Archive for the Pyongyang Category

Report: China-North Korea bridge opening postponed indefinitely [The Hankyoreh / 한겨레|Sweet & Sour Socialism Essential Archives]

Posted in China, Dandong, DPR Korea, Liaoning Province, Pyongyang, Sinuiju on February 23, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Article references an Oct. 31, 2014 article in China’s Global Times, however I cannot track down this article independently of its excerpts in The Hankyoreh. – Zuo Shou

Nov.1,2014

By Seong Yeon-cheol, Beijing correspondent

~ No construction has been observed in site around Shinuiju…~

Chinese state media reported on Oct. 31 that the opening of the New Yalu River Bridge, which would link China and North [sic ]Korea, has been postponed indefinitely.

“The New Yalu River Bridge had initially been scheduled to open on Oct. 30, but the opening has been delayed indefinitely,” China’s Global Times reported.

“A survey of the bridge location showed that the south side of the bridge – Shinuiju in [DPR] Korea – remained undeveloped, without any sign of roads or customs facilities. Even worse, [DPR] Korea has not even done any of the basic construction work,” the newspaper said…

…The Global Times also criticized the [DPR] Koreans for not making a serious effort to move forward with construction. “[DPR] Korea is completely absorbed in construction projects in Pyongyang and other major cities, without making any mention of the New Yalu River Bridge,” the paper said…

…Construction began on the New Yalu River Bridge on Dec. 31, 2010. The structure is intended to replace the Yalu River Bridge, which was built in 1937. The current Yalu River Bridge supports both railroad tracks and a road. However, the older bridge is limited in the amount of traffic it can handle, since it can only support trucks with a capacity of 20 tons and below.

Located 10km west of the old bridge, near the mouth of the river, the New Yalu River Bridge is 3,026m long and will carry four lanes of traffic moving in both directions.

“When the New Yalu River Bridge is completed, it will be able to handle 80% of the trade moving between [DPR] Korea and China, which will resolve a logistical logjam. It will also position Dandong to become the biggest base inside China for trade with [DPR] Korea,” the metropolitan government [sic] of Dandong has said…

Excerpted and edited by Zuo Shou

Full article link here: http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_northkorea/662478.html

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South Korea deports Korean-American woman accused of supporting the North [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Anti-communism, DPR Korea, Encirclement of China, Japan, Kim Jong Un, North wind campaign, Obama, Pentagon, Pyongyang, south Korea, south Korean human rights hypocrisy, US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War, Western nations' human rights distortions on January 17, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Ben McGrath
13 January 2015

South [sic] Korea deported Korean-American Shin Eun-mi on Saturday for supposedly making pro-North [sic] Korean comments. She arrived back in Los Angeles the same day, US time, and will be barred from returning to Korea for five years. Shin’s case is just the latest in Seoul’s attacks on democratic rights.

President Park Geun-hye’s government accused Shin of violating South Korea’s draconian National Security Act. Shin gave public talks around the country with Hwang Seon, the former deputy spokeswoman of the Democratic Labor Party (DLP), the forerunner of the Unified Progressive Party (UPP), which the government, via the Constitutional Court, forcibly disbanded in December. The government is considering issuing an arrest warrant for Hwang.

Shin said last Wednesday, as she appeared for questioning by prosecutors: “I can guarantee that I have done nothing that violates the National Security Act. I have made no pro-North Korea remarks in public. There are no such remarks in my book, either.” Shin was referring to her book, A Korean-American Ajumma Goes to North Korea, which detailed her trips to North Korea. “Ajumma” is a Korean word referring to a middle-aged or married woman. Shin visited the North six times from October 2011 and published the book in 2012.

Right-wing organizations filed a complaint against Shin and Hwang after a November 19 talk at Seoul’s Jogyesa Temple, claiming that the two women painted North Korea in a positive light. During the discussion, Shin said that in North Korea, “people seemed to be filled with expectation and hope about the young leader (Kim Jong-un).”

The complaints against the two women received more attention when a 17-year-old boy attacked Shin and Hwang with a homemade bomb at a lecture the women held in Iksan, North Jeolla Province, in December. No-one was seriously injured but two people received minor burns. The teenager, hailed as a hero by extreme-right groups, is currently awaiting trial.

The government’s claims that Shin undermined “national security” are farcical. Her book on North Korea was even selected as suggested reading by South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. Shin said: “If I did (violate the National Security Act), why did the government select my book as a recommended one in the first place? I just gave lectures and filmed a documentary based on the book.”

Another comment by Shin points far more as to why she was targeted by the government. “Even though it is the 21st century, are we not seeing these pro-communist frame-ups, spy frame-ups?” she asked. “It is a ballad that I heard from when I attended kindergarten in the 60s.” Several UPP members were arrested last year and accused, on the basis of fabricated evidence, of plotting a rebellion in support of North Korea.

Seoul has whipped up these red scares not simply as a turn away from democracy. It is bound up with South Korea’s alignment with the United States and its “pivot to Asia,” which is aimed at economically undermining and militarily surrounding China. This includes ramping up tensions on the Korean Peninsula against China’s ally North Korea — and risking war with Pyongyang. The government fears that any anti-war sentiment could be used to oppose these growing war plans. Shin’s greatest crime, as far as the government is concerned, is that she presented North Koreans as human beings who have the same hopes and desires as average South Koreans…

Seoul deepened its military cooperation with the US over the past year. This included signing a trilateral intelligence sharing agreement with the US and Japan, expressing support for a Thermal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system in South Korea and postponing the handover to Seoul of US operational control over the South Korean military. In the event of war, the United States will take command of the South’s military.

Seoul also backed the Obama administration’s claims that North Korea was responsible for hacking at Sony Pictures Entertainment and supported new US sanctions, calling them “appropriate.” The South Korean media presented Washington’s accusations as fact despite a lack of evidence.

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki raised mild criticisms of South Korea over Shin’s deportation. While claiming at a daily press briefing on Friday that South Korea “has shown a consistent and longstanding commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights,” Psaki said the US is “concerned that the national security law, as interpreted and applied in some cases, limits freedom of expression and restricts access to the Internet.”

This “criticism” has nothing to do with a genuine concern for free speech. It is particularly hypocritical coming from a government that has been exposed as spying on and violating the democratic rights of its population and millions of others internationally on a daily basis. Instead, the US is using this issue to continue to pressure Seoul to work more closely with Japan in the US-directed war preparations against China.

Excerpted / edited by Zuo Shou

Full article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/01/13/kore-j13.html

After three years of Kim Jong-un, skyscrapers popping up on Pyongyang’s skyline [The Hankyoreh 한겨레 / Sweet & Sour Socialism Essential Archives]

Posted in DPR Korea, Kim Jong Un, Pyongyang, Sweet and Sour Socialism Essential Archives on January 6, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

OMG, a positive article about DPR Korea. A necessary corrective to the hysteria surrounding the propaganda film “The Interview”, US government lies and related hateful distortions by corporate media. – Zuo Shou

Dec 29, 2014

Three years after Kim Jong-un came to power in North Korea, the streets of Pyongyang look much different. The streets of the city are lined with new 40-floor skyscrapers, and taxis drive down them [sic]. Before, they had been dark at night, but now they are illuminated by bright lights, while smartphone-toting women are dressed more smartly than before. The unanimous testimony of recent visitors to Pyongyang is that the North Korean city has doffed its drab garb in favor of a coat of many colors.

“It was my first visit to North Korea in five years, and I was shocked by how much the atmosphere had changed,” Jang Yong-cheol, permanent director for the Isang Yun Peace Foundation, told the Hankyoreh on Dec. 16. Jang was in Pyongyang for five days in October.

“I was surprised to see taxis of various colors not only in front of the Pothonggang Hotel where I was staying but also in every street,” Jang said.

“The economy appears to be moving briskly in Pyongyang these days. What particularly stood out were the large apartment buildings being built in various parts of the city and the bustling activity at the markets. You can really feel how much it’s thriving,” said Jin Zhe, Director of Northeast Asia Studies for the Liaoning Academy of Social Science, who also visited North Korea recently.

Last year, the number of taxis in Pyongyang reportedly surpassed 1,500. Shortly after coming to power in 2011, Kim Jong-un ordered officials to promote the taxi business as a means of developing the tourism industry. A series of joint ventures were established with Japanese and Chinese companies, leading to a rapid increase in the number of taxis. In the past, there had been around 700 taxis in the city.

Not only foreign travelers, but also residents of Pyongyang are freely able to ride in the taxis.

During a recent media interview, Park Chan-mo, former president of Pohang University of Science and Technology and honorary president of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, said it cost about US$5 to take a taxi from downtown Pyongyang to Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, a journey of about 25km.

The changing appearance of Pyongyang is understood to reflect to some degree the current state of the North Korean economy, which has been [improving] since Kim Jong-un came to power three years ago.

Indeed, North Korea has recorded positive economic growth in each of those years. Production of agricultural and industrial goods is on the rise.

Favorable weather has apparently played a role, with North Korea managing to avoid typhoon and flood damage over that period. Under Kim Jong-un, North Korea seems to have been spared the vexing problem of feeding the people, which had troubled the rule of Kim Jong-il during the “arduous march” in the mid- and late 1990s.

Experts largely attribute the growth in the North Korean economy to measures adopted by the government since Kim came to power including the June 28 Plan, which was implemented on a trial basis, and the May 30 Measures, which represented an expansion of June 28 Plan.

…Kim appears to have chosen…the option of implementing economic reforms to increase productivity.

“The May 30 Measures increased the autonomous management of factories, corporations, farms, local government bodies, economic development zones, and the central bank. Sometime next year, specific measures are likely to be taken to follow up on the May 30 Measures,” said Jin Jingyi, professor at Peking University.

In addition to giving companies and farms more authority to dispose of surplus products, this shift toward independent management has also led to an expansion of the incentive system, which bases workers’ pay on their performance.

In April, the Choson Shinbo, a newspaper printed by Chongryon, a pro-North Korean organization in Japan, ran a report about one factory in Pyongyang that was allowed to manage itself. According to the paper, the introduction of an incentive system spurred workers to work harder, leading to a dramatic increase of productivity. Some workers saw their monthly salary increase 100-fold, the paper claimed.

Similar effects have been seen in the area of agriculture under the field assignment system, which reduces the unit size on collective farms to something akin to a family farm. Thanks to this system, total agricultural production in 2013 increased by around 20%, reports say.

The North Korean economy gets another shot in the arm from infusions of foreign currency. There are from 50,000 to 100,000 North Koreans working overseas who send home around US$300 million a year, while an estimated 300,000 tourists from China and other countries spend foreign currency during their stays. The massive constructions projects that are transforming the skyline of Pyongyang are also thought to be contributing substantially to the boost in domestic demand.

While the circulation of cash has led to a modest improvement in the lives of North Koreans, it is unclear whether the North Korean economy will ultimately return to its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s. The most pressing problem is that North Korea has had trouble convincing foreign investors to set up factories in the five special government-designated economic zones and the 19 economic development zones.

The North Korean authorities claimed to have secured US$1.44 billion in investment from 306 foreign companies, but the actual [sic] figure is probably closer to US$400 million of foreign investment, with all of this in the Rason Special Economic Zone…

…“The growth of the markets has reached the level where North Koreans can manage to support themselves through running a business. In order to bring the North Korean economy to the next level, the North Korean authorities need to…formally [institute] the May 30 Measures and by taking steps to alleviate [income?] polarization,” said Cho Bong-hyun, a senior researcher for IBK Economic Research Institute.
 
By Son Won-je, staff reporter and Seong Yeon-cheol, Beijing correspondent

Edited & excerpted by Zuo Shou

Article link: http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_northkorea/671159.html

DPR Korea rebuffs U.S. accusation of cyber attack on Sony movie [Xinhua]

Posted in Assassination, DPR Korea, FBI, Japan, Pyongyang, US imperialism, USA on January 2, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

2014/12/27

PYONGYANG, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) — The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Saturday rebuffed the U.S. accusation that Pyongyang was involved in a cyber attack on a Sony movie.

The United States groundlessly linked the unheard-of [sic] hacking at the Sony Pictures Entertainment to the DPRK, a spokesman for the Policy Department of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK said in a statement.

Reiterating that the DPRK has nothing to do with the hacking attacks against Sony Pictures, the spokesman urged the U.S. to conduct a joint investigation with the DPRK.

“If the U.S. is to persistently insist that the hacking attack was made by the DPRK, the U.S. should produce evidence without fail, though belatedly,” the spokesman was quoted by the official KCNA news agency as saying.

Sony’s new movie The Interview is an illegal, dishonest and reactionary film quite contrary to the UN Charter, which regards respect for sovereignty, non-interference in internal affairs and protection of human rights as a legal keynote, and international laws, according to the statement.

The U.S.-based Sony Pictures Entertainment was cyber-attacked in late November, which caused huge damage to the underlying system of the corporate [sic] and prompted the company to cancel the Christmas Day release of its comedy movie entitled “The Interview” which depicts an assassination attempt [sic] on top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) last week said Pyongyang was responsible for the Sony Pictures hacking, without revealing evidence because of the “protection of sensitive sources.”

Edited by Zuo Shou

Full article link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2014-12/27/c_133882059.htm

Doom and Gloom or Economic Boom? The Myth of the “North Korean Collapse” [Asia-Pacific Journal / Sweet & Sour Socialism Essential Archives]

Posted in Anti-communism, Black propaganda, Capitalist media double standard, Corporate Media Critique, DPR Korea, Kim Il Sung, Media smear campaign, Photos, Pyongyang, Seoul, south Korea, Sweet and Sour Socialism Essential Archives on August 11, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

If you read one article about North (sic) Korea this year — or perhaps this decade — this is the one to provide the antidote to capitalist media’s endless disinformation and vilification of that dynamic and resolute nation – Zuo Shou

The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 12, Issue 18, No. 3, May 5, 2014.
Doom and Gloom or Economic Boom? The Myth of the “North Korean Collapse” 破綻か好況か 「北朝鮮崩壊」という神話

Henri Feron

Abstract: The DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] is said to be an economist’s nightmare. There are almost no reliable statistics available, making any analysis speculative at best. The few useable figures that we have, though, fly in the face of the media’s curious insistence on a looming collapse. Food production and trade volumes indicate that the DPRK has largely recovered from the economic catastrophe of the 1990s. Indeed, Pyongyang’s reported rising budget figures appear more plausible than Seoul’s pessimistic politicized estimates. Obviously, sanctions, while damaging, have failed to nail the country down. There are signs that it is now beginning to open up and prepare to exploit its substantial mineral wealth. Could we soon be witnessing the rise of Asia’s next economic tiger?

There is hardly an economy in the world that is as little understood as the economy of the Democractic [sic] People’s Republic of Korea (aka “North Korea”). Comprehensive government statistics have not been made public since the 1960s. Even if production figures were available, the non-convertibility of the domestic currency and the distortion of commodity prices in the DPRK’s planned economy would still prevent us from computing something as basic as a GDP or GDP growth figure. In the end, this dearth of public or useable primary data means that outside analysis is generally based more on speculation or politicized conslusions than on actual information. Unfortunately, the greater the province of speculation, the greater also the possibility of distortion, and hence of misinformation, or even disinformation.

The dominant narrative in the Western press is that the DPRK is on the verge of collapse. What commentators lack in hard data to prove this, they often try to invent…

Excerpted; full article link with footnotes: http://www.japanfocus.org/-Henri-Feron/4113

DPRK denies link to crashed drone, accuses U.S. of double standards [Xinhua]

Posted in DPR Korea, Korean Central News Agency of DPRK, Pyongyang, south Korea, US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA on April 13, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

PYONGYANG, April 5 (Xinhua) — The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) denies any link to a drone that crashed during its live-fire drill earlier this week, official news agency KCNA reported Saturday.

“An unidentified drone added disgrace to the South,” said an unnamed spokesman with the Korean People’s Army’s strategy department.

“After the unidentified crashed drone incident, the South Korean authorities … made it public that they had also tested a ballistic missile against Pyongyang,” said the spokesman, accusing Seoul of exaggerating Pyongyang’s “normal” and “self-defense” rocket launches.

“On the other hand, it has secretly tested a 500 km ballistic missile on March 23. This is a vivid example of the U.S.’s double standard,” he said. The U.S. should also stop its shameless double standard in criticizing Pyongyang’s countermeasures, the spokesman said.

The Republic of Korea (ROK)’s defense ministry said Friday the country had test-fired an extended range ballistic missile and would develop a longer range missile capable of striking all parts of the DPRK.

A ROK military official alleged a DPRK drone crashed Monday on ROK’s Baengnyeong Island, on the countries’ border, and was believed to have been launched from an airport on DPRK’s west, after the two countries exchanged artillery fire across the sea boundary.

A similar drone was discovered in Paju, south of the demilitarized zone, on March 24, and was found to contain photos of military installations and the residential quarters of Seoul’s presidential compound, according to ROK’s media.

Article link: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2014-04/05/c_133241194.htm

UN report on North Korea targets both Pyongyang and Beijing

Posted in Anti-China media bias, Anti-China propaganda exposure, Anti-communism, Australia, Beijing, Black propaganda, Capitalist media double standard, China, China-bashing, Corporate Media Critique, DPR Korea, INS, Israel, Kim Jong Un, Media smear campaign, Obama, Psychological warfare, Pyongyang, Saudi Arabia, Sino-Korean Friendship, south Korea, State Department, US imperialism, USA on February 20, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Peter Symonds
18 February 2014

The UN report on human rights in North Korea released yesterday marks an acceleration of the US-led campaign to destabilise and ultimately remove the Pyongyang regime. The [alleged] catalogue of horrors in North Korea is designed to stampede public opinion behind any US provocations directed against Pyongyang, but above all to intensify the pressure on North Korea’s ally, China.

The highly political character of the UN commission of inquiry was underlined by the comments of its chair, former Australian judge Michael Kirby, who declared that the repressive methods of the North Korean regime were “strikingly similar” to the crimes of Nazi Germany. He likened North Korean prisons to the Nazi concentration camps in which millions of Jews, gypsies and political prisoners were exterminated.

Kirby has already written to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, declaring that his commission is recommending that “the international criminal court render accountable all those, including possibly yourself, who may be responsible for the crimes against humanity.” In his comments yesterday, Kirby declared that the purpose of the commission’s report was to “galvanize action on the part of the international community.”

Kirby’s condemnation of the North Korean regime, picked up and amplified by the US and international media, recalls the demonisation of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic as the “Serbian Hitler” prior to the 1999 NATO bombing campaign that rained death and destruction on that country’s population. Similarly, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was subjected to a campaign of vilification prior to the illegal 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq that devastated the country and killed hundreds of thousands of people.

North Korea is a small, impoverished and isolated country, not an imperialist power like Germany, which, under the Nazis, launched wars of aggression that ravaged Europe…the targeting of governments and individuals by the UN and its associated institutions is invariably highly selective, politically coloured and geared to the predatory interests of the imperialist powers, above all the United States.

No one is suggesting that a UN commission of inquiry be established into any of the crimes of US imperialism, such as waging wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq — the crime for which the Nazi leaders were convicted at Nuremberg. Similarly, no UN investigations are under way into the crimes and human rights abuses of US allies such as Israel or Saudi Arabia.

The lengthy report is based largely on the testimony of North Korean refugees and exiles who provided [allegations] of their [prison] treatment…The commission of inquiry was barred from entering North Korea.

…the North Korean exile community, particularly in South Korea, is heavily influenced by anti-communist organisations, right-wing Christian groups and the state apparatus, particularly the South Korean National Intelligence Service. The UN commission of inquiry has now given its official seal to testimony from this layer.

It is no accident that the report itself echoes the propaganda that has emanated from Washington for years…

Those who should be held criminally responsible for starving the North Korean people are above all the successive US administrations that maintained an economic blockade of the country following the 1953 termination of the Korean War, in which the United States killed hundreds of thousands of Korean civilians and soldiers. In the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Washington systematically tightened the sanctions regime on North Korea in a calculated effort to bring about its collapse. Any humanitarian aid came with political strings attached. In the mid-1990s, economic sanctions compounded food shortages caused by a string of natural disasters, leading to widespread famine and deaths.

While the role of the US and its allies in systematically destabilising North Korea goes unmentioned, the UN commission report does single out China for special mention. It specifically criticises China for its return of asylum seekers to North Korea, suggesting that it is in breach of its obligations under international refugee laws.

China is not alone, however, in branding asylum seekers as so-called “economic refugees” and…repatriating them. Governments in Kirby’s own country, Australia, are notorious for the “refoulement” of refugees.

The real purpose of the accusation against China is to place it in the dock alongside North Korea, potentially opening up Chinese leaders to charges of complicity in “crimes against humanity.” The UN commission report feeds directly into the Obama administration’s escalating provocations and pressure against China throughout the Indo-Pacific region, as part of its “pivot to Asia.”

The US is targeting North Korea in particular because it is China’s only formal ally and acts as a buffer for China on its northern border. A change of regime in Pyongyang to one sympathetic to Washington would further tighten the noose of US alliances, bases and strategic partnerships around China.

Not surprisingly, the US State Department welcomed the UN report.. An editorial in the Wall Street Journal praised the report for “naming and shaming Pyongyang’s accomplices in Beijing.”

The editorial continued, “The report marks the first major mention of China by name in a UN assessment of North Korea,” and concluded by bluntly declaring, “The report’s findings underscore that Western policy should focus on squeezing the regime with a goal of toppling it.”

The trip to Asia by US Secretary of State John Kerry over the past week signaled that the Obama administration intends to step up the “squeeze” not only on North Korea, but China as well. North Korea topped the agenda in Kerry’s talks with Chinese leaders. He told the media that China had to use “every tool at their disposal, all of the means of persuasion that they have” to compel North Korea to denuclearise.

By extending the accusations against the North Korean regime to “crimes against humanity”, the US is effectively ruling out any compromise or deal with North Korea and setting course for a confrontation with Pyongyang and its ally in Beijing.

Edited / excerpted by Zuo Shou; full article here: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/02/18/kore-f18.html