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Will Seoul allow a sanctioned North Korean official on South Korean soil? By Chad O’Carroll and Fyodor Tertitskiy

Will Seoul allow a sanctioned North Korean official on South Korean soil?
The list of the North Korean delegates contains Choe Hwi, who is banned from traveling by the UNSC.

The South Korean Ministry of Unification has announced that three members of the delegation which are to visit South Korea during the Olympics are Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong (김여정), Choe Hwi (최휘), chairman of the State Sports Guidance Committee (국가체육지도위원회), and Ri Son Gwon (리선권), chairman of the Committee for the Peaceful


North Korea proposes Kim Yo Jong, two other officials for PyeongChang delegation, By Dagyum Ji and Oliver Hotham 

North Korea proposes Kim Yo Jong, two other officials for PyeongChang delegation
DPRK leader’s sister under U.S. sanctions, while Choe Hwi designated by Security Council.

North Korea on Wednesday proposed sending Kim Yo Jong, Choe Hwi, and Ri Son Gwon to lead its delegation to the upcoming PyeongChang Winter Olympics in the South, Seoul’s Ministry of Unification (MOU) has said.

Kim Yo Jong is the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and currently serves as first vice director of the Workers’ Party of Korea’s (WPK) Propaganda and Agitation Department (PAD).She also serves as first vice director of the Central Committee of the WPK and a non-permanent member of the party’s Politburo.

The MOU on Wednesday said North Korea’s plan to dispatch Kim Yo Jong is in keeping with other nations sending relatives of their leaders to the games and appeared to suggest the South would accept the proposal.“We assess that North Korea’s high-level delegation is meaningful, composed of figures related to the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and the government and the circle of the sports to correspond to the purpose of the visit celebrating the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics,” the MOU said in a statement.

Seized N. Korean ammunition was headed to Egyptian ballistic missile producer: PoE, By Leo Byrne 

Seized N. Korean ammunition was headed to Egyptian ballistic missile producer: PoE
UN Panel of Experts highlights group’s “long-standing relationship” with the DPRK

A shipment of North Korean rocket-propelled grenades seized two years ago by the Egyptian authorities was headed to a Cairo-based weapon and ballistic missile factory, according to an upcoming report from the UN Panel of Experts (PoE) tasked with monitoring DPRK sanctions enforcement.


North Korea asks Seoul to provide fuel for Mangyongbong-92 ferry, By Dagyum Ji 

Russian fuel shipments to N. Korea overtook China's in November: data
140-member performing squad will stay at Seoul’s five-star Grand Walkerhill hotel later in the week.

Russia continued to send oil products and fuels to North Korea in November, the country’s export figures show.


Pyongyang pin-ups: North Korea’s film and TV beauties, By Tatiana Gabroussenko 

Pyongyang pin-ups: North Korea’s film and TV beauties
In DPRK culture, big is beautiful and round faces are the must-have.

Like many temporary visitors to the DPRK who had lived in South Korea for a long time, I immediately grasped the meaning of an old Korean saying: namnam puknyeo, “the most beautiful Korean women are from the North, the most beautiful Korean men are from the South.” Indeed, in Pyongyang I found myself surrounded by rather In DPRK culture.

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How to watch North Korean TV live (North Korea Tech) “A common question I get is whether it’s possible to watch North Korean TV live. There are several sources available with different levels of reliability and quality. Broadcasts begin at 3pm Pyongyang time on most days and run until around 11pm. On Sundays and public holidays, programming usually begins at 8am. News is broadcast at 5pm, 8pm and shortly before closedown. The 8pm news is the major bulletin of the day. With the exception of a handful of special events, all programming is recorded.”

Soldiers march across Kim Il Sung Square during a military parade in Pyongyang, April 15, 2017.

North Korea Prohibits Travel Amid Military Anniversary Preparations (Radio Free Asia) North Korea’s regime has issued a directive limiting long-distance travel for the entire month of February to prevent any “incidents” that could overshadow an anniversary marking the foundation of the country’s military, according to sources.On Feb. 8, North Korea will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), which the country’s founder, Kim Il Sung, formed in 1948 from the anti-Japanese guerrilla force known as the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army he had established nearly 16 years earlier.

The North has mobilized as many as 12,000 troops since December for the event, which falls on the day before the opening of the Feb. 9-25 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in rival South Korea, Yonhap news agency reported on Monday, citing South Korea’s National Intelligence Service.Sources inside the country recently told RFA’s Korean Service that ahead of the anniversary the Central Committee of the North Korean Worker’s Party ordered a ban on travel between all provinces and cities throughout February, disrupting the lives of residents.

“The Central Committee recently issued an order prohibiting the movement of residents,” a source from the capital Pyongyang said, speaking on condition of anonymity.“The order was given to prevent any possible incidents that can happen during the Military Foundation Day events on Feb. 8.”


Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, the president of Mozambique, speaks during the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016, at the U.N. headquarters.

Mozambique Denies Doing Business with North Korea (Voice of America) Mozambique is denying allegations that it continues to do business with North Korea in violation of U.N. sanctions. A CNN report published this month found that North Korea has signed contracts worth millions of dollars in Mozambique, funneled the money through diplomatic channels and used profits from fishing vessels off the Mozambican coast to fund its nuclear program.

But Mozambique’s deputy minister of foreign affairs and cooperation, Maria Manuela Lucas, denied that her government has made any agreements with North Korea that violate sanctions. She said Mozambique welcomes outside monitoring.“The Mozambican government recently invited the U.N. panel to visit Mozambique to see the work that the country is doing to be able to collaborate with this panel. The panel has recently been assembled and will also publish a report of the last meeting. The panel promised to visit Mozambique this quarter,” said Lucas.

She also said her government is working with private Mozambican businesses to educate them about the sanctions and shut down illegal operations.

The Education of Kim Jong–un (Brookings) In a new Brookings Essay, Jung H. Pak sheds light on the personality, upbringing and goals of Kim Jong Un. “Predictions about Kim’s imminent fall, overthrow, or demise were rife among North Korea and Asia watchers. Surely, someone in his mid-20s with no leadership experience would be quickly overwhelmed and usurped by his elders.”There was no way North Koreans would stand for a second dynastic succession, unheard of in communism, not to mention that his youth was a critical demerit in a society that prizes the wisdom that comes with age and maturity. And if Kim Jong-un were to hold onto his position, what would happen to his country? North Korea was poor and backward, isolated, unable to feed its people, while clinging to its nuclear and missile programs for legitimacy and prestige. Under Kim Jong-un, the collapse of North Korea seemed more likely than ever.

Pyongyang residents mourn the death of their leader, Kim Jong-il, in December 2011.

That was then.In the six years since, Kim has collected a number of honorifics, cementing his position as North Korea’s leader. Kim has carried out four of North Korea’s six nuclear tests, including the biggest one, in September 2017, with an estimated yield between 100-150 kilotons (the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan during World War II was an estimated 15 kilotons). He has also tested nearly 90 ballistic missiles, three times more than his father and grandfather combined. North Korea now has between 20 and 60 nuclear weapons and has demonstrated ICBMs that appear to be capable of hitting the continental United States. It could also be on track to have up to 100 nuclear weapons and a variety of missiles—long-range, road-mobile, and submarine-launched—that could be operational as early as 2020. Under Kim, North Korea has conducted major cyberattacks and reportedly used a chemical nerve agent to kill Kim’s half-brother at an international airport.

All in the family

Four generations of Kims: A selective history*

*North Korea’s secrecy makes it difficult to verify information about Kim Jong-un’s children, including how many there are and when they were born. His wife’s birth date is also unconfirmed.

Kim Jong-un (right) bears an uncanny likeness to his grandfather Kim Il-sung (seen in hat) in both appearance and demeanor.

While basking in the nostalgia for his grandfather, Kim Jong-un is also determined to be seen as a “modern” leader of a “modern North Korea.” His charting of his own path can be seen in another departure from his father’s public persona. Kim has allowed himself to seem more transparent and accessible than his father.

Kim Jong–un frequently appears in public with his glamorous wife, Ri Sol–ju, to promote an image of youth, vigor, and dynamism.

He appears in public with his pretty and fashionable young wife, Ri Sol-ju (with whom he has at least one child, and possibly three). He hugs, holds hands, and links arms with men, women, and children, seeming comfortable with both young and old. That transparency has been extended to the government.

To outside scholars, Ri’s public appearances offer something else—a glimpse of an emerging material and consumer culture, which Kim seems to be actively promoting. Even as tension with the United States went into overdrive after a sixth nuclear test and the launch of numerous ballistic missiles during the summer and fall of 2017, state media showed Kim and his wife touring a North Korean cosmetics factory. He reportedly urged the industry to be “world competitive,” praised the factory for helping women realize their dream of being beautiful, and offered his own comments on the packaging.

Kim Jong–un has overseen four nuclear tests and debuted ballistic missiles of various ranges, launched from multiple locations.

In addition to the beauty industry, the vision of economic development that Kim has been promoting includes ski resorts, a riding club, skate parks, amusement parks, a new airport, and a dolphinarium, perhaps because he considers these as markers of a “modern” state. Or in his naiveté he may simply want his people to enjoy the things to which he has had privileged access. (Fujimoto claimed that when Kim was 18, he ruminated to the sushi chef, “We are here, playing basketball, riding horses, riding Jet Skis, having fun together. But what of the lives of the average people?”)


North Korean singer Hyon Song Wol during a visit to Seoul in January, 2018.

Pyongyang, PyeongChang, and the limits of Olympic diplomacy (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists) South Korea aims to turn the Olympics into the “Peace Olympics” but it has encountered unexpected domestic challenges that are complicating diplomatic efforts. “Pyongyang is already getting at least some of what it wants: Seoul has lifted some unilateral sanctions.”

The Winter Olympics serve another purpose for Pyongyang: They are a major public relations opportunity on a global scale, such that even if dialogue breaks down afterwards, Pyongyang will walk away a winner. Historically, North Korea has chosen to disrupt major sporting events hosted in the South. In 1987 it blew up Korean Air Flight 858 with a goal of scaring athletes and fans away from the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics, and in 2002, it provoked a skirmish in the West Sea (or Yellow Sea) during the World Cup soccer tournament co-hosted by Seoul and Tokyo.

This time, under a Kim Jong-un who is more image-conscious than his predecessors, North Korea wants a drastically different kind of spotlight: to be perceived as a normal, modern, peace-loving nuclear power. The North is also posturing to turn the PyeongChang Olympics into the “Pyongyang Olympics.” Knowing it will receive extensive coverage by global media with its extravagant arts performances and an unusually large delegation, the regime aims to hijack the limelight from the real stars of an international sporting event. The kind of attention it will command was foreshadowed in January, when the media extensively covered a preparatory visit to the South by North Korean singer Hyon Song Wol, head of her country’s state art troupe and a political emissary. The Rodong Shinmun, the North Korean Workers’ Party’s newspaper, ran a large photo of Hyon on the steps of a bus, looking down on a sea of South Korean photographers like a goddess, an apparent attempt to portray the North’s superiority over the South.

Hasil gambar untuk President Moon's Olympic diplomacy continues on D-Day for PyeongChang Games

Delicate waters ahead . For decades, Pyongyang has demanded that the United States and North Korea halt joint military exercises, but the drills were hardly deal breakers in the past. From 2000 to 2008, inter-Korean talks and the Six Party Talks took recesses during the drills and resumed afterwards without much fuss. But several factors might be contributing to the North’s recent push to halt the drills and indefinitely rid the peninsula of US troops. Pyongyang knows that the progressive Moon administration is more inclined to accept such demands than his conservative political opponents. It is also taking advantage of the push—by China and others—for a so-called “freeze for freeze” deal, in which North Korea halts nuclear-missile activity and testing while the US halts joint military exercises with South Korea. There is a growing chorus even in the American policy community for such a disproportionate bargain, a fact Kim is well aware of. More fundamentally, rumor has it that the North has almost depleted the resources and reserves it would need to mobilize its military in response to US-South Korean drills.

Trump’s hard choices will arrive when Pyongyang is ready to negotiate. By that point, the regime may have already perfected reliable, nuclear-tipped ICBMs. The White House is applying the most comprehensive sanctions against Pyongyang in 25 years to try to bring it to the negotiating table. Washington will need to formulate a plan soon, with Seoul, for the day Pyongyang is ready to make a deal.

But the ultimate moment of truth will come when Trump realizes complete denuclearization will not happen quickly or easily. At that point, he will have to decide whether to deal with the North using Cold War-style containment or military force. If Trump’s State of the Union address last week is any guide, then the latter appears likely. The president’s remarks on North Korea sounded eerily similar to former President George W. Bush’s 2002 “axis of evil” speech essentially selling the Iraq War. Without any mention of diplomacy—the other current pillar of Washington’s North Korea policy—Trump seemed to be building a moral case by manipulating the plight of the North Korean people to demonize the North and justify future military action.

Any US military strike on the North would compel Pyongyang to retaliate, which would quickly escalate into full-blown conflict. All wars are devastating, but marching into war with a young nuclear-armed state would be a serious mistake with catastrophic consequences not only for American allies in Northeast Asia, but also for Americans and the rest of the world. Hard-nosed diplomacy backed by credible pressure minus any military strike may not guarantee a quick fix, but it is the smart choice.



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