dprk

North Korea’s Growing Statue & Monument Business

While recent news reports on North Korea have focused on nuclear & rocket programs, the DPRK is also making headlines for its expertise in large statues & monuments both for domestic use & an increasing number of international clients. Korea FM spoke with Italian art collector & North Korean Mansudae Art Studio representative Pier Cecioni & Washington Post Tokyo Bureau Chief Anna Fifield to learn more about how Pyongyang’s monuments & statues have found increasing demand around the world.


The Return of The World Famous (but all too infrequent) If I Had A Minute To Spare Global Caption Competition of Death and Love and Harmony

It has been over one year and six months since my last submission, and frankly I’m apologetic. But as a means of earning your forgiveness, I present to you the grand return of everyone’s favourite World Famous (but all too infrequent) If I Had a Minute to Spare Global Caption Competition of Death and Love and Harmony (yes, regulars will now not the World Famous (but all too infrequent) If I Had a Minute to Spare Global Caption Competition of Death and Love is now harmonious).

Imagine, December 2011 was the last time this competition graced these humble pages. It’s not because I don’t love you and your love of this wonderous competition, it’s just that I haven’t found the right moment captured by a humble lens, if I have bothered looking at all.


Quick Hits: There’s No Oil in Them Thar Hills and Some Interesting Photos.

Another week, another long blogging delay. It seems that there just plain isn’t anything interesting going on these days. Maybe just a hang-over from the Chuseok holiday but all is quiet on the eastern front, with no foreigners punching old people, missile launches or anything to get the bloggersphere going. Oh well, anyways in the spirit of putting words to paper (or screen) simply for the sake of doing it, here’s a couple of things which have caught my attention.

At least they got to see some of the beautiful Kurdish countryside (HT to ROKdrop.com)


With Friends Like These…

In this Jan. 23 photo, North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il talks with Naguib Sawiris, executive chairman of Cairo-based Orascom Telecom, at an undisclosed place in North Korea. Kim held talks with the Egyptian telecoms magnate whose company set up and operates an advanced mobile phone network in the impoverished communist nation.…Is there any reason to keep any Egyptian government official in power? Beijing and Pyongyang have “lips and teeth”, but Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and North Korea’s Kim Jong-il have ballistic missile sales, according to Don Kirk.


North Korea, the World’s Gold Standard for Evil

Progressives need a policy clue about North Korea that doesn’t start with tedious talk about negotiations. Meetings are on again – boring, been there, done it to death! This isn’t news, it’s a sleeping aid.

Refugees aren’t all that exciting, either. 31 North Koreans got near Yeonpyong Island, or else no one would have cared. How many South Koreans care about the refugees already in South Korea?


Summitry for Politics’ Sake

It’s hard not to yawn.

North and South Korea have agreed to hold preliminary military talks on 8 February, in an attempt to defuse heightened tensions on the peninsula.

South Korea’s President Lee Myung-bak urged the North to seize a “good chance” to improve relations.

The Koreas will discuss the two deadly attacks by Pyongyang against the South, which killed a total of 50 people, Seoul’s defence ministry said.

The talks may lead to a more senior meeting, possibly at ministerial level.


Again With the China Meme

Lee Byung-Chul argues that Beijing has a lot more to do with North Korea’s “peaceful” overtures to South Korea than previously thought.

One of the lessons of this episode is that despite professions of inability to control its client state, China appears now to have demonstrated unrivaled leverage on the North in terms of economic, political and military intervention. In addition to supplying substantial amounts of aid including 90 percent of the North’s oil at sharply lower “friendly prices,” China has co-opted and trained a pro-Chinese cadre of North Korean functionaries and elites in the hopes that they would become collaborators under the coming regime of Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il’s son and presumptive heir. So Beijing is no longer hiding its solid hold over the North.


Korean Unification Only Looks Tidy In Print

The Economist applies the example of German unification to the Koreas‘ Sisyphean task. Drawing on the two courses open to it, massive handouts or immigration, the weekly recommends Seoul split the pain and the difference.

If the Koreas reunified, the government would face a stark choice. It could try to fill the gap in living standards between North and South, through handouts, public investment and subsidies. Or it could brace itself for heavy migration, as poor Northerners moved to the South in search of higher wages.


Worrying Trends Point to Destabilization in NK

[Caption]As discreet developments, the easing of travel restrictions and troop desertions are remarkable, even a moment to cheer; together they start to worry.

Firstly, Andrei Lankpv narrates the slow erosion of North Korea’s restrictive travel visa system.


Ban Ki-moon Reveals His Sinister Plot

Colum Lynch fears the nauseating truth about U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: he’s old-school Korean, which means once he has a political job, he’ll never give it up without a bullet or a nudge from a superior.

The revelation was buried in an official U.N. readout of a New Year’s day exchange Ban had with South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak.


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