No Kim Jong Un summit meeting for Mongolian President

31 10 2013

mongolia-president-dprk(BY CHAD O’CARROLL , OCTOBER 31, 2013) Mongolia’s President Tsakhia Elbegdorj left North Korea on Thursday afternoon with DPRK state media providing no confirmation as to whether an expected meeting with Kim Jong Un had taken place.

Prior to Elbegdorj’s arrival South Korean media speculated that the Mongolian leader would have a summit meeting with Kim Jong Un – an encounter that would have represented the North Korean leaders’ first official meeting with another head of state.

But no information of such a meeting was released by North Korean state media, suggesting that Kim Jong Un did not in fact meet the Mongolian leader. ”The lack of mention of the North Korean leader meeting Elbegdorj indicates that no summit took place,” an anonymous official told Yonhap News in South Korea.

[…] Leonid Petrov, a North Korea researcher at the Australian National University, said that Kim Jong Un’s choice to attend live fire drills over meeting with Elbegdorj indicated that military-first policies remain a key priority.

“Kim Jong Un has sent the signal to the world and domestic audience in the DPRK that the era of Songun [Army First] Policy is not going to fade away; and that economic reform is of less importance for him than military build up.

“Apolitical foreign celebrities, like Dennis Rodman, attract more attention of the North Korean leader than concerned heads of states and CEOs of multinational corporations” Petrov added, pointing out that “regional security, stability and progress are clearly of low priority for Kim Jong Un and his advisors.”

[…] During his trip the Mongolian leader inked economic and technology sharing agreements with North Korea and paid visits to the Kumsusan memorial palace and truce village of Pnamunjom, located in the demilitarized zone.  Elbegdorj also delivered a speech to Mongolian entrepreneurs and DPRK economic officials at the Yanggakdo International Hotel.

The Mongolian president is the first foreign leader to visit North Korea since Kim Jong Un assumed power in late 2011. The last summit meeting between Mongolia and North Korea took place in December 2004.

See the full text of the article here…

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North Korean Films will be screened at the SIFF

25 10 2013

SIFF promoSydney Intercultural Film Festival (SIFF) will be held between the 14th and 24th November 2013 to showcase films that celebrate cultural diversity, whether through topics or through the make-up of filmmakers. Throughout these 11 days of Festival, ethnic communities in Sydney will work together with media professionals, local government and international film industry to show the grand diversity of cultures that are present in Australia.​

The term “Intercultural” usually connotes the relationship and exchange between different cultures, but here it will be a fusion of the terms “Multicultural” and “International” that form the two vital elements of the SIFF. Multiculturalism here is not just limited to the ethnic make up of individual countries or regions but encompasses the cultures around the whole world.

SIFF will be the first film festival in Australia that will screen films produced in the DPRK. A variety of classical movies and new films are selected to represent the North Korean cinematography. Five films with English subtitles and two with on-the-stage English language simultaneous interpretation will be offered.

The Australian audience is curious to learn more about the film-making tradition evolved on the northern part of the Korean peninsula divided by military and ideological conflict. Drama, action, and national division are the main themes that dominate North Korean films, but comedy and romance are also present and appeal to the aesthetic taste of domestic and international audiences.

The Kites Flying in the Sky_screen shot“The Kites Flying in the Sky” 하늘의 연 (2008, 94 min., English sub., Dir. P’yo Kwang and Kim Hyon-chol)

This film is based on the true story of a former marathon champion, whose family repatriated to North Korea from Japan. Instead of bright career in sports, she devoted her life to caring for orphans left without parents during the Grand Famine era of the late 1990s. “The Kites Flying in the Sky” was the only North Korean feature film to be screened at the 11th Pyongyang International Film Festival, where it was awarded. Despite local success, the film was poorly received by foreign viewers, who usually dismiss it as “syrupy and propagandistic”.

Available on-line: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Db_dojLCOhg

Oh Youth_screen shot“Oh, Youth!” 청충이여(1995, 90 min., English sub., Dir. Jeon Jong-p’al)

“O Youth!” is a mix of comedy, romance, sycophantic zeal and Taekwondo. A North Korean family with six siblings, five of which are young sportswomen, try to marry off the only son, a 30-year-old bachelor who is preoccupied with his studies. His mother wants him to marry an effeminate girl. His father and sisters, on the opposite, want him to marry a sportswoman. Ultimately, the son falls in love with a woman who reconciles the family…

Available on-line: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9mfYOpExhQ

From Spring to Summer_screen shot“From Spring to Summer” 봄부터 여름까지 (1987, 82 min., English sub., Joint Russian-DPRK production)

This film tells the dramatic story of a Soviet military group that secretly entered the Japanese-occupied Korea during the last days of WWII in the Pacific. Preventing the creation of new powerful weapon in the clandestine military base, the Russian female soldier Masha and many Korean guerrillas sacrifice their lives for the liberation of Korea.

Available on-line with Russian subs: http://kinokartoshka.net/sovetskie-voennye-filmy/4663-utomlennoe-solnce-smotret-online.html

Schoolgirls Diary_screen shot“A Schoolgirl’s Diary 한녀학생의 일기 (2006, 93 min., English sub., Dir. Jang In-hak,).

One of the most successful films produced in North Korea, “The Schoolgirl’s Diary” received high praise at the international film festivals in Pyongyang and Cannes. It chronicles a girl’s life through her school years: one that’s full of the peer pressure and family problems familiar everywhere. It attempts to resolve the growing conflict between selfish individualism and patriotic self-sacrifice.

Available on-line: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YreSvdWk9oA

Hong Kil-Dong_screen shot“Hong Gil-Dong” 홍길동 (1985, 104 min. English sub., Dir. Kim Kil-in)

Classical historical novel about the Korean Robin Hood tells the story of friendship and love in medieval Korea, in which this Kung-Fu action movie takes place. The illegitimate son of a nobleman and one of his concubines, Hong Kil-dong was rejected by his own family and embarked on the travel through the corrupt world, where he robbed the rich to help the poor. “Hong Kil Dong” is different from the other North Korean movies by its psychological depth, and numerous lyrical digressions, full with romance and emotion.

Available on-line: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E2dG5BQOVhI

Destiny of Keumhee and Eunhee_screen shotThe Destiny of Keumhee and Eunhee금희와 은희의 운명 (1974, 101 min. Dir. Pak Hak and Eom Kil-seon, no subs)

One of the classics of North Korean cinematography, this film emulates the best examples of Soviet and Chinese film-making traditions. The story is based on the famous novel about the twin-sisters separated by the Korean War. Never heard about each other again, they live in the very different societies separated by the civil and ideological conflict. This film laments the national division and masterfully portrays the grim reality of the post-war time in Korea.

Partly available on-line: http://pann.nate.com/video/214453658

Partly available on-line: http://pann.nate.com/video/214453748

Partly available on-line: http://pann.nate.com/video/214453824

Our Fragrance_screen shot“Our Fragrance” 우리의 향기 (2003, 85 min., Dir. Jeon Jong-p’al, no subs.)

This film analyses the early changes and nascent conflicts, which began emerging in contemporary North Korean society. Foreign cultural influences, growing materialism and consumerism are believed to create obstacles for the advancement of Korean-style Socialism. A romance between a traditionalist researcher and a young female interpreter turns into a tough examine for both of them and their families.

Available on-line with English subs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AtuXVFPcAHE





“Visual Politics and North Korea: Seeing is Believing”

25 10 2013

David Shim_Visual Politics & North Korea_book coverShim, David (2014), Visual Politics and North Korea – Seeing is Believing, London: Routledge. 

In the realm of international relations, there are seemingly few states like North Korea. Whether it is the country’s human rights situation, its precarious everyday life or its so-called foreign policy of coercion and nuclear brinkmanship, no matter what this ‘pariah’ nation says and does it affects the state and stability of regional and global politics.

But what do we know about North Korea and how do we come to know it? This book argues that visual imagery plays a decisive role in this operation. By discussing two exemplary areas – everyday photography and satellite imagery – the book takes into account the role of images in the way that particular issues related to North Korea are understood in contemporary geopolitics.

Images work. They do something by evoking a particular perspective of what is shown in them, allowing only specific ways of seeing and knowing. In this sense, images are deeply political. Individual methodological usages in the book can provide a procedural basis from which to start or rethink further studies on visuality, both in IR and beyond. It also opens an innovative path for future studies on East Asia, making the book attractive to a range of specialists and thus holding an appeal beyond the boundaries of a single discipline.

Review:

David Shim’s book Visual Politics and North Korea is a timely and welcome intervention in the fields of International Relations, Asian Studies and Visual Culture. By taking the politics of seeing seriously, Shim reveals how North Korea’s geopolitical status as a pariah state has been visually figured, secured and reproduced. What makes this book particularly innovative is its attention to contrasting scales of visuality as Shim juxtaposes the practices of everyday photography with the asymmetries produced by satellite imagery. While Shim’s focus is on the case of North Korea, the book provides wide-ranging insights about the relationship between visuality and global politics. In that sense, Visual Politics and North Korea will be invaluable for critical scholars exploring the multiple intersections of seeing, knowing, globalization and power. (Dr. Debbie Lisle, School of Politics, International Studies & Philosophy, Queen’s University Belfast, UK.)





North Korea to return six detained South Korean citizens

24 10 2013

dmz-from-north-korea_1(BY CHAD O’CARROLL , NK News, OCTOBER 24, 2013) North Korea announced on Thursday that six South Koreans who had been detained for illegally entering North Korean territory would be soon be released via the DMZ Panmunjom truce village.

“The North sent an official notice that the six will be returned at the neutral truce village of Panmunjom Friday afternoon,” an anonymous Minister of Unification official was quoted as saying Thursday by South Korea’s Yonhap News.

Mysteriously, the unification ministry source said that four of the six detainees had been previously mentioned by North Korean state media in February 2010, suggesting that at least part of the group may have been in North Korea for several years.

“A relevant institution of the DPRK recently detained four south Koreans who illegally entered it. They are now under investigation by the institution,” a short Korea Central News Agency bulletin said on February 26, 2010.

[…]

One expert told NK News that the news could be Pyongyang’s way of indicating a desire to warm inter-Korean relations, which despite improving in summer have been cooling of late.

“North Korea’s decision to release 6 detained South Koreans is another test for ROK President Park Geun-Hye’s “trustpolitik”. Now it will be up to Seoul whether to reciprocate, using this initiative as opportunity for reopening dialogue, trade and reconciliation” Leonid Petrov, a researcher at Australia National University, told NK News.

“49 North Korean spies have been caught in South Korea in the last decade, 4 of them just this year. Park Geun-Hye could pardon and deport them to the North as a symbolic sign of trust-building aimed at improving inter-Korean relations,” Petrov added, also pointing out that, “South Korea claims that about 500 of ROK citizens – most of them fishermen – are being held by North Korea: If Kim Jong-Un is serious about mending bridges with the South, he should let those people go or, at least, permit communication with them.”

South Korea’s National Security Law makes it illegal for South Korean nationals to make unauthorized contact with North Korea or enter North Korean territory. Normally, North Korean law also forbids South Koreans from entering DPRK territory.

In July 2012 68 year old South Korean national Ro Su-hui was arrested after walking from North to South Korea at Panmunjom. He was sentenced to four years imprisonment for illegally entering North Korea and ”benefiting the enemy”.

See the full text of this article here...





S. Korea postpones international investment roadshow at Kaesong

15 10 2013

kaesong-complex-dprk(BY OLIVER HOTHAM, NK News, OCTOBER 15, 2013) SEOUL – An investment roadshow aimed at promoting foreign investment for the joint-run Kaesong industrial complex has been postponed, the South Korean government announced on Monday.

The event, intended to be held at the end of the month on October 31, had been planned to encourage foreign companies to set up factories in the jointly run Kaesong industrial complex, which currently only hosts South Korean companies that use North Korean labor. North Korea was informed of the postponement on Friday, and a new date for the show is yet to be set.

A Unification Ministry spokesperson who declined to be name told Agence France Presse that the delay was “inevitable” due to recent deteriorations in cross-border relations and “the lack of progress at talks with North Korea to enhance communication, and travel to and from Kaesong”.

“As is known,” the spokesperson said, “negotiations on Internet connectivity, mobile phone use, utilization of radio frequency identification tag to ease travel and customs inspections have made no headway since the North called off working-level talks for the Sept. 26 meeting”. The spokesperson said the government had decided that because of this failure to agree on matters crucial to foreign investors, they saw no point in going ahead with the roadshow.

“South Korea’s decision to postpone an investor-related event in the Kaesong Industrial Park is another indication of President Park’s “Trustpolitik” failure,” Professor of Korean History at Australia National University Leonid Petrov told NK News, explaining that “trust in inter-Korean relations is not going to be restored without concrete and mutually beneficial projects, such as Kaesong and Kumgangsan”.

“Only by ending the Korean War and formally recognizing one another can South Korea and North Korea improve the investment climate,” Petrov argued. “Without such changes, business people (both Koreans and foreigners) will remain hostages of Seoul and Pyongyang’s political games”…

See the full text of the article here…

 





N. Korea claims S. Koreans are “committing suicide everyday”

14 10 2013

suicide-korea(NK News, by OLIVER HOTHAM , OCTOBER 3, 2013) North Korean state media labeled a Korea Institute for National Unification paper on human rights as an anti-DPRK “smear campaign” on Thursday, claiming that South Korea’s own human rights record is so poor that citizens there commit suicide everyday.

Pyongyang’s response to the White Paper on Human Rights in North Korea 2013 quoted a spokesperson from the DPRK Association for Human Rights Studies, who described the report as “slandering the dignity and social system in the DPRK” and alleged that the publication of the paper was “politically-motivated”.

“It is preposterous and ridiculous for the worst human rights abusers, who reduced south Korea to a tundra of human rights, a veritable hell on earth, to talk about “human rights” in the north,” the spokesman was quoted by North Korean media as saying.

North Korea’s strident response goes on to argue that South Korea has returned to the “Yusin” era of 1972 to 1981, when the late Park Chung-hee and his successors used a state of emergency to crush dissent and quell social unrest.

The white paper was published by the South Korean government funded Korea Institute for National Unification, an organization that publishes annual reports “on human rights and humanitarian issues including human rights of North Korean citizens, defectors, South Korean Prisoners of War (POWs), abducted South Koreans held in North Korea, and separated families”.

Dr Leonid Petrov of the Australia National University in Canberra told NK News that “it is…pointless to call upon Kim’s regime in North Korea to observe [the Universal Declaration of Human Rights] now”.

“Dictatorships turn “human rights” into invective used for attacking foreign critics and praise themselves as peace-loving and good-willed “peoples’ democracies. “Despite of all rhetoric the DPRK remains a feudal satrapy based on the slave-ownership and fear that make the ideas of humanism and freedom ephemeral,” Petrov explained.

North Korea’s response to the white paper comes as the Korea Central News Agency reported on Tuesday that two North Koreans who had re-defected to the north blamed a low standard of living and “deception” by South Korea as reasons for making their decision…

See the full text of this article here…





North Korea sends greetings to new Australian Prime Minister

14 10 2013

australia-north-korea(NK News, by Hamish Macdonald, September 24, 2013) North Korea on Tuesday sent greetings to Australia’s new Prime Minister Tony Abbott, state media said, despite recently being prevented from establishing an embassy in Australia.

Pak Pong Ju, Premier of the DPRK Cabinet, sent a congratulatory message that “expressed expectation and belief that the relations between the two countries would develop on good terms on the principle of respect for sovereignty, equality and mutual benefits,” North Korea’s Korea Central News Agency said.

The message however comes just months after Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) – under former Labor Senator Bob Carr – denied North Korea’s application to re-open an embassy in Canberra, Australia.

DFAT recently told NK News that it had blocked a North Korean embassy set-up delegation from inspecting a potential site in Canberra due to Pyongyang’s February 12 nuclear test, which had threatened “international peace and security”.

“This is the third time that North Korea is trying to reopen its embassy in Australia. Every time the expectations are high and benefits are irresistible, but short honeymoons lead to bitter disappointments,” Australia National University North Korea researcher Dr. Leonid Petrov told NK News.

“It must be the rock-solid Australia-U.S. alliance and North Korea’s scandalous international reputation that make such diplomatic comebacks recurring and intriguing,” Petrov added.

[…] The Liberal Party government was elected on September 7, and Prime Minister Abbott assumes the office from former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

See the full text of the article here…