- NK has announced a Chosun Workers’ Party Delegates’ Conference to be held in April, the fourth such event ever. It is expected that the meeting will be used to elevate KJU into remaining positions of power left vacant by KJI. Analysis by NK Leadership Watch and Daily NK.
- Following criticism, NK authorities have reportedly claimed that the relative lack of food distribution during recent KJI birthday celebrations was due to preparations for “bigger gifts” to mark the birth of KIS.
- NK is apparently allowing black market rate currency exchange at a department store in Pyongyang.
- The president of a Japanese company has admitted to shipping more than 4,000 computers and other tech products to NK from 2008-2009. The deals were reportedly made after he was contacted by a NK engineer who spoke of demand for “about 1,000 personal computers a month.”
- Portraits of KJU are reportedly now being hung in revolutionary history museums, and production of portrait badges depicting the leader are also underway.
FOOD AID & FOOD SECURITY
- The WFP plans to extend emergency aid to NK later into 2012 than originally intended following unmet goals for 2011.
- The Chinese authorities’ detainment and moves toward repatriation of a group of at least 30 NK refugees has continued to garner attention. LMB urged China to follow “international norms” concerning the refugees, and the SK govt is considering raising the issue at the UN HRC, a move which would be a SK first. SK lawmaker Park Sun-young began an “indefinite hunger strike” and a number of SK celebrities and others have joined the protests. Dong-a Ilbo interview with a cousin of one of the refugees.
- The SK govt is reviewing the idea of issuing citizenship certificates to the detainees, and lawmakers have agreed to adopt a resolution to pressure the Chinese govt and China Red Cross Society to take action.
- Yonhap reports that China already repatriated nine NK defectors over the Feb. 18-19 weekend.
- China’s MFA reiterated China’s argument that NK defectors are not refugees, and stated that, “The UN HRC is not the right place to discuss the issue.”
- Head of Free North Korea Radio Kim Seong-min has reported that China allows NK officers to disguise themselves as Chinese investigators in order to engage NK defectors. Chinese authorities also reportedly sort out detained defectors intending to go to SK from other detainees, which may illicit harsher punishment if they are repatriated.
INTERNATIONAL POLITICS & SECURITY
- The USG’s Glyn Davies discussed the nuclear issue and humanitarian aid on the first day of bilateral talks with NK’s Kim Kye-gwan in Beijing. Davies characterised the talks as “serious and substantive”, which is always better than ‘frivolous and meaningless’. Daily NK and CFR on U.S./NK engagement.
- SK live-fire naval drills and coinciding threats by NK prompted SK island residents to take refuge in bomb shelters, but passed without further response from NK.
- Despite the tension SK will reportedly allow NGO shipments of medical supplies to NK including x-ray equipment, and TB related medical supplies.
- NK has seemingly rejected SK proposals for joint pest control and family reunion discussions. SK Minister of Unification: “We will suggest contact with North Korea again and wait for a response.”
- NK criticised upcoming US/SK military drills and the upcoming Seoul Nuclear Security Summit.
ANALYSIS & OPINION
- Haggard on Chinese repatriations of NK refugees and SK consulate policies regarding them.
- 38 North on NK/China moves regarding Hwanggumpyong and Wihwa SEZs.
- Sino-NK interview with Korea National Defense University Professor Park Young-jun on NK politics and NK/SK relations.
- Chad O’Carroll on the uncertainties of SK/NK reunification.
- Cheong Seong Chang on SK “ignorance” of NK.
- Chuck Kraus on China/NK cooperation.
- Adam Cathcart on NK Pibada Opera Troupe.
- Yonhap on a “secretive” NK restaurant in Cambodia.
- Mark McDonald on KJU’s leadership: “Give the kid a break.”
- NK comes in last for something it will be proud of: language diversity.
- Five men accused of spying on SK for NK in what has been termed the “Wangjaesan incident” have been sentenced. Sentences range from two to nine years.
- A renowned SK conductor has reportedly met with NK musicians to discuss a joint orchestral performance in Pyongyang.
- NK and French orchestras are reportedly to hold a joint performance in Paris next month.
- NK Leadership Watch on NK ambassadors presenting their credentials to Cuban and UK leaders.
- NGO Chosun Exchange on finance and economic workshops it is to hold in Pyongyang this March, and a small sample of NKoreans’ hobbies.
- Six people were arrested on suspicion of manipulating stock prices by spreading rumours of an NK nuclear explosion.