North Korea Enters “State of War”

31 03 2013

APTOPIX North Korea Rally(NKnews.org March 30, 2013) North Korea is entering a “state of war” with South Korea, according to a statement made this morning by the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA). Pyongyang’s latest warning pointed out that U.S. bases in Hawaii and Guam would be targeted in what could turn into “an all-out war, a nuclear war.”

“From this moment, the North-South relations will be put at the state of war, and all the issues arousing between the North and the South will be dealt with according to the wartime regulations,” North Korean state media outlet KCNA said today. “If the U.S. and the South Korean puppet group perpetrate a military provocation for igniting a war against the DPRK (North Korea) in any area… it will not be limited to a local war but develop into an all-out war, a nuclear war”.  KCNA added that the “time has come to stage a do-or-die final battle”.

But despite the increasing rhetoric, Denis Samsonov, a public relations officer working at the Russian embassy in North Korea, told Russia’s NTV that the situation in Pyongyang remains “calm”. “Basically, life in the city is as usual…We are witnessing no tension.” The Russian Foreign Ministry ambassador at large, Grigoriy Logvinov, told Interfax News that although he hoped all sides would “show restraint”, Russia would not “remain uninvolved under conditions when tension is fomenting near our eastern borders”.

Leonid Petrov, an Australian National University Korean Studies Researcher, told NK NEWS that the ”state of war” marked a sharp turning point. “After 60 years of slow-motion war thinly covered by the 1953 Armistice Agreement, Pyongyang has finally found the courage to call a spade a spade. The ambiguity of the current situation is no longer tolerable for North Korea, who is tired of sanctions, double standards, and nuclear bullying.” He added, “Neither peace nor war has led to famine, stagnation or isolation of this rich and strategically important part of Northeast Asia. By proclaiming “state of war” with South Korea, Kim Jong Un is simply reminding the world about this unresolved problem, inherited from the Cold War era.”

Despite the increase in rhetoric, a military source told South Korean news agency Yonhap News that the Korean People’s Army was not currently showing signs of war preparations or unusual moves. Yonhap added that the South Korean defense ministry viewed the latest statement as an”unacceptable threat that hurts peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula”.

In the U.S., the White house said that it would be taking North Korea’s threats seriously. ”We’ve seen reports of a new and unconstructive statement from North Korea,” Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the National Security Council told AFP.

Steve Chung, a Research Fellow at Seoul’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies, said the “state of war” was merely a new deployment of old North Korean rhetoric. “We have seen Pyongyang using similar verbal threats before. North Korea has routinely warned Seoul of things like a ‘Sea of Flames’, ‘Sacred War’, and even ‘Pre-Emptive Nuclear Strikes’. So while this is a revision of previous rhetoric, it may only have a limited effect.” Chung added, “the two Koreas are still technically in a ‘state-of-war’, because the 60 year old armistice only serves as a temporarily halt to war, not an end to the Korean War.”

Meanwhile, Beijing based experts talking to Chinese media said that Thursday’s deployment of B-2 bombers, which can carry up to 16 nuclear weapons, was a “shock-and-awe” symbol of U.S. escalation. On CCTV’s “Focus Today”, North Korea expert Li Li said the bombers’ deployment was a reflection of the U.S. attempt to “counter North Korea’s nuclear weapons with nuclear weapons.” Xinhua News, a Chinese state news outlet, pointed out that “it’s time for both sides to take a step back and let the cooler minds prevail”, weary of the escalation of threat.

However, North Korean media added in a later bulletin that in the event of conflict, victory would  be “certain”. Pyongyang has threatened attacks almost daily since it was sanctioned for its February nuclear test. Some observers suggest the threats indicate the potential of regime instability. Few think though that North Korea will follow up and actually commence major hostilities.

The latest rhetoric appears to be a tit-for-tat response to Thursday’s U.S. stealth bomber training that saw two B-2’s fly from Missouri to drop ordinance on an island in the southern half of the Korean peninsula. U.S. officials said the flights were not designed to raise tensions, but reduce them by bolstering deterrence in face of North Korea’s recent vitriolic provocations.

Both Pyongyang and Seoul have labelled each other’s rhetoric as ‘provocative’ in recent weeks, and their own military exercises as ‘defensive’. North Korea has declared the peace agreement that ended the Korean War to be “void”, and has threatened preemptive nuclear strikes on both Japan and the U.S.

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North Korea Warns of ‘Simmering Nuclear War’

30 03 2013

LP_Al Jazeera interview_JPEG_small (Al Jazeera News, 27 March 2013) North Korea has again threatened war against South Korea and the United States, saying conditions “for a simmering nuclear war” have been created on the peninsula. The communist state’s foreign ministry said it will inform the UN Security Council of the latest situation, as tensions continue to simmer on Wednesday.

“Upon authorisation of the Foreign Ministry, the DPRK openly informs the UN Security Council  that the Korean Peninsula now has the conditions for a simmering nuclear war,” the statement said. “This is because of provocation moves by the US and South Korean puppets”.

As this developed, the North announced it was cutting a military hotline with the South, meaning that all direct inter-government and military contact has been suspended after it previously cut a Red Cross link. “From now, the North-South military communications will be cut off,” the North Korean state news agency quoted a military official as saying.

In another sign of brewing tensions, a South Korean soldier standing on guard at the inter-Korean border threw a grenade towards a moving object in the dark early Wednesday, sparking a short-lived alarm. At daylight, a patrol searched the area but there was no trace of any infiltration from North Korea, a South Korean ministry spokesman said. A precautionary alert, which had been issued for South Korean units in the northeastern county of Hwacheon, was consequently lifted.

Earlier in the day, the North had repeated threats to target US military bases. Pyongyang said its military would put all field artillery units, including long-range artillery units and strategic rocket units, into combat duty position that will target all “enemy objects” in the US, “invasionary” bases on its mainland, Hawaii and Guam. The rhetoric from North Korea drew more concern from China, Pyongyang’s only major ally, which said the situation was “sensitive”.

‘Attention-seeking behaviour’

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Leonid Petrov, a Korea expert at Sydney’s Australian National University, said North’s “attention-seeking behaviour” is in response to it feeling “cornered” by the international community. “The regime wants the people of North Korea to be consolidated behind its young leader Kim Jung-un,” Petrov said.

But Petrov also said he doubts the North will attack first, adding that its capability to target the US remains limited. Still, he warned that if something happens between the North and the US, “definitely Seoul is going to suffer”. On the other hand, Petrov said, the North is also hinting that it is ready to negotiate. “Pyongyang really want to have a peaceful, diplomatic solution to the growing problem,” he said.

South Korea and the US military are conducting military drills until the end of April, which they have stressed are strictly defensive in nature. The North accuses Washington of war preparations by using B-52 bombers, which have flown over the Korean peninsula as part of the drills, and it has abrogated an armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.

See also “US deploys bombers amid Korea tensions” (Al Jazeera New, 28 March 2013)





North Korea rockets and artillery ‘target’ US bases

27 03 2013

North-Korean-Threats-Propaganda(by Tania Branigan, The Guardian, 26 March 2013) North Korea said it had ordered its rocket and long-range artillery units to be combat-ready, targeting military bases in the US and American bases in the region, in its latest fiery warning.

Pyongyang has issued stern admonitions and threats on an almost daily basis since the UN security council tightened sanctions over its latest nuclear test and the US and South Korea began joint military drills.

“From this moment, the supreme command of the Korean People’s Army will be putting into combat duty posture No 1 all field artillery units, including long-range artillery units and strategic rocket units, that will target all enemy objects in US invasionary bases on its mainland, Hawaii and Guam,” said a statement from the North’s military supreme command, carried on the state’s KCNA news agency.

The South Korean defence ministry said it was monitoring the situation but had detected no signs of unusual activity by the North’s army. Seoul and Washington say their current military exercises, which will continue until the end of April, are strictly defensive.

“It’s attention-seeking behaviour. It’s like a child in a candy shop: if you haven’t bought him a lolly and don’t pay attention to his tantrums he tries to intimidate you with things – even if they are self-harming,” said Leonid Petrov, an expert on North Korea at the Australian National University.

“North Korea really doesn’t have the capability to strike the US, though they could strike US interests in north-east Asia and South Korea. They can spur another round of the arms race, as they have already done successfully. I don’t know who benefits from that, but it’s obviously not the North, because they can’t afford it.”

He added: “It is more of a message to the domestic population. Despite all the promises of the last year about people leading a better life, the imperialists are about to attack so you have to forget that. The North is trying to seal the loyalty of the people, insulate the country and buy more time for the regime to survive.”

China’s foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters at a daily briefing that it hopes all sides on the Korean peninsula can exercise restraint.

Reuters reported last week that China did not export any crude oil to the North in February, the first such instance of its kind for a year, and there have been reports of tightened restrictions on trade.

China is the North’s main ally and Pyongyang remains heavily dependent on trade and aid with its neighbour. But many analysts say it is too early to tell whether Beijing’s approach has changed and stress there is no sign of a fundamental or long-term shift in policy.

“I think philosophically they don’t really like sanctions and when I talk to the Chinese none of them seem to think sanctions will work,” said John Delury, an expert on Chinese-North Korean relations at Yonsei University in Seoul.

He noted that a clampdown on cross-border deals may be part of a more general desire to clean up trade, for example.

But he added that ties between the two countries appeared weaker than they were towards the end of Kim Jong-il’s rule, probably reflecting Pyongyang’s concerns about the relationship as much as Beijing’s.

“They were getting into a red zone where all the economic ties and diplomatic ties were with China,” he said.

Despite the military alert, Kim Jong-un has found time for civilian-focused duties as leader in recent days, according to the North’s media.

The Rodong Sinmun newspaper reported that in addition to his visits to the army, he toured a new restaurant boat on Sunday, “feasting his eyes on the deck and handrails around it” and expressing concern that the view and air-conditioning should be satisfactory.

See also ‘Combat Ready’ North Korea Threatens To Attack U.S. Bases (NKnews.org)

Listen to my interview given to RADIO JONES on Thursday, 28th March 2013, where I expressed my views on the ongoing stand-off between North Korea and the US-allied South Korea. Alternatively, tune in on “Listen Live” at www.talkfm.com/listen-live.html produced by Porcelain Audio.





In Show of Force, US Bomber Trains Over S. Korea

20 03 2013

B-52(VOA News, March 20, 2013) The United States has run its second training mission this month of the nuclear-capable B-52 bomber over the Korean peninsula in a show of military force following North Korea’s threats of a nuclear war.

The U.S. Forces Korea says the B-52 Stratofortress practiced dropping bombs on targets at a range in South Korea, Tuesday. It also released several photos of the aircraft, along with the warning that U.S. and South Korean forces are “battle-ready and trained to employ air power to deter aggression” and defend Seoul against any attack.

U.S. officials describe the mission, and an earlier one conducted March 8, as a “routine” part of annual joint military drillswith Seoul. But they have also been explicit that the flights are meant to send a strong message to Pyongyang, which has threatened a preemptive nuclear attack on the U.S. following U.N. sanctions the North’s latest nuclear test.

On Monday, Pentagon spokesperson George Little on Monday said the flights send a “very strong signal” the U.S. is firmly committed to its alliance with Seoul. He says the United States is “drawing attention to the fact we have extended deterrence capabilities that we believe are important in the wake of recent North Korean rhetoric.”

Carl Baker, with the Hawaii-based Pacific Forum think-tank, says he is certain the North Koreans are paying attention to the drills and are “very familiar” with what the B-52 flyovers represent.

“The United States is trying to send a very strong signal to North Korea that it is not going to bend; that it is not going to go back to negotiations just because North Korea has expressed commitment to using nuclear weapons,” said Baker.

But, although North Korea appears to be getting the message, it has not shown signs of backing down. A foreign ministry spokesperson in the North promised Wednesday a “strong military counteraction” if the U.S. continues the B-52 flyovers. In comments carried in the official Korean Central News Agency, he calls the flights an “unpardonable provocation” and says the situation is “inching close to the brink of war.”

Leonid Petrov, a Korea researcher at the Australian National University, says he expects more of that kind of talk from North Korea, as a result of the B-52 missions and corresponding war drills. He thinks the exercises are further destabilizing the situation, leaving Pyongyang with little choice but to continue developing nuclear weapons to survive.

“I think it’s pretty understandable that the people of Korea are quite indignant at the resumption of this flight and the regular U.S.-South Korean military drills,” said Petrov. “We know that strategic bombers have been used by the U.S. military in the North Pacific to scare North Korea.”

Daniel Pinkston, an analyst for the International Crisis Group, says he is not sure whether the projection of American military power will be successful in reducing tensions on the peninsula. But, he says demonstrating U.S. military superiority will likely succeed in deterring North Korea from carrying out a nuclear attack.

“In the past, when [the North Koreans] have embarked upon military adventurism, it has been at times when the opposing forces are off-guard or when the North Koreans view them as being weak,” said Pinkston. “So, I think these types of exercises and training sends a very clear signal that deters and greatly reduces the likelihood of North Korea lashing out in violent ways as they have done on numerous occasions in the past century.”

Pinkston says North Korea – which operates with the songun, or military first, ideology – is “very very cognizant” of the military balance between it and Washington.

“When they know they will take a severe beating, then they will behave. But, when you are weak, they won’t behave – then they will use violence and force to push their agenda,” he added.

The U.S.-South Korean military drills, known as Foal Eagle, began March 1 and are scheduled to last until the end of April. A separate, computer-simulated round of drills, known as Key Resolve, began on March 11 and last through Thursday.

North Korea had threatened military action if the United States continues with the computer-based drills. Washington has disregarded the threat and proceeded as normal. Although Pyongyang claims to have scrapped the 60-year armistice deal that ended the Korean War, it is yet to follow through on its threats of violence.





Coping with North Korea’s Nuclear Ambitions

15 03 2013

Alexander Zhebin_1Hosted by the Australian Institute of International Affairs, this event will start on Monday, 18 March 2013, at 6:00 PM, at The Glover Cottages, 124 Kent Street, Sydney NSW.

With North Asia now on full alert in the light of the increasingly menacing rhetoric from Pyongyang following the latest round of UN sanctions, AIIA NSW is staging a special event on Monday March 18.

AIIA NSW is proud to present Dr Alexander Zhebin, director of the Centre for Korean Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, who is visiting Australia.

Dr Zhebin, who has lived and worked in North Korea earlier in his career when he was a correspondent for the Russian news agency, TASS, will argue that the promise of economic gain has not been sufficient to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear ambitions.

He will argue  that: “For the North Korean regime security is a top priority. The nuclear problem cannot be resolved without addressing the DPRK’s reasonable security concerns. The DPRK is trying to normalize its relations with the US because through achieving this goal Pyongyang hopes to get the security guarantees or, at least, to create such a security environment under which it would be much more difficult for the US to use force against North Korea. Beijing continues to treat the DPRK as an important buffer state which separates China from the US forward-deployed forces in East Asia. Russia does not want to see the arch of instability stretching closer to its doorstep in the Far East and, even less so, a new “hot war” in the region.

“This approach determines Russia’s position on the nuclear problem in Korea. After the events in Libya the West’s political guarantees have lost their credibility in the eyes of Pyongyang’s leadership. Only a consistent engagement policy, aimed at the genuine involvement of DPRK in globalization and cooperation processes in Northeast Asia and pursued by South Korea and by the West, can convince the North Korean elite that the international community is not contemplating a regime change scenario.

We apologise for the late notice of this event, but feel members and others interested in the most pressing global conflict of our time will want to meet Dr Zhebin and discuss his views.

Alexander Zhebin is a renowned  specialist on Korean Studies in Moscow. Before joining the Center for Korean Studies of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies, he worked for 17 years as a journalist at the TASS News Agency. During his time with TASS he was a correspondent and then later became the Pyongyang bureau chief. After his journalism career he became a diplomat and worked in the Russian Embassy in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. Having lived such a long time in the country, Mr. Zhebin decided to continue with his study of the region and in 2004 he became the director of the Centre for Korean Studies of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences. Mr. Zhebin is also the author of numerous articles on political development in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Russia-North Korea relations, and security of the Korean peninsula.

AIIA members: $15.00;  Senior/student members: $10.00
Visitors:  $25.00;  Student visitors: $15.00

RSVP: here…
All inquiries:   nsw.branch@aiia.asn.au





Real lives in North Korea: Three day film event in Australia

14 03 2013

voices-in-exile-poster_smallNorth Korea Film Event in Canberra (20th March, ANU) and Sydney (21st March, Sydney Cheil Church in Strathfield, and 22nd March, University of Sydney).

Panoptic Perspectives is the title of a two-day film event, organized by scholars from institutions in Sydney and Canberra, to be held in venues at the Australian National University, Cheil Church in Strathfield and Sydney University.

The purpose of this event is to offer different perspectives on a phenomenon much discussed in the popular media, but rarely considered beyond the singular, highly politicized and bi-polemic story of good and evil, right and wrong – North Korea.

Through the medium of film, and the discussion by guest speakers that will precede and follow each screening, it is hoped the audience will gain a more nuanced understanding of some of the issues surrounding ‘North Korea’ and the North Korean people.

OPEN WORKSHOP

Alternative Approaches to North Korean Issues. – 22 March 12 PM at Architecture Lecture Theater 3, Wilkinson Building, University of Sydney, co-hosted by Global Social Justice

FILM SCREENING SCHEDULE

The Journals of Musan (2011). Directed by Park Jungbum

– 20 March 05:30 PM, Coombs Lecture Theatre, HC Coombs Building (8a), Fellows Road, Australian National University

– 21 March 5:30 PM, Sydney Cheil Church (Sydney St & Concord Rd.)

– 22 March 5:20 PM, Old Geology Lecture Theater (next to Footbridge Theater), University of Sydney, co-hosted by Global Social Justice Network

Q&A with the director (Park Jung-bum) after the screening

A Schoolgirl’s Diary (2007). Directed by Jang In-hak

– 22 March 1:45 PM Architecture Lecture Theater 3, Wilkinson Building, University of Sydney, co-hosted by Global Social Justice Network. Discussion with Dr. Leonid Petrov after the screening

Yodok Stories (2008). Directed by Andrzej Fidyk

– 21 March 2:00 PM Sydney Cheil Church (Sydney St. & Concord Rd.) Discussion with Dr. Leonid Petrov after the screening

Each screening is preceded by a short talk introducing the key themes of the film. Each film will also be followed by a questions and answers session. Guest speakers include Park Jung-bum, director of The Journals of Musan

Admission (access per day): Student $5 Adult $10 (RSVP on the event webpage is recommended to secure your seat)

For more information, go to: www.northkoreafilmfest.wordpress.com
Inquiries: nkfilmfest@gmail.com

MOVIE TITLES

THE JOURNALS OF MUSAN
Journals of MusanReleased in South Korea 2011. Synopsis by Markus Bell
Director Park Jungbum said in interviews that he based the main character for The Journals of Musan (무산 일기) on a North Korean friend he met while at university in Seoul. The film highlights several important themes concerning the lives of North Korean refugees. Firstly, that arrival in South Korea is not the end of their struggle to find safety and security; secondly, for better of for worse, organized religion plays an integral role in the lives of these individuals; and thirdly, that ignorance is at the root of much of the prejudice that exists against North Koreans living in South Korea. The Journals of Musan is important in that for the first time, the South Korean public were offered a window into the lives of a few of the 24,000 North Koreans residing in South Korea, many of whom have been through indescribable hardships to arrive in their new home.

YODOK STORIES
Yodok Stories_Andrzej FidykReleased South Korea 2008. Synopsis by Christopher Richardson
For every artist whose career has advanced under the patronage of power, another risked life and reputation to present alternatives to the narratives of the state, whether through graffiti, subversive songs, paintings, or plays. In North Korea, where life is characterized by surveillance and control, such examples are rare. Yodok Stories, first staged in 2006, is perhaps the most famous example. This was a story crying out to be told: a concentration camp, in the early 21st Century, in the heart of East Asia. Although the idea for the musical came from Polish filmmaker, Andrzej Fidyk, its strength comes from the creative participation of so many North Koreans. Yodok Stories is a powerful corrective to the stereotype of defectors as passive victims. Although the bombast, blood and thunder of Yodok Stories might initially seem bizarre, or kitsch, the musical powerfully evokes the aesthetic of North Korean arts, notably the revolutionary operas The Sea of Blood and The Flower Girl. There are more than 24 million North Koreans alive today, and at least as many stories. Both at home and abroad, it is time they were told.

THE SCHOOLGIRL’S DIARY
Schoolgirl's DiaryReleased in North Korea 2007, in South Korea 2011. Synopsis by Dr. Leonid Petrov
One of the most successful films produced in North Korea, The Schoolgirl’s Diary is an attempt to resolve the growing conflict between selfish individualism and patriotic self-sacrifice. It chronicles a girl’s life through her school years: one that’s full of the peer pressure and family problems familiar everywhere. Echoing the Russian film Courier (Kuryer) (1986), which struck a chord in Perestroika- stricken Soviet Union, The Schoolgirl’s Diary views the grim realities of life through the eyes of a teenager. If something in the film turns out to be politically unpalatable, the immaturity of youth is blamed—not the film director. For a cash-starved North Korea, this film was an instant success. Viewed by some 8 million people in 2006, it received high praise at the international film festivals in Pyongyang and Cannes.

Local media coverage in Korean:

기획특집 – 노블레스 오블리주운동을 통한 북한이주민돕기 (상)

탈북자 및 북한 문제 관련 영화제 개최

영화 통한 ‘북한 문제’ 조명

재호북한이주민후원회 및 일부 연구자들





Dennis Rodman Bids Farewell to “Great Leader” Kim Jong Un

2 03 2013

KJU_Dennis Rodman_rodong shinmun(NKnews.org March 1, 2013) U.S. delegation attract huge media interest both in North Korea and abroad

Former basketball legend Dennis Rodman left North Korea today, calling the Kim family “great leaders” as he said goodbye to journalists at Pyongyang’s Sunan Airport.

In remarks about his time spent with Kim Jong Un, Rodman said, “He’s proud, his country likes him – not like him, love him, love him…[And] guess what, his grandfather, and his father were great leaders, and he’s such a proud man.”  He further added, “Guess what, I love him. The guy’s really awesome.”

Yesterday, Rodman broke world news by becoming the first high profile American visitor to meet North Korea’s new leader, Kim Jong Un. The unlikely pair watched a basketball game between the visiting U.S. delegation and an unspecified local team. Sitting next to Kim Jong Un, North Korean state media outlet described their initial encounter, “Dennis Rodman went up to the auditorium to bow to Kim Jong Un….Warmly welcoming him, Kim Jong Un let him sit next to him.”

Wearing dark glasses and drinking a can of Coca Cola, Rodman apparently chatted without translators to Kim Jong Un throughout the game. The match ended in a 110-110 draw, with 12 DPRK players and four players from the U.S. team Harlem Globetrotters divided into two teams.  Rodman said afterwards that “although relations between the two countries are regrettable, personally I am a friend of Marshal Kim Jong Un and the DPRK people.”

Following the game, North Korean state media outlet KCNA reported that the group went for a dinner with Kim Jong Un, who expressed his “expectation that [further] such sports exchange would be activated, contributing to promoting mutual understanding between the peoples of the two countries”. A VICE Media staff member at the dinner Tweeted last night, “Um… so Kim Jong Un just got the #VICEonHBO crew wasted… no really, that happened.”

Spending five days in North Korea, Rodman’s delegation also took in a number of recently built tourist sites. KCNA reported that the group “spent a good time watching dolphins dancing to the tune of cheerful music, jumping in group, spinning rings, jumping into the air and shaking hands with people.”

Reacting to the news, North Korea expert Leonid Petrov today told NK NEWS,

“This week Kim Jong-Un has really surprised the world. Like a talented film director he changes the pace of the unfolding drama with new turns in the plot. The December rocket launch was overshadowed by the visit of Google’s CEO. The February nuclear test suddenly looked boring when an ex-NBA star and the Supreme Leader set together to cheer the basketball exhibition. Will the next visitor to Pyongyang be a game-changer?”

In stark contrast to Google Chairman Eric Schmidt’s January trip to North Korea, the Rodman delegation was covered in close detail by North Korean media. Making front page news in today’s edition of Rodong Sinmun (North Korea’s main newspaper), DPRK TV and radio news bulletins all led with the story both last night and this morning.  Kim Yong-hyun, a North Korea expert at Seoul’s Dongguk University, told Yonhap News today, “North Korea is likely to show off an image of openness about Kim Jong-un by displaying Rodman’s visit at home and overseas.”

A picture released of Rodman’s farewell today showed Kim Jong Un hugging him, with North Korea’s world-famous basketball player Ri Myung Hun clearly visible in the background.  As the only North Korean basketball player that an NBA team was ever interested in, Ri is known to be the world’s tallest basketball player, standing at nearly 8 foot tall.

In an exclusive report for NK NEWS, journalist Nate Thayer yesterday described how the Rodman visit likely came to be.  ”Kim Jong Un and his brother Kim Jong Chol are known to be ardent fans of  American basketball, with Kim Jong Un reported to have had posters of  basketball star Michael Jordan on his wall during his schooldays and his brother, Kim Jong Chol, once photographed in Switzerland wearing a Chicago Bulls jersey with Dennis Rodman’s number on it.

Rodman’s visit comes at a sensitive time for South Korea and the United State’s relationship with North Korea. North Korea tested a nuclear device last month and launched a satellite into orbit, despite widespread international pressure against it. Currently, the UN Security Council is working to try and develop a suitable response to the third nuclear test.