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From MHI ,NK Pro & NK News ;

North Korea fires two “short-range ballistic missiles,” South Korea says – by Jeongmin Kim, Oliver Hotham
Test is first of its kind by the DPRK this year

North Korea on Monday test-fired two short-range ballistic missiles, South Korea’s military said, the first such launch by the country this year.

The projectiles were fired from Wonsan on the country’s east coast around 12:37 local time, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) reported, and headed towards the Sea of Japan, known in Korea as the East Sea. “Our military is maintaining the readiness posture while tracking and monitoring the relevant movement in preparation for additional launch,” the statement added.

Monday’s test comes just days after North Korea conducted what it described as a “joint strike” military drill on its east coast — also its first such exercise in 2020.

South Korea’s military assessed that Monday’s test marked a continuation of that exercise, and that the projectiles in question traveled 240 kilometers at a maximum altitude of 35 kilometers. “Additional specifications are being analyzed by ROK-U.S. intelligence authorities,” the JCS said, adding that “North Korea’s such actions do not help to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula, and it is urged repeatedly to stop immediately.”

A later briefing by an unnamed JCS official to local press described the test as having been of “short-range ballistic missiles.”

Monday marks North Korea’s first missile test since November 28, when the country was reported to have conducted a “test-fire of super-large multiple rocket launchers [MRLs].”

It also marks the first from Wonsan since the launch of the “new-type” Pukguksong-3 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) on October 3.

“It sounds like they are starting off with something small and conventional in nature,” Joshua Pollack, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, said, adding that South Korea’s assessment that the test represented a continuation of the weekend’s exercise “makes sense.”

“North Korea has presented missiles that fit this profile as ‘tactical’ and implicitly conventional in nature,” he said.

The test follows months of diplomatic inaction between the U.S. and North Korea, with talks effectively on ice since a meeting in Stockholm fell apart without a deal in October last year.

December passed in relative calm, however, despite North Korean threats of a “Christmas gift” for the U.S. earlier that month.

A ruling party plenum that month also saw DPRK leader Kim Jong Un promise the country would “steadily develop necessary and prerequisite strategic weapons” in the coming year, though he stopped short of ending an April 2018 self-declared moratorium on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) testing.

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Kim Jong Un’s guidance of party meeting and military drill: key takeaways – by Rachel Minyoung Lee
The North Korean leader’s guidance of a CC meeting and a drill shows domestic discipline remains the top priority

North Korean state media on February 29 reported on Kim’s “operation and execution” of an expanded meeting of the Workers Party of Korea (WPK) Central Committee (CC) Political Bureau (PB) on an unknown date. This report was followed by a readout of Kim’s guidance of a military drill on February 28.

Kim likely presided over the PB expanded meeting on February 27 rather than on the same day as guiding the military exercise, given the travel time required.

The PB expanded meeting dealt with three agenda items: wrongdoing among party cadres, including “irregularities and corruption”; the prevention of a coronavirus

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On Hanoi summit anniversary, Kim Jong Un oversees “joint strike” military drill – by Jacob Fromer
North Korean army turned small islet into “sea of flames,” state media says
Updated 23:30 KST to include details from KCTV broadcast and location of the joint strike drill.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un observed a “joint strike” military drill on Friday, the one-year anniversary of his ill-fated Hanoi summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, the official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reported early Saturday morning.The military drill — conducted to “judge the North Korean”.
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Kim Jong Un sacks top officials for “corruption” in meeting on coronavirus – by Colin Zwirko
North Korean leader in Politburo meeting pointed to “recent incident” also involving a Party cadre training base
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un led an enlarged Political Bureau meeting primarily on the country’s coronavirus prevention efforts, where he dismissed two top officials for what appear to be related “corrupt” acts, the Party daily Rodong Sinmun and Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Saturday. At the meeting held on an unspecified recent date, Kim was said to have discussed “acts corrupt” on coronavirus meeting.
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North Korean state media pushes anti-corruption line following Politburo meeting – by Colin Zwirko
Official reactions to corrupt “betrayal,” self-criticisms highlighted on Party daily front page
The front page of North Korea’s party-run daily Rodong Sinmun emphasized a recent scandal as a key ideological target for self-reflection on Monday, following the announcement of a dismissal of top officials for corruption on Saturday.That announcement came in coverage of a recent Politburo meeting led by Kim Jong Un, which was said to have covered the primary topics of the corruption.
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3920 people under quarantine in North Korea’s South Phyongan, Kangwon provinces – by Jeongmin Kim
Amid coronavirus concerns, state media reports nearly 7000 now being held for “medical monitoring” in DPRK
North Korea is currently holding around 3920 people under quarantine in South Phyongan Province and Kangwon Province, the country’s ruling party daily reported on Sunday, as the DPRK steps-up efforts to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) within its territory.
The DPRK is “strengthening medical observation,” the Rodong Sinmun reported, “finding visitors who came back from China.
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Cambodia seizes oil tanker tied to North Korea sanctions evasion – by Oliver Hotham
“Courageous” alleged to have been involved in ship-to-ship transfers
Cambodian authorities over the weekend took an oil tanker with ties to illicit North Korean ship-to-ship transfers into custody, a statement from the country’s General Commissariat of Police said Sunday.The ship, named in the statement as the Courageous (IMO number 8617524), carried a crew of 16, and is currently being detained pending further investigation by local legal authorities.
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North Korea confirms Vladivostok flight, “ends” foreigner quarantine measures – by Chad O’Carroll
Russian aviation authorities still need to approve the flight, NK News understands
Following a week of uncertainty, NK News now understands that North Korean authorities have confirmed that a single Air Koryo flight will be allowed to go to Vladivostok on Friday, while also officially ending the most restrictive of quarantine measures for expatriate residents in Pyongyang. Approximately 60 people are expected to leave on Friday’s flight – if and when Russian aviation authorities still need to approve the flight.
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Michael Hay, who managed the longest-running law firm in Pyongyang, dies at 58 – by Chad O’Carroll
Lawyer was known for winning disputes in DPRK, despite its opaque legal system

Michael Hay, who founded and managed the longest-running foreign-backed law firm to be based in North Korea, died last Wednesday in South Korea, aged 58.His death was confirmed by friends and former colleagues to NK News.

Hay – also a friend of this author – was well known among businesses and NGOs as one of the few lawyers to have ever successfully won commercial disputes in North Korea’s opaque legal system. A dual British-French national and member of the New York bar, he founded Hay, Kalb & Associates in Pyongyang in 2004 after working for over a decade in the South Korean legal system.

His firm operated from the Pyongyang Hotel with a team comprising North Korean partners until 2016, when it suspended service amid growing international sanctions pressure and decreased foreign appetite to explore the DPRK market. HK&A, which specialized in regulatory compliance, foreign investment, and dispute resolution, had by the time of its closure accrued thousands of hours experience negotiating between DPRK entities and foreign clients.

Hay first visited North Korea in 1998, he told NK Pro in a prior interview, as part of a delegation of the European Chamber of Commerce to test the waters as the country emerged from its notorious famine and near-economic collapse.Having already worked with Chinese companies that did business in the DPRK, the trip was a chance to see the DPRK first-hand.

But while few others would have been as generous towards the country as he, Hay said the trip confirmed his belief that the DPRK held opportunities for those willing to look hard enough.“That consolidated my desire to do more with them,” Hay explained at the time. “And I found it interesting that they were quite direct in their discussions.”

With the concept forming in his mind, he pitched the idea of setting up a law firm to contacts in-country. And though he originally planned to bring in a major international partner, the concept quickly morphed into setting up his own firm, with the company fully operational by 2005.

While Hay’s knowledge of the North Korean regulatory system far surpassed most other Westerners working there, he said he always worked closely with locals to get anything done.“My aim was to get in, try to get in close, not breach any rules of the DPRK, respect their internal working system, but work with the lawyers,” he told NK Pro in 2016.

“I wanted to have the ability to speak to foreign investors, encourage them if that was their desire or later desire, to take a look of North Korea with the comfort that they were talking to somebody who was close to the legislation.”

After departing the country in 2016, Hay took a short break from working actively on the North Korea portfolio. But as summit diplomacy in 2018 replaced the high tensions of just a year before, commercial South Korean interest in North Korea quickly piqued.It was in the fall of that year when he would return to the peninsula, in order to take up a post offering North Korea expertise to clients in the ROK through the Seoul-based firm, HMP Law.

Shortly after commencing that job, he took part in another interview with this website, this time in audio format on the NK News podcast, with host Jacco Zwetsloot. Hay was as always positive about the future of North Korea, arguing Pyongyang took law very seriously when it came to foreign businesses operating in-country.

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How North Korean laborers rediscovered capitalism in the 1990s – by Andrei Lankov
Following the collapse of the public distribution system, North Koreans began to sell their labor in order to survive
It doesn’t take a genius to realize that North Korea has undergone rapid marketization. And the market for goods isn’t the only change: as labor is increasingly bought and sold, its price is determined by the supply and demand equilibrium.The North Korea of 1958-1961 liked to describe itself as the ‘country of exemplary socialism.’ They were of course referring to the Leninist-Stalinist style.
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“The 3.1 People’s Uprising”: how North Korea sees the March First Movement – by James Fretwell
DPRK historians assert Kim Il Sung’s anti-Japanese guerilla exploits won independence from Japanese colonial rule

This Sunday marks the 101st anniversary of the March First Movement.In early 1919, Koreans rose up in the first nationwide political protest against Japanese rule (Korea had become a protectorate of Japan in 1905 and was then annexed in 1910).Inspired in part by the principles of national self-determination expressed in U.S. President .

The latest from the podcast

From Washington DC with love – NKNews Podcast Ep.116
Hasil gambar untuk From Washington DC with love - NKNews Podcast Ep.116
NK News’s Washington correspondent Jacob Fromer discusses DPRK issues from the perspective of the U.S. capital

In this interview with NK News’s Washington DC correspondent, Jacob Fromer, we learn about the current discourse regarding North Korea, how U.S. President Donald Trump’s approach has been received, and how a new president, potentially elected this year, may change Washington-Pyongyang relations.

Jacob Fromer is NK News‘s Washington DC correspondent. He previously worked in the U.S. Senate. You can read his work here, and follow him on Twitter @jakefromer.

About the podcast: The “North Korea News Podcast” is a weekly podcast hosted exclusively by NK News, covering all things DPRK: from news to extended interviews with leading experts and analysts in the field and insight from our very own journalists. 

Top MHI-NK stories from around the web

S. Korea to make preparations to expand health care cooperation with N.K. amid coronavirus spread(Yonhap News)
Hasil gambar untuk (LEAD) S. Korea to make preparations to expand health care cooperation with N.K. amid coronavirus spread

South Korea will make preparations to expand anti-epidemic cooperation with North Korea, the unification ministry said Monday, a day after President Moon Jae-in called for inter-Korean health care cooperation amid the global spread of the new coronavirus.

“Our government will prepare for inter-Korean cooperation in health care, prevention of diseases, natural disasters, climate change and other fields when conditions are ripe,” Yoh Sang-key, the ministry’s spokesperson, said in a regular press briefing earlier in the day.

On Sunday, Moon proposed health care cooperation with the North in an address commemorating the 1919 Independence Movement, saying the Korean people would be “safer” when the two sides respond together to infectious diseases and disasters in border areas as well as climate change on the Korean Peninsula.

“Our understanding is that President Moon has emphasized the need for cooperation with North Korea and neighboring countries like China, Japan and Southeast Asian nations in responding together to unconventional security threats such as the COVID-19 virus,” the spokesperson said.

The official added, however, that there has been no request for assistance from the North and the two sides have not held discussions on the issue yet.

North Korea has claimed there have been no cases of coronavirus infection on its soil, but the country has been intensifying preventive efforts including tightening its border with virus-stricken neighboring China.

Concerns are growing that the North could be more vulnerable to the highly contagious virus that has killed more than 2,000 people in China alone, as it lacks key medical supplies to diagnose and treat infected people.

On Monday, Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul also called for efforts to expand inter-Korean cooperation and dialogue in an address commemorating the 51st anniversary of the founding of the ministry.

Hasil gambar untuk (LEAD) S. Korea to make preparations to expand health care cooperation with N.K. amid coronavirus spread

“The situation on the Korean Peninsula is not easy as we face the COVID-19 virus situation amid a prolonged lull in relations between the two Koreas,” he said. “However, peace is not given to us but rather something we must work to achieve.”

The minister also stressed that the inter-Korean cooperation projects the ministry is promoting such as allowing individual trips to the North and reconnecting cross-border railways are “feasible and beneficial to both sides in the current situation.”

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Novel coronavirus has killed 20+ North Koreans, sources(Daily NK)
Hasil gambar untuk Novel coronavirus has killed 20+ North Koreans, sources

While North Korean authorities insist via state media that there are no people infected with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country, Daily NK has received information suggesting that more than twenty people have died under suspicious circumstances nationwide since January.Internally, sources say that the authorities are keeping statistics about people who have died with related symptoms or who are being quarantined, but that the information is being kept secret.

“North Korea’s central emergency disease control command statistics show that 23 people have died of acute pneumonia between January and now,” a high-level government source in North Korea told Daily NK on Feb. 27. “This is the result of counting everyone who died after developing a high fever, cough, and severe respiratory difficulties.”

A total of 82 people with similar symptoms have been quarantined across all regions,” he continued, adding, “Some have been discharged after their symptoms eased, but new patients have continuously arisen.”

According to statistics conveyed by the source, the number of deaths by region as of February 25 was seven in Pyongyang, eight in Sinuiju and four in nearby Ryongchon, both in North Pyongan Province, and two each in the northeastern city of Raseon and Haeju in the southwest. The 82 quarantined includes 16 patients in Pyongyang, 32 in Sinuiju, 12 in Ryongcheon, 15 in Raseon, and seven in Haeju.

With the notable exceptions of Pyongyang and Haeju, the remaining locations are all in the border region abutting China, the epicenter of the virus. The North Korean health authorities believe that in the case of Pyongyang, the virus was spread by Chinese foreign students, and in the case of Haeju by traders travelling to and from the border.

It appears that the deceased and those under quarantine are all either previous visitors to China or came into contact with such persons and subsequently went down with telltale symptoms. But health officials have diagnosed everyone with acute pneumonia.

“The disease control command discussed the situation of local acute pneumonia deaths and quarantine measures, and concluded that there were no novel coronavirus patients,” the source said, adding, “Officials are under orders to tell people that there are no patients and to emphasize thorough preventative measures.”

As in other authoritarian systems, the primary reason why North Korea has responded secretively to the danger of the spread of this infectious disease is due to the risk that public awareness could trigger systemic threats. Accordingly, the North Korean authorities did not publicize anything concerning the possible domestic spread of SARS in 2003, Ebola in 2014, or MERS in 2015. The internal spread of H1N1 (swine flu) in 2009 marks the only occasion in recent memory when North Korea has reported an outbreak of an infectious disease to the World Health Organization.

North Korea did, however, report on the current spread of coronavirus in South Korea on February 27, saying that the number of patients had increased to 1261 and that the 12th death had occurred.

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Cheong Wa Dae holds security ministers’ meeting on N. Korea’s projectile launch(Yonhap News)
Hasil gambar untuk (LAD) Cheong Wa Dae holds security ministers' meeting on N. Korea's projectile launch

Cheong Wa Dae said Monday it has convened an emergency meeting of security-related ministers Monday on North Korea’s firing of unidentified projectiles.

The session started at 1:30 p.m. and was presided over by Chung Eui-yong, director of national security at the presidential office, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Kang Min-seok.

Earlier in the day, the North fired projectiles from Wonsan, an eastern coastal city, into the East Sea, the South’s military said, adding that it is analyzing details such as the projectiles’ type and flight distance.

It was the first time this year the South’s armed forces had detected a major projectile launch by the North.

Cheong Wa Dae stopped short of convening an immediate National Security Council (NSC) meeting in response to Pyongyang’s latest projectile launch, indicating that it does not view the launch as a serious provocation.

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S. Korean ministers voice strong concern about N. Korean military’s continued ‘strike drills’(Yonhap News)
Hasil gambar untuk (2nd LD) S. Korean ministers voice strong concern about N. Korean military's continued 'strike drills'

South Korea’s security-related ministers expressed “strong concern” Monday about the continued “combined strike drills” by North Korea’s armed forces, hours after the launch of two “short-range” unidentified projectiles by the communist neighbor.

They urged Pyongyang to halt such acts, which are “not helpful to efforts to ease military tensions on the Korean Peninsula,” Cheong Wa Dae said in a press statement on the results of an emergency videoconferencing session that was presided over by Chung Eui-yong, director of national security at the presidential office.

Among the attendees were Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon.

They analyzed the background and intention behind the secretive North’s staging of the combined strike exercise, combined with the launch of the “short-range” projectiles,” according to Cheong Wa Dae.

It noted that the North’s military conducted its previous joint strike training on Feb. 28.

The ministers, in particular, “expressed strong concern” that the North has triggered military tensions with “continued” drills in the vicinity of Wonsan in addition to the resumption of the firing of short-range projectiles after three months, Cheong Wa Dae added.

In late November last year, the North shot two apparent missiles.

Earlier Monday, the North fired projectiles from its eastern coastal city of Wonsan into the East Sea, the South’s military said, adding that it is checking relevant details such as the projectiles’ type and flight distance.

It was the first time this year the South’s armed forces had detected a major projectile launch by the North.

Cheong Wa Dae stopped short of convening an immediate National Security Council (NSC) meeting in response to Pyongyang’s latest projectile launch, indicating that it does not view the launch as a serious provocation.

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N. Korean newspaper warns officials against corruption(Yonhap News)
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presides over a politburo meeting of the ruling Workers' Party to discuss coronavirus prevention measures in this photo captured from the website of the Rodong Sinmun in North Korea on Feb. 29, 2020. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

North Korea’s main newspaper warned senior officials against corruption Monday, just days after leader Kim Jong-un fired a top Workers’ Party official in a move seen as aimed in part at allaying public grievances amid deepening economic woes.

On Saturday, state media reported that Kim had presided over an expanded politburo meeting and dismissed Ri Man-gon and another official from the vice chairman posts of the Party Central Committee while disbanding the committee’s cadre training base over corruption and irregularities.

“When officials abuse their power and bureaucracy and are only concerned with their own interests, it destroys the core of our party and revolution,” the Rodong Sinmun, the organ of the North’s ruling party, said Monday.

“Turning a blind eye and infringing on the rights of the people is a betrayal to them and an abandonment of our revolution,” it added.

The article is seen as a warning to officials to strengthen their discipline.

North Korea has often used corruption as a pretext for purging senior officials. The regime has also used punishment of corrupt officials to rally internal support for the leader.

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