Archive for the Korea Category

Russia has no information on Iran-DPRK military cooperation [Xinhua]

Posted in Black propaganda, DPR Korea, Iran, Korea, Russia, Sanctions as weapon of war, UNSC on May 27, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

MOSCOW, May 20 (Xinhua) — Russia has no information on military cooperation, including the development of missile technology, between Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Foreign Ministry said Friday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said there is no verifiable information that Iran and DPRK cooperate or exchange missile technologies in violation of U.N. sanctions.

“Such suggestions have been made by various experts judging from visual characteristics of the missiles these countries possess,” the diplomat said. “This is not a [sic] convincing evidence.”

The diplomat called it “absolutely intolerable” that classified reports prepared by U.N. experts have been made public. He said the reports were deliberately made confidential to not allow any incorrect interpretation of the sensitive facts they contained.

Earlier this month, a leaked report suggested that Iran and DPRK have been trading ballistic missile technology on regular flights. The report was submitted to the U.N. Security Council by an expert panel that has been monitoring the DPRK’s compliance with U.N. sanctions since 2006.

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North Korea and China partner in lavish war epic [Film Business Asia]

Posted in Arirang, China, DPR Korea, Korea, Korean War, Sino-Korean Friendship, Sweet & Sour Cinema on October 20, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

September 30, 2010

Zhànhuŏ zhōng de xiàngliàn (戰火中的項鏈), a large-scale coproduction between China and North Korea is set to start shooting this December, only the second feature film between the two neighbouring countries.

Set both sides of the border, the drama centres on a retired North Korean soldier who recalls his time fighting alongside the Chinese during the Korean War 60 years ago. The Korean title translates as If There Is No Love; the working Chinese title translates as Necklace in the Fire of War.

Following three months of shooting in northeast China this winter, production will move to North Korea in late March, with locations in both Pyongyang and elsewhere.

The RMB20 million (US$3 million) budget is entirely provided by China’s August First Studio (八一電影制片廠), owned by the People’s Liberation Army, with the North Koreans providing facilities during the shoot their side of the border. All lead technicians will be Chinese, with support staff coming from North Korea. Post-production will be handled in China, with the movie expected to be released in summer 2011.

Director is 69-year-old August First staffer Zhai Junjie (翟俊杰), a specialist in lavishly mounted war movies (My Long March 我的長征, The Decisive Engagement 大決戰), as well as political dramas (The Republic Will Never Forget 共和國不會忘記).

Despite occasional hiccups in the relationship, China has remained North Korea’s closest ally and largest trade partner, and relations between the two have noticeably warmed in recent years. The Arirang Mass Games, held in Pyongyang every autumn, now include a special section devoted to friendship between the two countries.

The first China-North Korea coproduction was Oriental Gladiator (東方角鬥士, 2005), co-directed by Li Qimin (李啓民) and Ri Ju Ho (리주호), a biopic about ethnically Korean Japanese wrestling legend Rikidozan (力道山).

Article link here

Shock wave and bubble: the untruth about the Cheonan [21st Century Socialism]

Posted in Black propaganda, Capitalist media double standard, Cheonan sinking, China, Corporate Media Critique, DPR Korea, Korea, Media cover-up, New York Times lie, Russia, south Korea, U.K., UNSC, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA on August 2, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Only a small coterie in the USA and South Korea know for sure what really happened to the South Korean warship. But, unreported in the Western media, the ‘proof’ that the Cheonan was sunk by North Korea has been thoroughly discredited…

This is the definitive article exposing the Big Lie about the sinking of the Cheonan jointly pushed by the regimes of S. Korea’s Lee  and the U.S.’ Obama.  The only drawback is that it does not include the Russian Navy experts’ report on the sinking that was publicized at the end of July and which further definitively exonerates N. Korea. – 左手

 ..the UNSC Presidential statementdid not condemn ‘the attack by North Korea’ or ‘warn North Korea’, because it did not name the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) as the culprit [in the Cheonan sinking].  And it did not endorse the findings of the Joint Investigative Group which was appointed by the government of the Republic of Korea (South Korea)…

…Contrary to the assertion by the New York Times editorial writers, it is not the case that, following the sinking, the ROK ‘quickly accused North Korea of torpedoing the ship’.  Although South Korea’s current right wing government is pro-US and very hostile to the DPRK, the initial ROK official position was that it was unlikely that North Korea was involved- the reason being that no evidence could be obtained to implicate the DPRK, and the information that was available was in contradiction to the theory that North Korean forces had sunk the warship…

July 18, 2010

by Hilary Keenan

As is often the case following a negotiated outcome, both sides claimed victory. After the final text on the sinking of the South Korean corvette was agreed by the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council on 9th July, the Whitehouse issued a statement which asserted:

Today’s UN Security Council Presidential statement condemns the attack by North Korea on the Cheonan and warns North Korea that the international community will not tolerate such aggressive behavior against the Republic of Korea.  The unanimous statement, reflecting the shared view of the 5 members of the Six-Party Talks, constitutes an endorsement of the findings of the Joint Investigative Group that established North Korea’s responsibility for the attack.

But the UNSC Presidential statement did no such thing. It did not condemn ‘the attack by North Korea’ or ‘warn North Korea’, because it did not name the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) as the culprit.  And it did not endorse the findings of the Joint Investigative Group which was appointed by the government of the Republic of Korea (South Korea).  The wording of the statement on this matter was much more cautious:

In view of the findings of the Joint Civilian-Military Investigation Group led by the ROK with the participation of five nations, which concluded that the DPRK was responsible for sinking the Cheonan, the Security Council expresses its deep concern.

Following which, the UNSC statement added:

The Security Council takes note of the responses from other relevant parties, including from the DPRK, which has stated that it had nothing to do with the incident…

The Security Council welcomes the restraint shown by the ROK and stresses the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in northeast Asia as a whole.

In contrast to the US government’s claims, the editors of the New York Times made no attempt to portray the position reached at the UNSC as any kind of success for United States diplomacy. Rather, the NYT‘s editorial on 9th July, entitled ‘Security Council Blinks’, ranted with frustration:

‘Lowest common denominator’ is too often the standard at the United Nations. Even then, the Security Council’s new statement on the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan is absurdly, dangerously lame…

Forty-six South Korean sailors died last March when the warship sank in disputed waters. Seoul quickly accused North Korea of torpedoing the ship but showed admirable restraint, inviting in an international team to investigate. The team did its work and agreed that a North Korean ship was responsible. South Korea produced a torpedo propeller with North Korean markings.

Contrary to the assertion by the New York Times editorial writers, it is not the case that, following the sinking, the ROK ‘quickly accused North Korea of torpedoing the ship’. Although South Korea’s current right wing government is pro-US and very hostile to the DPRK, the initial ROK official position was that it was unlikely that North Korea was involved- the reason being that no evidence could be obtained to implicate the DPRK, and the information that was available was in contradiction to the theory that North Korean forces had sunk the warship. As the South Korean newspaper The Hankyoreh reported on 1st April:

In the immediate wake of the incident, the Cheong Wa Dae (the presidential office in South Korea or Blue House) and the military detailed the chance of North Korean involvement as slight. Following a security-related ministerial meeting presided over by President Lee Myung-bak just after the accident took place on Friday night, Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Eun-hye was circumspect, saying, “At present, we are not clear about the question of a North Korean connection.” In a National Assembly briefing Saturday, Lee Ki-sik, head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff intelligence operations office, said, “No North Korean warships have been detected, and there is no possibility of their approaching the waters where the accident took place.” Additionally, the military has stressed on multiple occasions that it has picked up no “unusual trends” in North Korean military movements while monitoring…

As recently as Tuesday, Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Park Sun-kyu said, “As of now, nothing has emerged indicating that North Korea was involved.”

Even by April 20th, as the British Daily Mail newspaper acknowleged:

Seoul has not openly blamed Pyongyang for the sinking of the Cheonan, one of South Korea’s worst naval disasters.

Investigation or cover up?

As for the action of the ROK authorities in, as claimed by the New York Times and other Western media outlets, “inviting in an international team to investigate”, this assertion is highly misleading. In fact the Joint Civilian-Military Investigation Group (JIG) was appointed by the South Korean government, and apart from a very small number of foreign participants was drawn overwhelmingly from the South Korean military and defence establishment. As a footnote to an article in the Asia-Pacific Journal records:

Despite its name – the Joint Civilian-Military Investigation Group – the absolute majority of its members, 65 out of 74, work for the [South Korean] Ministry of National Defense or MND-related think tanks and institutes. One of its two heads, Pak Chǒng-I, was a three star general at the time of the investigation, and was subsequently promoted to a four star status after the release of the report.

The foreign participants in the JIG were selected from Western countries- the USA, Britain, Canada, and Australia, with the partial inclusion of Sweden. Although its description as an ‘international team’ conveys the implication of objectivity and impartiality, it included no Russians or Chinese, nor even any French or Germans.

On May 6th, Reuters reported the claim of a senior South Korean government official that the investigators had decided that the Cheonan had been sunk by a torpedo- the evidence for this was the discovery of traces of materials consistent with a German-made torpedo in the wreckage of the ship:

Investigators probing the deadly sinking of a South Korean navy ship in March near the North have concluded that a torpedo was the source of an explosion that destroyed the vessel, a news report said on Friday.

The team of South Korean and foreign investigators found traces of explosives used in torpedoes on several parts of the sunken ship as well as pieces of composite metal used in such weapons, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said quoting a senior government official…

The metallic debris and chemical residue appear to be consistent with a type of torpedo made in Germany, indicating the North may have been trying to disguise its involvement by avoiding arms made by allies China and Russia, Yonhap quoted the official as saying.

North Korea has denied involvement and accused South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s government of trying to use the incident for political gains ahead of local elections in June.

How the North Koreans could have obtained a German torpedo, or manufactured one which would leave traces consistent with those of a German torpedo, was apparently not remarked on by the ROK official.

At a press conference on May 20th, it was announced that the Joint Civilian-Military Investigation Group had completed its interim investigation. The group’s report, which has been variously described as being 250 or 400 pages long, was not made available to the public- for security reasons, of course- and only a five page summary was presented.

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Strong doubts, dismissals persist on North Korea’s role in Cheonan ship sinking – “The S. Korean government is lying” [Los Angeles Times]

Posted in Anti-communism, Black propaganda, Cheonan sinking, China, DPR Korea, Korea, North wind campaign, Pyongyang, south Korea, USA on July 24, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Some in South Korea dispute the official version of events:  that a North Korean torpedo ripped apart the Cheonan.

By Barbara Demick and John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times

July 23, 2010

Reporting from Seoul —

The way U.S. officials see it, there’s little mystery behind the most notorious [sic] shipwreck in recent Korean history…

…But challenges to the official version of events are coming from an unlikely place — within South Korea itself.

Armed with dossiers of their own scientific studies…, critics dispute the findings announced May 20 by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, which pointed a finger at Pyongyang.

They also question why Lee made the announcement nearly two months after the ship’s sinking, on the very day campaigning opened for fiercely contested local elections.  Many accuse the conservative leader of using the deaths of 46 sailors to stir up anti-communist sentiment and sway the vote.

The critics, mostly but not all from the opposition, say it is unlikely that the…North Korean regime could have pulled off a perfectly executed hit against a superior military power, sneaking a submarine into the area and slipping away without detection.  They also wonder whether the evidence of a torpedo attack was misinterpreted, or even fabricated.

“I couldn’t find the slightest sign of an explosion,” said Shin Sang-chul, a former shipbuilding executive-turned-investigative journalist.  “The sailors drowned to death [sic].  Their bodies were clean.  We didn’t even find dead fish in the sea.”

Shin, who was appointed to the joint investigative panel by the opposition Democratic Party, inspected the damaged ship with other experts April 30.  He was removed from the panel shortly afterward, he says, because he had voiced a contrary opinion: that the Cheonan hit ground in the shallow waters off the Korean peninsula and then damaged its hull trying to get off a reef.

“It was the equivalent of a simple traffic accident at sea,” Shin said.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement that Shin was removed because of “limited expertise, a lack of objectivity and scientific logic,” and that he was “intentionally creating public mistrust” in the investigation.

The doubts about the Cheonan have embarrassed the United States, which is beginning joint military exercises Sunday in a show of unity against [alleged] North Korean aggression.  On Friday, an angry North Korea warned that “there will be a physical response” to the maneuvers.

Two South Korean-born U.S. academics have joined the chorus of skepticism, holding a news conference this month in Tokyo to voice their suspicions about the “smoking gun” — a piece of torpedo propeller with a handwritten mark in blue ink reading “No. 1” in Korean.

“You could put that mark on an iPhone and claim it was manufactured in North Korea,” scoffed one of the academics, Seunghun Lee, a professor of physics at the University of Virginia.

Lee called the discovery of the propeller fragment five days before the government’s news conference suspicious.  The salvaged part had more corrosion than would have been expected after just 50 days in the water, yet the blue writing was surprisingly clear, he said.

“The government is lying when they said this was found underwater.  I think this is something that was pulled out of a warehouse of old materials to show to the press,” Lee said.

South Korean politicians say they’ve been left in the dark about the investigation.

“We asked for very basic information — interviews with surviving sailors, communication records, the reason the ship was out there,” said Choi Moon-soon, an assemblyman for the Democratic Party.

The legislature also not been allowed to see the full report by the investigative committee — only a five-page synopsis.

“I don’t know why they haven’t released the report.  They are trying to cover up small inconsistencies, and that has cost them credibility,” said Kim Chul-woo, a former Defense Ministry official who is now an analyst with the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, a government think tank.

A military oversight body, the Board of Inspection and Audit, has accused senior naval officers of lying and concealing information.

“Military officers deliberately left out or distorted key information in their report to senior officials and the public because they wanted to avoid being held to account for being unprepared,” an official of the inspection board was quoted as telling the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo.

The Cheonan, a 1,200-ton corvette, sank the night of March 26 about 12 miles off North Korea.  The first report issued by Yonhap, the official South Korean news agency, said the ship had been struck by a torpedo, but soon afterward the story changed to say the ship sank after being grounded on a reef.

The military repeated that version for days.  The audit board found that sailors on a nearby vessel, the Sokcho, who fired off 35 shots with a 76-millimeter cannon around the time of the attack, were instructed to say they’d been shooting at a flock of birds, even though at first they had said they’d seen a suspected submarine on radar.

On April 2, as Defense Minister Kim Tae-young was testifying before the National Assembly, a cameraman recording over his right shoulder managed to capture an image of a handwritten note from the president’s office instructing him not to talk about North Korean submarines.

Such inconsistencies and reversals have fueled the suspicions of government critics. …

…Pyongyang, meanwhile, denies involvement in the sinking and calls the accusation against it a fabrication.

South Koreans themselves appear to be confused:  Polls show that more than 20% of the public doesn’t believe North Korea sank the Cheonan.

Wi Sung-lac, South Korea’s top envoy for North Korean affairs, says the criticism from within has made it difficult to get China and Russia on board to punish Pyongyang for the attack.

Said Wi: “They say, ‘But even in your own country, many people don’t believe the result.’ ”

Ju-min Park of The Times’ Seoul Bureau and David S. Cloud of the Washington bureau contributed to this report.

Full article here

The real story on North Korea and its healthcare – Amnesty International propaganda debunked by WHO, Cheonan sinking hypocrisy, and the ongoing U.S. War against Socialism [Stephan Gowans]

Posted in Anti-communism, Black propaganda, Capitalist media double standard, Cheonan sinking, China, Cuba, DMZ, DPR Korea, Iraq, Korea, Nicaragua, Russia, Universal Health Care, US imperialism, USA on July 22, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

July 21, 2010

By Stephen Gowans


The United States has announced that it is adding a new tranche to the Himalaya of sanctions it has built up since 1950 against North Korea, sanctions I outlined in my last article Amnesty International botches blame for North Korea’s crumbling healthcare. Calling the new sanctions “measures” – perhaps to escape the disfavor the word has fallen into after sanctions wiped out the lives of half of million Iraqi children in the 1990s — US secretary of state Hillary Clinton purred reassuringly that the new “measures are not directed at the people of North Korea.” [1] She didn’t predict, however, whether they would add to the misery the previous umpteenth round of sanctions has already visited upon the lives of North Koreans, even if she says they aren’t directed at them, but we can be pretty sure they will.

At the same time preparations were underway to launch Operation Invincible Spirit, a four day joint US-South Korea military exercise to take place in the Sea of Japan, involving 8,000 troops, 200 warplanes and an armada of warships led by the aircraft carrier USS George Washington. The point of the exercise, according to the US commander in the Pacific, Robert Willard, is to “send a strong signal to Pyongyang and Kim Jong-il regarding the provocation that Cheonan represented” [2](the Cheonan being the South Korean warship that sunk in disputed waters in May.) Inasmuch as the Cheonan’s sinking appears to be a replay of the Gulf of Tonkin incident [3] – the alleged attack on a US Navy destroyer by North Vietnamese patrol boats used by US president Lyndon Johnson as a pretext to step up war on Vietnam – the military exercises represent the second stage of what looks like a plan to increase pressure on Pyongyang, with a view to producing what US policy has been trying to produce north of the 38th parallel for the last 60 years: the collapse of the anti-imperialist governments led by Kim Il-sung and now Kim Jong-il. The first part of the plan was to blame North Korea for the Cheonan’s sinking. The second part is to launch military exercises using the pretext of the first.

China calls the exercises, scheduled to begin this Sunday, provocative. And University of Chicago historian Bruce Cumings points out that the North Koreans become agitated whenever the United States and South Korea carry out joint military exercises, because they “see them as a prelude to a possible attack.” [4] Indeed, since it is impossible to distinguish troops, warships and warplanes massing on one’s borders for the purposes of conducting war games from troops, warships and warplanes massing on one’s borders for the purposes of an invasion, it is hardly surprising that the North Koreans are agitated. And that’s the point: keep the DPRK on a continual war-footing, so that it diverts its sanctions-starved economy into military preparedness and away from productive investments and provision of healthcare, education, housing and so on. Joint US-South Korea military exercises aren’t just a sometimes thing. They happen every year, and Operation Invincible Spirit adds another provocation to the annual cycle.

Forcing its ideological opponents to spend heavily on defense — when they always start off poorer and weaker than the United States and can therefore ill-afford to do so if they’re ever going to progress — is a tactic Washington has been using for decades to contain, cripple and ultimately defeat countries that offer a humane and progressive alternative to integration into a worldwide capitalist system of imperial relations.

On top of the advantages of this tactic abroad, at home the defense spending needed to threaten target countries transfers wealth upwards, from working Americans through their taxes to the investors and businesspeople in the armaments industry who benefit in two ways: first, from the profits they reap from arms contracts and second from interest on the bonds they buy to finance US defense spending.  The tab is picked up by US taxpayers with their labor and, if a war is waged against their country, by foreigners with their lives, or with crippled standards of living, if their governments are forced to skimp on civilian spending to build a credible defensive force to deter the threat of US military intervention.  As the dues-payers for the US warfare economy along with its foreign victims, US citizens have more in common with the citizens of official enemy countries than they think.  Who’s the real enemy?

The tactic of spending ideological opponents into bankruptcy has two dimensions: a physical one, of suffocating an alternative economy until it either breaks down or is left staggering under the weight of economic warfare and the costs of preparing to repel the unrelenting ominous threat of military intervention, and an ideological one, of attributing the break-down to the inherent characteristics of the alternative system itself.  In this way a warning is sent on two levels:  a surface one aimed at ordinary people, which says, while this alternative may seem like a good idea, it doesn’t work and only leads to disaster.  To work, this necessitates the cover up of the real causes of the break down.

At the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas yesterday, both Clinton and US secretary of war [5] Robert Gates, played up the message that North Korea’s dire straits are endogenous, and not the product of a systematic campaign of breaking the country’s back. Gates said: “It is stunning to see how little has changed up there (in the North) and yet how much South Korea continues to grow and prosper. The North by contrast, stagnates in isolation and deprivation.” [6] Clinton said much the same. Of course, neither mentioned that sanctions, and the continual harassment of North Korea by US forces, might have something to do with North Korea’s isolation and stagnation. On a deeper level, a warning is sent to would-be leaders of oppressed classes and peoples: try to break free from the US imperial orbit, and this will happen to you, too.

Forty years ago, Felix Greene outlined how Washington had used this tactic against China and Cuba, but his description also fits North Korea today.

“The United States imposed a 100 percent embargo on trade with these countries; she employs great pressure to prevent her allies from trading with them; she arms and finances their enemies; she harasses their shipping; she threatens them with atomic missiles which she announces are pre-targeted and pre-programmed to destroy their major cities; her spy ships prowl just beyond these countries’ legal territorial waters; her reconnaissance planes fly constantly over their territory.  And having done all in their power to disrupt these countries’ efforts to rebuild their societies by means of blockades to prevent essential goods from reaching them, any temporary difficulties and setbacks these countries may encounter are magnified and exaggerated and presented as proof that a socialist revolutionary government is ‘unworkable’.” [7]

Author William Blum, who writes an Anti-Empire Report monthly, elaborates on Greene’s point:

“…every socialist experiment of any significance in the twentieth century — without exception — was either overthrown, invaded, corrupted, perverted, subverted, destabilized, or otherwise had life made impossible for it, by the United States and its allies. Not one socialist government or movement — from the Russian Revolution to the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, from Communist China to the FMLN in El Salvador — not one was permitted to rise or fall solely on its own merits; not one was left secure enough to drop its guard against the all-powerful enemy abroad and freely and fully relax control at home. It’s as if the Wright brothers’ first experiments with flying machines all failed because the automobile interests sabotaged each test flight. And then the good and god-fearing folk of the world looked upon these catastrophes, nodded their heads wisely, and intoned solemnly: Humankind shall never fly.” [8]

Disputed Territory

Cumings offered insight into the context surrounding the Cheonan affair in a May 27, Democracy Now interview. The incident, Cummings observed:

“happened very close to the North Korean border, we’ve had incidents like this, somewhat different ones, but with large loss of life, going back more than ten years. In 1999, a North Korean ship went down with thirty sailors lost and maybe seventy wounded. That’s a larger total of casualties than this one. And last November, a North Korean ship went down in flames. We don’t know how many people died in that. This is a no man’s land, or waters, off the west coast of Korea that both North and South claim. And the Cheonan ship was sailing in those waters…” [9]

The hypocrisy need not be pointed out. When North Korean ships are sunk, there’s no provocation, except to North Koreans, who, in the view of Western governments and the propaganda apparatus of private-sector mass media, don’t matter (in the same way Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped by Hamas, matters to Western governments and Western mass media while the countless Palestinians who have been kidnapped by Israeli soldiers in the West Bank and Gaza and have since disappeared into the bowels of Israeli prisons are invisible.) But when a South Korean ship is sunk in the same disputed waters, North Korea is immediately blamed (by the politicians of South Korea’s ruling Grand National Party, though not by the South Korean military, which for weeks, said it had no evidence of North Korean involvement.)  And the sinking is used to justify more sanctions and more military exercises to ratchet up the pressure.

Cumings went on to explain that the waters in which the South Korean warship went down in May “is a no man’s land, where the US and South Korea demarcated a so-called Northern limit line unilaterally. The North has never accepted it. The North says that this area is under the joint jurisdiction of the North and South Korean militaries. So you have an incident waiting to happen.” [10] Into this cauldron of roiling waters waiting for an incident to happen will soon be tossed Operation Invincible Spirit.

The World Health Organization Weighs In

While the Western media lighted on Amnesty International’s portrayal of North Korea’s healthcare system as a horror show with the eagerness of flies on road-kill, the World Health Organization had a more sober assessment of the rights organization’s Cold War-era hatchet job. WHO spokesman Paul Garwood faulted the report for being “mainly anecdotal, with stories dating back to 2001, and not up to the UN agency’s scientific approach to evaluating healthcare.” [11]

“All the facts are from people who aren’t in the country,” Garwood said. “There’s no science in the research.” [12]

In contrast, WHO chief Margaret Chan visited North Korea in April and returned with an assessment that makes Amnesty’s report look like it was written to cater to US foreign policy propaganda requirements.

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“Sanctions of Mass Destruction” (SMD): US Sponsored Economic Blockade Destroys North Korea’s Health Care System [ /]

Posted in Amnesty International, Anti-communism, Black propaganda, Cheonan sinking, China, Corporate Media Critique, Cuba, DMZ, DPR Korea, Iraq, Japan, Korea, Korean War, Media cover-up, south Korea, US imperialism on July 22, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Stephan Gowans

July 22, 2010

“Economic sanctions are, at their core, a war against public health.”–The New England Journal of Medicine [1]

 Amnesty International has released a report condemning the North Korean government for failing to meet “its obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the right to health of its citizens”, citing “significant deprivation in (North Koreans’) enjoyment of the right to adequate care, in large part due to failed or counterproductive government policies.”  The report documents rundown healthcare facilities which “operate with frequent power cuts and no heat” and medical personnel who “often do not receive salaries, and many hospitals (that) function without medicines and essentials.”  Horrific stories are recounted of major operations carried out without anaesthesia.  Blame for this is attributed solely to the North Korean government. [2]  While unstated, the implication is that DPR Korea is a failed state, whose immediate demise can only be fervently wished for (or worked toward.)

 The attack is joined by Barbara Demick, the Beijing bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times and author of Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, writing in the British newspaper, The Guardian.  She acknowledges the DPR Korea’s considerable social achievements – an acknowledgement that would never have been permitted in the pages of a major Western newspaper in the depths of the Cold War – but does so only in order to show how far the country has regressed.

 “The country once had an enviable healthcare system,” Demick writes, “with a network of nearly 45,000 family practioners.  Some 800 hospitals and 1,000 clinics were almost free of charge for patients.  They still are, but you don’t get much at the hospital these days.”  Demick continues: “The school system that once allowed North Korea’s founder Kim Il-Sung (father of the current leader) to boast his country was the first in Asia to eliminate illiteracy has now collapsed.  Students have no books, no paper, no pencils.” [3]

 Nowhere is the role of sanctions mentioned in Demick’s account of North Korea’s “giant leap backwards” [4] or in Amnesty’s condemnation of Pyongyang for failing to safeguard the basic healthcare rights of its citizens.  Instead, Demick and Amnesty point to a botched currency reform, as if it alone accounts for the country’s deep descent into poverty. Neither mention that no country has been subjected to as long and determined a campaign of economic warfare as North Korea, or that in recent years, a UN sanctions regime little different from the one that destroyed the healthcare system of Iraq in the 1990s, and led to the deaths of half a million Iraqi children under the age of five from 1991 to 1998 [5], has been imposed on a country that has struggled with food shortages since the collapse of the Soviet-led socialist trading community and as a result of a series of natural calamities.  No mention either is made of Washington’s efforts to “squeeze North Korea with every financial sanction possible” with the aim of bringing about the collapse of the country’s economy, [6] and with it, its public healthcare and educational systems.  What’s more, while Demick acknowledges that South Korea and other countries have sharply reduced food aid to the North, she blames North Korea’s leadership for refusing to dismantle its nuclear program and for “provocations” against the South, for inviting the aid reduction. (The provocations Demick refers to include the sinking of a South Korean corvette in March, attributed, with not a lot of evidence – and over the initial denials of the South Korean military [7] – to a North Korean submarine.)  Demick and Amnesty could have condemned South Korea and the United States for using food as a weapon.  Instead, Demick censures North Korea for putting itself in the position of being sanctioned, while Amnesty counsels major donors not to base food aid on political considerations, without acknowledging that this is exactly what major donors have done.

 Both Amnesty and Demick operate within the framework of Western propaganda.  As the North Korea specialist Tim Beal points out, Western propaganda invokes economic mismanagement as the explanation for North Korea’s collapsing economy, despite an obvious alternative explanation:  sanctions.  “The results — those malnourished babies,” Beal wrote prophetically three years ago, “can be blamed on the Koreans, which in turn is produced as evidence that the sanctions are desirable and necessary.” [8]

 Sanctions of Mass Destruction

 “In contrast to war’s easily observable casualties, the apparently nonviolent consequences of economic intervention seem like an acceptable alternative.  However, recent reports suggest that economic sanctions can seriously harm the health of persons who live in targeted nations.” [9]  This has been well established and widely accepted in the cases of Iraq in the 1990s and the ongoing US blockade of Cuba.  Political scientists John Mueller and Karl Mueller wrote an important paper in Foreign Affairs, in which they showed that economic sanctions “may have contributed to more deaths during the post-Cold War era than all weapons of mass destruction throughout history.” [10]

 “The dangers posed today by such enfeebled, impoverished, and friendless states as Iraq and North Korea are minor indeed”, they wrote in 1999.  It might be added that the dangers posed by North Korea to the physical safety of US citizens are not only minor but infinitesimally small.  Notwithstanding the fevered fantasies of rightwing commentators, North Korea has neither the means, nor the required death wish, to strike the United States.  However, the danger the country poses to the idea of US domination – and hence, to the banks, corporations, and major investors who dominate US policy-making – are admittedly somewhat greater.

 “Severe economic sanctions”, the Muellers contend, ought to be “designated by the older label of ‘economic warfare’”.  “In past wars economic embargoes caused huge numbers of deaths.  Some 750,000 German civilians may have died because of the Allied naval blockade during World War I.” [11]

 “So long as they can coordinate their efforts,” the two political scientists continue, “the big countries have at their disposal a credible, inexpensive and potent weapon for use against small and medium-sized foes.  The dominant powers have shown that they can inflict enormous pain at remarkably little cost to themselves or the global economy.  Indeed, in a matter of months or years whole economies can be devastated…” [12]  And with devastated economies, come crumbling healthcare systems and failure to provide for the basic healthcare rights of the population.

 Sixty Years of Sanctions

 From the moment it imposed a total embargo on exports to North Korea three days after the Korean War began in June 1950, the United States has maintained an uninterrupted regime of economic, financial, and diplomatic sanctions against North Korea. [13] These include:

 o Limits on the export of goods and services.
o Prohibition of most foreign aid and agricultural sales.
o A ban on Export-Import Bank funding.
o Denial of favourable trade terms.
o Prohibition of imports from North Korea.
o Blocking of any loan or funding through international financial institutions.
o Limits on export licensing of food and medicine for export to North Korea.
o A ban on government financing of food and medicine exports to North Korea.
o Prohibition on import and export transactions related to transportation.
o A ban on dual-use exports (i.e., civilian goods that could be adapted to military purposes.)
o Prohibition on certain commercial banking transactions. [14]

 In recent years, US sanctions have been complemented by “efforts to freeze assets and cut off financial flows” [15] by blocking banks that deal with North Korean companies from access to the US banking system.  The intended effect is to make North Korea a banking pariah that no bank in the world will touch.  Former US President George W. Bush was “determined to squeeze North Korea with every financial sanction possible” until its economy collapsed. [16]  The Obama administration has not departed from the Bush policies of financial strangulation.

 Washington has also acted to broaden the bite of sanctions, pressing other countries to join its campaign of economic warfare against a country it faults for maintaining a Marxist-Leninist system and non-market economy. [17]  This has included the sponsoring of a United Nations Security Council resolution compelling all nations to refrain for exporting dual-use items to North Korea (a repeat of the sanctions regime that led to the crumbling of Iraq’s healthcare system in the 1990s.)  Washington has even gone so far as to pressure China (unsuccessfully) to cut off North Korea’s supply of oil. [18]

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US largely ruling out N. Korea in 2009 cyberattacks [AP]

Posted in Anti-communism, Black propaganda, DPR Korea, False flag, Korea, North wind campaign, south Korea on July 15, 2010 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Do people remember the exaggerated accusations launched against DPR Korea  —  with no evidence whatsover, besides the word of anonymous U.S. officials  —  for a bunch of “denial of service” attacks on S. Korean government and corporate sites about a year ago? [Check “NIS responds with cyber bukpung to cyber attack“, The Hankyoreh]  After the accusations were widely debunked so long ago, it’s finally being admitted that DPR Korea not only was not involved, but rather it’s most likely to have been right-wingers from within S. Korea who were pulling a cyber false-flag operation.  Anyone notice a pattern here in South Korean “north wind” political provocations against the North, with the US always in the mix, under President Lee’s ultra-right administration?  

No apologies from the anonymous government officials or S. Korea’s spooky NIS are forthcoming.

The extreme difficulty in proving or disproving which nation originates these kinds of “cyberattacks” means we can expect this kind of black propaganda story to remain in the arsenal of the US Federal government and its client states, and crop up when media slander is considered useful  —  from anonymous government officials, of course.-  左手

July 3, 2010

WASHINGTON – U.S. officials have largely ruled out North Korea as the origin of a computer attack last July that took down U.S. and South Korean government websites, according to cybersecurity experts

…Pinpointing the culprits for such attacks is difficult or even impossible, officials say.  Some suggest the July 4 weekend attacks a year ago may have been designed as a political broadside.

These officials point suspicions at South Koreans, possibly activists, who are concerned about the threat [sic] from North Korea and would be looking to ramp up antagonism toward their neighbor…

…”It’s about as frightening as someone driving around the block blowing their horn a lot,” said James Lewis, cybersecurity expert and a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “A lot of people could have done it, and it doesn’t leave a lot of clues to their identity…”

…[Dan] Jackson, whose company was among several private firms that studied the codes after the attack, said one possibility is that hackers in South Korea were the culprits.

South Korean sources had a mission and may have “wanted someone blamed for it,” said Jackson. “It would further the [propaganda] point that North Korea has elite squads” of hackers targeting Seoul…”

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