SEOUL — Wearing a black fedora and black overcoat, a smiling Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, stepped off an armored train that had taken him on a daylong journey from Pyongyang to the Russian port city of Vladivostok on Wednesday.
Mr. Kim’s arrival came a day before he is scheduled to meet with President Vladimir V. Putin as part of the North Korean leader’s efforts to fend off American pressure to give up his nuclear weapons arsenal.
Accompanied by senior Russian officials, Mr. Kim listened to a military band before stopping for a rare, short interview with the Russian television network Rossiya 1.
“I hope this visit will be successful and fruitful,” Mr. Kim said. “I hope that during talks with esteemed President Putin I will have a detailed discussion of the settlement process on the Korean Peninsula and the development of our relations.”
Mr. Kim is the first North Korean leader to travel to Russia since his father, Kim Jong-il, visited there in 2011, signaling that Mr. Kim is trying to foster ties with his country’s old Soviet allies while his diplomacy with President Trump remains deadlocked.
Mr. Kim’s meeting with Mr. Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam, in late February ended abruptly when the North Korean leader rejected Mr. Trump’s proposal for a “big deal” in which the United States would lift sanctions in return for a quick dismantlement of the North’s entire nuclear weapons program. Mr. Kim offered only a partial dismantlement in exchange for lifting the most harmful economic sanctions.
North Korea has since grown increasingly frustrated with Washington, conducting a weapons test and accusing Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, John R. Bolton, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of sabotaging the negotiations. Mr. Kim said he was willing to meet Mr. Trump again, but only if the United States made a new proposal that the North could accept by the end of the year.
A recent report by the United Nations sanctions committee has accused Russia of helping North Korea circumvent international sanctions through illegal ship-to-ship transfers of oil and coal. But there is doubt over Russia’s ability to ease the pain of sanctions for North Korea.
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(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)
Eastern Russian port Vladivostok prepares to host Kim
Russian President Vladimir Putin has long said he was ready to meet with Kim and is preparing to play a bigger role in nuclear negotiations with Moscow’s Cold War-era ally.
WORLDUpdated: Apr 19, 2019 20:04 IST
Russian media were quick to report preparations were underway for the summit to take place in Vladivostok, home to Moscow’s Pacific Fleet(AFP File)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is expected in Russia’s far-eastern port Vladivostok in the coming days, according to reports that have prompted excitement and concern among local residents.
After weeks of speculation, the Kremlin announced that Kim will visit Russia to hold his first talks with President Vladimir Putin in late April. It gave no details on a date or place, citing “security reasons.”
Russian media were quick to report preparations were underway for the summit to take place in Vladivostok, home to Moscow’s Pacific Fleet.
The port lies only about 130 kilometres (80 miles) from Russia’s short border with North Korea. This proximity is no doubt important for Kim, who is rumoured to travel aboard his armoured train.
The 35-year-old will be following in the footsteps of his father Kim Jong Il, who met the newly elected Putin in Vladivostok in 2002.
The far eastern city rarely sees major international events, and some locals are happy for the city to be in the spotlight.
– ‘If something happens, it will fall on us’ –
“Any visit is good, whether it’s an enemy or a friend,” said Danil, a student at Vladivostok’s Far Eastern Federal University, billed by the media as a possible venue for the summit.
He welcomed the talks, saying “you can only make decisions through dialogue and communication.”
Nadezhda, a native of the city, said it will be a global event and “will be a boost for development in our city.”
Authorities this week were busy cleaning garbage near railways leading to the city, Russian media reported.
“The depressing view from the train window does not give a positive impression to guests of Vladivostok arriving by train,” an official from the local branch of Russian Railways told the Interfax news agency.
Nadezhda said she was “absolutely not afraid of (North Korea’s) nuclear program” and would like to see the country.
North Korea said this week it was testing nuclear weapons after a round of talks with the US ended in failure.
But Anna Marinina was less enthusiastic about the summit, and said that if Pyongyang did use its weapons, Vladivostok would be in the firing line.
“The people that panic the most about North Korea are safe on the other side of the ocean,” she said.
“If something were to happen, it would fall on us.”
Putin has long said he was ready to meet with Kim and is preparing to play a bigger role in nuclear negotiations with Moscow’s Cold War-era ally.
The last meeting between Russian and North Korean heads of state was in 2011, when Kim’s father travelled by train to Siberia, where he took a boat ride on Lake Baikal and held tightly guarded talks with then president Dmitry Medvedev.
There is a chance however that fresh talks will not take place at all, as Kim pulled out of 2015 celebrations in Moscow for the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II at the last minute.
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un listens during a meeting in February with President Trump at the second U.S.-North Korea summit in Hanoi.
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has further cemented his grip on power, in a big reshuffle of the country’s leadership. However, he didn’t signal a retreat, either from negotiations with the U.S. or a self-imposed moratorium on testing of missiles and nuclear bombs, something Pyongyang said he had been considering.
Instead, Kim’s remarks pointed to economic belt-tightening in an attempt to ride out economic sanctions — and perhaps the Trump administration, too – while hanging on to his country’s nuclear arsenal.
At a session in Pyongyang of the newly elected parliament — the result of voting last month in which all candidates ran unopposed — Kim was re-elected as Chairman of the State Affairs Commission. That means he retains, as expected, his posts as leader of the ruling party, state and military.
He added an extra honorary title though, “Supreme Representative of all the Korean People,” apparently for use in ceremonial and diplomatic occasions.
Long-serving officials such as 91-year-old Kim Jong Nam, the titular head of state, and Premier Pak Pong Ju, 80, were either retired or promoted to symbolic posts and replaced by younger officials.
Kim’s main message came on Wednesday, when he told ruling Workers’ Party officials to make the country’s economy self-sufficient, “so as to deal a telling blow to the hostile forces who go with bloodshot eyes, miscalculating that sanctions can bring (North Korea) to its knees,” the official Korean Central News Agency reported.
The remarks were clearly aimed at Washington, and they come weeks after a second summit between Trump and Kim in Hanoi that ended abruptly with no progress toward the U.S. goal of ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
Kim’s comments and his reshuffle of the leadership appear to have two aims, says Park Hyeong-jung, a North Korea expert at the Korea Institute for National Unification, or KINU, a government think-tank in Seoul.
“One is to double down on economic self-reliance, through strengthened mobilization,” Park says. “The second is to reinforce control over society.” He explains that tighter control is necessary because anecdotal evidence out of North Korea suggests the economy is deteriorating under the pressure of sanctions, and citizens feeling the pinch are starting to gripe.
There are fewer merchants and fewer customers, for example, in the “jangmadang” or free markets, Park says. And North Korean officials, he adds, are becoming more “extractive” and predatory, demanding bigger bribes from merchants as a sort of tax on the markets.
Kim’s expectations of tough times ahead seemed to anticipate President Trump’s comments to visiting South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday that he was unwilling to ease sanctions on the North, or make big concessions in nuclear negotiations.
Moon’s trip to Washington was seen in Seoul as a crucial test of his role as mediator between North Korea and the U.S. South Korea’s government had voiced hopes for a “good-enough deal,” and an “early harvest.” In other words, a smaller, interim deal to get the denuclearization ball rolling.
But Trump mostly rebuffed Moon, saying “at this moment, we’re talking about the big deal. The big deal is we have to get rid of the nuclear weapons.”
Trump did leave some wiggle room for incremental progress. “I’d have to see what the deal is,” he told reporters. “There are various smaller deals that maybe could happen.”
“The question is what Kim can be convinced to give up at a future meeting, in exchange for what he left on the table in Hanoi,” says Leif-Eric Easley, an international relations expert at Ewha Womans University in Seoul.
Trump and Kim failed to reach a deal in Hanoi in February, Easley says, because North Korea’s offer to dismantle its main nuclear facility at Yongbyon was not enough for a comprehensive deal, while Pyongyang’s “asking price — the lifting of key U.N. Security Council resolutions — was unreasonably high.”
Seoul says Moon’s next step will be to seek a fourth summit with Kim Jong Un to try to broker a deal.
But whether Kim Jong Un will be interested in another meeting is unclear, says KINU’s Park Hyeong-jung.
“Probably, North Korea would assess that South Korea does not have much leverage to change U.S. attitudes,” he says, as evidenced by Moon’s meeting Thursday with Trump, and therefore Moon’s usefulness as a broker is questionable.
President Donald Trump just basically admitted that the US was very close to going to war with North Korea last year, and that he doesn’t believe clear intelligence showing Pyongyang is improving its missile program.
Much of the coverage of the interview has centered on Trump’s disparaging comments about a former top Navy SEAL; his defense of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman despite mounting evidence that the royal knew about journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder; and his decision to not attend a Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington Cemetery because he was “extremely busy.”
All of this overshadowed Trump’s North Korea remarks toward the end of the discussion, but they shouldn’t be missed. His statements show how seriously the president considered Pyongyang a threat last year, but also how incredulous he is of pictures — actual pictures — showing the country’s weapons program is getting better.
Trump also left the door open, however slightly, to considering a fight with Pyongyang again despite his repeated expressions of deep skepticism toward war.
Let’s take each comment in turn.
It seems like war with North Korea was seriously on the table
When Wallace asked Trump about the biggest decision he’s had to make as president, he referred to his discussion on North Korea because “we were very close.”
After mentioning his North Korea chat with former President Barack Obama during the transition, the president said, “I think we had a real decisionas to which way to go on North Korea. And certainly, at least so far, I’m very happy with the way we went. I have a very good relationship with Kim.”
Trump didn’t say the word “war” in that part, but he didn’t have to. When he says “we were very close,” it’s fairly clear he’s referencing attacking the country to punish it over improving its nuclear arsenal, and he’s made references to how close the US and North Korea came to blows before.
That was seriously considered: Former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster advocated for military options within the White House, including a limited attack to deter Pyongyang from building more nuclear bombs. But instead, the Trump administration chose another way — the current diplomatic push between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un — in part because Kim wants to reduce US-imposed economic pressure on his country.
It’s good news that both Washington and Pyongyang are currently talking instead of making imminent war plans, as a US-North Korea war could turn into a nuclear conflict that leaves millions of people dead.
But while it’s comforting to know war is off the table for now, it’s not comforting to know that Trump had to think hard about that option. And should diplomacy with North Korea not go as planned, it’s possible Trump will be faced with the same choice.
And here’s the bad news: Diplomacy with North Korea isn’t going well.
Trump doesn’t believe North Korea is improving its weapons programs. It is.
Since Trump’s historic June summit with Kim in Singapore, the two have worked to lower tensions. Kim, essentially, wants the US to stop militarily supporting South Korea and threatening the North, while Trump wants Kim to dismantle his nuclear arsenal.
The problem is, North Korea is only improving its weapons capabilities, not tearing them down. For example, a report last week from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, included satellite images showing North Korea had enhanced its ability to launch missiles from a base near South Korea’s border and capital. That comes after credible reports detailing how Pyongyang is continuing to make nuclear weapons, too.
Wallace brought up the issue during the interview on Sunday, noting “there’s talk that [North Koreans are] putting up new sites.” Trump quickly deflected.
“Maybe they are. Maybe they’re not. I don’t believe that. I don’t. And, you know, could. And which is — if it — if that’s the way it goes, that’s the way it goes. You know, I go with the way we have to go,” the president said.
So Trump doesn’t currently agree with the available intelligence that North Korea is gaining strength while it engages in talks with the US. And while it’s unclear how he feels about secret intelligence he’s privy to, it’s possible he’d come to the same conclusion.
It’s “the policy of denuclearization by denial and delusion,” Vipin Narang, a nuclear expert at MIT, told me. “Hear no evil, see no evil.”
There is, however, some logic behind Trump’s decision to make that statement.
If he admits North Korea deceived him, it would make him look weak in the midst of negotiations and he would have to start curtailing the diplomatic initiative. If that were the case, it’s chilling to think about what Trump — who has expressed deep reservations about war before — means when he says, “I go with the way we have to go.”
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Politically Correct: The Acidic Evil That Is American Politics
Good evening folks, tonight I wish to speak with you about a subject matter that is not near or dear to my heart, it is called political correctness. This subject matter touches each and every one of us on a regular basis in our daily lives. In its simplest form political correctness is the attempt to avoid offending anyone at anytime regardless of the subject matter. I believe that when most of us hear the term political correctness it is not a smile that crosses our face, it is more likely to be a disgusted frown. Today if a person says anything about a subject matter when it may in any way shed a light of truth on the events of today, if that truth in the slightest degree has any measure of negatives then you will be labeled as a hater. There was a time in this country when people were allowed to be honest in their speech but unfortunately that is not the case these days. Now if you say anything about anyone person or persons even if you are speaking the total truth to the best of your knowledge, you have become a hater or some kind of a bigot whom is very likely to be sued in court because you dared to be honest. In the past we could describe a dirty old man in simple terms/truths, these days political correctness (stupidity) airbrushed the truth stains away so that you don’t offend that dirty old man. These days that person is a sexually focused chronologically gifted individual. Laziness is now referred to as motivationally deficient. I am now no longer short being only five feet eleven and three-quarters inches tall, I am vertically challenged because I didn’t make it to at least six feet. It is comforting to know that I didn’t really have trouble with algebraic equations in college, I simply had a memory deficiency.
We could all just sit back in our Lazy Boy recliners with a glass of Jose Cuervo in one hand and a big blunt in the other and just sit back and laugh at American politicians and media talking heads as they spout this stupidity. The scary part of this is that what we the people call stupidity/political correctness, some of the fore mentioned people cultivate this ignorance as their personal gospel. This ignorance is a gospel of re-education and it does show via the ignorance and apathy we see and hear when today’s streamlined, bought and paid for politicians open their mouths. Today at almost all of our college campuses as well as the secondary and primary schools this re-education propaganda is widely referred to as diversity education. This ignorance that our politicians and the media push down our throats tries to please everyone all of the time and to never offend anyone any of the time. This is a nice story line if it were in a small child’s fantasy or Fantasy Island handbook but in the real world it is simply poison. Most all of us adults know that political correctness if allowed to play out and to become the laws of the land, we are all doomed to be the laughing-stock of the whole world. Today if people dare attempt to speak the truth about real world issues they are branded as haters or we are people with stone-age ideologies. Truth is that when people do dare to speak the truth on real issues what you say will most likely offend some people whom do not happen to agree with you. When we are cultivated away from the truth and told we can’t say such things isn’t this the same thing as saying to advance in our society today that you must either be and idiot, or an habitual liar?
For those who might think that this mental disease is a spin-off of the 1960’s and 70’s hippy drug culture then you need to crack open some college level history books and increase your knowledge on this subject matter. My friends, political correctness has been around and practiced through other cultures around the world far longer than any of us have been alive. Political correctness is really nothing more than cultural Marxism in some professors views and I can’t say that I disagree with them. If we compare the basic tenets of political correctness with classical Marxism the parallels of the two are very obvious. When Marxist Communists take over a country such as Russia, China, North Korea or Cuba the personal freedom of speech ceases to exist.
I leave you tonight with just one last observation, isn’t it amazing how much Russia and her politics have turned to look more like our politicians rhetorical babbling? Or, is it more correct to say that our government is starting to look more like the Russia of President Putin or even that of Germany of the mid 1930’s in that free honest intelligent conversation can be construed as a hate crime? Is political correctness in places like D.C., Hollywood and New York City going to be a nail in America’s coffin? Time will tell us all what the truth is but I totally have my doubts that anyone alive today will live long enough to see that day. Friends, good night, stay well, God Bless.
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(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)
An independent kingdom for much of its long history, Korea was occupied by Japan in 1905 following the Russo-Japanese War. Five years later, Japan formally annexed the entire peninsula. Following World War II, Korea was split with the northern half coming under Soviet-sponsored Communist domination. After failing in the Korean War (1950-53) to conquer the US-backed Republic of Korea (ROK) in the southern portion by force, North Korea (DPRK), under its founder President KIM Il Sung, adopted a policy of ostensible diplomatic and economic “self-reliance” as a check against excessive Soviet or Communist Chinese influence. The DPRK demonized the US as the ultimate threat to its social system through state-funded propaganda, and molded political, economic, and military policies around the core ideological objective of eventual unification of Korea under Pyongyang’s control. KIM’s son, the current ruler KIM Jong Il, was officially designated as his father’s successor in 1980, assuming a growing political and managerial role until the elder KIM’s death in 1994. After decades of economic mismanagement and resource misallocation, the DPRK since the mid-1990s has relied heavily on international aid to feed its population while continuing to expend resources to maintain an army of approximately 1 million. North Korea’s history of regional military provocations, proliferation of military-related items, and long-range missile development – as well as its nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs and massive conventional armed forces – are of major concern to the international community. In December 2002, following revelations that the DPRK was pursuing a nuclear weapons program based on enriched uranium in violation of a 1994 agreement with the US to freeze and ultimately dismantle its existing plutonium-based program, North Korea expelled monitors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In January 2003, it declared its withdrawal from the international Non-Proliferation Treaty. In mid-2003 Pyongyang announced it had completed the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel rods (to extract weapons-grade plutonium) and was developing a “nuclear deterrent.” Beginning in August 2003, North Korea, China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the US have participated in the Six-Party Talks aimed at resolving the stalemate over the DPRK’s nuclear programs. North Korea pulled out of the talks in November 2005. It test-fired ballistic missiles in July 2006 and conducted a nuclear test in October 2006. North Korea returned to the Six-Party Talks in December 2006 and subsequently signed two agreements on denuclearization. The 13 February 2007 Initial Actions Agreement shut down the North’s nuclear facilities at Yongbyon in July 2007. In the 3 October 2007 Second Phase Actions Agreement, Pyongyang pledged to disable those facilities and provide a correct and complete declaration of its nuclear programs. Under the supervision of US nuclear experts, North Korean personnel completed a number of agreed-upon disablement actions at the three core facilities at the Yongbyon nuclear complex by the end of 2007. North Korea also began the discharge of spent fuel rods in December 2007, but it did not provide a declaration of its nuclear programs by the end of the year.
In the aftermath of the Japanese occupation of Korea, which ended with Japan’s defeat in World War II in 1945, the Soviet Union accepted the surrender of Japanese forces and controlled the area north of the 38th parallel, with the United States controlling the area south of this parallel. Virtually all Koreans welcomed liberation from Japanese imperial rule, yet objected to the re-imposition of foreign rule upon their country. The Soviets and Americans disagreed on the implementation of Joint Trusteeship over Korea, with each establishing its socio-economic system upon its jurisdiction, leading, in 1948, to the establishment of ideologically opposed governments. The United States and the Soviet Union then withdrew their forces from Korea. Growing tensions and border skirmishes between north and south led to a civil war, known as the Korean War.
On June 25, 1950, the (North) Korean People’s Army crossed the 38th parallel, with the war aim of peninsular reunification under their political system. The war continued until July 27, 1953, when the United Nations Command, the Korean People’s Army, and the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army signed the Korean War Armistice Agreement. Since that time the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) has separated the North and South.
In the aftermath of the Korean War and throughout the 1960s, the country’s state-controlled economy grew at a significant rate. It was considered the second most industrialized nation in Asia, after Japan. During the 1970s, the expansion of North Korea’s economy, with the accompanying rise in living standards, came to an end, and a few decades later went into reverse. The country struggled throughout the 1990s, largely due to the loss of strategic trade arrangements with the USSR, and strained relations with China following China’s normalization with South Korea in 1992. In addition, North Korea experienced record-breaking floods in 1995 and 1996, followed by several years of equally severe drought, beginning in 1997. This situation, compounded by the existence of only 18 percent arable land and an inability to import goods necessary to sustain industry, led to an immense famine and left North Korea in economic shambles. Large numbers of North Koreans illegally entered the People’s Republic of China in search of food. Faced with a country in decay, Kim Jong-il adopted a “Military-First” policy to reinforce the regime.
Although private property is still formally prohibited, the volume of private trade with China grows year by year. The collapse of the system of state allowances has also contributed to the growth of a multi-sector market economy. Collapse of large state-owned enterprises released a huge amount of workers who engage in cross-border trade with China.
Location: Eastern Asia, northern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Korea Bay and the Sea of Japan, between China and South Korea
Geographic coordinates: 40 00 N, 127 00 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 120,540 sq km
land: 120,410 sq km
water: 130 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Mississippi
Land boundaries: total: 1,673 km
border countries: China 1,416 km, South Korea 238 km, Russia 19 km
Coastline: 2,495 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
note: military boundary line 50 nm in the Sea of Japan and the exclusive economic zone limit in the Yellow Sea where all foreign vessels and aircraft without permission are banned
Climate: temperate with rainfall concentrated in summer
Terrain: mostly hills and mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys; coastal plains wide in west, discontinuous in east
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Sea of Japan 0 m
highest point: Paektu-san 2,744 m
Natural resources: coal, lead, tungsten, zinc, graphite, magnesite, iron ore, copper, gold, pyrites, salt, fluorspar, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 22.4%
permanent crops: 1.66%
other: 75.94% (2005)
Irrigated land: 14,600 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 77.1 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 9.02 cu km/yr (20%/25%/55%)
per capita: 401 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: late spring droughts often followed by severe flooding; occasional typhoons during the early fall
Environment – current issues: water pollution; inadequate supplies of potable water; waterborne disease; deforestation; soil erosion and degradation
Environment – international agreements: party to: Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Environmental Modification, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography – note: strategic location bordering China, South Korea, and Russia; mountainous interior is isolated and sparsely populated
North Korea is a self-described Juche (self-reliance) state. Government is organized as a dictatorship, with a pronounced cult of personality organized around Kim Il-sung (the founder of North Korea and the country’s first and only president) and his son and heir, Kim Jong-il. Following Kim Il-sung’s death in 1994, he was not replaced but instead received the designation of “Eternal President”, and was entombed in the vast Kumsusan Memorial Palace in central Pyongyang.
Although the active position of president has been abolished in deference to the memory of Kim Il-sung, the de facto head of state is Kim Jong-il, who is Chairman of the National Defence Commission of North Korea. The legislature of North Korea is the Supreme People’s Assembly, currently led by President Kim Yong-nam. The other senior government figure is Premier Kim Yong-il.
North Korea is a single-party state. The governing party is the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, a coalition of the Workers’ Party of North Korea and two other smaller parties, the North Korean Social Democratic Party and the Chondoist Chongu Party. These parties nominate all candidates for office and hold all seats in the Supreme People’s Assembly.
Multiple international human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, accuse North Korea of having one of the worst human rights records of any nation. North Koreans have been referred to as “some of the world’s most brutalized people”, due to the severe restrictions placed on their political and economic freedoms. North Korean defectors have testified to the existence of prison and detention camps with an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 inmates, and have reported torture, starvation, rape, murder, medical experimentation, forced labour, and forced abortions.
The system changed slightly at the end of 1990s, when population growth became very low. In many cases, where capital punishment was de facto, it replaced by less severe punishments. Bribery became prevalent throughout the country. For example, just listening to South Korean radio could result in capital punishment. However, many North Koreans wear clothes of South Korean origin, listen to Southern music, watch South Korean videotapes and even receive Southern broadcasts, although they are still prohibited; in most cases punishment is nothing more than a pecuniary fine, and many such problems are normally solved “unofficially”, through bribery.
Population: 23,479,089 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 22.9% (male 2,733,352/female 2,654,186)
15-64 years: 68.2% (male 7,931,484/female 8,083,626)
65 years and over: 8.8% (male 751,401/female 1,325,040) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 32.7 years
male: 31.2 years
female: 34.2 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.732% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 14.61 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 7.29 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.57 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 21.86 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 23.46 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 20.18 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 72.2 years
male: 69.45 years
female: 75.08 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: NA
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: NA
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Korean(s)
Ethnic groups: racially homogeneous; there is a small Chinese community and a few ethnic Japanese
Religions: traditionally Buddhist and Confucianist, some Christian and syncretic Chondogyo (Religion of the Heavenly Way)
note: autonomous religious activities now almost nonexistent; government-sponsored religious groups exist to provide illusion of religious freedom
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
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(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)
An independent Korean state or collection of states has existed almost continuously for several millennia. Between its initial unification in the 7th century – from three predecessor Korean states – until the 20th century, Korea existed as a single independent country. In 1905, following the Russo-Japanese War, Korea became a protectorate of imperial Japan, and in 1910 it was annexed as a colony. Korea regained its independence following Japan’s surrender to the United States in 1945. After World War II, a Republic of Korea (ROK) was set up in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula while a Communist-style government was installed in the north (the DPRK). During the Korean War (1950-53), US troops and UN forces fought alongside soldiers from the ROK to defend South Korea from DPRK attacks supported by China and the Soviet Union. An armistice was signed in 1953, splitting the peninsula along a demilitarized zone at about the 38th parallel. Thereafter, South Korea achieved rapid economic growth with per capita income rising to roughly 14 times the level of North Korea. In 1993, KIM Young-sam became South Korea’s first civilian president following 32 years of military rule. South Korea today is a fully functioning modern democracy. In June 2000, a historic first North-South summit took place between the South’s President KIM Dae-jung and the North’s leader KIM Jong Il. In October 2007, a second North-South summit took place between the South’s President ROH Moo-hyun and the North Korean leader.
Archeological findings indicate that the Korean Peninsula was occupied by humans as early in the Lower Paleolithic period.
Korea began with the founding of Gojoseon in 2333 BC by Dangun. Gojoseon expanded until it controlled much of the northern Korean peninsula and parts of Manchuria. After numerous wars with the Chinese Han Dynasty, Gojoseon disintegrated, leading to the Proto-Three Kingdoms of Korea period.
In the early centuries of the Common Era, Buyeo, Okjeo, Dongye, and the Samhan confederacy occupied the peninsula and southern Manchuria. Of the various small states, Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla grew to control the peninsula as the Three Kingdoms.
Introduction of Buddhism and other influences from China had profound effects on Korea, which later passed on, combined with Korean advances, to Japan.
The unification of the Three Kingdoms by Silla in 676 led to the North-South States period, in which the much of the Korean peninsula was controlled by Unified Silla, while Balhae succeeded the northern parts of Goguryeo. In Unified Silla, poetry and art was encouraged, and Buddhist culture flourished. Relationships between Korea and China remained relatively peaceful during this time. However, Unified Silla weakened under internal strife, and surrendered to Goryeo in 935. Balhae, Silla’s neighbor to the north, was formed as a successor state to Goguryeo. During its height, Balhae controlled most of Manchuria and parts of Russia. It fell to the Khitan in 926.
After the North-South Period, successor states fought for control during the Later Three Kingdoms period. The peninsula was soon united by Wang Geon of Goryeo. Like Silla, Goryeo was a highly cultural state and created the Jikji in 1377, using the world’s oldest movable metal printing press.[dead link]
The Mongol invasions in the 13th century greatly weakened Goryeo. However, Goryeo continued to rule Korea as a tributary ally to the Mongols. After the fall of the Mognolian Empire (Yuan Dynasty), Goryeo continued its rule. After severe political strife and continued invasions, Goryeo was replaced by the Joseon Dynasty in 1388 following a rebellion by General Yi Seong-gye.
General Yi declared the new name of Korea as Joseon in reference to Gojoseon, and moved the capital to Seoul. The first 200 years of the Joseon Dynasty was marked by relative peace and saw the creation of hangul by King Sejong the Great in the 14 century and the rise and influence of Confucianism.
In the latter of the 16th century, Joseon was invaded by a newly unified Japan. During the Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–1598), centuries of peace had left the dynasty unprepared, and the lack of technology and poor leadership from the Joseon government and generals led to the destruction of much of the Korean peninsula. However, continued Korean dominance at sea led by Admiral Yi, the rise of local militias, and the intervention of Ming China put Japan under great pressure to retreat in 1598.
Today, Admiral Yi is celebrated as one of Korea’s foremost heroes and his turtle ships, used with great success against the Japanese, are considered the world’s first ironclad warships, although lack of hard evidence of iron plating sparks much debate.
During the last years of the Joseon Dynasty, Korea’s isolationist policy earned it the name the “Hermit Kingdom”, primarily for protection against Western imperialism. In 1910, Korea was annexed by Japan and despite widespread resistance, remained under occupation until the end of World War II in 1945. the two countris are divied by the d.n.v.
In the aftermath of World War II, Soviet Union and United States troops controlled the northern and southern halves of the country respectively. The two Cold War rivals established governments sympathetic to their own ideologies, leading to Korea’s division into two political entities: North Korea and South Korea.
Despite the initial plan of a unified Korea in the 1943 Cairo Declaration, escalating Cold War antagonism eventually led to the establishment of two separate governments: the communist North and the capitalist South. In the North, a former anti-Japanese guerilla and communist activist, Kim Il-sung and in the South, freshly shipped from America, Syngman Rhee were installed as presidents.
On June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded the South leading to the Korean War. The Soviet boycott of the United Nations at the time, and therefore, no veto, allowed the UN to intervene when it became apparent that the superior communist forces would easily take over the entire country. The Soviet Union and China backed North Korea, with the participation of millions of Chinese troops. After huge advances on both sides, the war eventually reached a stalemate. The 1953 armistice, never signed by South Korea, split the peninsula along the demilitarized zone near the original demarcation line. No peace treaty was ever signed, and the two countries are still technically at war.
In 1960, a student uprising led to the resignation of the autocratic and corrupt President Syngman Rhee. A period of profound civil unrest and general political instability followed, broken by General Park Chung-hee’s military coup (the “5.16 coup d’état”) against the weak and ineffectual government the next year. Park took over as president until his assassination in 1979, overseeing rapid export-led economic growth as well as severe political repression. Park is heavily criticized as a ruthless military dictator, although the Korean economy developed significantly during his tenure.
The years after Park’s assassination were marked by, again, considerable political turmoil as the previously repressed opposition leaders all campaigned to run for president in the sudden political void. In 1980, there was a coup d’état, by General Chun Doo-hwan against the transitional government of Choi Gyu Ha, the interim president and a former prime minister under Park. Chun assumed the presidency. His seizure of power triggered nationwide protest demanding democracy, in particular the city of Gwangju, in Jeollanam-do where Chun sent in special forces to violently suppress the city, in what is now known as the Gwangju Massacre. Until 1987, he and his government held Korea under despotic rule when Park Jong Chul — a student attending Seoul National University — was tortured to death. The Catholic Priests’ Association for Justice revealed that Park was tortured, igniting huge demonstrations around the country. The demonstrations snowballed when another student from Yonsei University, Lee Han Yeol, was killed by a police-fired tear gas bomb while he was demonstrating against the military government. The period of resistance is called the Resistance of June when all joined the national movement. Eventually, Chun’s party, the Democratic Justice Party, and its leader, Roh Tae-woo announced the June 29th Declaration, which included the direct election of the president.
In 1988, Seoul hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics, a cause of both national and international celebration in contrast to great turmoil of the past. In 1996, South Korea became a member of the OECD, a testament to further economic growth. As with many of its Asian neighbors, South Korea suffered the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, but the country was able to re-emerge and continue its growth towards a major economic power after a swift recovery.
In June 2000, as part of South Korean president Kim Dae-jung’s Sunshine Policy of engagement, a North-South summit took place in Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea. That year, Former President Kim received the Nobel Peace Prize “for his work for democracy and human rights in South Korea and in East Asia in general, and for peace and reconciliation with North Korea in particular.”
In 2004, South Korea joined the “trillion dollar club” of world economies.
Location: Eastern Asia, southern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea
Geographic coordinates: 37 00 N, 127 30 E
Map references: Asia
Area: total: 98,480 sq km
land: 98,190 sq km
water: 290 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than Indiana
Land boundaries: total: 238 km
border countries: North Korea 238 km
Coastline: 2,413 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm; between 3 nm and 12 nm in the Korea Strait
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: not specified
Climate: temperate, with rainfall heavier in summer than winter
Terrain: mostly hills and mountains; wide coastal plains in west and south
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Sea of Japan 0 m
highest point: Halla-san 1,950 m
Natural resources: coal, tungsten, graphite, molybdenum, lead, hydropower potential
Land use: arable land: 16.58%
permanent crops: 2.01%
other: 81.41% (2005)
Irrigated land: 8,780 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 69.7 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 18.59 cu km/yr (36%/16%/48%)
per capita: 389 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: occasional typhoons bring high winds and floods; low-level seismic activity common in southwest
Environment – current issues: air pollution in large cities; acid rain; water pollution from the discharge of sewage and industrial effluents; drift net fishing
Environment – international agreements: party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: strategic location on Korea Strait
In its foreign relations, South Korea has main strategic interests in North Korea and the neighboring nations of China, Japan, and Russia, as well as its main ally, the United States.
The United States of America was the primary driver in the establishment and initial sustainment of the South Korean government before and after the Korean War. The two nations have enjoyed both strong economic and diplomatic ties after the Korean War, although they have often been at odds with regard to their policies towards North Korea during former president Kim Dae Jung and Roh Moo-Hyun’s terms. There was a spike of anti-American sentiment, although US-Korea relations have steadily improved since the election of current president Lee Myung Bak. In April 2007, Korea concluded a Free Trade Agreement with the United States, but that agreement still awaits ratification by the legislatures of both countries.
Historically, Korea had relatively close relations with China. Before the formation of South Korea, Korean independence fighters also worked with Chinese soldiers during the period of Japanese occupation. However, after World War II, the Chinese embraced communism while South Korea became a representative democracy with the help of the United Nations and the United States. The People’s Republic of China assisted North Korea with manpower and supplies during the Korean War, and in its aftermath the diplomatic relationship between South Korea and China almost completely ceased. Relations thawed gradually however, and South Korea and China established formal diplomatic relations on August 24, 1992. The two countries sought to improve bilateral relations and lifted the forty-year old trade embargo, and Korea-China relations have improved steadily since 1992.
Although there were no formal diplomatic ties between South Korea and Japan after the Korean War, South Korea and Japan signed the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea in 1965 to establish diplomatic ties. There is still heavy anti-Japanese sentiment in South Korea due to a number of unsettled Japanese-Korean disputes, many of which stem from the period of Japanese occupation. During World War II, more than 100,000 Koreans were forced to serve in the Imperial Japanese Army. Longstanding issues such as Japanese war crimes against Korean civilians, the visits by Japanese politicians to the Yasukuni Shrine honoring Japanese soldiers killed at war, including class A war criminals like Hideki Tojo, the re-writing of Japanese textbooks to overlook Japanese aggression during World War II, and the territorial disputes over Liancourt Rocks continue to trouble Korean-Japanese relations. In response to then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s repeated visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, President Roh Moo-hyun suspended all summit talks between South Korea and Japan. Presently, South Korea and Japan’s political relations are unstable but thawing progressively, and the newly-elected President of Korea, Lee Myung-Bak, held a summit meeting with Yasuo Fukuda, the current Prime Minister of Japan.
Both North and South Korea continue to officially claim sovereignty over the entire peninsula and any outlying islands. With longstanding animosity following the Korean War from 1950 to 1953, North Korea and South Korea signed an agreement to pursue peace. On October 4, 2007, Roh Moo-Hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il signed an eight-point peace agreement on issues of permanent peace, high-level talks, economic cooperation, renewal of train services, highway and air travel, and a joint Olympic cheering squad.
Despite the Sunshine Policy and efforts at reconciliation, the progress was complicated by North Korean missile tests in 1993, 1998, and again in 2006. Recently, North Korea agreed to temporarily suspend its pursuit of a nuclear weapons program for economic and diplomatic support, although some Korean and American officials criticized the North for not being fully cooperative in its temporary suspension of a nuclear weapons program.
South Korea maintains diplomatic relations with approximately 170 countries. The country has also been a member of the United Nations since 1991, when it became a member state at the same time as North Korea. On January 1, 2007, South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon assumed the post of UN Secretary-General. It has also developed links with Association of Southeast Asian Nations as both a member of ASEAN Plus three, a body of observers, and the East Asia Summit (EAS).
There is an ongoing effort at negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union, the second largest importer of Korean goods. South Korea is also negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with Canada.
Population: 49,232,844 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 17.7% (male 4,579,018/female 4,157,631)
15-64 years: 72.3% (male 18,150,771/female 17,464,610)
65 years and over: 9.9% (male 1,997,032/female 2,883,782) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 36.4 years
male: 35.3 years
female: 37.4 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.371% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 9.83 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 6.12 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: NA (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.08 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.1 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 5.94 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 6.33 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 5.53 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 77.42 years
male: 74 years
female: 81.1 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.29 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 8,300 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: less than 200 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Korean(s)
Ethnic groups: homogeneous (except for about 20,000 Chinese)
Religions: Christian 26.3% (Protestant 19.7%, Roman Catholic 6.6%), Buddhist 23.2%, other or unknown 1.3%, none 49.3% (1995 census)
Languages: Korean, English widely taught in junior high and high school
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.9%
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Some say last week’s cancellation of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s trip to Pyongyang signaled a breakdown in the U.S.–North Korean disarmament talks, but this misses three much larger points, which go way beyond Korea and speak to the failings of President Trump’s foreign policy as a whole.
First, the talks were never going anywhere to begin with; there is nothing to break down.
Second, the Trump administration’s policy on North Korea is in complete chaos.
Third, the reason it’s in chaos is that Trump himself has no idea that it is in chaos, or that the talks have been moribund from their beginning, or that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is taking him for a ride and everyone knows it, except Trump.
This jolted close observers. The day before, Pompeo had hired Steve Biegun, a Ford Motors executive who had worked in George W. Bush’s National Security Council, to be his special envoy to North Korea. The trip was to be their maiden voyage as a team. But then North Korea’s chief negotiator (and former top spy) Kim Yong-chol sent Pompeo a belligerently toned letter, which suggested to the secretary—who persuaded Trump—that a trip would be pointless. Hence Trump’s tweet.
If that had been Trump’s only tweet, it might have been a shrewd move. In past negotiations, North Koreans get cranky as a way of testing their interlocutors; a piss-off note from Trump might have compelled a concession, even if just a superficial one.
But Trump didn’t stop there. He proceeded to blame the lack of progress not on the North Koreans but rather on the Chinese, who, “because of our much tougher Trading stance,” are not “helping with the process of denuclearization as they once were.”
If Kim had been concerned for a moment that his bluff had been called and that the Americans were about to get tough, Trump’s final tweet allayed his worries—and perhaps made him laugh. It assured Kim that he can continue stalling on disarmament—that he can do almost anything he wants—without facing any punishment because, like other autocrats who have learned the art of dealing with Trump, he’s bamboozled our narcissistic president into thinking that the two of them are friends.
At their June summit in Singapore, Trump and Kim signed a one-page “joint statement,” which Trump hailed as a pledge—he later even called it a “contract”—to “denuclearize” North Korea. In fact, as anyone who has ever read an international communiqué could tell (a group that clearly did not include Trump), it was nothing of the sort.
A few weeks before that summit, Trump tweeted that he was canceling it, in response to a typically nasty North Korean press release—then put it back on the calendar after Pyongyang officials put out a “very nice statement,” as Trump described it. That was no doubt the first sign—reinforced by his latest cancellation with warm regards—that Trump is a pushover.
Not only does Kim seem to know this—so does practically everyone in the Trump administration.
Daniel Sneider, lecturer on Asian studies at Stanford University and a seasoned international journalist, reported this week that U.S. officials who are working this issue have the following aims: to contain Kim so he doesn’t expand his nuclear arsenal, to contain Chinese President Xi Jinping so he keeps enforcing economic sanctions against Kim’s regime; to contain South Korean President Moon Jae-in so he doesn’t rush forth with massive economic projects in the North before Kim makes good on nuclear disarmament, and, most important, to contain their own boss, President Trump, from giving away the store.
Kim has bamboozled our narcissistic president into thinking that the two of them arefriends.
At the summit in Singapore, Kim asked Trump to suspend America’s joint military exercises with South Korea, and Trump obliged him—without first consulting South Korea, Japan, or his own secretary of defense, Jim Mattis, who were all surprised by the move. At a press conference today, Mattis said, “We have no plans at this time to suspend any more exercises.”
Of course, the key words here are “no plans at this time.” Mattis didn’t have plans to suspend the last exercise either. Mattis may have lots of plans; Trump makes the decisions—if he becomes aware of the plans. This may be one reason Mattis is keeping a low profile these days: He doesn’t always want Trump to know precisely what he’s doing.
The same is true of the officials working North Korean policy. Their No. 1 goal, at the moment, is to keep Trump from having another summit with Kim. This is what terrifies them about Trump’s final tweet. (“I look forward to seeing him soon!”) None of these officials, including Pompeo, wanted Pompeo to make the trip to Pyongyang. They knew it would go nowhere, and they knew Trump would infer from the failure that only he could solve the problem by sitting down with his friend Kim and asking him, as a favor, to help break through the logjam.
This is how Trump thinks international politics works. Back in June, when he proposed letting Russia back into the G-8, he explained his thinking: “If Vladimir Putin were sitting next to me at a table … I could say, ‘Would you do me a favor and get out of Syria? Would you do me a favor, would you get out of Ukraine?’ ” Soon after this bizarre remark, Trump held his infamous summit with Putin and, whatever else happened (this remains a mystery), no such favors were granted.
We don’t know what other concessions Trump made in his one-on-one session with Kim in Singapore (or, for that matter, his one-on-one with Putin in Helsinki). Kim claims that Trump said he would sign a peace treaty, ending the 1950–53 Korean War (which has been in a state of cease-fire these past 65 years, but not a formal peace). As a result, ever since, North Korean negotiators have demanded a treaty before they take any steps to dismantle their nuclear arsenal. Pompeo rejected that demand the last time he was in Pyongyang. According to Sneider’s account, Kim Yong-chol, the North Korean negotiator, held up a cellphone and taunted Pompeo, saying, “Why don’t you call your president.”
Before Trump canceled the meeting, Pompeo had planned to offer Kim a deal: The United States would declare a willingness to negotiate a peace treaty if North Korea declared the number and location of its nuclear facilities. Pompeo was going to do this without first having his negotiators test it on their counterparts. U.S. officials now say Kim would have rejected it. He would probably reject any offer, knowing that Trump would respond by offering more.
The way Kim is believed to see it, Trump wants a deal—wants to be seen as a peacemaker—more than anything, especially before the 2020 (or even this year’s midterm)elections. If Trump had read his own book, much less written it, he would know that you should never appear to want a deal too eagerly. He is violating that basic principle.
Pompeo is proving to be a better secretary of state than his hapless predecessor, Rex Tillerson, in the sense that he sees the value of filling his department’s empty slots with competent people and letting them do their work.
But Trump keeps undercutting their efforts, and Pompeo—an ambitious ex-congressman who got this job by kowtowing to Trump’s political needs while he was CIA director and who is too keen to maintain his access to the White House—will go only so far to rein the boss in. He convinced Trump to call off the trip, but he is too cowed to tell Trump that his policy, his understanding of the joint statement, and his view of Kim are all wrong.
Meanwhile, national security adviser John Bolton, who came into office with a clear record of wanting to bomb North Korea (and Iran), seems to be sitting back, waiting for the roses to wilt and for Trump to realize that Kim is not a friend and will never disarm, before pouncing into action.
For the moment, though, Trump’s reality is whatever reality that grooms and praises Trump. He’s not interested in any other reality. He thinks the polls show that he’s popular. He thinks the leaders of the world respect him. At 10:02 on Tuesday morning, he Googled “Trump” and “news,” saw that almost all the entries were unfavorable, inferred that the search algorithm was “RIGGED,” and tweeted that regulations should be considered.
Meanwhile, the real world follows its own dynamics, Trump is steadily divorcing himself from reality, but, as president, he still has an oversize impact on what really happens. That’s the danger. The pity, and potentially the tragedy, is that many of those around him know this and are doing little about it.
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North Korean officials insist that the country is committed to the Singapore agreement, which expressed a need for the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
A confidential United Nations report argues that North Korea “has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs” and continues to engage in illicit activities in violation of UN sanctions resolutions.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo remains optimistic but notes that North Korea’s behavior is “inconsistent” with the pledge North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made to US President Donald Trump at their summit in Singapore.
North Korean officials insist the country is committed to upholding the provisions of the Singapore agreement signed by US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June, but a confidential United Nations report reveals that North Korea “has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs.”
“The [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] stands firm in its determination and commitment for implementing the DPRK-US Joint Statement in a responsible and good-faith manner,” North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong Ho said Saturday, arguing that North Korea has demonstrated its goodwill through the moratorium on weapons testing and the dismantling of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site.
North Korea has also released American hostages and began dismantling parts of the Sohae Satellite Launch Station, a facility believed to have played a prominent role in the engine development for one of the new intercontinental ballistic missiles tested for the first time last year. But while Pyongyang has taken certain presumably positive steps, it remains a good distance from reaching the Trump administration’s desired outcome — denuclearization and disarmament. In fact, evidence suggests that North Korea may be moving in the other direction.
A 149-page report analyzing the implementation of United Nations sanctions over a six-month period was submitted to the United Nations Security Council’s North Korea sanctions committee late Friday. North Korea “has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs and continues to defy Security Council resolutions through a massive increase in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products, as well as through transfers of coal at sea during 2018,” the document put together by a team of independent experts stated, according to Reuters.
In recent weeks, North Korea has been spotted engaging in activities that cast doubt on its commitment to denuclearize. They include producing possible liquid-fueled ICBMs at a location in Sanum-dong,increasing nuclear fuel production at secret enrichment sites like Kangson, making key infrastructure improvements at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center, and expanding an important facility in Hamhung dedicated to the development of solid-fueled ballistic missiles.
It is not just the weapons programs that are troubling, though. The United Nations report notes that not only has North Korea been collaborating with Syria’s military and attempting to sell weapons to the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, but illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum have “increased in scope, scale and sophistication.”
North Korean vessels were involved in at least 89 illegal ship-to-ship transfers between January 1 and May 30, which resulted in the country importing as much as three times the amount permitted by the United Nations, NK News reported , citing US data.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Friday that North Korea’s behavior is inconsistent with Kim Jong Un’s promise to the president.
“Chairman Kim made a commitment to denuclearize,” Pompeo said , “The world demanded that they do so in the UN Security Council resolutions. To the extent they are behaving in a manner inconsistent with that, they are a) in violation of one or both the United Nations Security Council resolutions, and
b) we can see we still have a ways to go to achieve the ultimate outcome we’re looking for.”
Speaking at the Asian Regional Forum Retreat Session in Singapore Saturday, Pompeo urged Southeast Asian nations to maintain the pressure on North Korea by fully implementing sanctions. At the same event, the North Korean foreign minister said Pyongyang is alarmed by US attitudes.
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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – North Korea has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs in violation of United Nations sanctions, according to a confidential U.N. report seen by Reuters on Friday.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Pyongyang Trolley Bus Factory and the Bus Repair Factory in Pyongyang, North Korea in this photo released August 4, 2018 by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency. KCNA/ via REUTERS
The six-month report by independent experts monitoring the implementation of U.N. sanctions was submitted to the Security Council North Korea sanctions committee late on Friday.
“(North Korea) has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs and continued to defy Security Council resolutions through a massive increase in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products, as well as through transfers of coal at sea during 2018,” the experts wrote in the 149-page report.
The North Korean mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment on the report.
The U.N report said North Korea is cooperating militarily with Syria and has been trying to sell weapons to Yemen’s Houthis.
Pyongyang also violated a textile ban by exporting more than $100 million in goods between October 2017 and March 2018 to China, Ghana, India, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey and Uruguay, the report said.
The report comes as Russia and China suggest the Security Council discuss easing sanctions after U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met for the first time in June and Kim pledged to work toward denuclearization.
The United States and other council members have said there must be strict enforcement of sanctions until Pyongyang acts.
The U.N. experts said illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products in international waters had “increased in scope, scale and sophistication.” They said a key North Korean technique was to turn off a ship’s tracking system, but that they were also physically disguising ships and using smaller vessels.
The Security Council has unanimously sanctioned North Korea since 2006 in a bid to choke off funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, banning exports including coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, and capping imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.
The experts said “prohibited military cooperation with the Syrian Arab Republic has continued unabated.” They said North Korean technicians engaged in ballistic missile and other banned activities have visited Syria in 2011, 2016 and 2017.
The report said that experts were investigating efforts by the North Korean Ministry of Military Equipment and Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID) to supply conventional arms and ballistic missiles to Yemen’s Houthi group.
A country, which was not identified, showed the experts a July 13, 2016 letter from a Houthi leader inviting the North Koreans to meet in Damascus “to discuss the issue of the transfer of technology and other matters of mutual interest,” according to the report.
The experts said that the effectiveness of financial sanctions was being systematically undermined by “deceptive practices” of North Korea.
Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Chris Sanders and Toni Reinhold