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“South Koreans will especially face these questions from North Koreans–what did you know, and what did you do to help us?” declares Suzanne Scholte, Chairman of the North Korean Freedom Coalition. Her voice sounds assertive and confident, the aural equivalent of her blonde bob on an outdoor screen. A Korean woman standing to the right interprets on her behalf. For a national rally, we are a small number, no more than 200 or so, gathered in the plaza at Seoul Station to commemorate North Korea Freedom Week.
Will North Korea ever abandon its nuclear program? And who is it helping acquire weapons? The Diplomat speaks with leading North Korea analyst Mark Fitzpatrick. According to a report last month in Die Welt, Syria built a secret missile assembly line with the help of North Korea and Iran. How likely is it that North Korea has indeed been involved in such work?
Exit from comment view mode. Click to hide this space Comments View/Create comment on this paragraph MADRID – Two days after Kim Jong-il, North Korea’s leader, died in a train in his country, South Korean authorities still knew nothing about it. Meanwhile, American officials seemed at a loss, with the State Department at first merely acknowledging that press reports had mentioned his death.
For more than two decades, Myanmar was a pariah state ruled by military generals that suppressed political dissent, straitjacketed the media, persecuted ethnic minorities, and -- despite resource riches -- failed to improve its people's living standards. The United States continuously sanctioned Myanmar and subjected it to regular rhetorical whippings in Congress. It was, for want of a better parallel, the North Korea of Southeast Asia.
On Monday, South Korea conducted two hours of live-fire exercises near its disputed boundary with North Korea in the West Sea, despite Pyongyang’s promises of “merciless retaliatory strikes” and “total war” for infringing waters it considers its own. The consensus is that these particular threats were “empty,” as the Associated Press termed them, but it’s far too early to say the matter is closed. Why? Because the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as the North calls itself, apparently—and for good reason—believes that attacking South Korea and killing its citizens advances its national interests. First, Pyongyang has been trying for years to move its West Sea boundary with South Korea, known as the Northern Limit Line, farther south to give it control of additional islands and waters.
When North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died late last year, analysts had no clear idea what the accession of his youngest son, Kim Jong Un, might mean for the Hermit Kingdom. On Feb. 29 this leap year -- appropriately enough -- we got an initial hint, when Pyongyang agreed to suspend work at the state-of-the-art uranium-enrichment plant at Yongbyon that it had suddenly revealed to a visiting U.S. nuclear scientist in November 2010, to halt nuclear and missile tests, and to allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency back into the country after a three-year absence. The new deal with the United States, concluded in exchange for 240,000 tons of food aid, will not eradicate the North Korean threat. It augurs well, however, for Kim Jong Un's foreign-policy smarts and will be seen internationally as a diplomatic victory for U.S.
Exit from comment view mode. Click to hide this space Comments View/Create comment on this paragraph HO CHI MINH CITY – Can an entire people go mad?
T he death of Kim Jong-il and subsequent dynastic transfer of power in North Korea caused a spasm of hope in the policy community that the secretive and totalitarian nation might embark on economic and political reforms. As the new leader, Kim Jong-un, was exposed to Western affluence while receiving his education in Switzerland—so the wishful thinking goes—surely he would realize the benefits of opening up his country. In fact, the young and inexperienced scion of the Kim dynasty derives his legitimacy solely from his family heritage.
Yesterday the United States and North Korea issued separate and conflicting statements regarding a way forward in the Six Party Talks. While this should come as no surprise, the most notable policy change is the administration's willingness to move forward with 240,000 metric tons of food assistance to North Korea. Linking humanitarian assistance to progress or even the resumption of six party talks is a bad precedent and until recently the Obama administration and the State Department have never stated this new position publicly. Many would say that this would be an attempt to bribe the North Koreans to the table taking advantage of a dire humanitarian situation. During the Bush administration the U.S. and other six party member states agreed to provide assistance in the form of Heavy Fuel Oil as a condition for North Korea to halt its nuclear activities and missile tests. While this created some controversy, there was no link to the humanitarian needs of North Korea.
Exit from comment view mode. Click to hide this space Comments View/Create comment on this paragraph TOKYO – Brinkmanship seems to be congenital in North Korea.
A painting in the lobby of the Chongchon Hotel in the Mt. Myohyang region of North Korea. (John Pavelka / flickr)
(Ray Cunningham/ flickr) Kim Jong Il was a man responsible for imprisoning hundreds of thousands of his countrymen; testing two nuclear devices; deploying hundreds of ballistic missiles aimed at Tokyo and Seoul; and masterminding international drug, kidnapping, and nuclear weapons rings. A world without him, at least in theory, should be safer and more stable.
Exit from comment view mode. Click to hide this space Comments View/Create comment on this paragraph DENVER – In one sense, the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il changes everything. It is by no means clear, for example, that Kim’s coddled youngest son, Kim Jong-un – now hailed as the “Great Successor,” but singularly unprepared to lead – will ultimately succeed his father in anything but name. Comments View/Create comment on this paragraph Working in Kim Jong-un’s favor is his striking resemblance to his grandfather, Kim Il-song, who, strangely, held a certain charisma for North Koreans. Looks aside, Kim III will need a lot of help; in the meantime, we can expect further consolidation by the Korean People’s Army of its leadership of the country.
Kim Jong Un. (Courtesy Reuters) North Korea-watchers have been anticipating this day for years. According to the state news agency, on December 17, at eight-thirty in the morning North Korea time, on a train somewhere on the outskirts of the Pyongyang, Kim Jong Il "suffered an advanced acute myocardial infarction, complicated with a serious heart shock." Nearly 50 hours later, the North Korean propaganda apparatus sprung into action, informing the world of Kim's passing and proclaiming his son, Kim Jong Un, the "great successor."
Snapshot North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has anointed his third son, Kim Jong Un, as his successor. Kim Jong Un will have many obstacles to overcome.