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[VIDEO] Otto Warmbier: How Did North Korea Holiday End in Jail, and a Coma?

Everyone in frame is smiling and laughing in the North Korean cold. Otto Warmbier, like the other tourists, launches a snowball, captured in slow motion on what appears to be a camera phone.

It’s the kind of innocent fun you expect to be captured on a tour group holiday. Otto turns to his right, mouth wide open, laughing.

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Otto’s father Fred wore his son’s jacket as he spoke to journalists

“This is the Otto I know and love. This is my brother,” wrote Austin Warmbier, who released the video, which was shot during a three-night North Korea tour at the end of 2015.

Two months later, Otto would again appear on video, but in very different circumstances.

Head bowed and clutching a prepared “confession”, the 21-year-old student walked out in front of North Korean TV cameras to speak, explaining why he had been arrested at the end of that tour, when everyone else had been allowed to leave.

Danny Gratton Otto (centre, with others on the trip) was

Danny Gratton Otto (centre, with others on the trip) was “bright, intelligent and likeable”, according to Danny Gratton, who met him on the North Korea trip

Looming over him were the oversized portraits of North Korea’s former supreme leaders, Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il.

He wore a cream-coloured jacket and tie. Before speaking, he got up an offered a low bow.

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Danny was the last person to see Otto (far right), witnessing the moment he was marched away

Otto thanked the North Korean government for the “opportunity to apologise for my crime, to beg for forgiveness and to beg for any assistance to save my life”.

He said he tried to steal a propaganda sign from a hotel as a “trophy” for a US church with the “connivance of the US administration” in order to “harm the work ethic and motivation of the Korean people”.

Weeks after the group pictures were taken, Otto

Weeks after the group pictures were taken, Otto “confessed” in front of North Korean media. AFP

Later, he would break down in tears: “I have made the single worst decision of my life, but I am only human.”

Otto is now back in the US after 15 months of captivity in North Korea. But he is in a coma, cannot understand language and has severe brain damage.

Otto - pictured in ear muffs - was in

Otto – pictured in ear muffs – was in “the wrong place at the wrong time”, says Danny

In the year-and-a-half since he threw that snowball, the life of a young man full of promise has been permanently altered.

Much remains unknown about how Otto’s health deteriorated. Doctors at Cincinnati Medical Center say they have seen no sign he was physically abused but they and his family also don’t buy North Korea’s story that he contracted botulism and fell into a coma after taking a sleeping pill.

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But how did a brilliant student from an Ohio suburb with hopes of becoming an investment banker end up imprisoned in a pariah state? And why was he released in a coma?

The Warmbiers hail from a small suburb called Wyoming in Cincinnati, Ohio, where father Fred owns a small company.

Otto attended the best high school in the state, and was prom and homecoming king. Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] Dr. K: North Korea Would Be the First ‘Insane Regime’ with Long-Range Nukes

“If this occurs, if the North Koreans test an intercontinental ballistic missile, that means they could wipe out Los Angeles tomorrow, if they can mount a warhead on it. That would be the single most important and threatening action that one can imagine for 2017. When Trump says “It’s not going to happen,” I don’t know what he quite means. But if he means a preemptive attack by the United States or something of that sort, we are looking at a crisis of the ultimate proportions.”

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“…he’s aware of the fact that we are looking at what could be a strategic hinge point in history. That would be really serious. This is an insane regime with the ability to push a button and wipe out a U.S. city. That has never happened. We have had the Chinese, the Russians, but they are not insane. That’s quite different. I think he is recognizing we have an issue. I think he ought to be asked in the next press conference, ‘What exactly do you mean by ‘It ain’t gonna happen’?”

(read more)

Source: National Review


One-Third of Millennials Believe That More People Were Killed Under George W. Bush than Under Joseph Stalin

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Results from a new survey are not pretty. 

Jamie Gregora reports: The Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation released its first “Annual Report on U.S. Attitudes Towards Socialism” Monday. The survey showed a distinct generation gap regarding beliefs about socialism and communism between older and younger Americans. For example, 80 percent of baby boomers and 91 percent of elderly Americans believe that communism was and still is a problem in the world today, while just 55 percent of millennials say the same.

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[Just how many people did Joseph Stalin kill?]

Just 37 percent of millennials had a “very unfavorable” view of communism, compared to 57 percent of Americans overall. Close to half (45 percent) of Americans aged 16 to 20 said they would vote for a socialist, and 21 percent would vote for a communist.

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[Mass killings under Communist regimes]

[Katyn Forest Massacre – Soviet Union –  Joseph Stalin]

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[ALSO SEE – 40 years after death, Mao’s mixed legacy looms over China]

From left: LM Kaganovich, Chairman Mao Tse-tung, NA Bulganin, Joseph Stalin, Walter Ulbricht, J cedenbal, NS Khrushchev and I Koplenig (Getty)

[MORE – The Russian Communist Party Is Rebranding Itself To Attract Young Supporters]

When asked their opinion of capitalism, 64 percent of Americans over the age of 65 said they viewed it favorably, compared to just 42 percent of millennials.

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[Read the full text here, at dailysignal.com]

The survey also revealed a general lack of historical knowledge, especially among young adults. According to the report, one-third (32 percent) of millennials believed that more people were killed under George W. Bush than under Joseph Stalin. Read the rest of this entry »


North Korea Conducts Fifth Nuclear Test as Regime Celebrates National Holiday 

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The governments in both South Korea and Japan convened emergency meetings to discuss the test.

TOKYO — Anna Fifield reports: North Korea conducted its fifth atomic test Friday morning, South Korean officials said, as Kim Jong Un’s regime continues to defy international condemnation of its nuclear and missile programs and waves of sanctions.

The test, which analysts said appeared to be of a large nuclear device, came at exactly 9 a.m. local time on Friday, the 68th anniversary of the formation of the communist regime by Kim Il Sung, the current leader’s grandfather, and a national holiday.

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“We believe this is a nuclear test,” South Korea’s defense ministry said Friday morning after the United States Geological Survey reported a 5.3-magnitude earthquake near Punggye-ri. “Possible explosion, located near the location where North Korea has detonated nuclear explosions in the past,” the USGS said on its website.

[Read the full text here, at The Washington Post]

Analysts said that the earthquake was artificial. “USGS is calling it an explosion because it has all the hallmarks: The waveform is sudden, unlike an earthquake, the depth is shallow, the location is the North Korean test site, and it happened on the half-hour,” said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia nonproliferation program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, Calif.

“This is clearly a nuclear test,” Lewis said, estimating the size at between 10 and 20 kilotons — a size that, if confirmed, would make this the biggest of North Korea’s five tests.

The governments in both South Korea and Japan convened emergency meetings to discuss the test. Read the rest of this entry »


Faith in Government Collapsing Everywhere: Kim Jong-Un Photographed Smoking a Cigarette While Visiting a Middle School 

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The heavy smoker had reportedly stopped smoking in public for 80 days after the government intensified its anti-smoking campaign.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has smoked a cigarette while visiting a school, a photo released by the North’s mouthpiece media shows, Sunday.

“It’s difficult to understand why the North Korean media stressed the detrimental effects of smoking and then showed Kim doing exactly that.”

In images provided by Korean Central Television (KCT), Kim is seen smoking in a gym and in a classroom while touring a middle school in Pyongyang.

The heavy smoker had reportedly stopped smoking in public for 80 days after the government intensified its anti-smoking campaign.

But he resumed smoking earlier last month at the Mangyongdae Children’s Camp in Pyongyang.

A North Korea expert said Kim may have resumed smoking in public to inspire nostalgia toward North Korean founder Kim Il-sung, who also smoked. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTOS] Military Parade, North Korea


[PHOTOS] North Korea Celebrates 70th Anniversary with Massive Military Parade

North Korea Anniversary

North Korea Celebrated the 70th Anniversary of the Ruling Worker’s Party with a Massive Military Parade in the Streets of Pyongyang

Participants wave flowers towards North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (not pictured) as they pass through Kim Il-Sung square during a mass military parade in Pyongyang on October 10, 2015. North Korea was marking the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers' Party. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)

Participants wave flowers towards North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (not pictured) as they pass through Kim Il-Sung square during a mass military parade in Pyongyang on October 10, 2015. North Korea was marking the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers’ Party. ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

North Korean soldiers ride atop armoured vehicles during a mass military parade at Kim Il-Sung square in Pyongyang on October 10, 2015. North Korea was marking the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers' Party. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)

North Korean soldiers ride atop armoured vehicles during a mass military parade at Kim Il-Sung square in Pyongyang on October 10, 2015. North Korea was marking the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers’ Party. ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

Participants wave flowers towards North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (not pictured) as they pass through Kim Il-Sung square during a mass military parade in Pyongyang on October 10, 2015. North Korea was marking the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers' Party. AFP PHOTO / Ed Jones (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)

Participants wave flowers towards North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (not pictured) as they pass through Kim Il-Sung square during a mass military parade in Pyongyang on October 10, 2015. North Korea was marking the 70th anniversary of its ruling Workers’ Party. ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

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Source: TIME


[VIDEO] The Meaning of Socialism: Q&A with National Review‘s Kevin Williamson


What’s the real definition of socialism? How is it distinct from regulation and a social welfare state? Why are intellectuals still enamored of a system that brought us Stalin, Hitler, and more recently Hugo Chavez and Kim Jong-Il? And what can the United States learn from Sweden about free enterprise and capitalism?

Reason.tv’s Nick Gillespie sat down with Kevin Williamson, who is deputy managing editor of National Review and author of a new book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Socialism, to discuss the meaning of socialism in history and the current moment.

 


[VIDEO] Kim Jong Un’s High-Caliber Purge

South Korean intelligence reports executions of a number of high North Korean officials by supreme leader Kim Jong Un, using methods including antiaircraft fire. The WSJ’s Deborah Kan talks about what the recent purge could mean for the Hermit Kingdom.

 


Kim Jong Un’s Defense Chief Hyon Yong-chol Publicly Executed with Anti-Aircraft Fire

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North Korea’s Defense Minister Hyon Yong-chol executed for showing disloyalty to leader Kim Jong-un

MPs were told Mr Hyon was killed on 30 April by anti-aircraft fire in front of an audience of hundreds, the Yonhap news agency reports.

“It said the ‘most plausible explanation’ for the image was a ‘gruesome public execution’ by anti-aircraft fire.”

It said Mr Hyon had fallen asleep during an event attended by Kim Jong-un and had not carried out instructions.

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“Mr. Hyon had fallen asleep during an event attended by Kim Jong-un and had ‘not carried out instructions’.”

South Korea said a senior military officer was also killed. The news comes weeks after the reported panic-bettyexecution of 15 senior officials.

Among them were two vice-ministers who had challenged Mr Kim over his policies and members of an orchestra, the South’s National Intelligence Agency (NIS) said at the time.

Analysts told the BBC that while reshuffles of officials were commonplace in North Korea, the execution of a figure as close to Mr Kim as Mr Hyon was surprising and could give cause for concern about the country’s stability.

Of the seven pallbearers at former leader Kim Jong-il's 2011 funeral, apart from Kim Jong-un, all have either been executed, have lost their jobs or have not been seen in some time

Of the seven pallbearers at former leader Kim Jong-il‘s 2011 funeral, apart from Kim Jong-un, all have either been executed, have lost their jobs or have not been seen in some time

Hyon Yong-chol, as defence minister, was as close to Kim Jong-un as it is possible to get.

“Such a public and brutal method of execution as obliteration by anti-aircraft gun would emphasize the cost of disloyalty.”

Intelligence reports always have to be treated with skepticism but, in this case, the claims of the South Korean spy agency will be easy to verify. If they are not true, the defense minister would appear again in public.

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Earlier, the South Korean agency said that senior officials were being executed at the rate of one a week. It all adds up to a picture of a leader in Pyongyang who feels very insecure and who is dangerous in his insecurity.

“‘This is indicative of Kim Jong-un’s impulsive decision-making’ and a sign of a leader who is ‘not feeling secure’…’entirely a demonstration of power and authority.'”

— Mike Madden of North Korea Leadership Watch

Mr Hyon is believed to have been a general since 2010, though little is known about him. He served on the committee for late leader Kim Jong-il’s funeral in December 2011, an indication of his growing influence.

Kim Jong-un has conducted a series of purges of officials since coming to power

Kim Jong-un has conducted a series of purges of officials since coming to power

He was appointed defence minister last year. NK News said he last appeared in state media a day before the alleged execution date. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Dwarf Village’: A Shining Example of North Korea’s Spectacular Human Rights Record

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Little people sterilized, forced to live in remote area

TOKYO –   reports: The abuse of North Koreans who have dwarfism, a genetic condition that produces short bodies and disproportionate limbs, is the latest disclosure of widespread human rights abuses within the country. A U.N. commission report a year ago charged the regime with “crimes against humanity.”

Several North Korean defectors disclosed the existence of the village, called Yeonha-Ri, and said it is located in Kimhyongjik County, a border region in northeastern Ryanggang Province. The province is named after North Korea’s founding dictator Kim Il-Sung’s father, Kim Hyong-Jik.

“It is tempting to see the treatment of little people as evidence of the revolutionary state’s obsession with the purity of the race…”

Dwarfs are persecuted by the regime under a policy that combines Korean superstitions about physical deformities manifesting from personal or ancestral sin, and the hardline communist regime’s demand that all citizens must work, according to North Korean defectors.

“…But when you consider that Kim Il-Sung himself had a goiter the size of a fist on his neck that didn’t appear to disqualify him from leadership, I fear we have to look for other explanations.”

— Michael Breen, a Seoul-based specialist on North Korea

As part of the anti-dwarf measures, all people under 120 centimeters in height, or just under four feet, have been forced to relocate to the farming village at Yeonha-Ri.

One defector, who disclosed details of the village on condition of anonymity, said the North Korean government originally planned to exterminate the dwarfs as part of a policy of eliminating those within the population with undesirable physical traits. But concerns about international reaction to the population “cleansing” instead resulted in allowing the dwarfs to set up the farming village.

“I think that in this case…the nanny state in its zeal for social engineering is simply expressing the harsh and superstitious culture that it derives from.”

The goal of the separation is to prevent the dwarfs from marrying and reproducing. To that end, they are forced to undergo sterilization.

Also, North Korean dwarfs face a greater risk of starvation because they are not given the same food rations as other North Koreas.

Travel is also restricted under the dubious claim that as little people the dwarfs could be crushed while riding on crowded train cars.

The defector said stories related to the village include reports that during some of North Korea’s frequent famines, women would move in with Yeonha-Ri’s men who had reputations for being resourceful and good providers.

Michael Breen, a Seoul-based specialist on North Korea, said the treatment of the dwarfs is typical of the systematic abuse of human rights in the country. Read the rest of this entry »


North Korea’s Honey Trap Scheme Revealed

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North Korean defector reveals how rogue state sends female agents to have children with foreign politicians, businessmen and journalists.

Julian Ryall reports: North Korea has blackmailed dozens, if not hundreds, of politicians, journalists and businessmen after seducing them with female agents, a former elite North Korean official has revealed.

“These men are specifically targeted because of their value to the North. Politicians are good because they have a lot of influence, wealthy businessmen can provide economic benefits and religious figures can give them money through their charities.”

In a scheme called “the seed-bearing programme”, high-level visitors to Pyongyang would be sent an attractive consort, only to find out several months later that they have a child in North Korea.

Politicians would then be blackmailed to pass legislation favouring North Korea or to increase aid. Journalists would be asked to write positive stories and businessmen urged to set up joint ventures with local companies.

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The scheme was dreamed up and put into action by Kim Jong-il, the father of present-day North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, according to Jang Jin-sung, the official poet to the North Korean regime and one of the elite few known as “The Admitted” before he defected in January 2004.

“They will do anything they need to in order to keep the regime going,” Mr Jang, the founder and editor of New Focus web site, said.

“It doesn’t matter to them if something is criminal and, to be honest, the seed-bearing programme is nothing compared to what they are willing to do,” he said.

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“The regime mainly targets foreigners who go to Pyongyang and, over time, build up a friendship with the woman who has been assigned to them as a translator or assistant,” Mr Jang said. “But these women are in reality agents of the regime.

“The men don’t want to believe they have been fooled, they want to think that it is a genuine relationship.

“Some months later, when the man has left Pyongyang, he is told that the woman has had a baby.

“These men are specifically targeted because of their value to the North,” Mr Jang said. “Politicians are good because they have a lot of influence, wealthy businessmen can provide economic benefits and religious figures can give them money through their charities.”

A secondary benefit to North Korea is that the children are brought up fiercely loyal to the regime and, with looks that are a combination of cultures, can be infiltrated into other countries as agents, Mr Jang said.

Read the rest of this entry »


BREAKING: Paramount Bans Showing ‘Team America’

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Three movie theaters say Paramount Pictures has ordered them not to show Team America: World Police one day after Sony Pictures surrendered to cyberterrorists and pulled The Interview. The famous Alamo Drafthouse in Texas, Capitol Theater in Cleveland, and Plaza Atlanta in Atlanta said they would screen the movie instead of The Interview but Paramount has ordered them to stop. (No reason was apparently given and Paramount hasn’t spoken.) Team America of course features Kim’s father, Kim Jong-Il, as a singing marionette.

In 2004, North Korea demanded Team America be banned in the Czech Republic….(read more)

The Daily Beast


[VIDEO] Yeonmi Park: Escaping North Korea

Yeonmi Park tells her story of life in North Korea and calls for action against such human rights violators. Yeonmi was speaking at the One Young World Summit 2014 in Dublin. Click here to see the full transcript in Korean.

I have to do this because this is not just I am speaking… This is for the people who want to tell the world what they want to say.

North Korea is an unnatural country. There is only one channel on TV and there is no internet. We aren’t free to sing, say, wear or think what we want.

North Korea is the only country in the world that executes people for making unauthorized international phone calls.

North Koreans are being terrorized today.

When I was growing up in North Korea, I never saw anything about love stories between man and woman, no books, no songs, no press, no movies about love stories. There is no Romeo and Juliet, every stories were propagandized to brainwash about the Kim dictators.

Yeonmi-Park

I was born in 1993 and I was abducted at birth even before I knew the words ‘freedom’ or ‘human rights’. North Koreans are desperately seeking and dying for freedom at this moment…

When I was 9 years old, I saw my friend’s mother publicly executedHer crime? Watching a Hollywood movie.

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Expressing doubt about the regime can get 3 generations of whole family imprisoned or executed.

When I was 4 years old, I was warned by my mother, not to even whisper, the birds and mice could hear me. I admitted it. I thought the North Korean dictator could read my mind. My father died in China after we escaped North Korea. And I have to bury him at 3 am in secret. I was only 14 years old. I couldn’t even cry, I was afraid to be sent back to North Korea.

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The day I escaped North Korea, I saw my mother raped. The rapist was a Chinese broker. He had targeted me. I was only 13 years old. There is a saying in North Korea, “Women are weak, but mothers are strong”. My mother allowed herself to be raped in order to protect me.

North Korean refugees, about 300,000 are roaming over in China. 70 percent of North Korean women and teenage girls are being victimized and sometimes sold for as a little as 200 dollars. We walked across the Gobi desert following a compass and when it stopped working, we followed the stars to freedom. I felt only the stars are with us. Mongolia was our freedom moment.

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Death or dignity; I was with the knife, we were prepared to kill ourselves if we are going to be send back to North Korea. We wanted to live as humans…

People often ask me, “How can we help North Koreans?”. There are many ways but I would like to mention 3 for now.

One, as you care yourself, you can raise awareness about human crisis in North Korea.

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Two, help and support North Korean refugees who are trying to escape for freedom.

Three, petition China to stop repatriation. Read the rest of this entry »


‘When Kim Jong Il would arrive in his vehicle, 60- to 70-year old advisors would run away and throw themselves onto the grass…they wanted to hide from him’

A file picture taken on March 3, 2001 sh

North Korean Defector: ‘I was Kim Jong Il’s Bodyguard’

SEOUL — Head butting stacked tiles, smashing a slab of granite on your chest with a mallet, breaking light bulbs with one finger. All vital qualifications if you want a job protecting the elite of North Korea.

Propaganda footage from North Korean TV shows a staggering array of physical feats, using taekwondo and other martial arts. Visually impressive — although it’s not certain how the skills would keep an armed assassin at bay.

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“As power was handed down to the third generation, it became crueler. Kim Jong Un has created loyalty, but it is fake and based on fear.”

Lee Young-guk was bodyguard to the late Kim Jong Il for 10 years until just before he took control of North Korea. He says he went through very similar training before he was considered fit to protect a leader.

“Lee knew the North Korean leader was cruel when he was serving him. But, he says, it was only after he escaped to South Korea, his new home, that he realized Kim was a true dictator — as his father Kim Il Sung had been before him, and his son and current leader Kim Jong Un is now.”

“It’s tough training,” says Lee. “But why do it? It’s to build up loyalty. A handgun won’t win a war and taekwondo serves nothing but the spirit, but it creates loyalty.”

This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 26, 2014 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting a shelling drill of an artillery sub-unit under Korean People's Army (KPA) Unit 681 at undisclosed place in North Korea. AFP

This undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on April 26, 2014 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) inspecting a shelling drill of an artillery sub-unit under Korean People’s Army (KPA) Unit 681 at undisclosed place in North Korea. AFP

Bodyguards ‘brainwashed’

In an interview at CNN’s Seoul bureau, Lee says his training also involved more traditional methods. Target practice, physical, tactical and weight training, swimming and using a boat. But that’s only part of the preparation. Read the rest of this entry »


ELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING: Former Top Official Says Kim Jong-un Is No Longer in Control of North Korea: Coup Brewing?

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North Korea capital ‘under lockdown’

VICE News reports:

An elite group of exiles from North Korea gathered in September in the Netherlands to discuss the state of the regime they used to serve. The conference included top diplomats, an ex-senior official of the Ministry of Security, and a high-ranking military officer, but the keynote address was given by Jang Jin-sung, formerly a key member of Kim Jong-il‘s propaganda machine. Included in Jang’s speech was a surprising assertion: North Korea is in the midst of a civil war.

The Telegraph reports:

Kim Jong-un's failure to attend a session in parliament have prompted rumours about his health and suggestions that there had been a coup Photo: REUTERS/KCNA

Kim Jong-un’s failure to attend a session in parliament have prompted rumors that there had been a coup REUTERS/KCNA

“This sort of action suggests there has either been an attempted coup or that the authorities there have uncovered some sort of plot against the leadership,” Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor at Tokyo’s Waseda University and an authority on North Korean affairs, told The Telegraph. 

“If it is a military-backed coup, then the situation in Pyongyang will be very dangerous and I have heard reports that Kim has been moved out of the capital,” he said.

Hot Air’s ALLAPUNDIT comments:

Another possibility, via the same professor, is that the city’s been locked down not to keep people out but to keep them in — specifically, to block the escape routes of any senior officials who might be trying to defect, whether because they’re complicit in the coup attempt or simply terrified of the chaos of the power struggle. Any reason to treat this as credible, given that the “lockdown” report originated on a website run by North Korean exiles opposed to the regime? Well, there’s the little matter of Kim Jong-un’s mysterious and coincidental disappearance from public view this month. Supposedly he’s ill but maybe his condition is, shall we say, a bit graver than that. Or maybe he’s just a puppet whose puppeteer doesn’t want him putting on shows right now for whatever reason. The founder of the website that broke the “lockdown” news told Vice in an interview that, in reality, Kim hasn’t governed the country for more than a year. He’s a figurehead. And figureheads can be replaced.

According to Jang — a former counterintelligence official and poet laureate under Kim Jong-il — members of the government’s Organization and Guidance Department (OGD), a powerful group of officials that once reported only to Kim Jong-il, have stopped taking orders from his son, Kim Jong-un. The OGD, Jang says, has effectively taken control of the country, and a conflict is simmering between factions that want to maintain absolute control over the economy and others seeking to gain wealth through foreign trade and a slightly more open market.

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A wall painting of a picture Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. (Photo via Flickr)

“Jang, however, believes the coup actually happened in 2013, and says Kim Jong-un is only serving as a puppet leader with officials from the OGD pulling the strings.”

“On one hand, it’s people who want to maintain a regime monopoly,” Jang told VICE News through a translator in an interview Thursday. “On the other hand, it’s not like people are fighting against the regime, but in a policy sense they want to take advantage to get influence. It’s not actually consciously civil war, but there are these two incompatible forces at play.”

“When Jang Sung-taek was executed that was, basically, that totally broke everything,” Jang said. “You just can’t touch a Kim family member publicly… It’s the OGD’s claim to legitimacy. It’s them saying no one is more legitimate than them. By Jang dying, Kim Jong-un is now surrounded by the OGD.”

Jang’s statements come during a moment of peak curiosity about the hermit kingdom. Kim Jong-un — the portly 31-year-old who assumed the title of Supreme Leader after his father’s death in 2011 — has been absent from public view for nearly a month. He was last seen walking with a pronounced limp during a July ceremony commemorating the death of his grandfather, Kim Il-sung. He typically presides over the Supreme People’s Assembly, a rubber-stamp parliament, but missed the meeting in early September, and was replaced by a propaganda video that again showed him limping. “Despite some discomfort, our Marshal continues to come out and lead the people,” the film’s narrator said.

Rumors abound about the cause of his absence, including a report from South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo that he recently underwent surgery after fracturing both of his ankles “during a grueling tour of military bases and factories in Cuban heels.” The South Korean news agency Yonhap cited anonymous sources saying that Kim, a heavy smoker who has become markedly plump since assuming the role of dictator, is “suffering from gout, along with hyperuricemia, hyperlipidemia, obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.” Read the rest of this entry »


Why Making Fun of Kim Jong-un Has Been a Thing on the Chinese Web for Years


North Korea Expels Hong Kong-Based Missionary After Extracting Confession: ‘I committed a Criminal Act, I’m Sorry’ (for Distributing the Bible)

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The state-run KCNA news agency released this photo of Short signing a written confession. Photo: KCNA / Reuters

Evangelist flown to Beijing after ‘voluntarily’ writing a ‘confession’ for the crime of spreading Bible pamphlets

Christy Choi  reports:  North Korea yesterday expelled to Beijing the Hong Kong-based missionary it had accused of distributing religious materials.

Australian John Short, 75, was released after he gave North Korean authorities a written confession apologising for spreading Bible tracts at a temple on February 16, the birthday of the late “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il.

Karen Short, 57, said she would probably join her husband in Beijing.

Karen Short, 57, said she would probably join her husband in Beijing.

“I request the forgiveness of the DPRK for my actions. I am willing to bow down on my knees to request this tolerance of the DPRK and the Korean people,” he wrote, referring to the full name of the country, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Short, who has lived in Hong Kong for 50 years but is not a permanent resident, was met by Australian consular officials on arrival in Beijing.

This picture taken by North Korea's official korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on March 1, 2014 and released on March 3 shows a written apology by Australian missionary John Short, who was detained after distribution of religious pamphlets in a Buddhist temple in Pyongyang, at undisclosed place in North Korea.   AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS    REPUBLIC OF KOREA

This picture taken by North Korea’s official korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on March 1, 2014 and released on March 3 shows a written apology by Australian missionary John Short, who was detained after distribution of religious pamphlets in a Buddhist temple in Pyongyang, at undisclosed place in North Korea. AFP PHOTO / KCNA via KNS REPUBLIC OF KOREA

A copy of Short’s written confession. Photo: AP It is unusual for North Korea to let a detainee go so soon after his arrest. US citizen Kenneth Bae, also a missionary, is serving a 15-year sentence for allegedly trying to overthrow the state.

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[VIDEO] North Korea Execution: Uncle Jang Song Thaek does the Perp Walk

Expert: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s once-powerful uncle has been purged before, but has never done a perp walk.

 North Korea Ousts Uncle:  CNN – Jake Tapper


NORK METH ALERT: Scientists in North Korea are mass producing highly addictive crystal meth

Special report: Ian Birrell (left) stands with a North Korean soldier (right) in Pyongyang

Special report: Ian Birrell (left) stands with a North Korean soldier (right) in Pyongyang

Pyongyang – A small army of women, identical in long yellow dresses and clutching golden fans, enter the vast stadium to the adulation of thousands of awed spectators.

They bow in military unison, turn and kneel to a staggering trompe l’oeil: a burning sun emerging in triumphant blaze over snow-clad mountains.

The glorious North Korean dawn plays out across what appears at first to be a colossal screen the entire length of the stadium.

In fact, it is 20,000 well-drilled children turning pages of books with brightly-coloured paper in perfect synchronicity.

The mass games of Pyongyang, capital city of the most closed and repressive state in the world, are twisted propaganda.

Last weekend, I became one of the few Westerners to have witnessed epic scenes that would have made Goebbels weep with pride.

For 90 minutes, a bizarre blend of acrobatics, dancing, martial arts and music unfolds in a frenzy of precision choreography involving 100,000 performers. Read the rest of this entry »


The Market Shall Set North Korea Free

If you only read one article about North Korea this month, read this one. Also, this item in The Guardian, and this BBC item, for more on Jang Jin-Sung. –The Butcher

Jang Jin-Sung

North Korean poet Jang Jin-sung, speaking at London’s Poetry Parnassus. Photograph: Sylvia Hui/Associated Press

By JANG JIN-SUNG

I DEFECTED from North Korea in 2004. I decided to risk my life to leave my home country — where I worked as a psychological warfare officer for the government — when it finally sunk in that there are two North Koreas: one real and the other a fiction created by the regime.

Although in my job I had access to foreign media, books with passages containing criticism of our Dear Leader Kim Jong-il or his revered father, Kim Il-sung, had large sections blacked out. One day, out of deep curiosity, I made up an excuse to stay behind at work to decipher the redacted words of a history book.

I locked the office door and put the pages against a window. Light from outside made the words under the ink perfectly clear. I read voraciously. I stayed late at work again and again to learn my country’s real history — or at least another view of it.

Most shocking was what I discovered about the Korean War. We had been taught all of our lives how an invasion by the South had triggered the conflict. Yet now I was reading that not only South Korea but the rest of the world believed the North had started the war. Who was right?

It was after my harrowing defection — in which I bribed my way to a border crossing and escaped by running across a frozen river to China — that I recognized the existence of a third North Korea: a theoretical one. This is the North Korea constructed by the outside world, a piecemeal analysis of the regime and its propaganda that misses the political and economic realities of the country.

All of us at the United Front Department — also known as “the window into and out of North Korea” — learned three tenets of diplomacy by heart: 1. Pay no attention to South Korea. 2. Exploit Japan’s emotions. 3. Ply the United States with lies, but make sure they are logical ones.

Kim Jong-il stressed the importance of these three tenets as the framework within which we were required to implement his vision for Pyongyang’s foreign relations. North Korea’s dealings with South Korea, Japan and the United States always hewed closely to these principles.

“Increasing trade with China has made the North Korean border porous in many ways, facilitating a flow of information in and out of the country. Many North Koreans can now access South Korean television programs that are smuggled in on DVDs or memory sticks.”

Our department’s mission was to deceive our people and the world, doing what was necessary to keep our leader in power. We openly referred to talks with South Korea as “aid farming,” because while Seoul sought dialogue through its so-called Sunshine Policy, we saw it as an opening not for diplomatic progress but for extracting as much aid as possible. We also successfully bought time for our nuclear program through the endless marathon of the six-party talks.

Despite Pyongyang’s deceptive ways, many people in the outside world continue to believe in the theoretical North Korea in which dialogue with the regime is seen as the way to effect change. But I know from my years inside the government that talking will not get Pyongyang to turn any corners, not even with the North’s current leader, Kim Jong-un.

Dialogue will never entice the regime to give up its nuclear weapons; the nuclear program is tightly linked to its survival. And talks will not lead to change over the long term; the regime sees them only as a tool for extracting aid. High-level diplomacy is no strategy for getting the regime to make economic reforms. The key to change lies outside the sway of the regime — in the flourishing underground economy.

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