damage Done to DPRK by the US

28 06 2010

Pyongyang, June 24 (KCNA) — The Korean Central News Agency released the following report Thursday to expose all forms of crimes the U.S. imperialists [allegedly] committed against the Korean people up to now since their occupation of south Korea:

“Six decades have passed since the U.S. imperialists, the sworn enemy of the Korean people, unleashed a war on this land, where they were leading a peaceful happy life. The U.S. imperialists, chieftain of evils, committed the most barbarous and hideous crimes against the Korean people ever in the world history of wars during the last Korean War.

They committed thrice-cursed genocide, destruction and pillage during the war. They have regarded new People’s Korea as a thorn in the flesh ever since their occupation of south Korea. They have persistently pursued an unprecedentedly harsh policy of isolating and stifling the system of the DPRK in wanton violation of the UN Charter and publicly accepted norms of international law, thus doing inestimably tremendous damage to it.

The Committee for Investigation into Damage Done by the U.S. to the Northern Half of Korea summed up all human and material damage brought by the U.S. imperialists to the northern half of Korea for the past six decades since they landed in south Korea on Sept. 8, 1945. The total damages amount to 64 trillion, 959 billion and 854 million U.S. dollars…”

See the details of calculations here…

Massacres aimed to exterminate the Korean nation

“The most serious damage done to the northern half of Korea by the U.S. imperialists was the monstrous killing of a great number of peaceable inhabitants. Since their occupation of south Korea, the U.S. imperialist aggressors had perpetrated ceaseless attacks, gun and rifle firing and terrorism against areas north of the 38th parallel in order to destabilize the new country for the people advancing toward socialism and nip it in the bud, thus killing or abducting more than 13,900 people before the war.

The shuddering massacre of civilians the U.S. imperialists committed in the northern half of Korea after igniting the Korean War was unprecedentedly harsh barbarism in wanton violation of international laws on protection of civilians in time of war and publicly accepted wartime laws and regulations. At least 1,231,540 peaceful inhabitants were cold-bloodedly killed by the U.S. imperialist brutes in the northern half of Korea during the three-year war.

During their temporary occupation of Sinchon County, the U.S. imperialist ogres killed a quarter of the county population. The number of the people killed by them in the whole period of the war stood at least 401,940 in Hwanghae Province, more than 162,180 in South Phyongan Province, over 129,390 in Kangwon Province, at least 116,220 in North Phyongan Province, over 115,300 in South Hamgyong Province, more than 82,020 in North Hamgyong Province and at least 64,240 in Jagang Province. The U.S. imperialist brutes indiscriminately killed more than 157,840 inhabitants in Pyongyang alone…”

See the full text here…

Forza Coreana!

21 06 2010

Leonid Petrov for «Klar Tale» (21/06/10)

The North Koreans, like their brothers in the South, are crazy about football. They find this game fascinating because it reminds them of real life full of tough moments with unpredictable results. Their political leaders are quick to link the performance of the team to the broader national goals and prides.

For the DPRK, which lives in the state of permanent crisis, every small victory gives its people a good reason to celebrate. Playing football with Brazil is already a challenge, while scoring even one goal is a feat. Last week Ji Yun Nam’s lucky strike made millions of Koreans not only in the North of the Korean peninsula but also in the South and overseas elated. Tonight the DPRK is facing Portugal to seek revenge for the blow received 44 year ago (they lost 5-3 to Portugal despite taking a 3-0 lead after thirty minutes) .

Victories in sport give the North Korean people much consolation in their daily struggles. Their country remains stuck between the communist past and an unknown future. Desperately trying to modernise the nation, DPRK leadership remains fearful of any real change or reform. The dynamism and passion with which North Korea plays football could have been utilised in revamping its economic strategy, exactly like South Korea did it once to score the “miracle on the Han river”.

Defeats educate us better than victories. Even if DPRK national team does not show a great result at 2010 World Cup competition, it still learns a lesson together with its fans and critics back at home. By showing the character and strong determination for success in sport, North Korea puts a solid foundation for the new round of proclaimed self-modernisation. The final score means less than the general impression from technique, discipline and teamwork performed in the course of the match. By playing against the world strongest teams the North Koreans have already acquired respect and sympathy of millions, and probably inspired many more for hard work and excellent achievements.

North Korea punished its World Cup team’s Head Coach Kim Jong-hun.

(The Korea Herald, Aug. 02, 2010) Kim Jong-hun received his sentence after he and his players faced a six-hour grilling from 400 officials of the Communist country’s hardline regime. Kim was also stripped of his membership of the Workers’ Party of Korea. The players were then allegedly forced to… blame their coach for the defeats. Kim was being punished for “betraying the trust of Kim Jong-Un”…

— Read more articles by Leonid Petrov about soccer in Korea:




18 06 2010

(IFES NK Brief No. 10-06-17) As North Korea’s food shortages worsen and reports of starvation continue to grow, the Workers’ Party of Korea have acknowledged the failure of the central food ration program. Since the end of May, the Party has permitted the operation of 24-hour markets, and the regime has ordered the people of the North to provide for themselves.

The human rights organization Good Friends reported this move on June 14. According to Good Friends, the Workers’ Party organization and guidance bureau handed down an order on May 26 titled ‘Relating to Korea’s Current Food Situation’ that allowed markets to stay open and ordered North Koreans to purchase their own food. This order, recognizing that the food shortages in the North have continued to worsen over the last six months, since the failed attempts at currency reform, acknowledged the difficulty of providing government food rations. It calls on those who were receiving rations to now feed themselves, while also calling on the Party, Cabinet, security forces and other relevant government agencies to come up with necessary countermeasures. Now, authorities officially allow the 24-hour operation of markets, something that most had already tacitly permitted, and encourage individuals, even those not working in trading companies, to actively import goods from China.

It has been reported that government food rations to all regions and all classes of society, even to those in Pyongyang, were suspended in April. The last distribution of food was a 20-day supply provided to each North Korean on April 15, the anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung. Because of the difficulty of travelling to markets, the suspension of rations caused many in farming communities to starve to death. When Kim Jong Il’s recent visit to China failed to secure expected food aid, the Workers’ Party had no choice but to hand down the ‘May 26 Party Decree’. While the suspension of rations has considerably extended the economic independence of North Korean people, the regime has significantly stepped up other forms of control over society. Public security officers have begun confiscating knives, saws and other potential weapons over 9 centimeters long in an effort to stem murder and other violent crimes. Additionally, state security officials are cracking down on forcefully resettling some residents of the age most likely to defect, while sending to prison those thought to have contacted relatives in South Korea.

According to Daily NK, North Korean security officials are pushing trading companies to continue trading with China, while calling on Chinese businesses to provide food aid. It also appears that North Korean customs inspections along the Tumen River have been considerably eased, and there is no real attempt to identify the origin or intended use of food imported from China. Sinheung Trading Company has asked Chinese partners investing in the North to send flour, corn and other foodstuffs. The Sinheung Trading Company is operated by the Ministry of State Security, and is responsible for earning the ministry foreign capital. It appears that food acquisition is now a matter of national security, as North Korea is expecting South Korea and the rest of the international community to economically isolate the country.

N.Korea secures World Cup broadcast deal

16 06 2010

North Korea: Broadcast Union Says Soccer Coverage Is a Gift (AP, June 15, 2010) Asia’s broadcasting union said Tuesday that it was providing North Korea with free live coverage of World Cup matches so that its citizens could enjoy the sport and get a feel for life outside their isolated nation. John Barton, the sport director of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, which is based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, said he signed a contract with the World Cup organizer, FIFA, on Friday to broadcast the matches live into North Korea. Mr. Barton dismissed as “rubbish” reports accusing North Korea of broadcasting pirated recordings of several matches.

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP, 15 June 2010) — North Korea has secured legal rights to air World Cup matches live, Asia’s broadcasting union said Tuesday, denying the reclusive state had pirated a recording of the opening fixture.

According to South Korean broadcaster SBS, the North’s Korean Central Broadcast Service (KBS) aired Friday’s opening 1-1 draw between hosts South Africa and Mexico without permission. But the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union said North Korea — whose team is competing at the World Cup for the first time in 44 years — had used legal footage “right from the start” following a deal between the union and FIFA.

KBS is a member of the TV union, which has agreed with football’s world governing body to air the tournament live in six other impoverished countries — East Timor, Laos, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. “We have signed a contract with FIFA on June 11, just before the opening game started, to broadcast the matches live in North Korea,” a spokeswoman at the Kuala Lumpur-based broadcasting union told AFP. “It’s not true to say they have broadcast a pirate recording for the opening match. Right from the start, North Korea has been using the feeds from FIFA legally,” she said, while declining to detail the terms of the agreement.

South Korea are also competing in South Africa, and SBS says it holds the broadcast rights for the entire Korean peninsula. North Korea, whose national side open their campaign later Tuesday against five-time champions Brazil, wanted the South to provide free footage, as it had done for the 2006 tournament in Germany. But SBS said last week that negotiations with North Korea over a fee had broken down. It said the talks had been coloured by tensions between Seoul and Pyongyang over the sinking of a South Korean warship in March…

…Four years ago, South Korea’s then-liberal government spent 150 million won (132,600 dollars) subsidising World Cup broadcasts to North Korea.

N.Korea Shows Pirate Broadcasts of World Cup

(Chosun Ilbo, 14 June 2010) North Korea’s Central TV illegally aired the opener of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa on Saturday evening despite having failed to buy the broadcasting rights. The broadcast showed about an hour and 20 minutes of footage of Friday’s opener between South Africa and Mexico.

As if mindful of accusations of piracy, the channel erased inscriptions at the top and bottom of the screen showing the source of the program. An announcer and a commentator voiced over the original broadcasters after muting the original noise soundtrack, with the result that stadium noise was almost completely lost.

SBS TV in Seoul, which holds the exclusive rights for the Korean Peninsula, says this was an “act of piracy.” “The North’s broadcast of the World Cup matches was illegal because our negotiations with North Koreans were suspended,” an SBS spokesman said. “We’ll decide how to respond once we find out where the North got the footage.”

In the 2006 World Cup, the North was given broadcasting rights for free by the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union. In 2002, it also broadcast matches illegally.

On Sunday, the North only broadcast edited games between Uruguay and France and between Argentina and Nigeria and skipped the South Korea-Greece match altogether.

North Korea Moves Quietly Onto the Internet

12 06 2010

(By Martyn Williams,, June 10, 2010) IDG News Service — North Korea, one of the world’s few remaining information black holes, has taken the first step toward a fully fledged connection to the Internet. But a connection, if it comes, is unlikely to mean freedom of information for North Korea’s citizens.

In the past few months, a block of 1,024 Internet addresses, reserved for many years for North Korea but never touched, has been registered to a company with links to the government in Pyongyang. The numeric IP addresses lie at the heart of communication on the Internet. Every computer connected to the network needs its own address so that data can be sent and received by the correct servers and computers. Without them, communication would fall apart.

It is unclear how the country’s secretive leadership plans to make use of the addresses. It seems likely they will be assigned for military or government use, but experts say it is impossible to know for sure. North Korea’s move toward the Internet comes as it finds itself increasingly isolated on the world stage. The recent sinking of a South Korean warship has been blamed on the insular country. As a result, there are calls for tougher sanctions that would isolate North Korea further.

“There is no place for the Internet in contemporary DPRK,” said Leonid A. Petrov, a lecturer in Korean studies at The University of Sydney, referring to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “If the people of North Korea were to have open access to the World Wide Web, they would start learning the truth that has been concealed from them for the last six decades. Unless Kim Jong-Il or his successors feel suicidal, the Internet, like any other free media, will never be allowed in North Korea,” he said.

The North Korean addresses were recently put under the control of Star Joint Venture, a Pyongyang-based company that is partly controlled by Thailand’s Loxley Pacific. The Thai company has experience working with North Korea on high-tech projects, having built North Korea’s first cellular telephone network, Sunnet, in 2002. Loxley acknowledged that it is working on a project with Pyongyang, but Sahayod Chiradejsakulwong, a manager at the company, wouldn’t elaborate on plans for the addresses. “This is a part of our business that we do no want to provide information about at the moment,” he said.

A connection to the Internet would represent a significant upgrade of the North’s place in cyberspace, but it’s starting from a very low base. At present the country relies on servers in other countries to disseminate information. The Web site of the Korea Central News Agency, the North’s official mouthpiece, runs on a server in Japan, while Uriminzokkiri, the closest thing the country has to an official Web site, runs from a server in China.

North Korean citizens have access to a nationwide intranet system called Kwangmyong, which was established around 2000 by the Pyongyang-based Korea Computer Center. It connects universities, libraries, cybercafes and other institutions with Web sites and e-mail, but offers no links to the outside world. Connections to the actual Internet are severely limited to the most elite members of society. Estimates suggest no more than a few thousand North Koreans have access to the Internet, via a cross-border hook-up to China Netcom. A second connection exists, via satellite to Germany, and is used by diplomats and companies.

For normal citizens of North Korea, the idea of an Internet hook-up is unimaginable, Petrov said. Kim Jong-Il, the de-facto leader of the country, appears all too aware of the destructive power that freedom of information would have to his regime. While boasting of his own prowess online at an inter-Korean summit meeting in 2007, he reportedly rejected an Internet connection to the Kaesong Industrial Park, the jointly run complex that sits just north of the border, and said that “many problems would arise if the Internet at the Kaesong Park is connected to other parts of North Korea.”

Kim himself has made no secret of the Internet access that he enjoys, and famously asked then-U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright for her e-mail address during a meeting in 2000. The government’s total control over information extends even as far as requiring radios be fixed on domestic stations so foreign voices cannot be heard. The policy shows no signs of changing, so any expansion of the Internet into North Korea would likely be used by the government, military or major corporations.

Also, read the “The World’s Most Unusual Outsourcing Destination” by Martyn Williams here…

Watch the video footage “Radio wars between North and South Korea” by Martyn Williams here… 

Views Show How North Korea Policy Spread Misery

By SHARON LaFRANIERE (The New York Times, June 9, 2010)

…Those North Koreans who have never crossed the border have no way to make sense of their tribulations. There is no Internet. Television and radio receivers are soldered to government channels. Even the party official’s wife lacks a telephone and mourns her lack of contact with the outside world. Her first question to a foreigner was “Am I pretty?”

Slowly, however, information is seeping in. Traders return from China to report that people are richer and comparatively freer, and that South Koreans are supposedly even more so. Some of the traders have cellphones that are linked to the Chinese cellular network and can be surreptitiously borrowed for exorbitant fees.

Punishment for watching foreign films and television shows is stiff. The trader said a 35-year-old neighbor spent six months in a labor camp last year after he was caught watching “Twin Dragons,” a farcical Hong Kong action film starring Jackie Chan. Yet to the dismay of the former teacher, her 26-year-old son takes similar risks.

Her sister is married to a government official in the capital, Pyongyang, she said, but neither is a fan of Kim Jong-il. On her most recent visit, she said, her sister whispered to her, “ ‘People follow him because of fear, not because of love.’ ”

Since the currency devaluation, she and others say, people are noticeably bolder with such comments. “Now, if you go to the market, people will say anything,” the construction worker said. “They will say the government is a thief — even in broad daylight”…

 Read the full text of this article here…

South Korea seeks to prove North’s motive for Cheonan’s sinking

3 06 2010

(By Sunny Lee, The National, June 01, 2010) After the sinking of a navy ship in March, South Korea had been widening its campaign to convince sceptics that Pyongyang was responsible for the fatal attack and to deliver punitive measures against North Korea at the UN Security Council. Now, after an international inquiry determined that North Korea was the culprit, analysts are shifting their attention to a key question, which has been overlooked: why did North Korea carry out the attack?

Answering this question is critical for South Korea to persuade China and Russia, two traditional allies of North Korea, to back action against Pyongyang. Both are veto-wielding permanent UN Security Council members that can scupper Seoul’s effort to mete out the world body’s official condemnation against North Korea.

“If North Korea indeed did it, why would it have done it? This is the question that has not been answered. And it bothers me,” said Leonid Petrov, a Russian analyst on inter-Korean affairs, who now teaches at the University of Sydney. Russia has dispatched a team of investigators to Seoul, who were briefed by Seoul officials yesterday. The Russian team, composed of experts on torpedoes and submarines, plans to inspect the wreckage and visit the site of the sinking. It hopes to finish its investigation by early next week.

In the debate around the Cheonan, the ship that was sunk, some analysts pointed out, the Russian factor has been overlooked. “Given that South Korea and Japan are working with the US to bring the issue to the Security Council, one element in Chinese calculations will be Russia’s position on the investigation results,” said Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, the North East Asia project director for the International Crisis Group, a non-partisan think tank that advises governments. “China is averse to diplomatic isolation, so it will probably act to avoid being alone in the opposing camp.”

Seoul has also asked Beijing to send its own experts, but has not received a response. Some South Korean media said China has already rejected the offer. The Russian foreign ministry said it needs “100 per cent proof” of the North’s involvement. “A ‘100-per cent proof’ is a politically loaded demand that scientific evidence is unable to meet,” said Tong Kim, a former US state department official, who participated in past negotiations between North Korea and the US. Mr Kim believes that Russia is likely to accept the South-led results in the end. “Now is a time for raising questions and answering them,” Mr Kim said. In his meeting with the Chinese president, Hu Jintao, last month in Beijing, Kim Jong Il denied his country’s involvement. The North Korean leader said there was no reason to carry out the attack…

..Some also viewed that North Korea wanted to break the deadlock in the standoff with the South by destabilising the situation in which the South’s hard-line president, Lee Myung-bak, had been refusing to engage the North. Mr Kim believed there would not be any military retaliation from the South and the Obama administration, for fear of widening tensions. “Of course, there should be consequences. But nobody wants a war,” said Mr Kim, the former US official.

The North would also have thought that the UN would not respond in a resolute manner as China and Russia would confront the US. Analysts also said that North Korea was attempting to engineer a situation where the whole world is paying keen attention to it. “North Korea sought Obama’s attention, but Obama didn’t pay attention to it. This time, I think the North achieved it,” Mr Petrov said.

See the full text of the article here..

CPRK Condemns South Korea for War Moves

3 06 2010

Pyongyang, May 30 (KCNA) — “The group of conservatives in south Korea are rushing headlong toward the reckless military confrontation and war against the DPRK while persistently linking the case of the puppet navy’s warship sinking with it. The Secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) on Sunday released its information bulletin No. 955 in denunciation of such moves.

According to the bulletin, the puppet military gangsters have staged bombardment and depth-bomb dropping exercises in the waters of the West Sea of Korea from May 27 with mobilization of 10 warships of different types, including destroyers and patrol craft, and antisubmarine patrol planes while crying out for “military demonstration” and “military counteraction” under the scenario of confrontation worked out by traitor Lee Myung Bak. And they are illegally infiltrating groups of warships into the territorial waters of the DPRK every day to get on the nerves of the DPRK.

The group of traitors is also planning to stage the largest-scale joint anti-submarine exercises in the waters of the West Sea of Korea by inviting the U.S. imperialist aggressor forces’ warships, including the nuclear aircraft carrier belonging to the 7th Fleet, a cruiser and nuclear submarine. And it is examining a plan to conduct with the U.S. forces arge-scale field mobile exercises, equivalent to the “Team Spirit” joint military exercises which had been suspended since 1994.

Meanwhile, the group is hell-bent on spying on the military objects of the DPRK by mobilizing U-2 and other strategic and tactical reconnaissance planes of various types after raising the anti-DPRK watch posture to the phase on the eve of war. It is also seeking to resume the anti-DPRK smear psychological warfare in the frontline areas through scattering of leaflets and by means of electronic displays and loudspeakers.

The group has planned to zealously join in the U.S.-led aggressive “PSI” and thus stage the extremely provocative “intercepting drill” aimed to put sea blockade against the DPRK and search at random its vessels on voyage in open seas. Such confrontation and war moves conducted by the Lee Myung Bak group of traitors in conspiracy with the U.S. are a downright military blackmail and an intolerable challenge to the DPRK.

At present the Korean Peninsula has been driven to the touch-and-go situation, in which a war may break out any moment, due to the case of the warship sinking the group of traitors fabricated to defile the DPRK’s dignity and do harm to and stifle the fellow countrymen. It is not hard to predict what consequences such military provocations and saber-rattling in the West Sea of Korea will entail since there were several skirmishes between the north and the south due to the south Korean puppet military warmongers’ provocation and the recent warship sinking case occurred in those waters.

Those fond of playing with fire are bound to perish in the flames kindled by themselves. It is the iron will and spirit of our army and people to react to “punishment” with merciless punishment and to “retaliation” with a dreadful annihilating strike. If the Lee Myung Bak group persists in reckless provocation, the DPRK will give more dreadful punishment to it. ”

Watch Pyongyang TV on-line here…