South Korea’s President, Mr. Moon Is Being Played For A Fool!!!

 

 

As most folks know, the Winter Olympics are being staged in South Korea right now. South Korea’s President, Mr. Moon appears to be being ‘played’ for a fool by the Kim family of North Korea during these games. There is a small athletic delegation from the North that are participating as we speak. Among the non-athletes of the North’s delegation is the sister of Kim Jung Un, the mass murdering vicious Dictator self-proclaimed ‘Living God’. The out of touch with reality President of South Korea has welcomed the visitors from the North with open arms. Personally I do not have a problem with allowing the athletics from the North to participate, but it should be under their own flag. Mr. Moon decided that instead of South Korean athletics and the Country of South Korea using the South Korean Flag they are using a ‘unification’ flag and allowing the North Koreans to participate as part of a ‘one Korea’ team. Thus many athletics from the South who have spent many years working their selves half to death to make their Country’s Olympic Team got ‘bumped’ off the team so the unqualified North members could take their place. I say unqualified because to become a member of a country’s team you must have gone through many different qualifying events and either winning them or placing very, very high in those contest. The North’s athletics did none of these things, they were just handed the spots by the insistence of the South Korean President. Now if in team events ‘South Korea’ is able to win a metal, North Koreans also get that metal to take back home for Kim Jung Un to brag about.

 

Enough of the Olympic’s part of this article, now down to the meat of what I am writing to you about tonight. Kim Jung Un’s sister at the direction of her brother has offered President Moon an invitation to visit him in North Korea. The North Korean delegation has been putting on what has been widely referred to as a ‘charm’ campaign this past two months. Mr. Kim of North Korea has widely made it known that he wants the two Korea’s to be ‘unified’, yet the unification is to be under his command with himself as the one and only Leader of the Korean Peninsula. Folks, this is something that the extreme majority of the citizens of South Korea do not want to ever see happen.

 

What is going on is very obvious. The UN has put a lot of sanctions on the Kim government because of their missile program and the firing of ICBM’s as well as their Nuclear Program that Mr. Kim says he will never ever give up. A ‘show’ of Mr. Kim’s intentions was obvious when the North Koreans asked the South Korean government to give them the fuel that would be needed for the ship the North Korean delegation was going to use to make the very, very short trip to the South. Kim is playing the poor, poor pitiful me song and dance trying to get pity from the South Koreans and from the UN. For years the people of North Korea have been starving to death as the very fat Kim Jung Un who just keeps getting fatter and fatter himself. If Kim Jung Un can get the very liberal President Moon to start sending food and oil to the North, that would be a huge win for Mr. Kim. If Mr. Kim can convince the very liberal and gullible President Moon to break the UN sanctions all together, then Russia and China would do the same. What if Mr. Kim can play sweet toward Mr. Moon and could convince him to throw the American military forces out of South Korea and to quit doing military exercises with the U.S. and to quit allowing U.S. ships to use South Korean Ports. It is obvious that the next thing would be the North Korean Army storming the South Korean’s thus unifying the Peninsula under Mr. Kim’s control. Of course this is if Mr. Kim cannot convince President Moon to do this voluntarily. Let’s all give this ongoing situation about  100 days, lets say until June 1st to see how this all shakes out. Another option of course would be if Mr. Kim gets President Moon up North and lets him know if the two Countries do not unite as one that he (Mr. Kim) will nuke the South ‘off the map’. Lets see what the History Books will be saying about this next 100 days. As a very dear old friend of mine used to say, “we shall see, what we shall see”.

South Korea: Hospital Fire Kills At Least 37

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) South Korea’s deadliest fire in almost a decade has ripped through a hospital in the city of Miryang, killing at least 37 people and injuring more than 100.

Authorities revised the death toll down from 39 on Friday afternoon, but a Miryang City official warned it could rise as at least 18 patients remained in critical condition.
The fire comes less than a month after a similar tragedy left 29 dead in the city of Jecheon, raising concerns over lax safety standards in the country.
Officials said they were still investigating the cause of Friday’s fire, which is believed to have started around 7:20 a.m. local time in the emergency room on the first floor of the 98-bed Sejong Hospital.

Rescue workers remove bodies from a hospital fire on Friday, January 26, in Miryang, South Korea.

Rescue services took three hours to completely extinguish the flames, which engulfed the first two floors of the six-story building in Miryang, which is about 270 kilometers (168 miles) southeast of the capital, Seoul.
close dialog
Receive Fareed Zakaria’s Global Analysis
including insights and must-reads of world news
Activate Fareed’s Briefing
By subscribing you agree to our
privacy policy.
Sprinklers were not installed in the building due to its small size, the hospital’s chairman, Son Kyung-chul, told reporters.

Patients had breathing problems, difficulty walking

The hospital’s director bowed in apology to the patients and victim’s families during the briefing. Seok Gyeong-sik also said he would do his best to take care of the incident.

A person injured in the fire is carried to safety Friday in Miryang, South Korea.

The majority of those killed in the blaze are believed to be elderly patients, said Chun Jae-kyung, head of the public medical center in Miryang.
“Because the hospital had many intensive care units and elderly patients, there were a lot of people with breathing problems,” Chun said. Most of the deaths were due to smoke inhalation.

Firefighters work to put out the blaze Friday as smoke billows from the Sejong Hospital.

The hospital is adjacent to a nursing home and shares many of the same facilities. All the patients inside the nursing home were rescued, authorities confirmed.
Footage aired on local TV showed emergency workers battling the blaze, as hospital staff rushed to evacuate patients, carrying those unable to walk on their backs.
Kim Dae-hyun, the owner of a shop next to the hospital, told CNN that many of the patients at the dual medical facility were in their 80s and 90s and were unable to walk without help.
By late afternoon Friday, emergency personnel had posed a list of names identifying the victims onto a wall close to the hospital. Patients’ family members crowded to check the pages.

Fire safety rules questioned

For many in South Korea, Friday’s blaze will bring back painful memories of 2014, when a fire at a nursing home in the southern county of Jangseong killed 21 patients, many of whom were left trapped due to their inability to escape unaided.
The recent spate of deadly fires in South Korea has led to questions over the government’s ability to enforce sufficient safety measures.

Rescue workers remove a survivor from the hospital fire Friday in Miryang, South Korea.

Two men were arrested following the deadly building fire in December that killed 29 people. The building’s owner is accused of violating fire safety regulations and committing involuntary homicide by negligence. The building’s manager is accused of involuntary homicide.
That fire is suspected to have started in a parked vehicle on the ground floor and quickly consumed the eight-story building. Many of the bodies were found in a public bath on the second floor.
After Friday’s fire, South Korean President Moon Jae-in called an emergency staff meeting. In a statement, Moon promised to quickly identify the cause of the fire in order “to prevent the recurrence of the fire in the future.”

32 Missing After Ships Collide Off China’s Coast

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

 

The Panama-registered tanker "Sanchi" is seen ablaze after a collision with a Hong Kong-registered freighter off China's eastern coast on Jan. 7, 2018
The Panama-registered tanker “Sanchi” is seen ablaze after a collision with a Hong Kong-registered freighter off China’s eastern coast on Jan. 7, 2018
Korea Coast Guard/AP

By GERRY SHIH / AP

9:49 AM EST

(BEIJING) — An Iranian oil tanker collided with a bulk freighter and caught fire off China’s east coast, leaving the tanker’s entire crew of 32 missing and causing it to spill oil into the sea, authorities said Sunday.

Chinese authorities dispatched police vessels and three cleaning ships to the scene after the collision, which happened late Saturday. The South Korean coast guard also sent a ship and a plane to help search for the missing crew members — 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis.

The Panama-registered tanker Sanchi was sailing from Iran to South Korea when it collided with the Hong Kong-registered freighter CF Crystal in the East China Sea, 257 kilometers (160 miles) off the coast of Shanghai, China’s Ministry of Transport said.

All 21 crew members of the Crystal, which was carrying grain from the United States, were rescued, the ministry said. The Crystal’s crew members were all Chinese nationals.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the collision.

State-run China Central Television reported Sunday evening that the tanker was still floating and burning, and that oil was visible in the water.

It was not clear, however, whether the tanker was still spilling oil. The size of the oil slick caused by the accident also was not known.

Earlier Sunday, Chinese state media carried pictures of the tanker on fire with large plumes of smoke.

The Sanchi was carrying 136,000 metric tons (150,000 tons, or nearly 1 million barrels) of condensate, a type of ultra-light oil, according to Chinese authorities.

By comparison, the Exxon Valdez was carrying 1.26 million barrels of crude oil when it spilled 260,000 barrels into Prince William Sound off Alaska in 1989.

The Sanchi has operated under five different names since it was built in 2008, according the U.N.-run International Maritime Organization. The IMO listed its registered owner as Hong Kong-based Bright Shipping Ltd., on behalf of the National Iranian Tanker Co., a publicly traded company based in Tehran. The National Iranian Tanker Co. describes itself as operating the largest tanker fleet in the Middle East.

An official in Iran’s Oil Ministry, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters, said 30 of the tanker’s 32 crew members were Iranians.

“We have no information on their fate,” he said. “We cannot say all of them have died, because rescue teams are there and providing services.”

The official said the tanker was owned by the National Iranian Tanker Co. and had been rented by a South Korean company, Hanwha Total Co. He said the tanker was on its way to South Korea.

Hanwa Total is a 50-50 partnership between the Seoul-based Hanwha Group and the French oil giant Total. Total did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It’s the second collision for a ship from the National Iranian Tanker Co. in less than a year and a half. In August 2016, one of its tankers collided with a Swiss container ship in the Singapore Strait, damaging both ships but causing no injuries or oil spill.

SPONSORED FINANCIAL CONTENT

South Korea seizes ship it claims transferred oil to North Korea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

South Korea seizes ship it claims transferred oil to North Korea

Seoul (CNN)South Korea has seized a Hong Kong-registered ship that allegedly transferred oil to a North Korean vessel in violation of United Nations sanctions.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry said the Lighthouse Winmore left the port of Yeosu in South Korea carrying refined oil which was then transferred to a North Korean ship in international waters on October 19.
The US Treasury Department released satellite imagery in November of two ships allegedly performing an illegal ship-to-ship transfer in international waters on the same day.

Satellite imagery the US says shows a ship-to-ship transfer, possibly of oil, between two vessels in an effort to evade sanctions on North Korea.

It identified one of the ships as a sanctioned North Korean vessel, the Rye Song Gang 1, but did not name the other. South Korean officials could not confirm Friday if the second ship was the Lighthouse Winmore.
“UN Security Council sanctions prohibit the transfer of anything to a North Korean ship,” a South Korean Foreign Ministry official told CNN, adding the Lighthouse Winmore was seized when it re-entered Yeosu on November 24.
close dialog
Receive Fareed Zakaria’s Global Analysis
including insights and must-reads of world news
Activate Fareed’s Briefing
By subscribing you agree to our
privacy policy.
President Trump said Beijing had been “caught red-handed,” after the satellite images were republished in South Korean media earlier this week.
South Korea said the Lighthouse Winmore and its crew were still in South Korean custody and under investigation. There were 23 Chinese nationals and two Burmese nationals on board the ship, officials said, adding they would be permitted to leave only when the investigation was concluded.
China has denied breaching UN sanctions on North Korea.
The Lighthouse Winmore was one of 10 ships the US asked the UN to ban from international ports this month over its alleged dealings with North Korea, according to Reuters.
That move came after the UN blacklisted four ships in October, including one that was caught smuggling 30,000 North Korean-made rocket-propelled grenades in 2016.
According to South Korea, the Lighthouse Winmore was being leased by a Taiwanese company, the Billions Bunker Group, and was en route to Taiwan when it made a ship-to-ship transfer of its oil cargo to four ships, including one North Korean ship.
“This is one of the main ways in which North Korea uses an illegal network to circumvent UN Security Council sanctions,” the South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said. It is customary in South Korea that officials do not give their names.
The Hong Kong government said in a statement Friday it had noted media reports that the Lighthouse Winmore had been seized. “We are liaising with the Korean parties concerned to obtain further information about the incident, and will take appropriate actions as necessary,” the statement said.

‘Very disappointed’ in China

China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Friday reiterated that Beijing is enforcing all UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea, aimed at curbing Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear weapons development.
In an interview with the New York Times published Thursday, Trump claimed “oil is going into North Korea” and appeared to blame China, saying if Beijing fails to put pressure on Pyongyang then the US may take punitive economic actions against Beijing.
“China on trade has ripped off this country more than any other element of the world in history has ripped off anything,” Trump said.
“If they don’t help us with North Korea, then I do what I’ve always said I want to do. China can help us much more, and they have to help us much more.”
He added: “China’s hurting us very badly on trade, but I have been soft on China because the only thing more important to me than trade is war.”

Trump: 'disappointed' China allowing oil into NK

Trump: ‘disappointed’ China allowing oil into NK
A senior US State Department official told CNN Thursday the US is “aware that certain vessels have engaged in UN-prohibited activities, including ship-to-ship transfers of refined petroleum and the transport of coal from North Korea.”
“We have evidence that some of the vessels engaged in these activities are owned by companies in several countries, including China,” the official said. “We condemn these acts and hope that any UNSC members, including China, work more closely together to shut down smuggling activities.”
Pyongyang has for years used deceptive shipping practices to help bring in revenue for the country’s regime, analysts say, and the US has called for more to be done to crackdown on ships transporting goods to and from North Korea.
UN Security Council resolutions passed this year stipulate “all Member States shall prohibit the entry into their ports of such designated vessels,” save for some circumstances, including in emergencies or if they are granted humanitarian exceptions by the UN.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the date of the seizure as December 24.

South Korea’s President Says the Agreement With Japan on Historic Sex Slavery Has ‘Serious Flaws’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME)

 

By KIM TONG-HYUNG / AP

10:58 PM EST

(SEOUL, South Korea) — South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Thursday the country’s 2015 agreement with Japan to settle a decades-long impasse over Korean women forced into wartime sexual slavery was seriously flawed.

Moon’s statement in which he vows unspecified follow-up measures to meet the victims’ demands potentially throws the future of the deal in doubt, two years after both countries declared it as “final and irreversible.”

The statement came a day after a state-appointed panel concluded that Seoul’s previous conservative government failed to properly communicate with the victims before reaching the deal.

The panel also said parts of the deal were not made public, including Japanese demands that the South Korean government avoid using the term “sexual slavery” and provide a specific plan to remove a bronze statue representing sex slaves in front of its Seoul embassy. South Korea in response said it would formerly refer to the victims as “victims of Japanese military comfort stations” but didn’t make a clear promise to remove the statue, according to the panel.

“It has been confirmed that the 2015 comfort women negotiation between South Korea had serious flaws, both in process and content,” Moon said in a statement read out by his spokesman.

“Despite the burden of the past agreement being a formal promise between governments that was ratified by the leaders of both countries, I, as president and with the Korean people, once again firmly state that this agreement does not resolve the issue over comfort women.”

Under the deal, Japan agreed to provide cash payment for the dwindling number of surviving victims, while South Korea said it will try to resolve Japanese grievance over the statue in front of the embassy.

The deal came under heavy criticism in South Korea where many thought the government settled for far too less. Japan has been angry that South Korea hasn’t taken specific steps to remove the statue and similar monuments in other places in the country, insisting there has been a clear understanding to do so.

The Foreign Ministry said government officials will hold extensive discussions with victims and experts before deciding whether to pursue changes to the deal. Japanese officials have said a renegotiation is unacceptable.

Some experts see it as unlikely that Moon’s government will spark a full-blown diplomatic row with Japan by scrapping the deal when the allies face pressing needs to form a strong united front against North Korea’s growing nuclear threat.

Historians say tens of thousands of women from around Asia, many of them Korean, were sent to front-line military brothels to provide sex to Japanese soldiers during World War II.

 

Ask a North Korean: What was your first Christmas in South Korea like?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NK (NORTH KOREAN) NEWS.ORG)(FROM SOUTH KOREA)

 

Ask a North Korean: What was your first Christmas in South Korea like?
“Just two years ago, the holiday known as Christmas felt awkward to me …”

December 25th, 2017

Every week or so, we ask a North Korean your questions, giving you the chance to learn more about the country we know so little about.

Got a question? Email it to [email protected] with your name and city. We’ll be publishing the best ones.

Today’s question: What was your first Christmas in South Korea like?

I hear Christmas carols all around me. My third Christmas is coming up. Now, I can hum to Christmas tunes, and from time to time, the thought of putting up a Christmas tree pops into my mind.

Just two years ago, the holiday known as Christmas felt awkward to me, and it was not easy to enjoy the Christmas mood. Perhaps this makes sense for someone who never waited for Santa Clause who brings gifts with Rudolf the reindeer.

In general, a holiday celebrates traditions and history that have become a part of society. It is hard to enjoy a holiday without understanding the cultural context. A Korean person would find it difficult to enjoy Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. just as an American would struggle to enjoy Korea’s Chuseok holiday.

Even though North Korea has walled itself off from the rest of the world, in the end, Christmas is not an unfamiliar holiday. Works of world literature like Hans Christian Anderson’s sad story “The Little Match Girl” and O. Henry’s heartwarming tale of Jim and Della in “The Gift of the Magi” have introduced Christmas to North Korea.

I will introduce how my first Christmas day went, but I must apologize: this is not the most delightful story

Still, for someone who has never waited for gifts from Santa prepared by devoted parents, or for someone who never spent his adolescence falling into romantic imaginations before the Christmas season, it takes some time to naturally and fully enjoy this holiday.

Then how was my first Christmas? I will introduce how my first Christmas day went, but I must apologize: this is not the most delightful story. Despite this, the reason I decided to tell this story is that I felt that maybe I could encourage people to feel a responsibility to make Christmas warm for others and for themselves.

In December 2015, I was turning the sixth page of my calendar in South Korea. Defection had done more than just change my physical location. I felt as though I had traveled to South Korea on a defection time machine, arriving in a world some thirty years ahead.

“And the time passed so fast!” | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

My humor was more effective with older people than people my age, and I mostly enjoyed old songs from the 70s and 80s. And how time passed so fast! Even after I sharply reduced the number of hours I slept each night by four to five hours, I was still always running through the subway.

South Korea’s “hurry hurry” (빨리빨리) culture seemed to fan into flame a spark of hastiness in my mind as I played catch up from thirty years behind. I had the marvelous experience of feeling the relativity of time, even though I had not actually traveled to another planet on a spaceship close to light speed.

A qualitative transformation occurred in my way of thinking from a socialist perspective toward a capitalist one. I would finish my day thinking that yesterday’s thoughts had been infinitely foolish while hoping that tomorrow I would laugh at my thoughts from today.

I felt with my whole body that six months living under capitalism was like my daily life under socialism. This was how much I felt that life in South Korea, at a physical level, demanded a lot.

I am sorry to people around the world who celebrate Christmas, but that day, I cursed Christmas

Amidst all this, I couldn’t decide how to accept everything, and I greeted Christmas abruptly, unready for its arrival.

It felt as if Christmas’s family atmosphere pushed against me ceaselessly. All this time, I had been busy and surrounded by numerous people, but suddenly, there was time to spare and I felt lonely. Paradoxically, I felt the same way as I had when I was desperate to leave North Korea.

To get rid of this feeling, I went to a movie theater alone. But with all the noise of people around me, my sense of alienation multiplied. I felt diminished as some couples around me secretively threw sharp glances.

In the end, I walked out in the middle of the movie – which I don’t even remember the name of – went home, and drank beer while watching soccer.

I am sorry to people around the world who celebrate Christmas, but that day, I cursed Christmas. Truthfully, it was probably deep down a curse at the North Korean regime, which pushes so many of its ordinary citizens out of the country and makes them refugees.

family photo

“We drank to the health of parents and siblings who were left in North Korea and to their happiness in the new year” | Photo by nknews_hq

I decided then: I would never foolishly spend holidays at home alone.

After that, I traveled whenever a holiday approached – alone or together with someone. It is one way to enjoy a holiday. But even the prescription of traveling was inadequate to completely fill the emptiness that was hidden deep inside of me.

One day, it occurred to me that there must be people other than myself who do not like Christmas or holidays. I asked friends who had come from North Korea like me. I was right. They felt the same pain that I felt, but they had simply not expressed it out loud.

Now I can shout “Merry Christmas!” and it does not feel awkward

We spent last Christmas together, and it was fun. We became family for one another. The toast we made while listening to Christmas bells together was not at all frivolous in meaning. We drank to the health of parents and siblings who were left in North Korea and to their happiness in the new year. We shared memories.

Then we promised that we would spend the next Christmas together.

This year, we have a new plan. This Christmas, we want to visit schools that defector children attend. Among these children, there are many who came to South Korea alone, without parents or relatives.

We want to go to these schools and give and receive comfort. We are going to sing Christmas carols and share delicious food together. If the snow has deeply piled up, we are going to make a snowman.

kids photo

“This Christmas, we want to visit schools that defector children attend” | Photo by nknews_hq

The friends with whom I spent last Christmas and their boyfriends or girlfriends will join. New friends will also be there. All these hearts will envelop and hold one another.

Now I can shout “Merry Christmas!” and it does not feel awkward. And I am looking forward to Christmas this year.

I am looking forward as well to the day when North Korean children can happily imagine Santa Claus riding a sleigh led by Rudolf and coming down the chimney carrying gifts.

Translation by Rose Kwak

Edited by Bryan Betts

Featured Image: Christmas #27 by kevin dooley on 2009-12-10 10:20:55

Get North Korea headlines delivered to your inbox daily

Subscribe to the NK News ‘Daily Update’ and get links to must-read stories each morning

US-China Contingency Plans On North Korea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE KOREAN HERALD)

 

[News Focus] US-China contingency plans on NK: what do they mean for South Korea?

By Yeo Jun-suk

  • Published : Dec 21, 2017 – 18:41
  • Updated : Dec 21, 2017 – 18:41
  •     

 In November 1950, the United States and China went to war. It was five months into the Korean War when US troops crossed the 38th parallel, marched toward North Korea and clashed with the Chinese troops coming to the rescue of their communist ally.

The war continued for about three years, costing the lives of 36,000 American troops and more than a quarter of a million Chinese troops. The Korean War came to an end when the two sides agreed to an armistice. South Korea opposed the peace talks and refused to sign the armistice agreement.

With North Korea’s relentless pursuit of a nuclear weapons program raising fear of another major armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula, the two powers appear to be bracing for a possible contingency, but this time the focus is on how to work together in the event of a sudden collapse of the North Korean regime.

US State Secretary Rex Tillerson. Yonhap

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently offered a glimpse into the secret contingency plan. He revealed that the Trump administration had assured China’s leadership that if US forces crossed into North Korea to seize nuclear weapons, the troops would do their work and then retreat to the South.

“We have had conversations that if something happened and we had to go across a line, we have given the Chinese assurances we would go back and retreat back to the south of the 38th parallel,” Tillerson said in remarks at the Atlantic Council on Dec. 12.

The South Korea-US wartime scheme, Operations Plan 5015, includes military campaigns to address North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction. The plan calls for the allies’ Special Forces to penetrate into North Korean territory to secure its nuclear weapons before they became operational.

OPLAN 5015, whose operational details are classified, reportedly does not spell out exactly who would control the North Korean territory after the mission is completed in a situation where the Chinese troops would most likely march into the North.

Hence, Tillerson’s discussion on contingency plans with the Chinese government is causing jitters among South Korean policymakers and military planners, experts said, rekindling deep-rooted worries that the two superpowers might determine Korea’s fate once again.

“We believe it is inappropriate for us to discuss or assess the remarks by the US secretary of state,” Choi Hyun-soo, a spokesperson of the Ministry of National Defense, said in response to a question about whether the South Korean military had consulted with the US government on the matter.

South Korea’s Constitution declares North Korea a part of its territory that needs to be reclaimed eventually, but most analysts doubt whether such a position would be recognized by the international community and neighboring countries, who view North Korea as a sovereign state.

Some experts said that Tillerson’s idea is part of a “grand deal” between the US and China, which involves a scenario where the US may cede North Korean territory to the Chinese military if they help the US remove North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction.

In his column on the Wall Street Journal in August, Henry Kissinger said that “understanding” between Washington and Beijing is a prerequisite to resolving the nuclear standoff. Before the publication of the article, he had reportedly suggested to Tillerson that the US could make a pledge to Beijing that it would withdraw its troops from South Korea after the collapse of North Korea.

“My impression is that the US appears to be floating the idea of a grand bargain by Kissinger to the Chinese government,” said Yun Duk-min, former chancellor of the Seoul-based security think tank Korea National Diplomatic Academy.

There is no indication that China has responded to Tillerson’s proposal, or that military officials have met to discuss the idea, a taboo subject for Beijing, which has refused to discuss the idea out of concern that it would worsen the already tense relationship with North Korea

However, calls for developing contingency plans appear to be gaining ground among Chinese security and military experts, as they have publicly urged the country to prepare for any eventuality amid growing frustration with its wayward ally’s relentless nuclear ambition.

Retired Chinese Army Lt. Gen. Wang Hongguang called for mobilizing troops along the border with North Korea to prevent conflicts in the region, warning that a war could break out on the Korean Peninsula at “any time,” even within the next several months.

“China should be psychologically prepared for a potential Korean war, and the northeast China regions should be mobilized for that. … Such mobilization is not to launch a war, but for defensive purposes,” Wang told an annual forum hosted by the Chinese Global Times newspaper Saturday.

A South Korean newspaper reported Monday that China last year conducted a simulated military drill aimed at taking control of nuclear facilities similar to the Yongbyon nuclear reactor. China’s Defense Ministry has yet to issue any public statements.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry declined to confirm the report, saying it is not a matter that the South Korean government can discuss, while highlighting that the government is preparing for “various eventualities” on the Korean Peninsula.

China has also been quietly building a network of refugee camps along its border with North Korea — at least five in Jilin province — as it braces for a human exodus in the event of the regime’s sudden collapse, according to a leaked internal document from a state-run telecoms giant China Mobile.

David Straub, a former US diplomat, said China has shown more willingness to discuss a possible contingency in North Korea, though the issue is still too sensitive for Beijing to raise first.

“It seems pretty clear that the Chinese security experts and analysts are becoming more concerned that there might be a real possibility of unexpected developments,” said Straub, a Sejong-LS fellow at the Sejong Institute.

“In the past, the Chinese were reluctant even to listen to Americans talking about the conditions. Now I think the Chinese are quite happy to listen to what the Americans have to say and probably take careful notes. … But I am still skeptical they have volunteered much to the US,” said Straub.

([email protected])

North Korean Soldier Who Defected This Week Is Filled With Parasitic Worms

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

SEOUL, South Korea — A North Korean soldier’s bold attempt to defect by crossing the heavily guarded border with South Korea galvanized attention this week.

But perhaps more surprising was the disclosure by surgeons struggling to save his life of what they found while repairing his intestinal wounds: dozens of parasitic worms, some as long as 11 inches.

“In my 20 years as a surgeon, I have only seen something like this in a medical textbook,” said Dr. Lee Cook-jong, a lead surgeon.

The discovery opened a window on the dire conditions in North Korea, including poor hygiene and nutrition. The news shocked many people in prosperous South Korea.

Surgeons raced to save the North Korean soldier, whose name and rank have not been released, who sustained serious bullet wounds racing across the border while his own troops fired on him.

Continue reading the main story

“We have found dozens of fully grown parasitic worms in his damaged intestines,’’ said Dr. Lee Cook-jong, a lead surgeon. “It was a serious parasitic infection.”

During a news briefing this week, Dr. Lee showed photographs of worms as long as 10 or 11 inches.

Experts in parasitic worms were not surprised, however. They said that the finding was consistent with the broad sense of conditions in the isolated, impoverished North.

Defectors to the South have cited the existence of parasites and abysmal nutrition. Because it lacks chemical fertilizers, North Korea still relies on human excrement to fertilize its fields, helping parasites to spread, the experts said.

In a 2014 study, South Korean doctors checked a sample of 17 female defectors from North Korea and found seven of them infected with parasitic worms.

The North Korean soldier drove a jeep into the Joint Security Area, one of the most heavily guarded portions of the Demilitarized Zone, on Monday. He then ran across the border to defect to the South while fellow North Korean troops unleashed a hail of rifle and pistol shots trying to stop him.

He collapsed about 55 yards south of the border, bleeding profusely. South Korean officers pulled him to safety, and a United States Black Hawk military helicopter rushed him to a hospital near Seoul, where he underwent a series of surgeries.

His was the most dramatic defection from the North in years, making headlines in South Korea.

But more startling news came from the doctors who were working to clean and patch up his dietary tract, which was torn by bullets.

The soldier’s condition was particularly noteworthy because North Korean soldiers, especially those deployed near the border with South Korea, receive priority in food rationing. Yet, in addition to the parasitic worms, doctors found kernels of corn in his stomach.

South Korea itself was afflicted with widespread parasitic infections through the 1970s, when more than 80 percent of the population carried parasitic worms. After a 9-year-old girl died in 1963 and doctors found more than 1,000 parasitic worms in her body, the country launched a national campaign to eradicate parasites.

Schools collected stool samples from students and distributed anti-parasitic pills. The campaign succeeded: Parasitic infections have become rare in South Korea as hygiene and economic conditions have improved.

More than 30,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea since a famine killed more than a million people in the North in the 1990s. Since then, international relief agencies have reported widespread malnutrition and stunted growth among many children in the North.

The wounded soldier, who is believed to be in his late 20s, is 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs 132 pounds. In contrast, an average high school male senior in South Korea is 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 154 pounds.

LIFE UNDER KIM JONG UN “THE GREAT SUCCESSOR”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

LIFE UNDER KIM JONG UN

Recent North Korean escapees relate how the secretive country has changed under the “Great Successor.”

Illustrations by Dominic Bugatto. Yoonjung Seo assisted in the reporting.

English

(영어)

Korean

(한국어)

“In North Korea, life only gets better if the state helps you. But these days, the state doesn’t help. We’re on our own.”

— The bride, now 23, from Hyesan. Escaped from North Korea in May 2017

When Kim Jong Un became the leader of North Korea almost six years ago, many North Koreans thought that their lives were going to improve. He offered the hope of generational change in the world’s longest-running communist dynasty. After all, he was so young. A millennial. Someone with experience of the outside world.

But the “Great Successor,” as he is called by the regime, has turned out to be every bit as brutal as his father and grandfather before him. Even as he has allowed greater economic freedom, he has tried to seal the country off more than ever, tightening security along the border with China and stepping up the punishments for those who dare to try to cross it. And at home, freedom of speech, and of thought, is still a mirage.

In six months of interviews in South Korea and Thailand, The Washington Post talked with more than 25 North Koreans from different walks of life who lived in Kim Jong Un’s North Korea and managed to escape from it. In barbecue restaurants, cramped apartments and hotel rooms, these refugees provided the fullest account to date of daily life inside North Korea and how it has changed, and how it hasn’t, since Kim took over from his father, Kim Jong Il, at the end of 2011. Many are from the northern parts of the country that border China — the part of North Korea where life is toughest, and where knowledge about the outside world just across the river is most widespread — and are from the relatively small segment of the population that is prepared to take the risks involved in trying to escape.

Some parts of their stories cannot be independently verified because of the secretive nature of the regime, and their names have been withheld to protect their family members still in North Korea. They were introduced to The Post by groups that help North Korean escapees, including No Chain for North KoreaWoorion and Liberty in North Korea.

But in talking about their personal experiences, including torture and the culture of surveillance, they recounted the hardships of daily life under Kim Jong Un’s regime. They paint a picture of a once-communist state that has all but broken down, its state-directed economy at a standstill. Today, North Koreans are making their own way, earning money in an entrepreneurial and often illegal fashion. There are only a few problems in North Korea these days that money can’t solve.

As life inside North Korea is changing, so too are people’s reasons for escaping.

Increasingly, North Koreans are not fleeing their totalitarian state because they are hungry, as they did during the 15 or so years following the outbreak of a devastating famine in the mid-1990s. Now, they are leaving because they are disillusioned.

Market activity is exploding, and with that comes a flow of information, whether as chitchat from traders who cross into China or as soap operas loaded on USB sticks. And this leads many North Koreans to dream in a way they hadn’t before.

Some are leaving North Korea because they want their children to get a better education. Some are leaving because their dreams of success and riches in the North Korean system are being thwarted. And some are leaving because they want to be able to speak their minds.

A NEW KIM AT THE HELM

“Standing at the forefront of the Korean revolution is Kim Jong Un, great successor to the revolutionary cause of Juche [self reliance ideology] and outstanding leader of our party, army and people.”

Korean Central News Agency — Dec. 19, 2011

The young mother

젊은 어머니

From: Hoeryong, Age: 29

Escaped in 2014

I could see how young he was, and I hoped that maybe things were going to get better. We were given some rations through our neighborhood association — we even got meat and fish — at the time he took over.

The preschooler

유치원생

From: Hoeryong, Age: 7

Escaped in 2014

I remember how fat he was. He had a very fat face like a pig.

As the regime started preparing for Kim’s succession, it put out a song that everyone in the country was made to learn, called “Footsteps.” The idea was that Kim was following in the footsteps of his father and would lead the country into a glorious future.

 3:42
Watch North Korea’s music video for its song ‘Footsteps’

The money man

돈 남자

From: Hyesan, Age: 43

Escaped in 2015

We heard the song “Footsteps” and we were told to memorize it so [we] knew that he was going to be the leader after Kim Jong Il. We were told how great he was, that he could ride a horse when he was 5 years old and shoot a gun when he was 3. Of course we didn’t believe these things, but if you laughed or said anything, you’d be killed.

The university student

대학생

From: Sariwon, Age: 37

Escaped in 2013

I was in my second year at the university when this person was introduced to us as our new leader. I thought it was a joke. Among my closest friends, we were calling him a piece of s—. Everyone thinks this, but you can only say it to your closest friends or to your parents if you know that they agree.

The drug dealer

마약상

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

I created some kind of fantasy in my mind about Kim Jong Un. Because he was so young, I thought he was going to open North Korea’s doors, but after he took power and I lived three years under him, life became harder.

MONEY TALKS

In theory, North Korea is a bastion of socialism, a country where the state provides everything, including housing, healthcare, education and jobs. In reality, the state economy barely operates anymore. People work in factories and fields, but there is little for them to do, and they are paid almost nothing. A vibrant private economy has sprung up out of necessity, one where people find ways to make money on their own, whether through selling homemade tofu or dealing drugs, through smuggling small DVD players with screens called “notels” over the border or extracting bribes.

The university student

대학생

From: Sariwon, Age: 37

Escaped in 2013

North Korea technically has a centrally planned economy, but now people’s lives revolve around the market. No one expects the government to provide things anymore. Everyone has to find their own way to survive.

The hairdresser

미용사

From: Hyesan, Age: 23

Escaped in 2016

I had to drop out of teachers college when I was 19 because my father became ill so I needed to work. I started doing people’s hair at my house. All the women wanted perms. I charged 30 [Chinese] yuan for a regular perm or 50 yuan for a perm with better products. But it was still hard to make money. [Thirty yuan is about $4.50.]

The farmer

농부

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

We lived in the city center, but we rented some land in the foothills of the mountains and grew corn there. During planting and harvest season, we would wake up at 4 a.m. and walk three hours to reach the farmland. We’d take a little break for lunch or a snack, then work until 8 p.m. before walking home again. Doing the weeding was the hardest because we had to get rid of them by hand. And we’d buy beans from the market and make tofu that we’d sell from our house. Our profit was less than 5,000 won [60 cents at the black market rate] a day. But because the bean price fluctuates, sometimes we were left with nothing at all.

North Koreans first learned how to be entrepreneurs during the famine, when they had to make money to survive. While men had to continue to show up for work in dormant factories, women would turn corn into noodles and keep a little for themselves but sell the rest so they could buy more corn for the following day. Homeless children would steal manhole covers to sell as scrap metal. Markets began to appear and took hold. North Koreans used to joke you could buy everything there except cats’ horns.

These days, you can probably buy cats’ horns, too.

 2:03
Look inside a market in North Korea

The bean trader

콩 상인

From: Hyesan, Age: 23

Escaped in 2014

I had an aunt in Pyongyang who sold beans in the market there. I would buy what she needed from various farmers and get it to her. I’d pay people to pack up the beans into sacks, pay porters to take them to the station, get them onto the train. You have to smooth the way with money. My uncle is in the military, so his position provided protection for my aunt’s business. Of course, my aunt was the main earner in the house. It’s the women who can really make money in North Korea.

Tens of thousands of North Koreans now work outside the country, in lumber yards and garment factories and on construction sites, in China, Russia and other countries, earning foreign currency. Generally, two-thirds of their pay goes to the regime, and they’re allowed to keep the rest.

The construction worker

건설 노동자

From: Pyongyang, Age: 40

Escaped in 2015

I wanted to earn money for my family and buy a house, so I paid $100 to bribe my way into an overseas construction job. I was sent to St. Petersburg. We lived at the construction site and would work from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., or sometimes until midnight in the summer, then we’d go back to our dormitory to eat. We worked seven days a week, but we could finish early on Sundays — 7 p.m. — and that was nice. My whole purpose for being there was to make lots of money and go home proud of my achievement. I still remember the first time I got paid. It was 1,000 rubles. When I finished work at 10 p.m., I went to the store and saw that a bottle of beer was 27 rubles. I thought, wow I’m rich.

As the economy and the rules that govern it change, there are more and more gray areas that can be exploited. That means that illegal trade and activity have blossomed, too.

The drug dealer

마약상

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

I did so many things that I wasn’t supposed to do. I worked as a broker transferring money and connecting people in North Korea with people in South Korea through phone calls. I arranged reunions for them in China. I smuggled antiques out of North Korea and sold them in China. I sold ginseng and pheasants to China. And I dealt ice [methamphetamines.]. Officially, I was a factory worker, but I bribed my way out of having to go to work. If you don’t operate this way in North Korea, you have nothing.

The doctor

의사

From: Hyesan, Age: 42

Escaped in 2014

The salary for doctors was about 3,500 won a month. That was less than it cost to buy one kilogram of rice. So of course, being a doctor was not my main job. My main job was smuggling at night. I would send herbal medicine from North Korea into China, and with the money, I would import home appliances back into North Korea. Rice cookers, notels, LCD monitors, that kind of thing.

From the biggest cities to the smallest villages, there is now some kind of market building where people can sell their wares and keep their profits. Some are state-run, some are state-sanctioned, some are ad hoc. The markets have been retroactively legalized by the regime.

Money is now needed for nearly everything — even for the parts of communist life that the Kim regime crows about providing, like housing and schooling. Bribery and corruption have become endemic, undermining the regime by loosening controls and creating incentives that may not always be in line with Kim’s priorities.

The farmer

농부

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

Technically, you don’t have to pay to go to school, but the teachers tell you that you have to submit a certain amount of beans or rabbit skins that can be sold. If you don’t submit, you get told off continuously, and that’s why students stop going to school. The kids are hurt just because the parents can’t afford it.

The young mother

젊은 어머니

From: Hoeryong, Age: 29

Escaped in 2014

I used to pay the teachers at my daughter’s school so they would look after her better than others. I would give them 120,000 won at a time — that’s enough to buy 25 kilograms of rice — twice a year. If you don’t pay the teachers, they won’t make any effort.

The fisherman

어부

From: Ryongchon, Age: 45

Escaped in July 2017

I lived through all three Kims, but our life was not getting any better for any of us. We all have to pay for Kim Jong Un’s projects, like Ryomyong Street [a residential development in Pyongyang]. We had to contribute 15,000 North Korean won per household [more than four months’ salary] to the government for that street.

The drug dealer

마약상

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

My main business was selling ice. I think that 70 or 80 percent of the adults in Hoeryong city were using ice. My customers were just ordinary people. Police officers, security agents, party members, teachers, doctors. Ice made a really good gift for birthday parties or for high school graduation presents. It makes you feel good and helps you release stress, and it really helps relations between men and women. My 76-year-old mother was using it because she had low blood pressure, and it worked well. Lots of police officers and security agents would come to my house to smoke, and of course, I didn’t charge them — they were my protection. They would come by during their lunch break, stop by my house. The head of the secret police in my area was almost living at my house.

“Lots of police officers and security agents would come to my house to smoke, and of course I didn’t charge them — they were my protection.”

The ability to make money, sometimes lots of money, through means both legal and illegal has led to visible inequality in a country that has long touted itself as an egalitarian socialist paradise. This could be a potential source of disruption. Bean traders and drug dealers and everyone in between have the prospect of making a decent living. Those working only in official jobs, whether they be on a state-owned ostrich farm or in a government ministry in Pyongyang, earn only a few dollars a month and get little in the way of rations to supplement their meager salaries.

The rich kid

부자 인 아이

From: Chongjin, Age: 20

Escaped in 2014

Skating rinks opened in 2013, and rollerblading became a really big thing. Rich kids had their own rollerblades. We’d carry them slung over our shoulders as we walked to the rink — it was a status symbol, a sign that you have money. I bought my rollerblades at the market. They were pink, and it cost 200 Chinese yuan. That’s the same price as 30 kilograms of rice. It’s unthinkable for poor kids.

The construction worker

건설 노동자

From: Pyongyang, Age: 40

Escaped in 2015

There were long periods where we didn’t get paid. I once went for six months without getting any salary at all. We lived in a shipping container at the construction site. We were given rice and cabbage and one egg per person per day, and we had an electric coil in our container that we could cook on. We needed some protein because our work was so hard, so we started buying pigskin at the market because it was cheap. Washing was like a special occasion. But if you went to the bathhouse, you would miss out on work. Once I didn’t bathe for two months. We didn’t think anything of it. It was just the way we lived.

“There were long periods where we didn’t get paid. I once went for six months without getting any salary at all.”

The rich kid

부자 인 아이

From: Chongjin, Age: 20

Escaped in 2014

Cellphones are a big thing. To be able to afford a smartphone, you had to come from a rich family. Of course, there were some poor kids at my school, but I didn’t hang out with them. I had an Arirang smartphone that cost $400. When boys came up to talk to me, I’d check out their phone. If they had one of those old-style phones with buttons, I wasn’t interested.

The markets are the distribution point not just for goods, but also for information. Chatter, rumors, illicit foreign media.

The farmer

농부

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

Women make their living in the market, and while they’re sitting there at the stalls, they talk. So the market is a great place to learn about the outside world.

The phone connector

전화 커넥터

From: Hoeryong, Age: 49

Escaped in 2013

I watched lots of [smuggled] movies and soap operas on USB sticks from the market. I would plug them into my TV. Vendors who are selling ordinary things like batteries or rice or whatever, they hide the USBs inside under the counter. When you go into the market you say to the vendors: Do you have anything delicious today? That’s the code. USBs are also good because they are so easy to hide, and you can just break them if you get caught.

“When you go into the market you say to the vendors: Do you have anything delicious today?”

The fisherman

어부

From: Ryongchon, Age: 45

Escaped in July 2017

In the past, if you watched Chinese movies on USBs you were okay. You got put in a labor camp only if you were caught with South Korean or American movies. But now, under Kim Jong Un, you get sent to a labor camp if you’re caught watching Chinese movies, too. The police and the security services and government officials live better these days. The more people they catch, the more money they earn.

The teenage prisoner

십대 죄수

From: Hyesan, Age: 22

Escaped in 2013

I was 8 years old when I started watching foreign movies. I always liked watching romantic South Korean dramas like “My Fair Lady.” I loved the way that women were being cherished. North Korea is a very male-oriented society, men never bother about taking care of women. And I liked to look at their fancy cars and houses.

The accordion player

아코디언 연주자

From: Hamhung, Age: 25

Escaped in 2015

My mom worked in the market selling home appliances, so she had a way to get DVDs. I watched Chinese, Indian and Russian movies, and lots of South Korean soap operas. I thought that if I got to South Korea, I could do anything I wanted.

REPRESSION AND DISILLUSIONMENT

It is impossible to overstate the pervasiveness of the personality cult surrounding the Kims in North Korea. Founding President Kim Il Sung, his son Kim Jong Il and his grandson, the current leader, Kim Jong Un form a kind of holy trinity in North Korea. There is no criticizing them or questioning the system — at least not without risking your freedom and the freedom of your entire family. Your life itself could be at stake.

The preschooler

유치원생

From: Hoeryong, Age: 7

Escaped in 2014

I learned songs about the general and about the Kim family and how great Kim Il Sung was.

The elementary schoolgirl

초등학생

From: Ryongchon, Age: 7

Escaped in July 2017

We got gifts on Kim Jong Un’s birthday: candy and cookies and gum and puffed rice. I was so grateful to him for giving me all these sweets. We would stand up in class and say, “Thank you, General Kim Jong Un.”

“We would stand up in class and say, ‘Thank you, General Kim Jong Un.’”

The university student

대학생

From: Sariwon, Age: 37

Escaped in 2013

We had ideological education for 90 minutes every day. There was revolutionary history, lessons about Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un. Of course, they taught us about why we needed nuclear weapons, and they would tell us that we needed to make sacrifices in our daily lives so they could build these weapons and protect our country, keep the nation safe. I was so sick and tired of hearing about all this revolutionary history, I was so sick of calling everyone “comrade.” I didn’t care about any of that stuff.

The young mother

젊은 어머니

From: Hoeryong, Age: 29

Escaped in 2014

Everybody knew that Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un were both liars, that everything is their fault, but it’s impossible to voice any opposition because we are under such tight surveillance. If someone is drunk and says Kim Jong Un is a son of a bitch, you’ll never see them again.

The doctor

의사

From: Hyesan, Age: 42

Escaped in 2014

It’s like a religion. From birth, you learn about the Kim family, learn that they are gods, that you must be absolutely obedient to the Kim family. The elites are treated nicely, and because of that they make sure that the system stays stable. But for everyone else, it’s a reign of terror. The Kim family uses terror to keep people scared, and that makes it impossible to stage any kind of social gathering, let alone an uprising.

The construction worker

건설 노동자

From: Pyongyang, Age: 40

Escaped in 2015

We had education sessions when we would go back to the main building and into a big room where there were portraits of the leaders. Everyone had to bow and buy bunches of flowers to lay in front of the portraits. There would be a speech by the boss, who was a party member. We would hear about how Kim Jong Un had done this and this and that [he] was working so hard for the party and for the nation and for the people. I believed it up until the Kim Jong Un era, but this exaggeration was just too much. It just didn’t make sense.

The money man

돈 남자

From: Hyesan, Age: 43

Escaped in 2015

Every month there was special instruction about Kim Jong Un. It came down from Pyongyang to the neighborhood associations. We were told that Kim Jong Un wanted to know everything so that he could take proper care of everyone, help everyone. Nobody believed this because if Kim Jong Un knew we had no electricity and were eating corn rice [imitation rice made from ground corn], why wasn’t he doing anything about it?

The bean trader

콩 상인

From: Hyesan, Age: 23

Escaped in 2014

There was this story going around that Kim Il Sung had asked Kim Jong Un to get him an apple. Kim Jong Un asked for a shovel because he wanted to bring the whole tree. It was the kind of joke that the secret police would create. Instead of just doing top-down teaching, they would also create stories like this [about devotion to the regime] because they thought that their propaganda would circulate better as rumors and would seem more convincing.

North Korea operates as a vast surveillance state, with a menacing state security department called the Bowibu as its backbone. Its agents are everywhere and operate with impunity.

The regime also operates a kind of neighborhood watch system. Every district in every town or city is broken up into neighborhood groups of 30 or 40 households, each with a leader who is responsible for coordinating grass-roots surveillance and encouraging people to snitch.

The young mother

젊은 어머니

From: Hoeryong, Age: 29

Escaped in 2014

People in each neighborhood association are always checking up on each other. If one family seems to be living better than everyone else, then all the neighbors try to find out how they are making their money. Everybody is sensitive because if someone seems to be living well, then people get jealous of that house. Nobody has to be asked to bring that wealthy family down and make sure that this wealthy family loses their money. When you see a family lose their house, that feels good. That’s why it’s important not to show off how wealthy you are.

The farmer

농부

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

Of course, I thought about the outside world, but if you say, “I want to go to China or South Korea,” then it can be reported by an informant to the security services. You can think it, but you can’t say it. You never know who is going to snitch on you. We often heard and saw how Chinese people had money because Chinese people used to come to North Korea to sell things, so we thought it would be nice to live there.

The rich kid

부자 인 아이

From: Chongjin, Age: 20

Escaped in 2014

There were youth leaders who would patrol around, looking for things that we weren’t supposed to be doing. If you were wearing jeans or skinny pants, or if you had a manicure or your hair was too long, you would get in trouble. They would sometimes check your phone to see if you had any South Korean songs. I got busted for this, but I got out of it by buying them a box of 20 bottles of beer.

“They would sometimes check your phone to see if you had any South Korean songs.”

For those who ran afoul of the regime in ways that money could not solve, the punishment could be harsh.

The teenage prisoner

십대 죄수

From: Hyesan, Age: 22

Escaped in 2013

When I was 16, I was staying at my grandma’s house and there was a banging on the door late at night. Two secret police officers took me to the police station and asked me: “Where are your parents?” I told them I didn’t know. It turned out that they had gone missing and I suspected that my mom’s business associates, when they realized this, planted a whole lot of stuff on her, said that she was the mastermind behind this big smuggling operation. The police yelled at me: “You’re just like your mother. You probably have fantasies about China, too.” They slapped my face about five times.

The phone connector

전화 커넥터

From: Hoeryong, Age: 49

Escaped in 2013

The first time I went to prison, I had been caught helping people make phone calls to their relatives in South Korea. I was sentenced to four months’ hard labor, building a road on the side of a mountain that they said we needed in case there was a war. The men did the digging and the women had to carry rocks and soil.

Escapees from North Korea’s gruesome political prisons have recounted brutal treatment over the years, including medieval torture with shackles and fire and being forced to undergo abortions by the crudest methods. Human rights activists say that this appears to have lessened slightly under Kim. But severe beatings and certain kinds of torture — including being forced to remain in stress positions for crippling lengths of time — are commonplace throughout North Korea’s detention systems, as are public executions.

 1:39
Clip: Kang Na-ra in the ‘Jangmadang Generation’

The teenage prisoner

십대 죄수

From: Hyesan, Age: 22

Escaped in 2013

I was interrogated again by the secret police, and they wanted to know about my mother’s business. They were slapping me around the face again. They always go for the face. I was beaten severely that time. They pushed me so hard against the wall that I had blood coming from my head. I still get a headache sometimes. While I was there they made me sit with my legs crossed and my arms resting on my knees and my head always down. If you move at all or if you try to stretch your legs out, they will yell at you and hit you. I had to stay like that for hours on end.

The money man

돈 남자

From: Hyesan, Age: 43

Escaped in 2015

In 2015, a money transfer went bad — the woman I’d given the money to got caught and she ratted on me — and I was put in detention. I spent two months there. I wasn’t treated like a human being — they beat me, they made me sit in stress positions where I couldn’t lift my head. Two times they slapped my face and kicked me during interrogation, but I was not beaten up badly. Maybe because I was not a nobody, maybe they feared that I knew someone who could get back at them.

Starvation is often part of the punishment, even for children. The 16-year-old lost 13 pounds in prison, weighing only 88 pounds when she emerged.

The teenage prisoner

십대 죄수

From: Hyesan, Age: 22

Escaped in 2013

We got up at 6 a.m. every day and went to bed at 11 p.m., and in between we would be working the whole time, shoveling cement or lugging sacks, except for lunch. Lunch was usually steamed corn. I was too scared to eat. I cried a lot. I didn’t want to live.

The phone connector

전화 커넥터

From: Hoeryong, Age: 49

Escaped in 2013

Even though we were working so hard in prison camp, all we got to eat was a tiny bit of corn rice and a small potato. By the time I got out, I was so malnourished I could hardly walk.

It is this web of prisons and concentration camps, coupled with the threat of execution, that stops people from speaking up. There is no organized dissent in North Korea, no political opposition.

subscribe
The story must be told.
Your subscription supports journalism that matters.

The drug dealer

마약상

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

If you make problems, then your whole family gets punished. That’s why people don’t want to make any trouble. If I get punished for my wrongdoing, that’s one thing. But it’s my whole family that would be put at risk if I did something. North Koreans have seen that Kim Jong Un killed his own uncle, so we understand how merciless he can be. That’s why you can’t have an uprising in North Korea.

The university student

대학생

From: Sariwon, Age: 37

Escaped in 2013

The secret to North Korea’s survival is the reign of terror. Why do you think North Korea has public executions? Why do you think they block all communications? Why do you think North Koreans leave, knowing that they will never see their families again? It shows how bad things are. All our rights as people have been stripped away.

The phone connector

전화 커넥터

From: Hoeryong, Age: 49

Escaped in 2013

If you speak out against the system, you will immediately be arrested. And if you do something wrong, then three generations of your family will be punished. In 2009, I heard there was a going to be some kind of coup launched in Chongjin and that all of the people involved were executed. When you hear about cases like this, of course you’re scared. So instead of trying to do something to change the system, it’s better just to leave.

Some people do leave, but not that many. It’s incredibly risky and logistically difficult to get around the border guards and the barbed wire. Unknown thousands cross into China each year. Some remain in China, almost always young women who get sold to poor Chinese men in the countryside who can’t get a wife any other way. Some get caught and sent back — to certain imprisonment.

The repatriated wife

송환 된 아내

From: Nampo, Age: 50

Escaped North Korea for the last time in 2016

I had lived in China for 20 years, but someone must have reported me. I was sent back to North Korea, and I spent two and a half years in a prison camp. [After she had left once more for China], I knew I couldn’t be repatriated again. I thought that it would be the end of my life.

But each year, a thousand or so North Koreans make it to South Korea. In the 20-odd years since the famine, only 30,000 North Koreans have made it to the southern side of the peninsula.

During the late 1990s and the early 2000s, almost all the North Koreans who fled were escaping out of hunger or economic need. But the explosion of markets has improved life for many. Today, more people are leaving North Korea because they are disillusioned with the system, not because they can’t feed their families.

The accordion player

아코디언 연주자

From: Hamhung, Age: 25

Escaped in 2015

I was ambitious. I wanted to be a party member and enjoy all the opportunities that come with that. My dream was to make lots of money and be a high-ranking government official. Family background means so much in North Korea, but I had family in China and I realized that this would stop me from being able to follow my dreams. I left because I didn’t have the freedom to do what I wanted to do.

The bean trader

콩 상인

From: Hyesan, Age: 23

Escaped in 2014

I wanted to progress in life, I wanted to go to university, but because my mother had defected to China, it looked like I wouldn’t be able to go any further. It looked like I would be stuck in North Korea where I was. I could have moved, lived, no problem, but I felt like I didn’t have any future in North Korea. That’s why I decided to leave.

The meat delivery guy

고기 배달원

From: Undok, Age: 23

Escaped in 2014

We were told in school that we could be anybody. But after graduation, I realized that this wasn’t true and that I was being punished for somebody else’s wrongdoing. I realized I wouldn’t be able to survive here. So for two years, I looked for a way out. When I thought about escaping, it gave me a psychological boost.

The doctor

의사

From: Hyesan, Age: 42

Escaped in 2014

I hoped to work abroad as a doctor in the Middle East or Africa. But to work overseas you have to pass security screening to make sure you’re ideologically sound and aren’t going to defect. That’s a problem that money can’t solve and that’s where I got blocked. I was very angry, very annoyed. I cursed our society. I am a very capable person, and I was a party member, but even I couldn’t make it.

The construction worker

건설 노동자

From: Pyongyang, Age: 40

Escaped in 2015

I worked for three and a half years, but I made only $2,000 during that time. We were allowed to work overseas for five years maximum, and I was hoping to save $10,000 and return home proud. I realized it wasn’t going to happen, so I started looking for a chance to escape.

The university student

대학생

From: Sariwon, Age: 37

Escaped in 2013

I was so disgusted with the system. I didn’t have the freedom to speak my mind, or to travel anywhere I wanted, or even to wear what I wanted. It was like living in a prison. We were monitored all the time by our neighborhood leader, by the normal police, by the secret police. If you ask me what was the worst thing about North Korea, I’d say: Being born there.

Share

North Korea and China announce visit by Xi Jinping envoy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWS AND THE NORTH KOREAN NEWS ‘DPRK’)

 

North Korea and China announce visit by Xi Jinping envoy

Unclear if illegal nuclear program is on the agenda after Donald Trump asked Chinese president to put pressure on neighbor

Donald Trump has called on Xi Jinping to rein in North Korea.
 Donald Trump has called on Xi Jinping to rein in North Korea. Photograph: Andy Wong/AP

A senior Chinese diplomat will visit North Korea from Friday as a special envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Beijing has said, without revealing whether it is about North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

China has pushed for a diplomatic solution to the crisis but in recent months has had only limited high-level exchanges with North Korea. The last time China’s special envoy for North Korea visited the country was in February 2016.

In a brief dispatch, the official Xinhua news agency said Song Tao, who heads the Communist party’s external affairs department, would “inform the DPRK of the 19th CPC National Congress and visit the DPRK”. CPC refers to China’s recently concluded Communist party congress at which Xi further cemented his power.

North Korea’s KCNA news agency confirmed the visit but said only that it would take place “soon”.

The trip will come a week after Donald Trump visited Beijing as part of a lengthy Asia tour where he pressed for greater action to rein in North Korea, especially from China, with which North Korea does 90% of its trade.

It is not clear how long Song could stay but he has already visited Vietnam and Laos to inform them of the results of the Congress, a typical courtesy China extends other communist countries after such important meetings.

It is also unclear where Song will meet the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

Kim and Xi exchanged messages of congratulations and thanks to the Chinese party congress but neither has visited the other’s country since assuming power.

Song’s department is in charge of the party’s relations with foreign political parties and has traditionally served as a conduit for Chinese diplomacy with North Korea.

A department official said in October that China’s Communist party continued to hold talks and maintain contacts with its North Korean counterpart, describing the two countries’ friendship as important for regional stability.

China’s new special envoy for North Korea, Kong Xuanyou, who took up his position in August, is not believed to have visited the country yet.

Since you’re here …

… we have a small favor to ask. More people are reading the Guardian than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organizations, we haven’t put up a pay wall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too.

I appreciate there not being a pay wall: it is more democratic for the media to be available for all and not a commodity to be purchased by a few. I’m happy to make a contribution so others with less means still have access to information.Thomasine F-R.

If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $1, you can support the Guardian – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

The Insides

Don't h8, apprici8

clipping path united

We read it, and then we review

James' World 2

Assorted human interest posts.

Dining with Donald

Donald on dining in and out

Phuro! Be inspired! BLOG

Van inspiratie tot transformatie

Maulik Pandit

Do It For You

Believe

I am not perfect but I am limited edition~RM

Down The Rabbit Hole

How long is forever? Sometimes just one second

%d bloggers like this: