Tag Archives: North Korea

Charm offensive: Kim out to wield soft power at Winter Games

It started with a surprisingly – indeed, shockingly – conciliatory broadcast from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Now, some in South Korea are calling the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics “the Pyongyang Games.”

Following 2017’s soaring nuclear tensions and rhetorical conflict between Washington and Pyongyang, the news that North Korea would participate in the Winter Olympics electrified the world. Since then, developments have proceeded at warp speed. Observers are now torn between feverish hopes for some kind of a breakthrough, and weary cynicism that we have seen it all before.

While credible rumors circulating in the South suggest that North Korea’s inclusion in the Games was, in fact, initiated by South Korea – during secret talks with North Korean officials in China – it is North that has been dominating headlines, both on the peninsula and globally. And it is North Korean officials who labelled, splendidly, the country’s appearance at Pyeonchang a “New Year’s gift” to the Korean people.

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Posted by on February 19, 2018 in Asia


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North And South Korea Reach Breakthroughs In First High-Level Talks In 2 Years

Cocooned by cameras, North Korea’s negotiating team crossed the border Tuesday by foot, walking about 100 yards to a conference building for the first high-level talks with South Korea in two years. Seated across from one another at a long rectangular table, diplomats from both sides expressed the need to improve frosty ties.

“It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say the inter-Korean relationship is more frozen than the natural climate. But despite the cold weather, the people’s desire for the improvement of the inter-Korean relationship remains unfrozen,” North Korea’s chief negotiator, Ri Son Gwon, said.

Early into the talks, North Korea agreed to send a delegation to the Winter Olympics next month in Pyeongchang, South Korea. About 11 hours of negotiations later, the two sides announced even more: future military talks, reinstatement of a hotline and other dialogue to ease tensions between the countries.

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Posted by on January 12, 2018 in Asia


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North Korean Businesses in China Start Countdown as Deadline for Closure Looms

When the Alaska pollock, the “national fish of the Korean peninsula,” started disappearing from menus at Beijing’s North Korean restaurants in late August, it was a sign China’s trade sanctions on Pyongyang had taken effect.

Now, some of the restaurants themselves are on the brink of closure after China ordered all North Korean businesses in the country to wind down by mid-January. This has been Beijing’s sixth and toughest sanction since April 2016 in response to Pyongyang’s repeated ballistic missile and nuclear tests.

“All of our staff will be sent back to North Korea when the restaurant closes in three months,” said a waitress at Unban, a popular restaurant near the sprawling North Korean embassy in downtown Beijing.

The waitress, whose nametag read Jin Runzheng, was mixing a bowl of naengmyeon — North Korean cold noodles served in a tangy iced broth with cucumber, slices of Korean pear, strips of lightly pickled radish and shredded freshwater eel.

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Posted by on November 15, 2017 in Asia


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How the DPRK Riddle is Freaking out the US Establishment

The 19th Party Congress has made it very clear that “socialism with Chinese characteristics” – as codified by President Xi Jinping – is China’s roadmap ahead. Not only the strategy graphically eschews those much-lauded “Western values”; it will, in Xi’s own words, offer “a new option for other countries and nations who want to speed up their development while preserving their independence.”

Xinhua even dared to venture, “the 21st century is likely to see capitalism lose its appeal while the socialist movement, led by China, rapidly catches up”.

To say this won’t go down very well in the West, especially in the US, may be the understatement of the century – even considering that the Chinese system is more like “neoliberalism with Chinese characteristics.”

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Posted by on November 7, 2017 in Asia, North America


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Is the United States Planning to Attack North Korea?

The aircraft carriers USS Nimitz, USS Theodore Roosevelt, and USS Ronald Reagan—three of the most powerful warships in the world—have now converged on the western Pacific in a mighty show of force on the eve of President Trump’s 10-day trip to Asia. The three carriers, along with their accompanying cruisers, destroyers, and submarines—all armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles or other advanced munitions—are capable of raining immense destructive force on any nation targeted by the commander in chief. Not since 2007 has there been such a concentration of US firepower in the Asia-Pacific region. There can be only two plausible explanations for this extraordinary naval buildup: to provide Trump with the sort of military extravaganza he seems to enjoy; and/or to prepare for a pre-emptive military strike on North Korea.

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Posted by on November 5, 2017 in Asia, North America


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Why Trump Has Gone Nuclear on Iran

Just when world public opinion feared the US and North Korea were on the brink of nuclear war, the new axis of evil times (North Korea, Iran, Venezuela) yield a dramatic plot twist; President Trump is adamant the real threat is the Iran nuclear deal.Enter a brand new, major international crisis deployed out of the blue with inbuilt war potential.The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a.k.a. the Iran nuclear deal, works, and Tehran is complying. So says the IAEA (eight separate certifications of compliance since the deal was struck in Vienna in 2015). So says the EU, Russia and China. So says even Trump’s military troika – Tillerson/McMaster/Mattis.

Source: Why Trump Has Gone Nuclear on Iran

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Posted by on October 20, 2017 in Asia, Middle East, North America


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The North Korean Cult

NEW YORK – The absurdity of the North Korean dictatorship is easy to caricature. Kim Jong-un, with his 1930s-style pudding-bowl haircut (cultivated, it is claimed, to make him resemble his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, the regime’s founder), his antiquated Mao suit, and his short, plump body, is almost like a cartoon character himself. Officially regarded as an omnipotent genius, he is worshipped like a god and shown constantly surrounded by people, including his highest military officers festooned in medals, laughing or clapping, or shouting hysterically.

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Posted by on October 18, 2017 in Asia



The Rusi report might tell us to ‘prepare for war in North Korea’, but the reality is very different

The title of the report is “Preparing for War in Korea” and it presents a vivid montage of apocalypse now, or in the very near future. We are about to experience, it says, the worst conflict since the Second World War, with “large-scale US-led air and cyber offensives and massive North Korean retaliation using conventional, chemical and possibly nuclear weapons”. This would be followed by an invasion of North Korea with “casualties likely to reach hundreds of thousands” of people.

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Posted by on September 29, 2017 in Asia



The weakened UN sanctions on North Korea show that the US has more bark than bite when it comes to Kim Jong-un

From the threat to smite with “fire and fury likes of which the world has never seen” to being forced to climb down on the much heralded “super-tough” sanctions on Pyongyang at the UN, the policy of Donald Trump’s administration on North Korea continues on its confusing course.

In order to avoid vetoes by Russia and China at the Security Council, the US had to dilute a whole series of proposed punitive measures. An oil embargo which would have caused serious problems for Pyongyang has been replaced by a plan to reduce oil exports to the country in the future. Proposed restrictions on North Koreans working abroad – an important source of foreign exchange – have been ditched as has a naval blockade to ensure that existing UN sanctions are being enforced. Even the supposed assets freeze on Kim Jong-un, portrayed as the pantomime villain of the piece, and his cronies, has been dropped.

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Posted by on September 14, 2017 in Asia, North America


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For Trump and the US right, breaking the nuclear taboo has always been thinkable

In November 1950, when North Korean forces had the US military on the run, President Truman held an infamous press conference during which he threatened to declare nuclear war.After a bland statement and several minutes of to and fro over diplomatic issues, one journalist asked whether the US was about to use its nuclear weapons. Truman stated not only that an attack was under active consideration but also that “the military commander in the field” would decide whether to hit military or civilian targets. He did not rule out attacking targets in China, either.Calamity ensued. Support for the intervention in Korea ebbed away – among the US’s allies, at the UN and among the electorate. The event became a textbook example of how not to do nuclear diplomacy – one followed until August 2017, when President Trump made his “fire and fury” threats against Pyongyang.

Source: For Trump and the US right, breaking the nuclear taboo has always been thinkable | Paul Mason | Opinion | The Guardian

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Posted by on September 12, 2017 in Asia, North America


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