Only at MHI-NK News:
Pyongyang, Seoul hold inter-Korean basketball games in DPRK capital, By Dagyum Ji
Two Koreas set to hold two more “goodwill” games on Thursday
The two Koreas held two mixed basketball games in the North Korean capital on Wednesday afternoon, the South Korean Press Pool in Pyongyang reported.
Male and female players from the North and South were combined and organized into two teams called “Team Peace” and “Team Prosperity.”
Team Prosperity took 103-102 win over Team Peace in the women’s game, while the results of the men’s match are yet to be released.
The two Koreas also plan to form a united women’s basketball team for the 2018 Asian Games, which will be held in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia between August 18 and September 2.
Despite the South Korean Ministry of Unification (MOU) on Wednesday morning saying that Seoul expected him to attend the match, DPRK leader Kim Jong Un did not make an appearance.
The DPRK leader has long been known to be a basketball fan, famously inviting former NBA hall-of-famer Dennis Rodman to North Korea multiple times in recent years.
He also reportedly proposed the resumption of sports exchanges – particularly in basketball – during a visit to Pyongyang by an ROK delegation in April.
Tuesday also saw North Korean vice-minister of Physical Culture and Sports Won Kil U say the basketball games were being held “on the direct suggestion” of Kim Jong Un.
In opening remarks, DPRK minister of Physical Culture and Sports Kim Il Guk said the North-South unification basketball game was an “auspicious event for the nation,” the ROK press pool in Pyongyang reported.
Japan pushes ahead with missile defense upgrade amid North Korean outcry, By Colin Zwirko
Radar systems purchase comes as Tokyo relaxes missile alert level at sea
Japan has selected U.S. company Lockheed Martin to provide radar systems for its planned Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense (BMD) project, Reuters reported Tuesday.
With the purchase, Lockheed will reportedly provide Japan with its Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) systems to improve coverage of the Korean peninsula.
Japan selected Lockheed, which already produces the Aegis Ashore BMD, over Raytheon’s SPY-6 radar.
The move comes after reports surfaced over the weekend that Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force (SDF) was recalling naval Aegis-equipped destroyers and relaxing its alert level for North Korean missile launches.
But yesterday’s revelations suggest Japan’s plan to station the land-based systems in two west-coast prefectures by 2023 is back on track.
North Korean state-run media has published articles over the past week condemning the plans, following visits by Japanese defense minister Itsunori Onodera to Akita and Yamaguchi prefectures on June 22 to shore up support for the long-term plans.
Two commentaries published on June 26 and 27 criticized Onodera’s activities and the country’s Aegis systems plans as a challenge to its ongoing negotiations with the U.S. and South Korea.
One, originally published in the Minju Joson, said: “such arms buildup and military confrontation moves as deployment of Aegis Ashore go to prove that Japan does not want peace but escalation of tension.”
While there is some domestic opposition to the plans in Japan following North Korea’s stated plans to halt missile tests this year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government is continuing to prioritize military improvements in talks with the U.S.
U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis affirmed the plans to purchase the U.S.-developed missile defense systems during meetings last week in Tokyo with Prime Minister Abe and defense minister Onodera.
Mattis told the press following his meetings with Onodera he was “encouraged by our joint efforts to improve the foreign military sales process for Japan, while ensuring our cutting-edge technologies… remain protected.”
In a Reuters report the same day revealing Tokyo planned to announce a contract for the radar systems with either Lockheed or Raytheon sometime the following week, a Japanese government official was quoted as saying “Aegis will be a big-ticket purchase; it will be a nice gift for President Trump.”
Despite comments from PM, N. Korea’s trade with Thailand continued in 2018, By Leo Byrne
Some raw material and electronic imports could also breach UN sanctions
North Korean trade with Thailand has continued so far this year, despite a statement from Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha in December last year claiming there was “no commerce” between the two countries. Some of Thailand’s registered imports from the DPRK in recent months also include small quantities of iron products, which likely push against UN.
The Trump administration and CVID: a brief history, By Fyodor Tertitskiy
Where “complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization” came from – and where it goes next
When it comes to United States’ policy towards North Korea, one of the most well-known abbreviations that has emerged in recent months is CVID: complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization. This policy predates the election of Donald Trump and has been a stated goal not only of the United States.
Thae Yong-ho’s memoir: some key insights from the diplomat defector, By Andrei Lankov
The former deputy ambassador to the UK’s book is a treasure trove for any DPRK watcher
This is the second part of a two-part series by Andrei Lankov looking at some of the most interesting revelations from the memoirs of Thae Yong-ho, one of the highest-ranking North Korean diplomats to ever defect. The book, “Cypher of the third-floor secretariat,” can be purchased here.
For the last few weeks, the bestsellers list in South Korea has been dominated by a book by Thae Yong-ho, the high-level North Korea diplomat, once a deputy ambassador in Britain, whose defection in 2016 made headlines worldwide.
Such interest is unusual: contrary to what is typically assumed in the West, the average South Korean cares little about North Korea and is remarkably disinterested in what defectors and refugees can tell us about their country.
The success of Thae’s book, then, is remarkable – more so as the book is far from being sensationalist. One does not find anything about Kim Jong Un’s personal life, and even stories of regime brutality and corruption, while present, are not that prominent.
In essence, the book is best described as a high-quality diplomatic memoir, even though it also contains roughly a hundred pages (out of 500 total) dealing with Thae’s family and background. The tone of the book – highly informative and rich in detail, but also well-balanced and analytical – makes it one of the best examples of this genre. One can easily see a disappointed and embittered but intelligent and well-informed U.S. diplomat writing a similar text after their retirement.
The book is a goldmine for everyone interested in North Korean diplomacy and the country’s recent history, and its 500 pages are packed with information related to these subjects. Remarkably, Thae refuses to speculate on things he does not have first-hand knowledge of, and limits himself to things he knows directly.
To understand why Thae Yong-ho knows so much one must recall his CV. Born in 1962 to a rather humble family, he, then still a teenager, was one of few North Korean students selected to study foreign languages overseas in the 1970s.
He graduated from a prestigious college, and embarked on a highly successful diplomatic carrier. In the 1990s he served in Scandinavia (Denmark and Sweden) and then made two tours of duty in London, in 2003-2008 and again in 2013-2016. He was then widely known as a rising star in the North Korean foreign policy bureaucracy, and some even saw him as a future deputy foreign minister or even higher.
In many regards, the tone of Thae’s memoirs differs greatly from what one would expect from a book written by a defecting official, and it is truly remarkable how favorably he describes most (indeed, nearly all) of the people with whom he worked over his long career.
For example, he writes with great sympathy about Ri Su Yong, who he knew since the days when Ri was an ambassador to Switzerland and something of a foster father to the teenage Kim Jong Un (Ri later became the foreign minister). He is described as a responsible and courageous man, sometimes ready to tell the leaders the bitter truth, albeit in the proper packaging. For example, Thae writes that it was Ri Su Yong who took the significant career risk by suggesting to Kim Jong Il that the country apply for foreign aid in the 1990s.