Category : North Korea

(FT) US and North Korea on collision course, says China

China’s foreign minister has warned the Trump administration that it is on a collision course with North Korea and called on Washington to halt military exercises with Seoul to avoid conflict.

While Wang Yi also called on North Korea to suspend its missile and nuclear programmes, his direct challenge to President Donald Trump — who has warned Pyongyang that its goal of building a nuclear warhead that can reach US soil “won’t happen” — was unusual in its bluntness.

“The two sides are like two accelerating trains coming towards each other with neither side willing to give way. The question is, are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision?” Mr Wang told reporters in Beijing. “Given the situation, our priority now is to flash the red light and apply brakes on both trains.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, North Korea, Politics in General

(Bloomberg) North Korea Threatens Greater Pain If Punished Over Sony Hacking

North Korea warned that any U.S. punishment over the hacking attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment would lead to damage “thousands of times greater,” with targets including the White House and Pentagon.

Hackers including the “”˜Guardians of Peace’’ group that forced Sony to pull a comedy about the assassination of Kim Jong Un ”˜”˜are sharpening bayonets not only in the U.S. mainland but in all other parts of the world,’’ the Kim-led National Defense Commission said in a statement published yesterday by the official Korean Central News Agency. Even so, North Korea doesn’t know who the Guardians are, the commission said.

North Korea has called on the U.S. to hold a joint investigation into the incident, after rejecting the conclusion by the Federal Bureau of Investigation that it was behind the attack. President Barack Obama said last week that Sony had ”˜”˜suffered significant damage,’’ and vowed to respond to North Korea ”˜”˜in a place and time and manner that we choose.’’

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, America/U.S.A., Asia, Blogging & the Internet, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Movies & Television, North Korea, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Theology

It's not Censorship, Just Cowardice: On Sony's Decision to Shut Down "The Interview"

What a strange week it’s been in Hollywood. Tuesday night we actually had a thunderstorm. For those who don’t know Southern California, that’s like saying House Republicans think our country might have a race problem. Or Woody Allen is considering property in Malibu. Or the new Missal really seems to be catching on. (“Under our roof,” translators? “Under our roof”?)

There was even lightning, for God’s sake.

Then yesterday, hack-beleaguered Sony Pictures actually stopped distribution of major motion picture “The Interview,” maybe forever, after the United States’ five major theater chains refused to show it for fear of a 9/11-style attack on any theater that did.

To say the Internet was not happy with this series of events would be an understatement. Hollywood writer/director/producer Judd Apatow called the chains’ decision “disgraceful” and wondered, along with many others, what’s next: “Will they pull any movie that gets an anonymous threat now?” Many called it a sad day for creative expression, and feared that this forebodes a dangerous new self-censorship. Rob Lowe compared Hollywood to Neville Chamberlain (to which the nation of Czechoslovakia replied, “Mmm, Rob, I think not”). Newt Gingrich went so far as to call the hackers’ threat an “act of war,” forgoing the need for an act of war to involve an actual act. Forget the pesky details, there’s really never a bad time for a little preemption.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, Movies & Television, North Korea, Politics in General, Science & Technology, Theology

(AP) North Korea sentences Baptist missionary to life in prison

North Korea said Saturday it has sentenced a South Korean Baptist missionary to hard labor for life on charges that he spied and tried to set up underground churches, the latest in a string of missionaries to run into trouble in the rigidly controlled North.

North Korean state media said the missionary was tried Friday and admitted to anti-North Korean religious acts and “malignantly hurting the dignity” of the country’s supreme leadership, a reference to the ruling Kim family. The rival Koreas have different English spelling styles for Korean names, so the North called the missionary Kim Jong Uk, but Seoul has previously referred to him as Kim Jung Wook.

Christian missionaries have been drawn over the years to totalitarian North Korea, which tolerates only strictly sanctioned religious services. North Korean defectors have said that the distribution of Bibles and secret prayer services can mean banishment to a labor camp or execution

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Missions, North Korea, Politics in General, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture, Theology

North Korea releases Australian missionary

In a surprise move Monday, North Korean officials freed a Christian missionary from Australia who was arrested for handing out Bibles in Pyongyang.

John Short, 75, allegedly apologized for his behavior and begged for his freedom.

“I now realize the seriousness of my insult to the Korean people on Feb. 16 because I made the Korean people angry, and for this I truly apologize,” Short said, according to a report on the state news agency. “I am willing to bow down on my knees to request this tolerance of (North Korea) and the Korean people.”

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Australia / NZ, Missions, North Korea, Religion & Culture

(AP) Jailed American Missionary appears before reporters in North Korea

An American missionary who has been jailed in North Korea for more than a year appeared before reporters Monday and appealed to the U.S. government to do its best to secure his release.

The missionary, Kenneth Bae, made the comments at what he called a press conference held at his own request. He was under guard during the appearance. It is not unusual for prisoners in North Korea to say after their release that they spoke in similar situations under duress.

Wearing a gray cap and inmate’s uniform with the number 103 on his chest, Bae spoke in Korean during the brief appearance, which was attended by The Associated Press and a few other foreign media in Pyongyang.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Foreign Relations, Law & Legal Issues, North Korea, Politics in General, Prison/Prison Ministry, Psychology, Religion & Culture

(RNS) The BBC’s John Sweeney on North Korea’s zombie gods

Brian Pellot: Let’s start with some of your general impressions of North Korea. Very few foreign journalists have reported from there in recent years. Why did you go?

John Sweeney: North Korea is the darkest place on earth, both literally and metaphorically. You can actually see how dark the country is from space. It’s almost as if it isn’t even there. It’s also the darkest place I’ve ever been to in terms of information. I used to be a war reporter. I went to CeauÈ™escu’s Romania, Saddam’s Iraq, Gadhafi’s Libya. I’ve been to about a dozen tyrannies. In Iraq and Libya, I’d meet people who would let you know their government is full of shit. That didn’t happen in North Korea. It feels like bad science fiction there. It’s like walking inside the “The Matrix.” It’s really weird and creepy. I wanted to shed some light on this dark state to show how North Korea is using nuclear blackmail against the West. Behind the mask of this, there is an immense human rights tragedy unfolding.
– See more at: http://brianpellot.religionnews.com/2013/12/10/bbcs-john-sweeney-north-koreas-zombie-gods/#sthash.Woi7GkV8.dpuf

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, History, Law & Legal Issues, North Korea, Politics in General, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Melanie Kirkpatrick: The Bible in the Bird's Nest (of North Korea)

The Bible is “the most dangerous book on Earth,” George Bernard Shaw famously warned a century ago. Today, Shaw’s words ring true””literally””for the 24 million people of North Korea. Possession of a Bible is a one-way ticket to the gulag or worse.

The worst came true this month for a handful of North Koreans who were caught with Bibles, which are outlawed by the communist regime. The Christians were among a group of 80 North Koreans who were executed by firing squad on Sunday, Nov. 3, according to a report in the South Korean daily, JoongAng Ilbo. Those put to death also included North Koreans accused of watching South Korean DVDs that had been smuggled into the North, or of distributing pornography. The ruling Kim family regime controls every aspect of citizens’ lives, including what information reaches them from the world outside North Korea’s borders. Bibles, foreign DVDs, the Internet, cellphones that can make international calls””all are banned.

The executions were public and took place in seven cities across the country, according to the JoongAng Ilbo.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Books, Law & Legal Issues, North Korea, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(CEN) Canterbury calls for peace in Korea

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has added its voice to the call for peace in Korea. In a message read to the Second Worldwide Anglican Peace Conference held in Okinawa from 16 ”“ 22 April 2013 Archbishop Welby lauded the work of the Korean and Japanese churches to foster peace in Northeast Asia.

“Your gathering has come at the most needful time,” Archbishop Welby wrote, in a statement read by his representative to the conference Bishop John Holbrook of Brixworth in the diocese of Peterborough.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, --Justin Welby, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Asia, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Korea, North Korea

(BBC) US warns N Korea missile launch would be 'huge mistake'

US Secretary of State John Kerry has said an anticipated missile launch by North Korea would be a “provocative act” and “huge mistake”.

The North has moved two missiles to its east coast and South Korea is on alert.

Speaking in Seoul, Mr Kerry reconfirmed the US’s commitment to protecting itself and its allies.

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

Medal of Honor for US Army chaplain Father Kapaun

An Army chaplain who saved the lives of fellow US soldiers before perishing in a North Korean prison camp has been awarded a posthumous US Medal of Honor.

On Thursday, President Obama presented the highest US military decoration to the nephew of Emil Kapaun, a Catholic priest who died in the Korean War.

Kapaun, an Army captain, was renowned for his bravery and caring.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Asia, Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, History, North Korea, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(WSJ) Pyongyang to Restart Nuclear Plant

North Korea said on Tuesday it would restart its only nuclear reactor to provide plutonium for its weapons program, an announcement that added to already-heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula and drew swift international criticism.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was “deeply troubled” by the rising tensions. “Nuclear threats are not a game,” he said at a news conference in Andorra. “The current crisis has already gone too far.”

Later Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the North’s recent belligerent rhetoric “unacceptable” and said the U.S. will defend itself as well as South Korea and Japan from any threat from the North, the Associated Press reported.

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

(Bloomberg) Google’s Schmidt urged by U.S. against trip to North Korea

Google Inc. Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt may travel to North Korea over opposition from the U.S. State Department, becoming the highest-profile businessman to visit the isolated nation since Kim Jong Un succeeded his father as leader just over a year ago.

Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson said today that he and Schmidt are planning a “private humanitarian visit” and that Schmidt is going as a citizen interested in foreign affairs. “This is not a Google trip,” Richardson said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, North Korea, Politics in General, Theology

UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks –Hanukkah's Powerful Contemporary Resonance in 2011

Go here and download or listen to it from the December 21stnd morning show. Fascinating the modern parallels he draws–KSH.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Asia, Czech Republic, Europe, History, Judaism, North Korea, Other Faiths, Religion & Culture

(SMH) Uncle Jang, the real power behind Kim the younger

He has been described by some analysts as the power behind the throne in North Korea following the death of the “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il.

But who is Jang Song-taek?

And why does he appear to wield more influence in the Hermit Kingdom than Kim Jong-un, the 27-year-old son of Kim Jong-il and his anointed successor?

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Children, History, Marriage & Family, North Korea, Politics in General