DPRK Commemorates the 4 July 1972 Joint Statement of North and South

[CanKor has received an email signed by four DPRK organizations commemorating the first major North-South rapprochement on the Korean Peninsula. Of interest is the fact that the 1972 Joint Statement of North and South was issued during the reign of South Korea's President Park Chung Hee, father of the current South Korean President Park Geun-hye. Ironically, only 4 years prior to this first North-South rapprochement, a North Korean death squad had attempted to assassinate Pres. Park Chung Hee. Perhaps irony is an underrated factor in understanding Korean peninsular politics. As usual, we post the following message as we received it. --CanKor]

Monument to the Three Charters for National Reunification, Pyongyang

Monument to the Three Charters for National Reunification, Pyongyang

Dear friends

41 years have passed since the historic July 4 Joint Statement clarifying the three principles of Korea’s reunification was made public.

The announcement of the statement was the brilliant fruition brought about thanks to the idea and line of the great President Kim Il Sung on the national reunification, his distinguished and experienced leadership.

President Kim Il Sung regarded the national reunification as the supreme task of the nation and led the cause of the national reunification to victory with his great idea and leadership from the first day after Korea was divided into the north and south.

In August, 1971, the President, seeing through the unanimous desire of the whole nation and the urgent requirement of the development of the reunification movement, proposed a proposal for wide-ranging negotiation clarifying that the north was willing to contact all political parties including “Democratic Republican Party”, the then ruling party of south Korea, social organizations and individuals at any time.

According to the broad-minded proposal set forth by him, a high-level political meeting between the north and south was held in Pyongyang, in May 1972, the first of its kind since its division into the north and south. Read the rest of this entry »

How to send your child to summer camp in North Korea, by Justin Rohrlich

[We are pleased to present another article by New York-based Canadian journalist Justin Rohrlich. CanKor Brain Trust member Matthew Reichel is one of the people interviewed in this article, which was featured in the newly-launched NK News Pro on 6 June 2013, and is re-posted here with permission. We encourage you to view the original article on the NK News website, where you can see more pictures and embedded videos from and about Songdowon International Children’s Camp. For those wishing to read more content like this, click here to get a free trial of NK News Pro. --CanKor]

How to send your child to summer camp in North Korea

by Justin Rohrlich , NK News Pro, 6 June 2013

“Parents are responsible for about 300 Euros in fees and travel costs, with all other expenses being met by the Korean side.”

Songdowon International Children's Camp (Photo by Matthew Reichel)

Songdowon International Children’s Camp (Photo by Matthew Reichel)

While some kids are being sent away to summer camps in New England right now, others are on their way to the Songdowon International Children’s Camp in Wonsan, North Korea.

Songdowon is one of the last vestiges of a type of cultural exchange seen in similar countries from across the Communist bloc in decades past, not entirely unlike the Soviet Artek camps and East Germany’s Ernst Thälmann Pioneer Organisation.

Far from just a getaway for North Korean children, thousands of young people from countries including China, Russia, Nigeria, Mongolia, Mexico, Syria (where North Korean military officers have reportedly begun advising Assad’s forces), Tanzania, and Thailand have attended the Songdowon camp since it opened in 1960, which expanded to accommodate 1,200 guests in 1993 “under the special care of President Kim Il Sung and the leader Kim Jong Il.” Read the rest of this entry »

Why North Korea places so much emphasis on organic farming, by Justin Rohrlich

[CanKor Editor Erich Weingartner and Brain Trust members Randall Ireson and Kathi Zellweger were among interviewees featured in this article by journalist Justin Rohrlich about North Korean farming practices. The resulting article was published on 31 May 2013 in NK News Pro. --CanKor]

“Let us thoroughly implement the Juche farming methods created by the fatherly leader Comrade Kim Il Sung!”

Picture panel at Sambong Farm, Pyongwon County, DPRK (Photo by Erich Weingartner)

Picture panel at Sambong Farm, Pyongwon County, DPRK (Photo by Erich Weingartner)

As reported recently by North Korean state news agency KCNA – and picked up by NK News Pro Media Monitoring – a “short course” in organic farming methods was held at the Pyongyang Centre for Cultural Exchange with Foreign Countries from 14-16 May 2013.

A delegation of experts led by Andre Leu, President of the Bonn, Germany-based International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (also the current Chair of the Organic Federation of Australia and former Chair of the Far North Queensland Lychee Growers Association), was in town to direct the two-day program, which included, among other seminars, “Multi-Functional Benefits of Organic Agriculture, Soil Health and Nutrition,” “Green Manure,” and “Humus Soil and its Making.” Read the rest of this entry »

Much ado about style over substance: Kim Jong Un’s New Year

Continuing the theme of channeling his grandfather’s charisma by reversing his father’s aloofness, the young DPRK leader Kim Jong Un read his first major policy speech on New Year’s day. During his 19-year reign, “dear leader” Kim Jong Il (Jong Un’s father) substituted the traditional New Year’s pronouncements of “great leader” Kim Il Sung (Jong Un’s grandfather) with a “joint New Year’s editorial” published by the official newspapers of the Korean Worker’s Party, the Korean People’s Army and the Party’s youth wing.

Kim Jong Un delivers 2013 New Year message (Photo by KCNA)

The young Kim Jong Un appeared before television cameras to read the lengthy speech, which will be the subject of intensive study within North Korea. But as can be seen by a sampling of “expert” opinions, this annual summary of DPRK policies is also carefully dissected by DPRK-watchers the world over.

The full text of the speech (courtesy the Korean Central News Agency KCNA) can be read at the following link: New Year Address Made by Kim Jong Un.

To see the young leader reading the text (with the voice of an interpreter in English) please watch the video at the bottom of this article.

Here follow some early commentaries about the significance of this speech by a number of (mostly American) experts as assembled by Chris Nelson taken from the 2 January 2013 Nelson Report:  Read the rest of this entry »

North Korea pushes bold agrarian reform program

[The following article appeared 0n the website of the Japanese news agency The Asahi Shimbun, dated 2 August 2012. It was compiled from reports by Koichiro Ishida in Shenyang, China, and Tetsuya Hakoda in Seoul. --CanKor]

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un tours the Ryugyong Health Complex in Pyongyang that is nearing completion. (Photo by KCNA)

To fend off starvation, North Korea will introduce bold agrarian reforms that will allow farmers to dispose of part of their harvests as they see fit.The initiative was authorized by new leader Kim Jong Un, North Korean government and military sources said.The planned reforms, the first in roughly 10 years, are intended to enhance yields and help mitigate chronic food shortages that plague the country.

The nation’s ability to feed itself has fallen short by about 1 million tons a year. But this year, a major drought has exacerbated the problem.

Under North Korea’s system of collective labor in farming villages, harvests are collected by the state and redistributed to households according to their size.

The new system will allow farmers to do what they want with their harvests after they have handed over statutory amounts to the state. This means they can consume the produce or sell it in markets, the sources said. Read the rest of this entry »

15th anniversary of formulating the Three Charters for National Reunification

[CanKor has received the following letter from four Pyongyang-based organizations: the Korean Committee for Solidarity with the World People, the Korean Democratic Lawyers Association, the Korean Committee for Afro-Asian Solidarity, and the Korean National Peace Committee. As usual, we offer this text without commentary. --CanKor]

Dear friends,

Monument to the Three Charters for National Reunification, Pyongyang

Warm greetings!

As you know well, 67 years have elapsed since the Korean people have become separated into the north and the south after the 2nd world war. The Korean people have strived for the independent and peaceful reunification of the country without any interference from outside forces during the past 67 years. President Kim Il Sung, the great leader of the Korean nation and the lodestar of the reunification of the country, devoted his whole life for the reunification of Korea to the last day of his life from the beginning of the liberation of the country.

To look back, President Kim Il Sung’s whole life can be said to have been a life of struggle devoted to reunifying his country, expect the period of the anti-Japanese revolutionary struggle for national liberation. From the separation of the country, President Kim Il Sung has laid down many reunification proposals and wisely led the Korean nation for the reunification of the country. Read the rest of this entry »

40th anniversary of the release of the July 4th Joint Declaration

[Another historic event celebrated (or not) by Korea this year is the 40th anniversary of the 4 July 1972 North-South Joint Statement that declared a "mutual desire for the early peaceful reunification of Korea". They reached "full agreement" on the three principles for achieving reunification, as follows: "1. Unification shall be achieved independently, without depending on foreign powers and without foreign interference; 2. Unification shall be achieved through peaceful means, without resorting to the use of force against each other; 3. A great national unity shall be sought first, transcending differences in ideas, ideologies, and systems." In addition, the two sides agreed "not to slander or defame each other, not to undertake military provocations, whether on a large or small scale, and to take positive measures to prevent inadvertent military incidents." Of course, those were the days of Park Chung Hee in South Korea (1963-1979), and implementation of the statement remained the preserve of two governments that were far less than democratic. One wonders whether the recent emphasis in the DPRK on this 40th anniversary has anything to do with the fact that Park Chung Hee's daughter, Park Geun-hye, has become such a prominent contender for ROK's presidential elections in December this year? While South Korea's JoongAng Daily reveals that "North tried using 1972 communique to oust Park regime", a letter to CanKor by the (North) Korean Committee of Solidarity with the World People takes the following view of the same history. --CanKor] Read the rest of this entry »

North Korea’s Ideology after April 2012: Continuity or Disruption? by Ruediger Frank

[Earlier this year we alerted readers to a "Political Tour" to the DPRK, which was to include Economy Professor Ruediger Frank as a guide. CanKor Brain Trust member Ruediger Frank has now returned from that tour. The following article, first published by our partner-site 38North, includes some of Frank's initial impressions, these having to do with what might be signs of an ideological shift. Find more articles by Ruediger Frank here. Please follow our link to the current article on the 38North site. --CanKor]

Introduction

Until the death of Kim Jong Il in December 2011, the big question affecting nearly every aspect of North Korean affairs—domestic or international—was who would be his successor. Now that this issue has been resolved by the selection and promotion of Kim Jong Un, the focus has shifted to the nature and sustainability of the new leadership. The four mega-events in April 2012 were supposed to provide insights: a Worker’s Party Conference, a session of the Supreme People’s Assembly, a missile/rocket/satellite launch, and the long-prepared celebrations of Eternal President Kim Il Sung’s centenary birthday. We could indeed observe dramatic changes, particularly in the DPRK’s ideology—a field that Kim Jong Il in 1995 described as the key frontier in the defense of socialism (Korean style).

This article is based on my personal observations during a visit to North Korea from April 10-16, 2012, as well as official DPRK material, and addresses the question: Are recent ideological changes just a regular progression in a linear, continuous development, or do they mark a major disruption?

New Developments in Ideology

It did not take long to notice the first of these seemingly dramatic changes when I arrived at the Sunan Airport in Pyongyang. I am not talking about the new terminal(s) or the masses of foreigners who flooded into the hopelessly overwhelmed country. Rather, it was the badges worn by North Koreans that caught my attention. These badges portraying a smiling Kim Il Sung have long been a subject of curiosity and, at times, ridicule by foreigners. Questions about their shape and size (do specific badges indicate importance?), rules for wearing (do they even put them on their swimsuits?), and availability (they can’t be bought, they can only be bestowed upon you) have been the subject of many tourist conversations, in particular over beer in the evening. But for someone like me who has been to North Korea frequently since 1991, I hardly notice the badges anymore. Neither do the North Koreans. For decades, the badges have been a part of the system’s iconography, just like the various Kim Il Sung statues in Pyongyang and across the country.

Figure1: North Korea's New Leadership Badge (photo by Rudiger Frank)

Figure1: North Korea’s New Leadership Badge (photo by Rudiger Frank)

And now this: an unusually large badge with not just one, but two faces! Father Kim Il Sung and son Kim Jong Il, happily united against the background of a dynamically flying red flag. This theme—father and son replacing what used to be reserved for Kim Il Sung only—repeated itself on numerous occasions throughout my journey. Among the most widely noticed examples were the two statues on Mansudae Hill in Pyongyang, unveiled in a grand ceremony on April 13. Read the rest of this entry »

38 North: Hereditary Succession in North Korea: Lessons of the Past, by Charles Armstrong

[From time to time CanKor alerts readers to papers published by our partner-site 38North. The following article is by Charles Armstrong. Please follow our link to the current article on the 38North site. --CanKor]

North Korea’s transition to third-generation Kim leadership appears to be going smoothly, indeed much more smoothly than many outside observers had expected. This should not be a surprise to anyone familiar with the history of the DPRK, which ceased to be a “normal” communist dictatorship decades ago, and instead became a regime of hereditary leadership, firmly centred on the Kim family. The question was never whether or not a son of Kim Jong Il would become leader after Kim’s death, but which son it would be. As Kim Jong Il’s own rise to power shows us, leadership succession in the DPRK is not based on hereditary privilege alone. Kim Jong Il had to prove his ability and his loyalty, and to compete with other contenders for the throne from within the Kim family. Kim Jong Il’s most serious competitor appears to have been his uncle, Kim Il Sung’s younger brother Kim Yŏng Ju. Ultimately Kim Jong Il won out in this intra-familial power struggle and gained the support of his father for succession in the early 1970s, when he was around 30 years old, roughly the same age Kim Il Sung was when he became North Korea’s leader in 1945 and that Kim Jong Un is now.

By the 1970s, North Korea had become a family state unlike any other in the communist world. The DPRK in this respect was more like Saudi Arabia or a Gulf Emirate state than East Germany or Vietnam. Closer to home geographically if not ideologically, Taiwan and Singapore both saw transfers of power from their founding leaders to their sons in the 1980s and 1990s. But among communist states, which generally decried hereditary succession as “feudal” (as did North Korea itself until hereditary succession became official policy), the Kim family’s inter-generational power transfer was unique. Perhaps the Ceausescu family of Romania came close to such a monopoly of power toward the end of the communist regime there—Elena Ceausescu was allegedly slated to succeed her husband before their execution in 1989—but Nikolai Ceausescu had long been inspired by Kim Il Sung’s leadership style, not excluding familial rule. Read the rest of this entry »

DPRK Business Monthly Volume III, No.3

The DPRK Business Monthly, an international business report edited in Beijing, has been made available to CanKor readers by its editor, Paul White. Please check out the full text of the April 2012 edition here: DPRK Business Monthly April 2012

Huichon power station in Jagang Province, DPRK, has started operations on 6 April 2012 to help ease electricity shortages in the capital, protect cultivated land and residential areas along the Chongchon River from flooding, and ensure an ample supply of water to the industrial establishments in Huichon and Namhung areas, according to official media reports. (Photo by KCNA)

Titles of articles found in this issue include:

  • Rajin-Khassan Freight Train Service to Open in October
  • More NK Citizens Visit China
  • A Question of Leadership
  • Huichon Power Station Operational
  • Future High-tech Farming for NK?
  • Department Store for Scientists and Technicians
  • NK, China Seeking Investors for Rajin Port

…plus a number of other items, including a selection of North Korean tours by various tour operators.

Comment by the Business Monthly Editor:

There have been several significant signs this month that North Korea’s new leadership is sincere about enhancing transparency. For one thing, NK invited news media from around the world to observe its satellite launch, knowing full well that if it failed (It did), the whole world would know, and there could be no cover-up. Not only that, the official DPRK media reported the disaster with no holds barred. That’s got to be a first. Another first was the reporting of two speeches made by the new leader, Kim Jong Un, on the front page of the North’s leading Workers Daily. His father, the late Kim Jong Il, does not seem to have made any public speeches at all during his 17-year tenure, and any private ones were not reported. Read the rest of this entry »

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