Category : North Korea

Independent: Expats recalled as North Korea prepares for war

A mass exodus of North Korean workers from the Far East of Russia is under way, according to reports coming out of the region. As the two Koreas edged towards the brink of war this week, it appears that the workers in Russia have been called back to aid potential military operations.

Vladnews agency, based in Vladivostok, reported that North Korean workers had left the town of Nakhodka en masse shortly after the escalation of tension on the Korean peninsula earlier this week. “Traders have left the kiosks and markets, workers have abandoned building sites, and North Korean secret service employees working in the region have joined them and left,” the agency reported.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, North Korea, South Korea

North Korea Accuses South of Using Human Shields

North Korea accused South Korea on Saturday of using civilians as human shields around military bases on an island that the North hit with an artillery attack this week. The accusation is an apparent effort to quell South Korean outrage over the barrage, which killed two civilian construction workers.

The North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency also issued new warnings about joint United States-South Korea naval exercises in the Yellow Sea off North Korea, which will include an American aircraft carrier.

“If the U.S. brings its carrier to the West Sea of Korea at last, no one can predict the ensuing consequences,” the report said, using the Korean name for the Yellow Sea.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, North Korea, South Korea

A Day After Island Shelling, Seoul Takes Fear in Stride

The forests on distant Yeonpyeong Island were ablaze on Wednesday, one day after a ferocious artillery exchange between North and South Korean military units. But to many residents of Seoul, the violent attack on the tiny island seemed largely contained and unthreatening.

“I was talking with a friend this morning and we wondered why we weren’t more concerned,” a Seoul restaurant owner, Pyun Sung-ja, said on Wednesday. “I guess it’s because the area of the shelling is so far from here. It feels like it happened in another country.”

The artillery exchange that lasted for about an hour on Tuesday afternoon killed two South Korean marines and two civilians who lived on the island, which is about twice the size of New York’s Central Park. The South’s military went on high alert, fighter-bombers were ready on the tarmac and the president plotted strategy with his advisers in the underground Situation Room in Seoul. The incident rattled diplomatic nerves in capitals not only in the region but also around the world. Residents of Seoul, however, seemed to display only a mild anxiety on Wednesday, caught somewhere between calm and dread, and maybe breathing a collective sigh of relief that things had not escalated.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, North Korea, South Korea

(AFP) North Korea fires artillery barrage on South

North Korea fired dozens of artillery shells onto a South Korean island on Tuesday, killing one person, setting homes ablaze and triggering an exchange of fire as the South’s military went on top alert.

In what appeared to be one of the most serious border incidents since the 1950-53 war, South Korean troops fired back with cannon, the government convened in an underground war room and “multiple” air force jets scrambled.

The firing came after North Korea’s disclosure of an apparently operational uranium enrichment programme — a second potential way of building a nuclear bomb — which is causing serious alarm for the United States and its allies.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, North Korea, South Korea

North Korea Threatens `All-Out Military Strike' on South's Loudspeakers

North Korea warned of an “all-out military strike” to destroy South Korean loudspeakers and other propaganda tools along their fortified border, according to the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency.

South Korea’s preparation for psychological warfare, is a “direct declaration of a war” against the North, the general staff of the communist state’s military said today in a statement on KCNA. The North’s military retaliation may turn Seoul into “a sea of flame,” the statement said.

The South has already installed loudspeakers in 11 places along the border and is attempting to set up electronic displays, according to the statement.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, North Korea, South Korea

Hidden Misery: A glimpse into North Korea

(Please note the title above comes from the print edition–KSH).

North Koreans are used to struggle and heartbreak. But the Nov. 30 currency devaluation, apparently an attempt to prop up a foundering state-run economy, was for some the worst disaster since a famine that killed hundreds of thousands in the mid-1990s.

Interviews in the past month with eight North Koreans who recently left their country ”” a prison escapee, illegal traders, people in temporary exile to find work in China, the traveling wife of an official in the ruling Workers’ Party ”” paint a haunting portrait of desperation inside North Korea, a nation of 24 million people, and of growing resentment toward its erratic leader, Kim Jong-il.

What seems missing ”” for now, at least ”” is social instability. Widespread hardship, popular anger over the currency revaluation and growing political uncertainty as Mr. Kim seeks to install his third son as his successor have not hardened into noticeable resistance against the government. At least two of those interviewed in China hewed to the official propaganda line that North Korea was a victim of die-hard enemies, its impoverishment a Western plot, its survival threatened by the United States, South Korea and Japan.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, North Korea

U.S. to Join South Korean Military Exercise Off North Korea Coast

The U.S. aircraft carrier USS George Washington will participate in a joint naval exercise with South Korea next week in the Yellow Sea, the same waters west of the Korean peninsula where North Korea is accused of sinking a South Korean warship last March, ABC News has learned.

A U.S. official said the carrier, which operates from its home port in Japan, “will be sent to the waters off South Korea within coming days to participate in joint exercises” with the South Korean navy.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, North Korea, South Korea

NY Times Week in Review: In the Koreas, Five Possible Ways to War

The White House betting is that the latest crisis, stemming from the March attack, will also abate without much escalation. But there is more than a tinge of doubt. The big risk, as always, is what happens if the North Koreans make a major miscalculation. (It wouldn’t be their first. Sixty years ago, Mr. Kim’s father, Kim Il-sung, thought the West wouldn’t fight when he invaded the South. The result was the Korean War.)

What’s more, the dynamic does feel different from recent crises. The South has a hardline government whose first instinct was to cut off aid to the North, not offer it new bribes. At the same time, the North is going through a murky, ill-understood succession crisis.

And President Obama has made it clear he intends to break the old cycle. “We’re out of the inducements game,” one senior administration official, who would not discuss internal policy discussions on the record, said last week. “For 15 years at least, the North Koreans have been in the extortion business, and the U.S. has largely played along. That’s over.”

That may change the North’s behavior, but it could backfire.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, North Korea, South Korea

Bill Emmott: China’s stance on North Korea could lead to war

It is time to worry rather more, by focusing instead on China and its policy towards North Korea. For what China’s reaction should tell us is that China’s interests in the Korean Peninsula are different from those of the West, of South Korea or of Japan. And in that divergence of interest lies danger: it makes North Korea the likeliest flashpoint for a potential conflict between China and America.

On other issues, the Chinese leadership is widely lauded for its fast and effective decision making ”” on bulldozing old city centres, for example, or building motorways and power stations, or giving aid to African governments in return for mining rights. Far better than those fusty old democracies, mutter the admirers. So why, we should all be asking, are they so slow to make up their minds about North Korea and its acts and threats of war?

The official line is that China is concerned about stability in North Korea and fears a huge influx of refugees across its long border with that country if Mr Kim’s regime should collapse. A further line, peddled more quietly by Chinese officials, is that China doesn’t really have much influence over those strange, unpredictable Koreans. So all it can do is take part in the six-party talks over North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme, an on-off exercise that gathers together America, China, Japan, Russia and the two Koreas, urge everyone to show restraint, and hope for the best.

This line, always pretty thin, is looking ever thinner….

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, China, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Globalization, North Korea

North Korea says South pushing towards war

North Korea said on Friday the peninsula was heading toward war and it was ready to tear up all agreements with the South after it accused the reclusive state of torpedoing a navy ship near their disputed border.

South Korea said on Thursday it had overwhelming evidence that a North Korean submarine had entered its waters in March and attacked the Cheonan corvette, killing 46 sailors.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, North Korea, South Korea

North Korea says it is in the last stage of enriching uranium

North Korea said on Friday that it was in the final stage of enriching uranium, a process that would give it a second path to making a nuclear weapon.

After a series of conciliatory gestures by the North over the past month, the announcement raises the stakes in efforts by the international community to convince the reclusive state to give up its nuclear weapons programme.

“Experimental uranium enrichment has successfully been conducted to enter into completion phase,” the KCNA news agency quoted North Korea’s United Nations delegation as saying in a letter to the head of the U.N. Security Council (UNSC).

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, North Korea

UAE Seizes North Korean Weapons Shipment to Iran

The United Arab Emirates has seized a ship carrying North Korean-manufactured munitions, detonators, explosives and rocket-propelled grenades bound for Iran in violation of United Nations sanctions, diplomats said.

The UAE two weeks ago notified the UN Security Council of the seizure, according to the diplomats, who spoke on condition they aren’t named because the communication hasn’t been made public. They said the ship, owned by an Australian subsidiary of a French company and sailing under a Bahamian flag, was carrying 10 containers of arms disguised as oil equipment.

The council committee that monitors enforcement of UN sanctions against North Korea wrote letters to Iran and the government in Pyongyang asking for explanations of the violation, and one to the UAE expressing appreciation for the cooperation, the envoys said. No response has been received and the UAE has unloaded the cargo, they said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Iran, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces, North Korea

Bill Gertz: U.S. 'ready' for N. Korean missile

U.S. missile defenses are prepared to try to knock down the last stage of a Taepodong-2 missile that North Korea is expected soon to launch if sensors detect the weapon threatens U.S. territory, the commander of the U.S. Northern Command told The Washington Times.

“The nation has a very, very credible ballistic-missile defense capability. Our ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California, I’m very comfortable, give me a capability that if we really are threatened by a long-range ICBM that I’ve got high confidence that I could interdict that flight before it caused huge damage to any U.S. territory,” said Air Force Gen. Victor E. “Gene” Renuart, Northcom commander.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, North Korea

North Korea threatens US; world anticipates missile

North Korea threatened Wednesday to wipe the United States off the map as Washington and its allies watched for signs the regime will launch a series of missiles in the coming days.

Off China’s coast, a U.S. destroyer was tailing a North Korean ship suspected of transporting illicit weapons to Myanmar in what could be the first test of U.N. sanctions passed to punish the nation for an underground nuclear test last month.

The Kang Nam left the North Korean port of Nampo a week ago with the USS John S. McCain close behind. The ship, accused of transporting banned goods in the past, is believed bound for Myanmar, according to South Korean and U.S. officials.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, North Korea

North Korea warns of nuclear war amid rising tensions

South Korea’s president ordered his top security officials Sunday to deal “resolutely and squarely” with new North Korean warnings of a nuclear war on the eve of his U.S. visit. In Washington, Vice President Joe Biden said “God only knows” what North Korea wants from the latest showdown.

President Lee Myung-bak travels to Washington on Monday for talks with President Barack Obama that are expected to focus on the North’s rogue nuclear and missile programs.

The trip comes after North Korea’s Foreign Ministry threatened war with any country that stops its ships on the high seas under new sanctions approved by the U.N. Security Council in response to its May 25 nuclear test.

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Posted in * International News & Commentary, Asia, North Korea

North Korea says it will 'weaponize' its plutonium

North Korea vowed Saturday to step up its atomic bomb-making program and threatened war if its ships are stopped as part of new U.N. sanctions aimed at punishing the nation for its latest nuclear test.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry also acknowledged for the first time that the country has a uranium enrichment program, and insisted it will never abandon its nuclear ambitions. Uranium and plutonium can be used to make atomic bombs.

The threats, in a statement issued through the official Korean Central News Agency, came a day after the Security Council approved new sanctions aimed at depriving the North of the financing used to build its rogue nuclear program.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Foreign Relations, Military / Armed Forces, North Korea

North Korea would use nuclear weapons in a "merciless offensive"

North Korea today said it would use nuclear weapons in a “merciless offensive” if provoked ”” its latest bellicose rhetoric apparently aimed at deterring any international punishment for its recent atomic test blast.

The tensions emanating from Pyongyang are beginning to hit nascent business ties with the South: a Seoul-based fur manufacturer became the first South Korean company to announce Monday it was pulling out of an industrial complex in the North’s border town of Kaesong.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Military / Armed Forces, North Korea

North Korea Threatens Military Strikes on South

North Korea escalated its vitriol against South Korea and the United States on Wednesday with warnings of a “powerful military strike” if any North Korean ships were stopped or searched as part of an American-led operation to intercept vessels suspected of carrying unconventional weapons.

South Korea agreed to join the operation after North Korea tested a nuclear device on Monday, its second nuclear test in three years. The North had earlier warned the South not to participate in the operation, known as the Proliferation Security Initiative.

“We consider this a declaration of war against us,” North Korea said in a statement carried by its official news agency, KCNA. “Any hostile act against our peaceful vessels, including search and seizure, will be considered an unpardonable infringement on our sovereignty, and we will immediately respond with a powerful military strike.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Korea, Military / Armed Forces, North Korea, South Korea

LA Times: Tensions rise on Korean peninsula

A day after North Korea’s nuclear test, tensions on the Korean Peninsula rose further as Seoul announced that it would join a U.S.-led initiative to curb nuclear trade and the North reportedly test-launched two more short-range missiles.

North Korea said Monday that it had conducted a nuclear test followed by several short-range missile launches, drawing criticism from world capitals as well as a warning that Pyongyang had violated a United Nations Security Council resolution.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Foreign Relations, Korea, Military / Armed Forces, North Korea

North Korea Says It Will Boycott Nuclear Talks, Restart Weapons Plant

Fuming at the U.N. Security Council for condemning its recent missile launch, North Korea said Tuesday it will restart its plutonium factory, junk all its disarmament agreements and “never participate” again in six-country nuclear negotiations.

North Korea had warned before launching a long-range missile on April 5 that it would tolerate no U.N. criticism of what it insisted was a peaceful attempt to put a satellite into orbit.

When the 15-member Security Council unanimously condemned that launch on Monday and demanded a halt to all future missile launches, the North’s reaction was swift, vitriolic and surprisingly substantive.

It called the Security Council’s statement a “brigandish,” “wanton” and “unjust” infringement of its sovereignty. It said that six-party nuclear talks with the United States, South Korea, Japan, Russia and, even its closest ally, China, had “turned into a platform” for forcing the North to disarm itself and for bringing down its system of government.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Foreign Relations, North Korea

Barack Obama leads condemnation as North Korea launches rocket

President Obama has led international condemnation of North Korea this morning after it launched an intercontinental rocket over Japan, defying weeks of warnings from world leaders and risking new sanctions and high level denunciation in the UN Security Council.

Mr Obama called the launch “provocative” and a clear violation of UN Security Council rules.

“The launch today of a Taepodong-2 missile was a clear violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718, which expressly prohibits North Korea from conducting ballistic missile-related activities of any kind,” the US President said in a statement.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Foreign Relations, North Korea

North Korea launches rocket, defying world pressure

North Korea fired a rocket over Japan on Sunday, defying Washington, Tokyo and others who suspect the launch was cover for a test of its long-range missile technology. President Barack Obama said the move threatens the security of nations “near and far.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Foreign Relations, North Korea