Category - North Korea

North Korea responds with fury to US sanctions over Sony hack

Pyongyang denies involvement in Sony Pictures hack and accuses US of stirring up hostility.

The Guardian, By Haroon Siddique and agencies, January 4

North Korea has furiously denounced the United States for imposing sanctions in retaliation for the Pyongyang regime’s alleged cyber-attack on Sony Pictures.

North Korea’s foreign ministry reiterated that it did not have any role in the breach of tens of thousands of confidential Sony emails and business files and accused the US of “groundlessly” stirring up hostility towards Pyongyang. He said the new sanctions would not weaken the country’s 1.2 million-strong military.

“The policy persistently pursued by the US to stifle the DPRK [North Korea], groundlessly stirring up bad blood towards it, will only harden its will and resolution to defend the sovereignty of the country,” North’s state-run KCNA news agency quoted the unnamed spokesman as saying on Sunday.

North Korea human rights abuses resemble those of the Nazis, says UN inquiry

Inquiry chairman Michael Kirby writes to Kim Jong-un warning he could face trial at The Hague for crimes against humanity.

The Guardian, By Peter Walker, February 17

North Korea’s leadership is committing systematic and appalling human rights abuses against its own citizens on a scale unparalleled in the modern world, crimes against humanity with strong resemblances to those committed by the Nazis, a United Nations inquiry has concluded.

The UN’s commission on human rights in North Korea, which gathered evidence for almost a year, including often harrowing testimony at public hearings worldwide, said there was compelling evidence of torture, execution and arbitrary imprisonment, deliberate starvation and an almost complete lack of free thought and belief.

The chair of the three-strong panel set up by the UN commissioner on human rights has personally written to North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, to warn that he could face trial at the international criminal court (ICC) for his personal culpability as head of state and leader of the military.

“The commission wishes to draw your attention that it will therefore recommend that the United Nations refer the situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [the formal name for North Korea] to the international criminal court to render accountable all those, including possibly yourself, who may be responsible for the crimes against humanity,” Michael Kirby, an Australian retired judge, wrote to Kim.

North Korea executes uncle of leader Kim Jong-un

Globe and Mail (via AP), By Eric Talmadge and Foster Klug

North Korea said Friday that it had executed Kim Jong-un’s uncle as a traitor for trying to seize supreme power, a stunning end for the leader’s former mentor, long considered the country’s No. 2 official.

In a sharp reversal of the long-held popular image of Jang Song Thaek as a kindly uncle guiding Kim Jong-un as he consolidated power, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency indicated that Jang instead saw the death of Kim Jong-il in December 2011 as an opportunity to challenge his nephew and win power.

Jang had been tried and executed, North Korea said, for “attempting to overthrow the state by all sorts of intrigues and despicable methods with a wild ambition to grab the supreme power of our party and state.” It called him a “traitor to the nation for all ages” and “worse than a dog.”

The unusually detailed announcement came only days after North Korea said it had “eliminated” Jang from all his posts. Despite the strong language and allegations in the announcement Monday of Jang’s fall, there had been no sign in North Korean media of an imminent execution.

Kim Jong-un has overseen other high-profile purges since taking over after the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, two years ago. But none of the purges have been as public — or as close to home — as the downfall of Jang.

Analysts say Kim Jong-un has acted swiftly and ruthlessly to bolster his own power and show strength, but there are fears in Seoul that the removal of Jang and his followers could lead to instability, a miscalculation or even attack on the South. Jang had been seen by outsiders as the leading supporter of Chinese-style economic reforms and an important link between Pyongyang and Beijing.

In Seoul, top presidential security and government ministers began an unscheduled meeting Friday to discuss Jang’s execution and its aftermath, according to the presidential Blue House.

More at the link

Satellite image suggests North Korea has restarted Yongbyon nuclear reactor

(Reuters) – Satellite imagery suggests that North Korea has restarted a research reactor capable of producing plutonium for weapons at its Yongbyon nuclear complex, a U.S. research institute said on Wednesday.

U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies said a satellite image from August 31 shows white steam rising from a building near the hall that houses the plutonium production reactor’s steam turbines and electric generators.

Basketball star Dennis Rodman arrives in Pyongyang for second trip in a year

(CNN) — Former basketball star Dennis Rodman arrived in Pyongyang Tuesday on a five-day visit amid speculation he may try to negotiate the release of jailed U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.

“I’m not going to North Korea to discuss freeing Kenneth Bae,” Rodman told Reuters in a telephone interview before he left Beijing for Pyongyang. “I’ve come out here to see my friend (Kim) — and I want to talk about basketball,” he added.

The Adult In The Room

The interesting dynamic that is the relationship between Obama and Putin has a new twist, and it’s one we should welcome:

On Wednesday evening, when U.S. President Obama cancelled his upcoming visit to Moscow, the Russian reaction was perhaps most clear in the way that Vesti, the state’s main propaganda TV channel, conveyed it on the channel’s website. Buried about half way down on the page, underneath a story about Russian tourists in Turkey, Vesti announced: “The invitation for Obama stands.” Beside that was the somewhat diversionary headline: “Barack Obama will travel to St. Petersburg for the G20 summit.” The actual news — that Obama had decided not to meet with his Russian counterpart before, after or during the G20 summit in St. Petersburg next month — was clearly not something the official spin doctors wanted to advertise.

After a year spent honing their anti-American rhetoric — on issues ranging from the adoption of Russian children to missile defense in Europe and the civil war in Syria — the Kremlin message makers were suddenly eager to claim that President Vladimir Putin didn’t really mean for things to go this far. “Sure, Putin uses this rhetoric, but it’s not so much anti-American as anti-Euro-Atlantic,” says Evgeny Minchenko, a Kremlin-connected political strategist. “And keep in mind that he has tried to stop short of a head-on collision.”

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North and South Korea agree to working-level talks on Kaesong industrial zone

South and North Korea agreed to hold working-level talks this weekend on restarting the shared Kaesong industrial zone.

Global Post, By Daniel DeFraia, July 4

Pyongyang on Thursday accepted South Korea’s proposal to hold working-level talks this weekend on the closed Kaesong industrial complex, the South Korean Unification Ministry said.

Both sides will provide three-member delegations for negotiations scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m. (local time) on the North’s side of the neutral border in Panmunjom village.

Work in the jointly run Kaesong industrial complex stopped in April amid heightened political and military tensions after North Korea pulled its 53,000 workers and Seoul subsequently withdrew plant managers.

South Korean Yonnap news reports the breakthrough came after North Korea stopped insisting that the South’s businessmen visit their Kaesong plants at the same time or before the two government’s could talk.

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