Jang Sung-taek Purge Confirmed Amid Rumors of His Execution

9 12 2013

jang_purge(By Chad O’Carroll, 9 DECEMBER 2013, NKnews.orgAmid rumors of his own execution, North Korean state media on Monday said that Jang Song Thaek had been “eliminated” from the party and his group “purged” – for reasons including corruption, factionalism, drug abuse, anti-state activities and womanizing.

The decision, the most public dismissal of a member of the Kim family and their associates in history, was made on Sunday at an enlarged meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers Party of Korea, state media said. At the meeting – broadcast at length on Monday during a special transmission on North Korean state TV – Jang Song Thaek was shown being publicly arrested by security personnel in front of thousands of members of the Korean Worker’s Party.

But in unconfirmed reports emerging Monday, Free North Korea Radio said that Jang and his aides has actually been executed on December 5, four days before the reported special meeting of the Political Bureau. Jang had been executed for trying to get rid of Kim Jong Un “in association with China” and now all of the organizations he had been responsible for are being monitored, an unnamed source told Free North Korea Radio .

Further executions should be expected and there was also rumor that Vice Marshal Choe Ryong Hae could be next on the purge list, being organized by Kim Jong Un and uncle Ko Soo Il, the source added. But while the ultimate fate of the “Jang group” was not made immediately clear from North Korea’s own reporting of affairs, it was clear that domestic media wanted to deal aggressively with the dismissal, dedicating maximum airtime and column length to the situation throughout domestic media. […]

[…] “There are no signs of instability, but this would be a time of vulnerability. The problem is we would not know about instability until we see it, North Korea watcher Daniel Pinkston of the International Crisis Group told NK News. “But I must say, it is almost the perfect dictatorship and Kim Jong Un seems to have that place locked down,” Pinkston added.

Leonid Petrov, a North Korea researcher at the Australia National University, said that hopes of reform under Kim Jong Un now looked unlikely given the purge. “The dismissal of Jang Sung-taek has heralded the beginning of long-awaited political changes in the DPRK. However, instead of progressive and visionary reforms, akin to what happened in China in 1979 and in the Soviet Union in 1985, North Korea is now experiencing “Perestroika in reverse”

“After the decade of 2002 Economic Measures and the slow-motion marketisation, the young Marshal Kim Jung Un is now tightening the screws. Uncle Jang and his group are used as scapegoats for all policy mistakes to relegate the responsibility from the Kim’s dynasty in the same manner it was done with the ‘Gang of Four’ in China.”

“The irony of that”, Petrov said, “was that in the North Korean case Kim Jong Un “simply leans up the space to rule the country in the same manner his father and grandfather did throughout the previous sixty years”.

See the full text of this article here…

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“North Korean Cinema: A History”

8 12 2013

Johannes Schonherr_NK Cinema_A History_cover pageReview: “There is one man who stands above them all in terms of North Korea cinema: Johannes Schonherr. Schonherr has recorded for prosperity’s sake some marvellous adventures associated with North Korean cinema that those of us unable to read Korean may never have discovered…excellent…Schonherr [has] written the only ‘essential’ book on North Korean cinema that you could need.” —North Korean Films.

About the Book: Like many ideological dictatorships of the twentieth century, North Korea has always considered cinema an indispensible propaganda tool. No other medium penetrated the whole of the population so thoroughly, and no other medium remained so strictly and exclusively under state control. Through movies, the two successive leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il propagandized their policies and sought to rally the masses behind them, with great success.

This volume chronicles the history of North Korean cinema from its beginnings to today, examining the obstacles the film industry faced as well as the many social problems the films themselves reveal. It provides detailed analyses of major and minor films and explores important developments in the industry within the context of the concurrent social and political atmosphere. Through the lens of cinema emerges a fresh perspective on the history of North Korean politics, culture, and ideology.

About the Author:Johannes Schonherr is a freelance writer specializing in travel, film and food. He lives in Japan.

Interview with Johannes Schönherr, North Korea cinema expert, by North Korean Films

Read Introduction and Chapter 1 on-line

Read Chapter 6 of this book on-line

Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: McFarland (August 13, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0786465263
ISBN-13: 978-0786465262
Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches

By this book on Amazon.com





‘Murky’ drug trade: How did North Korea become a meth hub?

8 12 2013

Foreign_nationals_suspected_of_smuggling_methamphetamines_from_NK(By Geoffrey Cain, GlobalPost Contributor, 7 Dec. 2013SEOUL, South Korea – Extradited from Thailand, the five suspects appeared before a New York court last month to face charges of a sensational plot: smuggling crystal meth from enemy number one, North Korea.

The five suspects – from China, the U.K., the Philippines and possibly Slovakia – stand accused by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of conspiring to sell 40 pounds of 99 percent pure crystal meth to an undercover agent. They pleaded not guilty, and will appear in court again in early December.

You wouldn’t guess it, but North Korea – run by the world’s most infamous authoritarian regime – happens to be a colossal supplier of a highly potent but moderately priced form of crystal meth, experts say.

It comes in the form of “Ice,” the powerful, smoke-able type that delivers a near-immediate jolt to the brain. The drug is primarily made for export, ferried through China and, from there, distributed around the world. But some North Koreans – despite the watchful eyes of their government – are avid consumers of crystal meth too.

Two North Korean refugees in Seoul told Global Post that, in a country suffering from poverty and food shortages, the drug is a much-needed appetite suppressant, offering a means of self-medication to cope with the hardship.

Near the Chinese border, they said, Ice was widely available on the black market. It was popular among private traders and their families, who had no problem inhaling or selling it in outdoor markets with a bribe to authorities.

“Life was hard, people were hungry, and we needed the drug,” said one female North Korean defector in Seoul, who fled to the Chinese border region in the mid-2000s. She admitted to smoking Ice multiple times, and once gave smaller doses to her two boys, aged 11 and 13.

“My family was a little wealthier, so we could afford it, but even poor people did it too,” she said. “It was a popular drug.” She asked not to be named, fearing reprisals against family members still in the country.

Of course, various types of amphetamines enjoy some popularity in developing countries in Asia and Africa, where laborers, for instance, need energy to work long hours on scant meals. Even South Korea, which leaped from poverty to riches in about 30 years, was once a big-time producer of crystal meth.

This booming trade, now in private hands, was once a fundraising arm for the cash-strapped government, experts say. North Korean embassies trafficked in hashish as far back as the 1970s.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the economy collapsed, resulting in a devastating famine. By the mid-2000s, a nascent class of merchants flourished, peddling just about any illegal product you could imagine, including drugs and pirated DVDs.

“These days, more and more freelancers and professional drug dealers are taking over this murky operation of delivering the drugs produced in North Korea, packed in Northeast China, and smuggled via South East Asia to Australia, America and Europe,” said Leonid Petrov, a North Korea watcher at the Australian National University in Canberra. “Many North Korean scientists began to moonshine in private laboratories producing the similar high-quality product for domestic consumption and illicit export,” he said.

Since crystal meth laboratories are smelly, they would have to be away from populated towns. From a business standpoint, moving the contraband from North Korea to China would be realistic and highly profitable.

Chinese Mafiosos probably hand over supplies, while North Koreans, in the safety of their country, synthesize the drugs in factories near the southern banks of the Tumen River that marks part of the boundary between North Korea, China and Russia, writes Andrei Lankov, a North Korea specialist at Kookmin University in Seoul. That’s a swift change from a lucrative narcotics trade that, a decade ago, was mostly state-run.

Still, it’s not clear whether the group of five suspected dealers had the resources and connections to move meth from North Korea all the way to North America. Prosecutors accuse the group of trafficking and selling North Korean drugs in Southeast Asia, a more reachable market.

One suspect even boasted that his organization was the only one that could get the job done. “Because before, there were eight [other organizations]. But now only us, we have the NK product,” Chinese suspect Ye Tiong Tan Lim was quoted as saying on the recordings.

The suspect said that his group stockpiled one ton of North Korean meth in the Philippines, anticipating an unconfirmed decision by North Korea to destroy meth labs under pressure from the U.S. The drugs would be shipped through Thailand, according to prosecutors.

The two North Korean defectors told GlobalPost they were unsure whether laboratories have been destroyed. One study in the North Korea Review suggested that the trade was indeed moving from an array of factories to the underground.

But, explains Petrov, “As with everything that comes out of North Korea, the veracity of this story is 50-50.”





“Asia Pacific Women’s Conference” will be held in Sydney

3 12 2013

NUAC“Asia Pacific Women’s Conference” will be held in Sydney on Friday, 6 Dec. 2013, and cover many topics related to Korean unification, North Korean women, and peace and stability in the region. The conference will take place at Novotel Darling Harbour.

It will be opened at 9:00 by the Chairman of the National Unification Advisory Council Australia, Ms Susan Lee; followed by congratulatory speeches from Korean Consul-General in Sydney, Mr Whie-jin Lee; the Vice-Chairman of NUAC Asian Region Mr Eunho Seung (Chairman of the Korindo Group, Indonesia), and the Hon. Victor Dominello, the NSW Minister for Citizenship and Communities.

A keynote speech will be given by Ms Eunsook Shin, the Director of Unification Policy, the Secretariat of the National Unification Advisory Council.

10.30-11.20 – Dr Kyungja Jung (University of Technology Sydney) will present a research paper, “North Korean Defectors in Australia”

11.20-12.10 – Dr Leonid Petrov (Australian National University) will present a research paper, “Changes without Reform in North Korea”.

15.10-16.00 – Dr Sue Mi Terry (Columbia University and former analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency) will present on “Challenges and Opportunities for Unification, and Women’s Roles”;

16.10-16.50 – Ms Hayley Channer (Australian Strategic Policy Institute) will talk about “The impact of North Korea’s Nuclear Weapon Program on the Asia Pacific”.

The conference will be attended by 100 representatives from Korea, Australia, New Zealand and other Asia-Pacific countries…

Visit the website of the National Unification Advisory Council here…





Charles K. Armstrong presents Tyranny of the Weak

3 12 2013

Tyranny of the WeakOn Monday, December 9th, at 7pm, Charles Armstrong will host a discussion on his new book, “Tyranny of the Weak: North Korea and the World, 1950-1992” (Cornell U. Press). The talk will take place at Book Culture, 536 West 112th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam)

To much of the world, North Korea is an impenetrable mystery, its inner workings unknown and its actions toward the outside unpredictable and frequently provocative. Tyranny of the Weak reveals for the first time the motivations, processes, and effects of North Korea’s foreign relations during the Cold War era.

Drawing on extensive research in the archives of North Korea’s present and former communist allies, including the Soviet Union, China, and East Germany, Charles K. Armstrong tells in vivid detail how North Korea managed its alliances with fellow communist states, maintained a precarious independence in the Sino-Soviet split, attempted to reach out to the capitalist West and present itself as a model for Third World development, and confronted and engaged with its archenemies, the United States and South Korea.

From the invasion that set off the Korean War in June 1950 to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Tyranny of the Weak shows how—despite its objective weakness—North Korea has managed for much of its history to deal with the outside world to its maximum advantage. Insisting on a path of “self-reliance” since the 1950s, North Korea has continually resisted pressure to change from enemies and allies alike. A worldview formed in the crucible of the Korean War and Cold War still maintains a powerful hold on North Korea in the twenty-first century, and understanding those historical forces is as urgent today as it was sixty years ago.

Charles K. Armstrong is the Korea Foundation Professor of Korean Studies in the Social Sciences at Columbia University. His recent books include The Koreas (Routledge, 2007); Puk Choson Tansaeng, the Korean translation of The North Korean Revolution, 1945–1950(Seoul: Booksea, 2006; originally Cornell University Press, 2003);Korea at the Center: Dynamics of Regionalism in Northeast Asia(M. E. Sharpe, 2006, coeditor); and Korean Society: Civil Society,Democracy, and the State (Routledge, 2002, editor; 2nd edition, 2006).