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Kim Jong Un praises letter from Trump, orders preparations for second summit: KCNA, By Oliver Hotham

Kim Jong Un praises letter from Trump, orders preparations for second summit: KCNA

DPRK leader thanks U.S. President for “determination” to improve relations

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Wednesday held a meeting with members of a DPRK delegation to Washington DC last week, hailing a “good personal letter” from the U.S. President and ordering preparations be made for their upcoming second summit.

In comments carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Thursday morning, the North Korean leader was said to have been debriefed on last week’s visit to the U.S. capital by Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Central Committee Vice Chairman Kim Yong Chol and other officials.

The delegation reportedly delivered another letter from the U.S. President to the North Korean leader, following Trump’s receipt of a personal note from Kim during their visit to the White House over the weekend.

“Upon receiving the good personal letter sent by President Trump, the Supreme Leader expressed great satisfaction,” KCNA reported, following a meeting which appears to have taken place in the same private office from which Kim delivered his New Year’s Speech.

“[Kim] spoke highly of President Trump for expressing his unusual determination and will for the settlement of the issue with a great interest in the second DPRK-U.S. summit,” it continued, adding that Kim had ordered officials to begin “making good technical preparations” for that meeting.

The North Korean leader was reported to have told officials he fully supports efforts to improve relations between the U.S. and North Korea, and that he believes the two can, through “patience and in good faith… advance step by step toward the goal.”

He also praised the work of last week’s DPRK delegation to Washington DC, a visit which followed months of diplomatic deadlock between North Korea and the U.S. over the issue of sanctions and the pace of denuclearization.

That visit saw Kim Yong Chol, accompanied by diplomats Kim Hyok Chol, Kim Song Hye, and Pak Chol, meet with U.S. President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over several meetings widely seen as intended to restart negotiations and prepare for a planned second DPRK-U.S. summit.

Trump in the aftermath of those talks praised a “great meeting” with the DPRK officials.

“We had a very good meeting yesterday with North Korea. That was an incredible meeting,” the President told reporters on Saturday at the White House. “It lasted almost two hours and we’ve agreed to meet sometime probably the end of February.

“We’ve picked the country but we’ll be announcing it in the future,” he said. “Kim Jong Un is looking very forward to it and so am I.”

The weekend’s meetings in Washington DC were swiftly followed by a series of U.S.-DPRK talks in Stockholm, which wrapped up on Monday.

One expert said the lack of details from those talks – and North Korea’s positive response – suggested the U.S. may have already presented the DPRK with a deal for the upcoming summit.

“We should be wary of what Kim’s ‘great satisfaction’ with Trump’s letter may portend for the second summit,” Soo Kim, a former CIA North Korea analyst, told NK News.

“We can’t rule out the possibility that the U.S. gave North Korea a preview of concessions it may offer — for a “small deal,” she continued.

This, Kim said, would likely involve offering “something small.”

“Perhaps an easing of some sanctions pressure, or one step further and suggest decreasing U.S. troop presence in the ROK,” she said. “This would be bartered for a small NK step — a nuclear freeze, refraining from testing ICBMs, etc.”

“These are small steps in that they don’t answer to Washington’s initial demands of CVID (to FFVD), but also because these steps are reversible any time the North has a change of heart.”

 


DPRK officials urge all Koreans to “smash” sanctions, pursue economic cooperation, By Dagyum Ji

DPRK officials urge all Koreans to “smash” sanctions, pursue economic cooperation
Joint statement urges citizens to reject the “cunning moves of outsiders”

North Korean officials on Wednesday urged the two Koreas to “smash all kinds of sanctions and pressure” to achieve joint prosperity, the Rodong Sinmun reported on Thursday, urging Seoul to disregard international sanctions and push ahead with large-scale economic cooperation. The appeal to “all Koreans” was adopted at the joint conference of the DPRK government.

 


New North Korean posters hail New Year Address, economic and scientific development, By Colin Zwirko

New North Korean posters hail New Year Address, economic and scientific development
Recently-released propaganda hopes to “inspire the people,” state media reports

North Korean media on Wednesday published a range of new propaganda posters, calling on citizens to follow orders given by leader Kim Jong Un in his New Year Address and hailing recent ruling party decrees on the economy and scientific development.

The new posters, published by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), come amid a slew of political events in the country intended to shore up support for Kim’s New Year speech, and feature imagery focusing on heavy industry, the ruling party’s five-year strategy for national economic development, and the agricultural sector.

They are intended to “inspire the people to carry through the tasks set forth by Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un in his historic New Year Address,” state media reported, and “to work hard in the indefatigable spirit on the principle of self-reliance.”

The metallurgical and chemical industries are described as the “two pillars of economic construction,” and an increase is encouraged in the agricultural sector – the “major point of attack in socialist economic construction.”

One poster focusing on science and technology features satellites in the sky, and says that “talented personnel and science and technology are our major strategic resources and weapons, with which to bring about a great leap forward in socialist construction!”

In a similar vein, a poster featuring a scientist, a propagandist, and an industry worker says “young people should become pioneers of new technology, creators of new culture and pathfinders for a great leap forward!”

Technological advances are also encouraged in the fishing sector, saying the country should “open a new path for developing the fishing industry!”

Kim Jong Un expanded upon this point in his New Year’s Address, saying “the fishing sector should consolidate its material and technical foundations, put fishing and aquatic culture on a scientific basis and protect and increase aquatic resources.”

Similar to posters released in the past promoting various domestically produced consumer goods, one new propaganda poster released Thursday features a factory worker holding a box of shoes from the Maebongsan brand, which are produced in Wonsan Leather Shoe Factory.

Kim said in his speech this should be achieved “by consistently upholding the banner of modernizing production lines, obtaining at home everything needed for production and improving quality.”

Posters released throughout the course of 2018 covered the same themes and industries, though new batches can point to which brands the government considers most worthy of promotion, and what new developments may be highlighted in the transportation sector in the coming year.

In this case, a new subway train design appears again after being featured in a unification-themed poster released earlier this month and in posters last year.

That new series of posters, while mostly inter-Korean-themed, also included clues as to how North Korea may approach negotiations with the U.S. this year, featuring a call for the end of joint ROK-U.S. military drills .


Kim Jong Un sees himself in a “position of strength” ahead of second summit: expert, By Dagyum Ji

Kim Jong Un sees himself in a “position of strength” ahead of second summit: expert
The Brookings Institution’s Jung Pak says Trump is underprepared for complex negotiations

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un heads into an upcoming summit with U.S. President Donald Trump believing he is at a distinct advantage, Jung H. Pak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, warned in a recent interview with NK News. Pak, a former CIA senior official, said she is skeptical that the U.S. President will meet for second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jongun .

 


An alliance dispute over military cost-sharing: what implications for North Korea? By Ankit Panda

Sanctioned North Korean smugglers leave DPRK waters in 2019

With a second summit looming, Pyongyang could take advantage of U.S.-ROK tensions

Several North Korean ships bucked recent voyage trends in the new year, heading far outside of the limited number of routes they mostly stuck to last in 2018, the NK Pro ship tracker shows. The DPRK vessels broadcast their locations apparently heading to, or returning from Vietnam, southeast China and Asia.

While the United States and North Korea try to revive nuclear talks, another dispute is simmering on the southern half of the peninsula over funding for U.S. forces.

Seoul and Washington failed to agree on a new cost-sharing deal for the 28,500 U.S. servicemembers stationed in South Korea before the latest five-year contract expired on Dec. 31.

That has raised fears that President Donald Trump may threaten to draw down forces as he prepares for a possible second summit with North Korea.

The longtime allies held 10 rounds of talks since March but remained deadlocked as the new year began over Washington’s reported demand that South Korea increase its contribution by as much as 150 percent.

The Special Measures Agreement, as the funding deal is known, largely covers the salaries of South Korean employees who staff restaurants and provide other crucial services for the troops, dependents and civilian contractors.

U.S. Forces Korea, the main command, has warned the Korean Employees’ Union that it may have to put local staff on unpaid leave in mid-April if an agreement isn’t reached.

That would be a blow to South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s administration, which is facing criticism over a rising unemployment rate.

The two sides continue to work on concluding a new deal, according to the State Department, but no date has been publicly announced for more formal talks.

The allies also missed the Dec. 31 deadline in 2013, but they managed to reach a deal a few weeks later when South Korea agreed to increase its contribution by 5.8 percent, with a 4 percent cap on the inflation rate.

“While a gap between agreements is not ideal, it does occasionally occur,” a State Department spokesperson told Stars and Stripes in an email.

“For example, in 2014, the SMA did not enter into force until June despite the earlier agreement expiring in December 2013,” the official said, declining to provide more details about an ongoing bilateral negotiation.


3D model of North Korea’s Wonsan Kalma beach resort sheds light on project plans, By Colin Zwirko

Video obtained by NK Pro reveals detailed blueprint and how plans changed over time

 

The latest from the podcast:

Kim and Trump’s pen pal diplomacy: a roundtable – Ep.54

Kim and Trump’s pen pal diplomacy: a roundtable – NK News Podcast ep.54

The MHI-NK News Seoul team talks summits, sanctions, and meetings in Stockholm

U.S.-North Korea diplomacy got a much-needed shot in the arm over the weekend, with officials from both sides sitting down for long-awaited talks in Washington DC and on the outskirts of Stockholm. Those meetings saw, among other things, the delivery of yet another letter from the North Korean leader to the American President.

Hoping to make sense of the developments, NK News’s Oliver Hotham, Chad O’Carroll, Colin Zwirko, and Dagyum Ji sat down for roundtable chat to discuss the renewed negotiations and what it all means going forward.

Also under discussion? Prospects for a relaxation of sanctions this year, plans for a second summit in Vietnam, and Kim Jong Un’s birthday trip to Beijing.

Top MHI-NK Stories from around the web:

S. Korea approves 28.3 bln won for inter-Korean cooperation projects (Yonhap News)

Hasil gambar untuk S. Korea approves 28.3 bln won for inter-Korean cooperation projects

The government approved the expenditure of 28.3 billion won (US$25 million) for six projects involving North Korea, including the operating expenses for a foundation supporting a shuttered inter-Korean industrial complex, the unification ministry said Thursday.

The expenditure plan, approved by the Inter-Korean Exchange and Cooperation Promotion Council, includes 8.8 billion won for the foundation, which supports companies that operated factories at the Kaesong Industrial Complex in the North’s border town of Kaesong, according to the ministry.

The complex was abruptly closed in 2016 amid nuclear and missile provocations from the North.

Other expenditure plans include 6.16 billion won for the operation of the joint liaison office in Kaesong and 6.34 billion won for the Center for Unified Korean Future, a state-run institution on unification-related education, it said.


Inside Google’s Team Battling Hackers (Wall Street Journal)

Hasil gambar untuk Inside Google’s Team Battling Hackers

Shane Huntley and his team have tracked Iranian hackers as they spread disinformation in the U.S., unmasked North Korea’s responsibility for a crippling global computer virus and probed Russians linked to the 2016 hack of the Democratic National Committee.

Mr. Huntley doesn’t work for the National Security Agency or another government spy shop. He heads Google’s in-house counterespionage group, the Threat Analysis Group, which has emerged as an important force in the battle against hackers and a leading example of tech giants.


What North Korea wants from the next US summit (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists)

TrumpKim.jpg

“In addition to conveying a detailed domestic agenda as usual (the key word for 2019 being “modernization” across all sectors), this year’s address spent an unusual amount of time on relations with Washington. Kim called on the United States to fulfill its end of the Singapore statement…”, specifically by establishing “new US-DPRK relations” and a peace regime—that is, a system of institutions and mechanisms, underpinned by a treaty, that will sustain peace over the long term. He portrayed North Korea as a far bigger peace promoter than the United States. Overall, the address placed much weight on the regime’s effort to achieve domestic strength without US or other outside help, and inter-Korean peace and unification without the influence of big-power meddlers. Portraying himself as the leader of both Koreas—and indeed, of all Koreans around the world—Kim emphasized the regime’s longtime objective of national reconciliation, unity, and unification by Koreans alone, warning that he will “never tolerate the interference and intervention of outside forces who stand in the way.”

Kim also painted a day-and-night contrast between Pyongyang’s drastically improved relations with Seoul and stagnant relations with Washington over the past year. For instance, he said he was “very happy” with the progress the two Koreas made last year, praising their efforts to “remove military hostility on the whole of the Korean peninsula, including the ground, airspace and sea.” Here, “military hostility” is code for “the US military.” He suggested that despite the Singapore statement, relations with Washington have fallen short compared to the bold ways the two Koreas are transforming their ties. Kim called on Seoul to end its joint military exercises with Washington and stop the deployment of American military assets to the peninsula.

The speech also suggested that the North may be taking a broader approach to peace than just bilateral negotiations with Washington. Kim called for “multi-party negotiations for replacing the current ceasefire on the Korean peninsula with a peace mechanism in close contact with the signatories to the armistice agreement.” This hints that he may seek a two-track process: bilateral talks with the United States towards denuclearizing all of the peninsula, plus a multilateral process, presumably to include China, toward a peace regime.

Global pundits scratched their heads over Kim’s warning that if Washington did not deliver on the Singapore statement and continued to impose sanctions, Pyongyang would have no choice but to seek “a new way” to achieve Korean peace and stability. Korean is a high-context language—when you ask for the definition of a word, the first reply will usually be a question about how it was used. The cryptic phrase “a new way” has even raised eyebrows among South Koreans. Still, there were enough hints to gauge what he might have meant. A combination of Korean cultural indicators and contextual clues suggest that to Kim, a “new way” could mean achieving prosperity without America’s help, and deepening diplomatic engagement with like-minded countries. After all, Kim will likely be in power for decades to come and is playing the long game beyond a Trump presidency. Kim said he will “continue to bolster up unity and cooperation with the socialist countries and develop relations with all countries that are friendly to us under the ideals of independence, peace, and friendship.” Soon afterwards, he visited Beijing. He may have a bigger vision than merely obsessing over Washington, and be looking to a future of radically less US clout in Korean affairs. To be sure, none of this precludes the possibility of returning to a hardline stance if Pyongyang feels Washington has forced its hand. Kim’s ambiguous “new way” leaves all options open from which to conveniently choose and justify his future action.


Attention on DPRK and China Policies that Result in Sex Trafficking (The Peninsula)

King reviews a BBC article that sheds light on the horrific humanitarian consequences of defecting to China. “Chinese policy considers all refugees from North Korea to be economic migrants. Very occasionally China has allowed defectors to go to South Korea in order to punish or pressure the North Korean regime…”

BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) has just released an excellent report on the trafficking of North Korean defectors:  “The North Korean women who had to escape twice” by BBC Korea editor Su-Min Hwang. The report gives first-hand details of North Korean defectors in China who were trafficked and provides an account of their heart-wrenching experiences.

This tragedy is the consequence of DPRK policies to prevent and severely punish individuals who attempt to leave.  But the Chinese government is also complicit because North Koreans who are apprehended by Chinese officials are returned to the North with total disregard for the brutal abuse they will assuredly receive when they are forced back across the border.  The Chinese have other options because South Korea is quite willing to take defectors, and most defectors want to go to the South.  This BBC report provides an eloquent image of the horrific humanitarian consequences of these North Korean and Chinese policies.

Since the North Korean famine of the 1990s over 32,000 North Koreans have fled their homeland to seek a better life in South Korea, initially going through China. Most are individuals seeking opportunities to provide for themselves and their families because repressive discrimination based on family connections or presumed political leanings severely limit economic and educational opportunities for the majority of the population who are arbitrarily categorized as part of the so-called “hostile” or “wavering” classes.

In the six years Kim Jong-un has led the DPRK, the number of defectors who have chosen to leave North Korea and have gone to South Korea has declined by more than half from a high of 2,706 in 2011 to only 1,127 in 2017 according to South Korean government statistics.  This is partly the result of tightening border control.  The inter-Korean border—the Demilitarized Zone—is so heavily guarded that it is virtually impossible to cross.  Areas adjacent to the border with China, the only other option for escape, are off-limits to anyone who does not live in the immediate border zone.  North Korean border guards are trained to be tough on defectors, and reports appear frequently of border guards killing would-be defectors. Family members who remain in the North when relatives defect are severely punished and even executed.

Shortly after coming to power, Kim Jong-un sought to make the South appear less attractive to citizens from the North to discourage defections.  Pyongyang media highly publicized “re-defections” by North Koreans who returned from the South with tales about the awful life there.  The major media campaign against defection in 2012-2013 highlighted “re-defectors” giving extended reports about difficult conditions in the South and obsequious praise for Kim Jong-un welcoming them back.  By raising questions about life in the South, regime intended to make Northerners more cautious about the tough choice of abandoning friends and family for an uncertain life in the South.

Those who decide to leave the North and succeed in getting into China still have a very difficult road.  Chinese policy considers all refugees from North Korea to be economic migrants.  Very occasionally China has allowed defectors to go to South Korea in order to punish or pressure the North Korean regime.  The default Chinese position is that all North Koreans are to be returned to the North, although the Chinese know that they will receive harsh punishment, including imprisonment and brutal physical abuse.

North Koreans in China are in a very vulnerable position and subject to exploitation by unscrupulous locals.  In this situation many women defectors—and over two-thirds of all defectors are women—are exploited and trafficked through forced “marriages” to rural Chinese peasants or pressed into the sex trade.

The excellent BBC report gives personal details of the experiences of two defectors who successfully left North Korea with the help of brokers, but were then sold to a sexcam operator just across the border in China. Imprisoned in a tiny apartment where they were guarded twenty-four hours a day, the defectors were forced to work long hours performing pornographic acts daily on a live webcam.  One survived five years and another eight years before they were able to escape and make the precarious journey from northeast China to the Chinese border with Southeast Asia where they were finally able to escape with the help of South Korean non-government organizations and the South Korean government.  Their story is grim, and the defectors’ willingness to share them gives first-hand insight into the brutality of the Kim regime toward its own people and highlights the China’s willing complicity in the inhumane treatment of these victims.


Seoul denies report U.S. blocking provision of Tamiflu to N. Korea (Yonhap News)

Hasil gambar untuk Baik Tae-hyun, the ministry's spokesperson

South Korea’s unification ministry dismissed a media report Wednesday that the United States has put the brakes on its planned provision of Tamiflu antiviral medication to North Korea.

A local daily newspaper reported that the U.S. expressed reservations about Seoul’s move to send 200,000 doses of Tamiflu to North Korea during their recent working group session on the North.

“That is not true,” Baik Tae-hyun, the ministry’s spokesperson, told a regular press briefing. “(Sending) the influenza treatment drugs is a humanitarian issue and the U.S. has voiced its positive stance on that.”

In December, the government announced the plan to send the antiviral drugs and medical detection kits to North Korea via a land route over their western border, but delivery, which had initially been scheduled for Jan. 11, has been repeatedly put off for unclear reasons.

Seoul says that logistical issues involving preparations for the cross-border delivery are holding the shipment back, but speculation is rising that sanctions might be a major factor behind the protracted delay.

The ministry handling inter-Korean affairs earlier said that it discussed the matter with the U.S. through a working-group session held last month to make sure it does not violate sanctions.

A ministry official said that Washington does not take issue with the medication itself but conveyed its opinion that the cargo trucks needing to transport it could violate sanctions against North Korea.

Asked about the concerns over sanctions violations, the spokesperson did not elaborate.

Concerns are rising that a further delay could render the drugs ineffective in treating influenza patients as the peak season for the disease is nearing an end.

“We share a view that the drugs should be delivered as soon as possible. Still, I have to say that we should closely consult with the international community and relevant countries not to cause any sanctions-related problems in the process,” the spokesperson said.

“I can say that the government’s stance on providing humanitarian assistance to North Korea remains unchanged,” he added.

Hasil gambar untuk Seoul denies report U.S. blocking provision of Tamiflu to N. Korea

The Tamiflu provision plan was based on information that about 150,000 North Korean people were confirmed to have been infected with influenza from late 2017 to early 2018. The leaders of the Koreas earlier agreed to work together to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

The medicine, if delivered, would be the first consignment since Seoul delivered around 400,000 doses of Tamiflu and 100,000 doses of Relenza antiviral drugs loaded on eight trucks to North Korea in 2009.

In 2017, South Korea unveiled a plan to provide US$8 million worth of assistance to North Korea through global humanitarian organizations, but it has yet to be executed amid apparent concerns that such a move could hurt a global alliance to resolve the North’s nuclear problem.

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